Dorothy only has one class on Thursdays and it isn’t until the middle of the afternoon. So, we had an outing together this morning. We picked her up from school and drove up to Wingaersheek Beach on the west side of the Annisquam River inlet. It was very windy today, more so even than yesterday, and cool, probably somewhere in the mid 50s. But beautiful for all of that.
We walked out on the sand and around the rocks on the north end of the beach. The tide was pretty far out but had turned and was coming in. From there we drove to Essex and had lunch at Woodman’s, a “quintessential New England clam shack is where, in 1916, ‘Chubby’ Woodman invented the fried clam.”
Dorothy, Winnie, Amir, Emiko, Debbie, and Carter
We weren’t going to spend a week visiting Dorothy at school and not meet some of her friends. That’s mostly what we did today, hanging out at our hotel and doing a little shopping until the later afternoon. Then we met various groups of Dorothy’s friends. This is one of a few group pictures that I took the help me remember names and put them to faces as Dorothy talks about people she is hanging out or doing things with over the course of the semester. I didn’t get pictures of everyone she talks about, but what I have will be a big help to me. I’m hopeless when it comes to names.
Portland Head Light
Earlier in the week, the forecast had been for Hurricane Joaquin to have made landfall and be dumping huge amounts of rain all up the eastern seaboard. As it turned out, the European Center for Medium range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) forecast model had the best track and the storm moved north well out to sea. We had a beautiful, if somewhat breeze and mostly cloudy day. We drove up to Portland, Maine with Dorothy and two of her friends. After wandering around in downtown Portland and stopping for donuts (at The Holy Donut) and lunch (Andy’s Old Port Pub), we went to Fort Williams Park and Portland Head Light.
We’ve made the trip to north of Boston twice now. That means four chances to stop at Rockland Bakery in Nanuet, New York. We have taken advantage of that opportunity all four times. It is becoming ‘a thing.’ I posted a picture from our second visit, on the way home from our first time up to school (Sunday, August 23, 2015). If you happen to be heading to or from New England and crossing the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge, the bakery isn’t going to be very far out of your way. It’s worth it for the smell, alone. They, if you buy nothing else, pick up a hot bagel off the conveyor and buy some cream cheese butter to go with it. You won’t regret it, I promise (unless you have celiac disease, I suppose, in which case, maybe not).
Burning Bush (a.k.a. Winged Euonymus)
Because of the semi-drought we had over the latter part of the summer, the fall colors may not be as spectacular this year as in some years. There will be exceptions, of course. Some plants can be counted on to provide good color in almost any conditions. In this case, the drought had less effect that it might have done because this is growing in a pot at the top of our driveway and was watered somewhat regularly. The winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus, also known as burning bush), is one of the more reliable plant for fall color. It is considered an invasive weed and its use is discouraged in many and even banned in some jurisdictions.
Philoscia muscorum (Common Striped Woodlouse)
As a kid we knew anything that looked at all like one of these as roly-poly bugs or potato bugs. The more proper roly-poly, the pillbugs in family Armadillidiidae, are also known colloquially as armadillo bugs. They are mostly not native to North America but are fairly common, now. This is a common striped woodlouse, Philoscia muscorum, a genus and species also introduced from Europe. I was actually on the ground photographing a persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) that had fallen from a tree, when this little fellow started crawling up onto the fruit. Compared to other woodlice, this is a speedy little thing and I kept having to turn him around so he wouldn’t get away. I didn’t bother him for long, though, and he went on his merry way.
Bombus impatiens (Common Eastern Bumblebee)
I took pictures today of a bumble bee, a carpenter bee, and a spider. I’ve posted pictures of all three this summer, so whatever I post, it’s going to be a repeat. While some like my spider pictures, they tend to be a little less popular for some reason, so I decided to go with the bumble bee. One of the characteristics that allows you to distinguish the bumble bee from the carpenter bee is the presence or absence of hairs on the abdomen. You can see them fairly clearly in this picture. A bald or nearly bald abdomen (the rear-most section of an insect—head, thorax, and abdomen) mean carpenter bee. Harry means bumble bee. They are actually quite different in terms of their eyes, as well, and the male carpenter bee has a big white patch on his face.
Grasshopper, Family Acrididae
I went out into the empty lot next to my building today. It’s getting fairly deeply overgrown and it’s harder to make my way through it. I did find a few pathways, probably made by deer, and that helped a bit. I came across this little grasshopper and was able to get close enough for a few photographs. I cannot say more than that I believe it is in family Acrididae. That narrows it down to about 620 species in North America (and 8,000 worldwide) and I’m not even 100% sure of that. So, we’ll just call it a grasshopper, shall we?
Cathy and Charlotte
It was nice to be at the WCA Banquet this evening. Without having a child at the school, it is all too easy to lose touch with people we really enjoy, so we were glad to take this opportunity to keep our friendships alive. One person we didn’t particularly expect to see what Charlotte. Her youngest is a senior and was going to a different school but transferred back to WCA, so she was at the banquet. As you can see, the photo of Charlotte and Cathy was fairly expertly photobombed by Charlotte’s husband, Andy.
Aeshna umbrosa (Shadow Darner)
I had just returned from the grocery store and Cathy was in the front yard weeding. She called in to say that there was a largish dragonfly on the Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) by the driveway. I grabbed my camera, slapped on the macro lens and was able to get a half dozen photographs before he flew away. This is a male shadow darner (Aeshna umbrosa), identified by my sister-in-law with that confirmed later by bugguide.net.
Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox)
I happened to walk into the kitchen late this morning and look out the back door. Right in front of me, smack dab in the middle of the yard, was this young fox. I don’t know that it’s young, actually, but it was definitely smaller than the two we had in the yard February, March, and June of 2014. Mostly it was just sitting there scratching itself. Twice it stopped and looked right at me and both times I felt like it was saying, are you going to chase me off, or not? Both times it decided I was not and went back to scratching. Even in this picture, you can see its hind leg is slightly raised, about to start up again.
Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue Mistflower)
I didn’t have a lot of time for photography today. I did manage to get out into the back yard for about ten minutes between work and somewhere I needed to be. I got some more good spider pictures but once again I’m going to hold back. It’s hard but I like to safe that for really good pictures, new spiders, or when I really have nothing else to show you. This is blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum). It doesn’t look very blue, at this point, though. It has gone to seed, and close up, the seeds are pretty little helicopters the are actually all over our back yard now, especially in the spider webs that I’m not showing you today.
I took a few pictures in the back yard this afternoon but I wasn’t very happy with them. I had sort of resigned myself to posting a picture that I wasn’t particularly excited about. At a little after 6:00 I went to a dinner engagement and as I parked, the sky to the west was starting to get a deeper shade of blue and the clouds were quite lovely. So, you get a reprieve from a boring picture and get a beautiful western autumn sky in early autumn, instead. You cannot tell from this picture but just below the image is interstate 270. Not particularly lovely, but the noise wasn’t enough to counteract the beauty above.
Phyciodes tharos (Pearl Crescent)
I went out into the back yard again after work today and at first was thinking I wouldn’t see anything interesting to photograph. Then I noticed this little pearl crescent butterfly sitting on the seed head of a black-eyed Susan under our dining room window. He allowed me to get quite close and I took a lot of pictures but only a few where his wings were open. He would open his wings but as soon as my camera got very close, they would close up again. This is one of only three that I got showing the tops of his wings.
Aphids (Family Aphididae)
Today we get a photo of some of our less desirable creature friends. These things suck. I mean, literally, they suck the juice out of plant stems, sometimes causing serious damage to the plant. In this case, there are few enough of them and it’s late enough in the year that they are not going to cause serious problems for this rose. It’s a large and very robust rose that was nearly killed by the last two winters, which were very hard on roses generally. But it’s coming back and unless this winter is equally bad, should be in reasonable shape by the end of next year. It is growing on a trellis on the south end of the house and the rose can cover the entire thing (which is pretty substantial).
Abe Lincoln on The U.S. Penny
Kind of random photo today. I had been at the office a little while and noticed a small pile of pennies on my desk. I thought that would be nice as a still life, so got the camera out with my macro lens and took a few pictures. Some had a bit more depth of field (more of the penny in focus) but this is the one I liked the best (taken at f/2.8). They were lit by a combination of a halogen lamp that was directly over them and a flash, bounced off a white card.
She’s Made Her Bed, Now She Has to Sleep In It
Cathy planted this bed where there used to be a large northern red oak (Quercus rubra) in the front of our front yard. There is a freeze warning for this evening and although it may not be cold enough for long enough to kill these plants, Cathy wanted a photo of it today, just in case. As it turned out (I’m posting this on Monday), the frost would have done significant damage but would probably not have killed everything. As it was, though, Cathy put a sheet down over the plants both Saturday and Sunday nights and there was no frost under the sheet. So, in this case, Cathy not only made her bed, but she used a bed sheet. She did not, however, sleep in it.
Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) Bud
We had our first frost overnight. It wasn’t a particularly hard freeze, although any very tender plant not near a house or under some sort of cover was probably killed or severely damaged. We moved most of our indoor plants back indoors yesterday, so they were alright. Cathy put sheets over others and that protected them well enough. In the lawn, especially in open areas, there was a good bit of ice riming the blades of grass. This little wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca) still had some buds on it and one little red fruit, which was frozen, I’m afraid. So, fall has arrived.
Maple Leaves in Fall Colors
The autumn hasn’t been as colorful so far as some years. I think that’s mostly because of the relatively dry August and September we had. One of the two remaining maple trees in our back yard has turned red, though, and it’s quite beautiful. It isn’t a very shapely tree and I would have a hard time taking a picture of all of it, in any case, but here is a small piece of a branch against the trunk, showing the leaves to good advantage. Here’s to more color yet to come.
A Cathedral of Wood
I had jury duty today, which was interesting. I can’t remember how long its been since I did that but it’s been a long time, 20 years, at least. I didn’t end up being selected for the jury but of course if I had been I would have served as best I could. I was dismissed after the one jury was seated and after stopping briefly at home I decided to go out into the woods.
The woods around here are not as thick and dense as some I’ve been in. They are not particularly ancient with most trees being less than 100 years old and only here and there a really old oak or beech tree. They also are not as impressively tall as some I’ve seen. There is not much that can compare to the Douglas fir or the coast redwoods of the northern California. Still, the eastern forest, when allowed to grow relatively unimpeded for a while, can be very pretty in its own way.
The tallest and straightest trees here are the tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera). They tend to yellow and brown in autumn. That’s what most of the trees are in this picture. Of course, they are not alone. The woods here are quite varied, with oaks and maples of many types, which take much longer to get really massive, but which provide deep rusty reds and bright orange-red colors in fall. There are also many beech, sycamore, cherry, locust, walnut, sweet gum, tupelo, sassafras, elm, willow, ash, catalpa, hornbeam, hickory, alder, poplar, dogwood, and occasional stands of white pine and red cedar (to say nothing of introduced species, such as various spruce and fir, paulownia, and ailanthus. What our woods lack in size, they make up for in variety.
Sunset With Powerlines
I was driving over to Ben’s house this evening for a meeting. I had already taken a few pictures of my dinner. I know you all were hoping to see one of those, but as I turned off of Rt. 108 onto Fieldcrest Road, the sun was sinking into the west behind this line of power lines. I pulled off and took a dozen pictures of so. I don’t usually take industrial type pictures, although I also like them when I see them. This one turned out pretty well, though.
Trees By Moonlight
I didn’t have a lot of time to get out for picture taking today. After work I fixed myself dinner before heading off for a meeting. Because traffic is so unpredictable around here, I like to give myself extra time, particularly on some routes. That includes Muncaster Mill Road, which sometimes backs up terribly. Tonight it wasn’t so bad and I got where I was going a bit early.
The moon was out and shining through the trees where I parked and I thought I’d take a few pictures of that before going in. This one is a 6 second exposure at f/5.7, with a little extra light on the trees from my flashlight, which is a fairly bright LED model.
I also took a few pictures with the camera aimed straight up, showing stars and with the clouds blurring a bit due to the 30 second exposure, but those were not very good.
I took the long way home today, stopping where Needwood Road crosses Lake Needwood and spending a little time taking pictures. The sky was a remarkable blue and although there may have been years with better fall color, the trees were quite lovely today, lit by the afternoon sun. The water was mostly calm, reflecting the colors beautifully. I’d love it if the growth on the causeway leading to the short bridge over the lake was cut so there was an unobstructed view of the lake, but by standing on the guardrail, I could get a reasonable picture.
An Enchanted Wood
I took a bit of a hike today. Well, a walk, really. Possibly a stroll. Anyway, I went to Little Bennett State Park and parked where Clarksburg Road crosses Little Bennett Creek and walked along Hyattstown Mill Road to Kingsley Schoolhouse. From there the road turns up a very steep hill and then levels off, leading to a camping area for the park. I passed a couple on horseback heading the other direction. Beyond the camping area is a path that leads into an enchanted wood.
I don’t actually know that the wood is enchanted. This is a picture of the path, leading off into the woods. I didn’t actually see any elves. I’m not sure that I heard any, even. But then, I’m one of the clumsy folk that they tend to avoid. So, even if they were there, they would have stayed out of sight. SO, maybe this wood isn’t enchanted, but it sure looks like it might be. It was enchanting, anyway.
Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)
What a beautiful weekend. After some cold weather last week, it’s returned to 70°F temperatures and blue skies. We did some work in the yard early this afternoon, pulling up weeds that have managed to thrive in the dry months of August and September. We also cut back some of the things that we have planted but that are spreading faster than we’d like. I took a little time to take pictures, as well. I tried to get pictures of leaves falling from the trees in the back yard but they didn’t turn out as well as I’d have liked. This picture is of a few dogwood leaves and berries, turning their traditional fall colors.
I don’t usually buy lamb chops because I try to stick to the lower priced cuts of meat. There’s generally more flavor in those, anyway, but it’s at least partly about money (actually, it’s mostly about money, in this case). I will, for a special occasion, buy ribeye steaks but that’s an extravagance. The first thing I check at the store is the meat that’s been marked down, usually 30% and occasionally 50%. This is typically perfectly fine meat that’s nearing its sell-by date. Since I’m either going to cook it right away or freeze it, that’s no worry. These lamb chops were on sale this week and I figured it was worth it. They were terrific, broiled until hot and crusty on the outside and slightly pink in the center (except cooked all the way through for Cathy, who doesn’t care for rare).
I enjoy crossword puzzles. Way back in the early 80s I started doing the crossword puzzles in the Washington Post. I had a friend at work that I’d do them with during lunch. Neither of us was very good at them and we were often frustrated by them. There was another co-worker who seemed to know all the answers and we marveled at his ability. Now, more then 30 years later, I often complete the puzzles in the post. We don’t get the print newspaper but my mom saves the puzzles for me and I work through them when I have time (as well as the puzzles in Simon and Schuster puzzle books). Here’s a stack of recent puzzles that I’ve finished.
Time for a picture of Cathy. Often these are taken when it’s getting late and I haven’t taken any pictures for the day. Still, I’m always glad for an excuse to take her picture and always glad for the pictures I get. Pictures like this generally get more ‘likes’ on Facebook than any other sort, so they are clearly popular with my audience, as well.
Inevitably she will make silly faces for a few and we’ll sometimes try something a little different. This evening, after the faces, I took a few with her turning around quickly, spinning her hair out to the side. This picture happened in between, though. There were three ‘normal’ pictures (I put normal in quotes because silly is the norm, around here).
This one turned out quite well. Thank you, Cathy, for putting up with me all these years.
Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (Porcelain Berry)
I went for a walk early this afternoon, walking around the top half of the block my building is on. It’s a fairly large block so even my abbreviated walk was nearly a mile. I stopped fairly often and took pictures, mostly pictures of details rather than overall views. They were predominately pictures of colors that we think of as fall colors, but this first image is an exception. These are fall colors, of course, but they are not the colors we think of that way. Blues, purples, and bright greens are the colors of spring or possibly early summer. Fall is for hot colors, not these cool colors.
The second picture, of maple leaves, is much more traditionally fall-colored. The reds and oranges of maples are a big part of what we look forward to in the autumn in the mid-Atlantic states. The bright and sometimes deep reds of red maple (Acer rubrum, the bright orange of the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), the deep, almost black reds of some Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are all wonderful parts of our fall festivities.
In addition to this picture of two maple trees, I took pictures of the deeper, rusty reds and oranges of oaks, the scarlet of sumac, the fiery orange of brambles (blackberries and raspberries), and yellow and orange crab apples. There were small, red rose hips on the multiflora roses. There were also red berries against green (but occasionally maroon) leaves of Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). There were even the deep purple-blue berries of wild grapes in a few places.
Here I am posting a second time today (and the third picture). I don’t generally get complaints about sunsets, though, so I’ll go ahead. Actually, sunsets seem to be my number two most popular subject after people and family members in particular. I guess I understand that. Sunsets are pretty amazing, in spite of how common they are. The happen often (well, technically they happen every evening, but they are not spectacular every evening). But they are fleeting and ephemeral and really are not captured in a photograph. We only love the photographs because they remind us of the real thing, which is so much better.
Zelkova Avenues on Norbeck Road
I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now and needed to make it soon. The sun is setting as I come home from work and lighting the Zelkova serrata trees that are planted on either side and down the middle of Norbeck Road. They have turned from their summer green to a bright rusty orange that’s really quite amazing. With the end of daylight saving time this weekend, I’ll be coming home an hour too late next week, it will already be dark, so I stopped this evening and carefully made my way to the median, where I took a few pictures.
C&O Canal, Below Swain’s Lock
It was another absolutely beautiful day today. Cathy had a soccer game and I was in Potomac anyway, so I decided to go for a walk on the C&O Canal. I drove out River Road and down to Swain’s Lock, walking down the towpath towards D.C. There were quite a few people out, as you’d expect on a day like this, but fewer than there would have been in summer, I suppose. It was the perfect temperature for a walk and the sky was remarkably blue. The colors in the trees seem to have passed their peak, in general, but there was still a fair amount, here and there.
The beech trees are still mostly green and the sycamores nearly bare. There was less red then one could hope for, adding exclamation points to the vistas, but there were a few places, like around this rock, where there was still a riot of color to be seen.