Juniper caught misty moon on a chill winter night
Struggling to escape, moon gave up on the fight
Scrub jays gathered atop the great tree
Pecking and prodding until moon was set free
Monochrome Monday in infrared
Juniper caught misty moon on a chill winter night
Struggling to escape, moon gave up on the fight
Scrub jays gathered atop the great tree
Pecking and prodding until moon was set free
Monochrome Monday in infrared
These American bison are following an ancient pathway along the Gibbon River in Wyoming. The well-worn trail has been carved into the turf by the hooves of many.
Here’s a slightly closer view of the bison. Though they may look docile, you don’t want to get too close to these animals that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and travel at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. I photographed them while safely inside the car.
Captured by frost spikes
Struggle against winter’s grip
Glints of sun, released
This yew plant in my garden measured three feet in height for many years. I don’t think it was fond of our High Desert temperature fluctuations. Last year it finally grew taller so now it’s almost five feet tall.
Yesterday I caught one of our resident “landscapers” chewing on the new growth. Guess he thought it needed a trim. 😉
Today I’m featuring images portraying oceans of emotion from a trip last year to Northern Ireland and Ireland. The images reflect the eight basic emotions defined by psychologist, Robert Plutchik.
Anger – Winds at the Giant’s Causeway were reaching 80 miles per hour. As each wave crashed upon the shore, froth shot out of a hole on the left side of this picture. It was as if Mother Nature was foaming at the mouth.
Fear – The incoming storm frightened most of the tourists away from Carrick-a-Rede. It shut down shortly after we crossed due to high winds.
Disgust – The walk into Cushenden Caves was wet and muddy. This is where a disgusting scene in Game of Thrones Season 2 takes place. Melisandre gives birth to the shadow monster that eventually kills Renly.
Anticipation – These ordinary looking stairs lead the way out for another character in Game of Thrones. In Season 6, Arya anticipates better times upon emerging from the water after being brutally attacked by the Waif.
Sadness – This cemetery overlooking a distant bay near Kilmalkedar Church was full of sadness. I wondered if it held some of my distant relatives.
Trust – This is a view from Slea Head Drive. Minutes later we made our way over Conor Pass, one of the scariest roads to drive in Ireland. It’s a twisting narrow road with cliffs on one side and a drop off on the other. Fortunately, we had a trusted guide that handled all the driving!
Surprise – I was surprised at how massive the Cliffs of Moher were in person. For five miles, the cliffs dramatically tower over the Atlantic Ocean.
Joy – I felt joyful when we viewed The Three Sisters, pictured in the middle of this image. We have an iconic landmark referred to as the Three Sisters where I live in Bend, Oregon. It felt like a connection with my kin.
I felt oceans of emotion over the course of this trip. Hope you sensed some of my feelings through these photos.
I saw this decorated tree near Sisters, Oregon. There was a nice contrast between the rough brown ponderosa pine bark and the delicate tufts of fluorescent green lichen.
Today I’m sharing close up photos of marvelous malachite. According to geology.com, malachite is a “green copper carbonate hydroxide mineral.” The site also refers to its striking green color and that’s why I collect it.
This first piece has a rough texture and interesting shape. For scale, it measures 1.5 x 1.0 inches.
The second piece is opposite of the first – rounded shapes and smooth textures. It measures 3.75 x 1.5 inches.
The third piece is a cube that’s got interesting lines viewed from different angles. It measures 1.3 x 1.3 x 1.3 inches.
The last piece is an antique watch with a malachite face and band. Malachite has low hardness so it’s relatively easy to work with in making jewelry, carvings, etc. The watch face measures 1.0 x 0.75 inches.
Can you understand why I collect pieces of marvelous malachite? I love its green color and variety of textures.
What birds do you C in this post? The Bird Weekly Photo Challenge this week is birds that start with a “C.” Can you guess what each bird is? Answers are at the end.
1. This hawk likes to hang out around bird feeders to pick up a quick snack of songbirds. It’s a medium-size accipiter that lives in forested habitats
2. This songbird’s name comes from its habit of foraging through piles of discarded grain. It’s common throughout parts of Europe and Asia.
3. This songbird lives in colonies; usually near a water source. They collect mud to create unique gourd-shaped nests.
4. This seabird, with its striking black and white plumage, is often described as a “flying penguin.” Other species in this family of birds include puffins and auks.
5. North America’s largest shorebird is often seen inland, far from any ocean shoreline. Its name reflects a distinctive part of its anatomy.
Answers: 1. Cooper’s hawk 2. chaffinch 3. cliff swallow 4. common murre 5. long-billed curlew
Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – Birds that start with a C
A blooming cosmos is one of my favorite sights to see in a garden. We had several colors of cosmos in our garden this summer, but this magenta-colored flower was my favorite. I love how the color contrasts with the bright yellow center. The bees appreciated them as well.
It’s time to share special photos from the past year. Please enjoy this selection of nature, history, and art photos from Bend Branches.
One day, while playing around with editing effects, this mirror image of autumn leaves sparked my imagination. I saw a woman wearing a crimson cape in the photo below. The short story I created, The Tree People of Autumn , is based on edited photos of trees.
I tried to turn my camera towards things in my yard more this year. Here’s one of my prickly pear cactus in bloom.
We created a big vegetable garden this year. Some of our produce may not have won ribbons at the fair, but it was entertaining. 😊
This fence lizard blended in so well with the bark of one of the western juniper trees in my backyard.
We took more short trips nearby this year. I added to my collection of rocks and featured some of my treasures in my I Like Rocks! post.
I visited Ireland and Northern Ireland last winter, prior to the world locking down. This European eagle-owl at the Dingle Falconry Experience in County Kerry, was gorgeous.
In May, I stepped back in time four decades with photos illustrating my account of the eruption of Mount St Helens. Here’s the mountain before it blew it’s top.
I showed a glimpse of local history with this picture of headdresses at the High Desert Museum in Bend. The craftmanship of these is amazing. This photo also includes a ballot box, something many of us made use of this year.
I emphasized the many shapes and textures of artifacts in the Kam Wah Chung Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon. This site, built in the 1860s, was an important gathering place for Chinese immigrants. Doc Hay, the resident doctor, gave local people an herbal decoction during the 1918-1919 flu pandemic. Though some still became ill, all were able to continue working and not a single person died.
When I visited the Kindred Spirits sculpture in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, I was touched by the story behind it. In 1847, people of the Choctaw tribe in America shared a gift of $170 with the Irish people during Ireland’s Great Famine. That action was reciprocated this year when people of Irish descent sent financial help to Native Americans suffering from the pandemic.
The world this year seemed to be full of disasters, but many of us found comfort in art. This was one of the interesting sculptures at Winterfest in Bend. See the guy photobombing my picture?
We created art in new ways. These are face masks I made from customized fabric. Who knew they would make a fashion statement this year?
I finally filled up an empty wall by creating a mural featuring characters in stories I’m working on. Can you see the pronghorn, ground squirrel, magpie, and badger? High Desert Mural features close ups of each critter and more on the creative process.
After the local galleries were shut down for the monthly First Friday Art Walk event, I decided to share more of my own art under the First Friday Art tag. Here’s the first piece I shared in May. I created this feather on scratchboard during a scientific illustration course.
I remembered sights seen on past adventures and look forward to future travels. This dolphin sculpture is in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. It expresses the joy many of us will feel at being able to travel once more.
I hope you can venture out more in the upcoming year and that you’ll share special photos a year from now. 😀
Here’s a black-necked stilt drawing I created with pen-and-ink. The rushes surrounding these birds echo their tall slim form.
Here’s a stilt I saw in the spring in Harney County, Oregon. Black-necked stilts have an almost regal quality to them. They move as if in a procession, slowly and deliberately.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
I’m representing my feelings towards 2020 by showing it being struck by lightning. Yes, there were some great moments, but I’m glad to be saying bye to this particular year.
See how all the other western juniper trees around this tree are thriving? Can you see the sliver of blue in the distant sky? Once the dark clouds dissipate, we’ll have a brighter future where more of us can thrive.
Happy New Year!
Halters & bridles on display at the Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in Fort Rock, Oregon.
My dog, Tesla, loves to sing along to music. She especially likes harmonica music. Here’s her version of Jingle Bells.
You may not be able to hear it very well in the background, but here’s who Tesla was singing along with. This talented musician plays 10 Christmas carols in 5 minutes.
May music find its way into your holiday celebrations.
Where words fail, music speaks.Hans Christian Andersen
I saw this visitor in the cottonwoods in Fields, Oregon. Great horned owls like to hang out in this particular stand of black cottonwoods. I was on the Circling Steens Mountain tour that’s a part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival.
The trees weren’t leafed out yet on this April field trip, but that made it easier to see birds. Cottonwoods like to have wet feet, as you can tell in this photo.
If you visit this area, be sure to sample one of the famous milkshakes at The Fields Station.
Oregon grape up close in my yard dressed in seasonal colors. The prickly leaves on this semi-evergreen shrub get burgundy highlights in the fall. Oregon grape plants have yellow flowers in the spring and purple berries in the summer. It’s striking year-round.
Many of us won’t be celebrating the holidays with close relatives, but we’ve grown closer to bird “families” in our yards. Interest in birding is soaring and people are flocking to this activity during the pandemic. I’m sharing the joy of birds in these photos of ornaments I’ve collected over the years.
Bluebirds capture the essence of the sky in their plumage. I’m hoping we have more bluebird days to look forward to soon.
Flocks of whooping crane birds fill the landscape with their unique “unison” call. Maybe people can heed the call towards unison in the upcoming year.
Spotted owls swoop through a world full of uncertainties on outstretched wings. Finding the right course is not always easy.
Cedar waxwing birds travel in groups known as an “ear-full.” Wearing ear-to-ear masks benefits everyone.
Snowy owls have a “sit and wait” hunting strategy. It pays to be patient to reach your ultimate goal.
Ring-necked pheasants have adapted well to living in a wide variety of situations. Roosting apart now, leads towards flocking together later.
At this time of the year, you see a lot of waterfowl on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. I paused to look at this group of mallards until…
This happened. No he didn’t hit me, but I thought I better continue on my way.
Then I saw this big gray-white camera shy bird next to a pair of common mergansers. What is that?
Oh! It’s a trumpeter swan, not a species I see very often here. It was all by itself.
When I was almost at the end of my walk, I saw this group of buffleheads and mallards. I’ll just zoom in a little since they’re going in the same direction.
Well the Canada geese and common goldeneye cooperated, but this bufflehead decided to go his own way.
You never know what waterfowl on the Deschutes River will do next when they know you’re trying to photograph them. 😉
Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – Birds near or in the water or snow
Peering through a branch-lined portal at the softness of snow.
Where frosty starbursts emerge from the desert soil.
And wise elders rejoice, reaching to the sky with arms contorted by the years. Ancient trees collect the bountiful flakes falling from the sky to share.
They tuck the next generation under downy crystalline blankets. When spring awakens them, they will change into new beings who will continue the cycle and share the softness of snow.
Monochrome Monday (MM)
The sun was rising and it was snowing lightly when I walked by this Canada goose sculpture in Bend, Oregon.
Here’s what it looks like with a bit more snow.
There are plenty of real life Canada geese in this neighborhood to keep the artwork company. The Deschutes River, and the Bend Whitewater Park, is directly behind this sculpture.
One of my favorite local trees is the western larch, Larix occidentalis. This conifer tree is unique because it drops its needles in the winter. Before they litter the forest floor, the needles turn a distinctive golden-yellow color. They stand out from the deep green shades of surrounding trees.
They have a delicate, almost lacey, growth form. Look at these needles radiating out in little groups of 15-30 on this branch. They are softer and more flexible than some of their pine tree cousins.
A wide range of wildlife relies on larch for food and cover. Squirrels feed on the cones and cache the seeds for future use. Songbirds nest and forage in their branches. They are especially important to pileated woodpeckers. This tree is an important food source for several kinds of grouse. Large mammals forage on the needles as a last resort since they are not as tasty as other trees.
Western larch trees reach a height of 98-197 feet. They can live up to 1,000 years. You may know them by one of their nicknames – tamarack.
People value the wood of this tree for burning and in construction. It’s a favorite firewood because it burns hot and has a sweet fragrance. We use larch wood in fencing, flooring, exterior trim, and cabinets. Thin strips of flexible larch wood are sometimes used in yacht construction.
Indigenous people used this tree in several ways. They used an infusion to treat laryngitis and tuberculosis. Resin was used for healing cuts. Resin tea helped relieve coughs and colds. They ate the cambium and sap. Native peoples chewed a gum from larch trees to ease sore throats. People made baking powder and medicine from galactan, a natural sugar in the wood.
We currently use the gum from the tree in lithography, paint, ink, food, and pharmaceuticals. Resin is used in producing turpentine and other products.
The photos above were taken near Sisters, Oregon. These trees are in the southern tip of the range for western larch. They occur north to southeastern British Columbia and east to western Montana.
I took the photo below in the Blue Mountains near Baker City, Oregon. Larch are common along stretches of the highway there. They grow at elevations between 1,600 and 7,900 feet and can tolerate temperatures as low as -58° F.
I’ve always wanted a western larch tree, but they grow too tall for my yard. Maybe I should settle for a bonsai version, like the one shown in my last photo. Hint hint… 😀
The items of various shapes and sizes in the kitchen of Kam Wah Chung stand out in black and white. I visited the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon a couple years ago. As I described in my post about that experience, it was like stepping back in time. This small building served as a general store, apothecary, doctor’s office, boarding house, religious center, and meeting spot for the Chinese people of the community in the late 1800s. Most worked in mines or on railroad line construction.
The co-owners of this business were Lung On, aka “Leon”, and Ing Hay, aka “Doc Hay.” As a result of their hard work, the business thrived for many years. Lung On passed away in 1940. Ing Hay moved to a nursing home in Portland, Oregon in 1948. The building stood vacant until it was opened in 1967. It contained a treasure trove of artifacts–over 30,000 have been cataloged so far.
Visitors can visit this site with a guide to learn more. It is a fascinating tour, made more interesting by the fact that the owners of this business were directly affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It is a part of history many of us never learned. Seeing a site such as this makes overlooked parts of our history come alive.
For information on tours, visit the Oregon State Parks site. Note Kam Wah Chung is only open seasonally and may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
Aspen trees in the fall are beautiful from far away and up close. I’m featuring autumn portraits of aspens in central and eastern Oregon.
A far away aspen stand glowing in a blaze of color on Hart Mountain.
Moving in closer to… an aspen-lined meadow at Aspen Day Use Area near Dillon Falls.
Taking a step closer to… a golden-leaved aspen in Pine Nursery Park in Bend.
Edging in closer to… the many-eyed bark of aspen trees in the Old Mill District of Bend.
Focusing up close on… frosty aspen leaves near Sunriver Nature Center.
I saw another lovely lichen begging for me to photograph it. This fluorescent green lichen was on the forest floor in a ponderosa pine forest near Sisters, Oregon.
To help celebrate the holidays this year, I’m sharing two pieces – a sheepdog & pine basket. I painted this Old English sheepdog on a rock for a friend. Doesn’t it look comfortable? This breed’s fluffy coat makes them appear much bigger than they are.
I’m portraying this rock on a small pine needle basket that I usually display on a wall. Though I’ve made pine needle baskets before, I didn’t make this one.
This piece was in an antique store so I don’t know its history. I love the pinwheel pattern in the center. Some unknown artist put a lot of time into creating this basket. Its delicate center, surrounded by the strength of the bundled pine needles, is tied together with radiating lines of tiny stitches.
Hope you liked my sheepdog & pine basket artwork this month. Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
The following images of igneous rocks up close were taken in my yard near Bend, Oregon.
What’s an igneous rock? Geology.com describes them as being “formed from the solidification of molten rock material.” For example, granite, gabbro, basalt, scoria, and obsidian are all types of igneous rock.
You probably notice some of these rocks have round bubble-like holes in them. These “vesicles” form when gas is trapped within the melted rock at the time it cools and turns solid.
As you can see, there is a lot of variety in texture and color in the igneous rocks in my yard. The rocks pictured are small enough to fit in the palm of my hand – the perfect size for collecting. 😉
Sunday Stills – Texture
This year I went on a quest with the goal of finding fall colors. Here’s a 4-part haiku story based on pictures taken on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway in Oregon.
Deep in the mountains
Mount Hood surveys the landscape
Draped in mossy robes
Rooted in shades of autumn
Fall’s gala begins
Cliffside rocks rejoice
Baring their columnar arms
Dancers cast in stone
Settling over the foothills
Autumn’s party ends
To view another story I created from finding fall foliage, see The Tree People of Autumn.
In April 2019, I went on a field trip to see petroglyphs & pictographs in Harney County, in eastern Oregon. This is one of the many trips offered as a part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Our guides that day were Bureau of Land Management archaeologists, Scott Thomas and Carolyn Temple.
One of the first things we learned was the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs.
Pictographs, like the images shown below, are painted onto rocks. These works are generally drawn with red, black, white, or yellow paint.
Pictographs frequently include depictions of animals. For example, the drawing at the top of the picture below appears to be a lizard.
Other works are classified as rectilinear abstracts. This form regularly includes straight lines, zigzags, lines resembling a rake, squares, chevrons, and other elements.
Abstract styles are fairly common in the northern part of the Great Basin. The pictograph below shows examples of the curvilinear abstract form. It includes circles, curvilinear meanders, dots, arcs, tally circles, together with more complex figures.
Petroglyphs are made by grinding and pecking rock away to form an image.
Abstract forms are also common in petroglyphs. These may include circles, connected circles, dots, curvilinear meanders, in addition to zigzagging and straight lines.
Our guides referred to the petroglyph below as the “super 8 movie camera.” Can you see the resemblance?
Zigzagging and straight lines are carved into the rock at the top of this petroglyph.
You may be wondering what these petroglyphs and pictographs represent. No one knows for sure. Some believe they document a specific event, such as a successful hunt. Others believe they were part of a religious ceremony or group history. However, they may also have been created as an artistic expression. All of these theories may in fact be correct.
It is also difficult to determine how old these images are. Sometimes researchers can use the lichens growing on the rocks or C-14 dating to age the petroglyphs and pictographs. When they studied rock art in nearby Lake County, they got a lucky break. Ash from the eruption of Mount Mazama 7,600 years ago covered the images. As a result, this helped them determine those particular images were at least that old. Creating rock art is an ancient practice that has existed for thousands of years.
Our guides made a point of reminding us how fragile these images are. For instance, if you touch them, the oil in your skin can cause pictograph paint to deteriorate. Permanent damage has occurred as a result of visitors making rubbings of carved images. Unfortunately, as we witnessed, images in rural areas are often used for target practice. Due to the negligent actions of a few, access to some sites is limited. Our group helped preserve the images by documenting what we saw only with photographs.
The guides mentioned a really cool way to see more of the faint drawings. If you go to dstretch.com, you can get a plugin that allows you to “see” pigments impossible to see with the naked eye. I was out of cell range and couldn’t get the plugin but others had it. Wow! You see images where it looks like there are none. Impressive. Maybe next time…
The first dusting of snow covered this old shed near Redmond, Oregon. Winter is on its way to the High Desert!