SPRING IN THE VALLEY – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Spring Scenes and flowers of the day

We don’t have much of a spring season here. It tends to stay cold until suddenly in May, the leaves pop out of the trees and everything blooms during one, sunny midday. The process takes just a few hours. It’s amazing. One year, it was winter when we went into the grocery and summer when we came out.

Autumn to winter can be like that too. Garry and I went out for lunch in Boston wearing tee-shirts and shorts,. Two hours later, we came out and it was near freezing, We ran home — which, fortunately, wasn’t very far.

We do get spring flowers, though. And birds. I hope that will count because otherwise, I’m just out of luck!

Harbinger of spring – our purple crocuses

Columbine

More yellow daffodils

The Goldfinch turning bright yellow for mating season.

Spring along the river

Our last Tulip.

More bright Goldfinch

Baby oak leaves and a very blue sky

Along the fence, Forsythia flowers

And the House Finch turns brighter too

Spring on the Mumford River

Solomon’s Seal

Springtime on the Commons

FOTD – January 14, 2020 – Daffodils in Bloom

JULY BLUES AND SUNRISE ON THE VERNAL EQUINOX – Marilyn Armstrong

July Blues and the Sky at Dawn – Vernal Equinox 

It was dawn on the day of the Vernal Equinox and I had not closed the shades. I usually do, but I forgot. When I woke up, it looked as if the room was on fire. The blue sky turned deep red and violet before finally, the sun came up. It was the most amazing sunrise I’ve ever seen. My friend called me to ask: “Did you see that sunrise this morning? It was amazing!”

Dawn – Vernal Equinox

And I keep a camera in the bedroom, just for this kind of event. I can only get these amazing sunrises before the leaves come out. After that, the trees hide the sky.

AND SUDDENLY, IT’S ALL GREEN – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – BREATHTAKING

It’s gray, rainy, cold and the world is made of mud. No hope of flowers because it still feels like the end of winter.

Then, suddenly, the sun appears and you get a couple of warm day and the world explodes in color. Breathtaking barely describes it. It’s like a new world, a new planet. The sky is blue, the birds are singing. Of course, the squirrels are still eating all the seeds, but the lawn got mowed, the dead bushes are gone, there’s a tall fence to keep Duke in the yard where he belongs … for today, at least, the world is just perfect.

Garry went out and took pictures yesterday. Me too. I got serious about birds. He got serious about Uxbridge. There are so many pictures, I have barely had time to scrape along the edges of the more than 200 pictures from just yesterday. Call this “Breathtaking Sample 1” with more to follow!

From Garry Armstrong, the village and neighborhood:

Photo: Garry Armstrong – This picture is my favorite.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – The brand new crossing sign in the middle of town.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – At home in the woods

Photo: Garry Armstrong – The crossroads of Uxbridge

Photo: Garry Armstrong – The perils of not having a newspaper or even a radio station — we didn’t know there was a vote — or for what!


From Marilyn Armstrong, more birds and a squirrel.

The determined squirrel

Cowbird with Hairy Woodpecker – sharing!

SPRING AND CACTUS FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Fresh forest leaves, a Chickadee, and cactus flowers – 05/12/19

Usually, I limit these posts to actual flowers, but it was such a glorious, lovely, warm, bright day and all the new leaves in the woods look like flowers. Even the birds look like flowers.

A flyaway Chickadee

We intended to go take pictures, but we wound up cleaning the house, which badly needed it. I had to clear the dead leaves off the deck and also clear off at least some of the millions of seeds. Then there was vacuuming and floor washing and sofa cover changing, and the vacuum cleaner bag exploded.

You know. A lovely weekend day at home.

I also have a little bird story.

Very red cactus flower

Yesterday I was in the bathroom about to do something I felt was somewhat urgent, but I made the mistake of looking out the window. “Holy Moly!” I cried. There was a Pileated Woodpecker on the flat-feeder. That’s the really big woodpecker who looks just like  Woody Woodpecker. He has a hammer-shaped head with a huge, heavy beak.  He’s a big guy, too. About as big as a medium-sized hawk.

My azalea

That beak that can break through a chunk of live oak in search of a bug and they have no objection to whacking some other bird over the head if he or she gets in the way.

So the Pileated Woodpecker who I have seen before, but never gotten a picture of him, was right there. There were also about a dozen Brown-headed Cowbirds lined up on the railing, waiting for him to leave. One Cowbird (they aren’t afraid of anything, probably because following herds of buffalo had its own perils) jumped up on the feeder and without a second thought, Mr. Pileated Woodpeckeder bonked him on the head.

Cowbird returned to the railing. Brave, but not stupid.

A crowd of cowbirds

I ran to the dining room, grabbed my camera, turned it on. And, of course, the woodpecker was gone. Vamoose.

Meanwhile, the cowbirds were jumping onto the feeder. I guess they felt they’d waited long enough.

Baby leaves

Me? I sighed, turned off the camera and went back to the bathroom. I’m getting used the disappearing act. So is Garry. He can’t understand how they completely vanish in literally the blink of an eye. But they do. Kind of amazing in a frustrating way.

Baby oak leaves and a very blue sky

So today, I took pictures. Mostly of plants and trees because they do not disappear. They sit still, roots firmly in the ground or in their pots. They let me take their pictures and do not fly away while I turn on the camera.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I don’t love summer because I’m very sensitive to heat. I actually feel sick when I get hot because my sweat glands don’t work properly and I rarely sweat. Great savings on antiperspirant bills but it sucks when everyone else is happily sitting outside in the sun and I’m stuck inside with the air conditioning.

Apple Blossoms

So, summer is not my favorite time, even though I have a boat and summer is the prime boating season. I spend most of my boat days – you guessed it – sitting in the air-conditioned cabin, often by myself. Even my loyal dog, Lexi, who usually follows me everywhere, lays in the sun on the deck on a nice day and abandons me to the interior of the boat.

Daffodils

But spring is great. The obvious joy of spring is watching the grass and the flowers and the leaves bloom, turning the world from grey to a rainbow of colors.

Spring!

Spring is when my waterfall is fully flowing. I can open the windows to hear that wonderful sound throughout the house. In the summer, the stream usually dries up since we have less rain and more heat. So the view from my window is glorious – a picturesque waterfall in the middle of a continually greening wood.

The stream

Another, more pedestrian plus of spring is putting away my darker and heavier winter clothes and pulling out the bright-colored clothes of this bright-colored season.

I pay particular attention to my spring/summer wardrobe because when I hang out on the boat, I schmooze with people every day, as opposed to winter when I can go days without seeing anyone other than Tom. And when I make my rounds to the Post Office and the local stores and coffee shop, people can see what I’m wearing because I’m not wearing a coat that covers up what is underneath.

Brighter colors of spring

Not wearing socks is another wardrobe benefit of spring and summer.

My socks bunch up all the time and I have to take my shoes or boots off regularly to adjust them so I can walk comfortably.

There’s also the problem of navy versus black socks. I can’t seem to tell the difference in my bedroom, but as soon as I get downstairs, I can tell immediately that I’ve picked the wrong one and have to go back upstairs and change. (Yes, I care!)

Sock drawer, abandoned in the spring

Not wearing a coat or a sweater is also a spring thing. Outside, the temperature is perfect (same in the early fall) so no outerwear is necessary.

I don’t have to wear a sweater inside because the air conditioning everywhere isn’t at full blast as it is in the summer. I always carry a sweater with me throughout the summer in case I am subjected to frigid A/C’s.

Sweaters necessary indoors in A/C weather

Spring also means that the many local farms in my town reopen their markets and I can get beautiful, fresh produce and other gourmet treats, right in my backyard. The freshly baked bread is awesome!

In the offseason, I have to drive 20 minutes each way to a supermarket to even get an onion or a potato. Now these staples, as well as the seasonal fruits and vegetables, are just a few minutes away.

Tom is happy in the spring because he can start working on the boat, preparing it to go back in the water in May. So spring has a lot going for it in my world. I don’t hate winter, like most people, and I love snow, but spring really is a lot better.

Except for the hordes of tiny black ants that invade my kitchen every spring. Here they come! Get out the ant traps!

ALMOST SPRING BY THE BLACKSTONE – Marilyn Armstrong

Photographs: Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

Almost spring does not mean the same thing everywhere. In New York, it meant that everything was budding. We were waiting for it to burst into bloom. Cherry trees and apple trees were often already flowering. So almost spring really was almost. It was warm, bright, and shortly it would be absolutely lovely.

Along the banks of the Blackstone

Little islands in the river

Up here, it means it’s raining. A few flowers are blooming (daffodils, azalea, tulips … and in very sunny places, apple trees), but there aren’t a lot of buds on the trees. The only leaves I can see are on the still living despite having at least three trees fall on it, lilac — and forsythia.

Me and the trout fisherman

Spring in New England is frustrating. It’s winter, winter, winter, chilly rainy and muddy … and you look around and it’s gray. Then, one day in the middle of May (depending on weather, of course), it bursts into summer in a matter of hours.

More trout fishing

Today I actually had to turn the heat on again. I really didn’t want to because I am trying hard to NOT need another tank of oil before fall. Winter this year was a bit weird. Not nearly as snowy as usual, but blowy and periodically, very cold.

Green growth by the river

This is normally just a tiny stream, but with so much rain, it has become quite a river in its own right

We didn’t get those long sieges of bitter weather we often get in January and February, but it was cold enough to need $300 in plowing and an extra tank of oil. And all we had was one snowy month.  If it had snowed the rest of the winter, we’d be bankrupt.

Reflections

Yesterday was sweatshirt warm and if you were in the right place, even warmer. It wasn’t raining, so we went and took pictures. A lot of pictures because who knows when we’ll have another chance to go out again?

Young fir trees and bare branches by the river

The constant rain begins to get to you after a while. Last night it poured with thunder and lightning Lucky us, no tornadoes.

Oh, for the people who recognize plants. The woodlands are full of that green stuff that looks like skunk cabbage. I couldn’t get close enough to get a tight picture. It was across the waterway, but I think that’s what it is. Doesn’t anyone know for sure? I’m not good with recognizing wild plants. I’m not even good at recognizing garden plants so assistance would be appreciated!

APRIL IS ALMOST SPRING – Marilyn Armstrong

FLOWERS IN APRIL – FOTD – 04/22/2019

Speaking of changing, what a month! For that matter, what a couple of months this has been. Crazy weather.

The Sunny Gallery

It has been raining relentlessly forever, it seems. We get a couple of nice days … then a week of gray weather and pouring rain. No worries about dry rivers this year!

Red-bellied woodpecker and his friend, the Tufted Titmouse

Bright Goldfinch

Not that crazy isn’t an inherent part of our New England weather. Our weather is unpredictable, especially as winter tries to turn into spring — and usually fails, until May when suddenly, it’s summer.

An Easter bouquet

It was lovely here Monday and Tuesday. Blue skies, warm weather and the song of the Carolina Wren can be heard all around the property. Today the gray weather showed up again, but it’s not supposed actually rain again until Friday and Saturday. But no sunshine, either.

Tomorrow, there will be rain and wind — but after that, I’m hoping to clean up the garden before the rest of the flowers open. It’s hard to rake when the daylilies are blooming. And half the rhododendrons are dead and need cutting back.

A PRIME DAY IN SPRING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Prime

It was an absolutely PRIME day!

Not only did it start out sunny, but it stayed sunny. All day today. It was warm without being hot and the flowers began to bloom. There was almost no humidity.

The birds were singing. The winds were warm and a bit blowy.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be even nicer. Sunny and warm, without the wind. It should be the most prime of prime days for all of spring and if I can find a little time between errands, it could be the best day to take springlike pictures.

A day for Goldfinch

And all I have to do, is get to the doctor to pick up a script, have the oil in the car changed (I don’t know where the time has gone!), go grocery shopping, put the new mailbox up, and go into starvation mode for the tests they are (finally) running on Thursday. These should prove, once and for all, whether or not I have brains in my head. Or maybe it’s just some old hard drive that got stuck there.

Oh and I really should back up the month of March before it becomes May.

House Finch and Cowbird

Thursday should hopefully be the last day I am spending at the hospital unless they find something I don’t want them to find. It’s why I hate testing. It’s not merely the time, inconvenience and the bill that always shows up eventually. It’s that I don’t want them to discover something unfortunate. So if all goes well, I should be able to stop visiting specialists and maybe save enough to get a pair of eyeglasses.

And pay the man who is going to fix the chimney. And buy a storm door for the house before winter shows up again.

The Mourning Dove has returned

We were at the doctor today, too — for Garry. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a good injector of cortisone to see if I can get my hips and back to hurt less. It’s getting hard to get around. In 10 years, I’ll be unable to move at all and that is not a pleasant thought so I have to see if I can get arthritis to at least, slow down.

Another pretty red House Finch

So again, if I’m missing, it’s not lack of love. It’s just that the days are not long enough. It’s half past midnight and I’m writing tomorrow morning’s post because I know I won’t be able to do it at the usual time. These are the days when I begin to wonder if maybe there’s another way to deal with this.

Hundreds of unread emails and posts and news and photos to process … and I already know I’m not going to be able to do it.

Not what I had in mind, but at least, for two days, the sun is shining and look! The birds stayed and let me take their pictures!

THE CHANGING SEASONS – MARCH 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

HIBERNATING THROUGH MARCH

The season didn’t change much here, though I suppose it got warmer overall. Mostly, though, the birds changed. I spent the month hibernating. This is the time of year when I really begin to hate our weather.

We are (usually) past major amounts of snow, though some of the heaviest snow we’ve ever seen has shown up in March and April. In this area in 1997, 36 inches of snow fell on April 1st and almost 25 in Boston.

Garry’s Snow Pictures

There is a storm on the way, but I am expecting mostly rain. I could be wrong, but I’m counting on being right.

Birds in March

Red-Bellied Woodpecker at feeding time

We got the heaviest snow of the winter at the beginning of the month and Garry took the pictures. It took about a week to melt and then it got warm, rained, was windy, got cold. Then a day or two of warm.

Garry’s Valley In March

Cardinal back in the woods

I’m trying to pay as little attention as I can to the news. I’m not very good at it, but I keep trying. All of the news from everywhere on the globe, but even more from here, is bad. I feel like the entire world has gone wrong. I really want to live through this and see it get better. I do not want this to be the last I see of this world!

Cardinal in the woods

We see each other!

Scarred and scornful, I stand my ground!

One of my birthday bouquets!

And the new bathroom!


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su-Leslie’s post, she will update it with links to of yours.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG, THE GRASS HAS RIZ. I WONDER WHERE THE FLOWERS IS? – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Friday: SPRING

The birdies are blooming in breeding colors and there are buds (but no leaves or flowers) on bushes and trees. What is up really?

Bugs are up. Ants are up. Birds are nesting and beginning to breed. The temperature is finally swinging around and while we will get some more cold days and night, we aren’t going to get a long month of deep freeze weather … or at least so we hope.

Back from the south, Carolina Wren

I’m waiting for a flower to appear outside. We have giant amounts of forsythia, but they don’t bloom much because they are at the edge of the woods and there’s very little sunlight there. A lot of our bushes bloom very late and some no longer bloom.

Nuthatch who never gets dizzy upside-down!

Our fearless deck squirrel

My personal favorite odd couple …

The winds of winter took down a lot of trees and I’m pretty sure our giant lilac tree has finally been squashed flat. It had taken several hits before, but I think this year, it’s a goner. I would like to be wrong. I guess I’ll know soon enough. At least by the middle of May, if not sooner.

Another odd couple — Carolina Wren and Goldfinch

Down the trees stalks the Nuthatch

Our Carolina Wrens are back and the Goldfinch have turned bright yellow and gold. Young squirrels have come up and hanging around for hours, picking up pieces of seeds that have fallen from the feeders.

Bright little birds!

Red and yellow, oh my! Better than flowers!

It is not quite springtime in the Valley as it is in other areas, but for this part of the world?

Maybe not flowers, but definitely colorful!

This is spring. Or kind of springlike. More or less springish. We are working on it.

I wonder where the flowers is?

MAKING DO AND SOMETIMES, A SURPRISE – Marilyn Armstrong

Our mailbox got beat up. Was it whacked by a teenager and a baseball bat or hit by a plow? Since we didn’t see it happen, it’s a guess. What we know it that it got mashed. Not just ours, but our neighbors and other people on the same route. The ground is still pretty hard, making putting in a new post difficult, but the post office refused to deliver mail without a mailbox.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Buds in March

Yet somehow, the mailbox got repaired. Not replaced, but fixed. Along with our neighbor across the street. Owen didn’t do it. I asked and he said no, he hadn’t repaired it, so either the neighbor did a secret repair … or the plow driver took responsibility and did it … or the post office did it … or some stranger did it. We are still going to need to do a proper repair. It’s not an expensive repair, mind you. $20 for a post and another $22 for a post box.

Voila! Ready for mail for at least another decade or two, depending on snowfall, plow, teenagers and garbage trucks who also have been known to back into mailboxes.

Photo Garry Armstrong

I’m betting on the guy across the street and the next time we see him, we’ll have to ask. We aren’t exactly friends, but we aren’t exactly not friends. We are the kind of “over the hedge” friends you become in New England. He gives us extra tomatoes (he grows beautiful tomatoes) and we are always very happy to get them.

We have watched his children grow from little kids to college graduates. I remember when our children (our grandchild, actually) took the same school buses. Time has flown!

And now another summer is lurking a few months in the future. It’s only March so it’s still cold but it will get warmer. Eventually, it will be spring, then summer. Before we have time to blink, winter will be back.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – March down by the Mumford Dam

It seems to me the summer is when you race like mad to try and get everything done because there is very little time between the end of winter and winter’s return.

Weather is changing. Autumn is shorter. Summer is shorter and winter lasts longer. There is more rain, more ice, less snow. I don’t know what it means because New England is the kind of environment for erratic weather. Now it’s more erratic, but because it has always been strange. it is more strange, but what does it mean?

I’m sure it means something, but I’m not enough of a scientist to be able to tease the threads apart and make the right deductions. I simply know for the past two years, autumn has gone missing and we’ve had more rain and ice, less snow and more wind than I’ve ever seen. Which for New England IS unusual.

OVER? OR A FRESH START? Stark #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Stark #writephoto


Often, through the endless winter, Maggie had been sure her garden would never bloom again. As the frozen ground showed no signs of softening in spring sunshine and clumps of dirty brown snow lay on the earth, she would look at the garden and think: “This year, it can’t bloom. Too cold for too long. Too much ice and snow. And I have not been able to work with it, either.”

The overgrown disorder of the last year’s growth was still thatched across the garden. It had rained so much last year they’d been unable to clear it, so it had stayed there, mulching its way through the winter as they mulched with it.

Despite this and her nearly terminal certainty of imminent doom and total destruction, the garden would suddenly return. Everything bloomed at once. Roses and rhododendrons and daylilies and even the daffodils and columbine.

Flowers suddenly bloomed. In some of the worst years when winter had lain on the ground through most of May, those awful, bitter winters? In those years, the garden would bloom all at once with a frantic and wild passion as if it making up for the lost weeks of normal growth, for the dead months when they had been unable to set a single bud.

One day, she would come downstairs and out the gate and gasp at the amazing colors, how the roses had covered the buses like blankets. That the holly was almost a full story tall and even the miniature lilac bushes and thrown a flower or two.

It gave her hope in a world where the sun rarely shined and she prayed only that the well would not be polluted from something poured into the ground, seeping slowly into that fragile layer of underground water.

Their source of life was down there. In her case more than 450 feet down there, one of the deepest wells in the area. Their water had always been clear and ice-cold after it rose from the underlying rocks.

Was this barrenness a forerunner to one more garden? One more summer when the heat didn’t burn the earth to cinders?

She could only watch and wait. Each year was different. One year, it never stopped raining and after a while, the ground felt like a giant sponge, soft and gooey. Then there would be years of drought, leaving all of them wondering if the underground miracle of water would survive.

It was the very early days of the first week in May. In normal years — sometimes called “the old days” — she’d have already seen her early flowers. The garden would have moved on from crocus to daffodil and would now be full of Columbine and the green shoots of daylilies. The old lilac outback would be about to bloom.

Wild garden

But maybe, one more year, the earth would catch its breath and everything would grow again. Maybe the rivers would fill up and somehow, as if they too were seeds waiting to be born, fish would be there and snapping turtle. The geese and the swans and the herons would fish and flocks of ducks would magically float down with the current.

All she could do was wait and never give up hope. the Earth would come back. After all, it always had.

BLACKSTONE RIVER AND CANAL IN MAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Bridge and canal in May

We had just enough sunshine to get out of the house and down to the canal. About an hour in total.

Reflections in the water. You can see the fallen pollen from the oak trees floating on the water

A quiet day with the river shining like glass. May telling me that summer really is here … or nearly so.

Peaceful

GOOD MORNING – MEMORIAL DAY IN THE U.S. – Marilyn Armstrong

Unlike most other American holidays, we retain a bit of respect for a day that honors veterans of our many wars. The cemeteries will be full of flags and visitors.

Otherwise, this is “grill your meat” day. It is the official opening of summer. Everything closed all winter opens on Memorial Day.

Macro Begonia

I have a problem with grilling insofar as we don’t own a grill. Well, we do, sort of. A tiny hibachi which uses charcoal. The amount of labor required to cook two hamburgers on a hibachi exceeds any joy we might get from eating them, so I think I’ll cook normally. Finally, I understand why gas grills have become so popular.

Flick, it’s on. No lighting the charcoal and waiting until it finally gets to the right color … and then waiting for it all to chill down so you can figure out what to do with the ashes. (Answer? Put them in the garden; they make a pretty good fertilizer.)

Tomorrow isn’t supposed to be a nice day. Grey and chilly like today, though we might get a little bit of sunshine. Hard to know. By Wednesday, summer will make another appearance.

We used to give barbecues in the summer. When we were younger. When I could still get from the deck to the lawn without a chair lift. For that matter, when Garry could get from the lawn to the deck on those long, steep stairs.

If the sun comes out, maybe I’ll take some pictures. Otherwise … it’s will be another Monday. Holidays don’t pack the same oomph they had when we were working.

When every day is a “day off,” a three-day holiday is another day off, but with a lot more traffic.