I took this photo of the Miller cabin in the morning at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. I used the platinum process for this image. This method, popular from 1873-1920, was discontinued due to the high cost of platinum.
within a small seed
a tiny new life slumbers
awakened by sun
emerald limbs stretch
stems lengthen and reach skyward
embraced by springtime
sepals nod and bend
petals emerge in starbursts
painted by nature
flower color fades
fruit envelops tender lives
within a small seed
A rainbow of colorful lichen up close. These lichens grow on the rocks in my High Desert yard. Though they are small, they have a big presence
I’m always amazed by artists who collect seemingly unrelated bits & pieces of things and combine them into impressive works of art. This week I’m featuring War Paint by Greg Congleton. I have featured some of his other artwork on my blog since he’s one of my favorite local artists.
On a recent trip to Prineville, Oregon, I made a point of stopping to see this work. Greg created this piece in 2020. I decided to photograph the details of this sculpture more closely.
Here it is as you approach it from a distance.
When you get a little closer, you can see the attitude of the horse and the rider.
Greg is a master at showing expression in his welded metal sculptures. Look at the horse’s reaction to the situation.
The rider sits firmly in place while the horse keeps bucking. Note how his chaps are blowing in the wind created by the action.
The horse seems intent on getting rid of the rider. He kicks his heels high in the air.
But the rider keeps his seat to ride again on another day.
Ride the horse in the direction that it’s going.Werner Erhard
There’s a list of some of the components Greg used in this sculpture posted at its base. Here are the bits & pieces included in War Paint. Can you find them in the photos posted above?
See the Greg Congleton tag for more of this remarkable artist’s work.
A collection of pinecones shown in black and white. These cones were found in the Lost Forest of Central Oregon, a remnant from another time.
I’ve been following pronghorn for years. They have much to teach us.
A restless past
In the distant past, I was always restless, bounding from place to place, relationship to relationship. Once I started sensing my roots taking hold, I would break free, fleeing restraints. I sprinted towards the next place or person. Like an animal being pursued by a predator, I found it easier to run.
One day I started thinking of pronghorns, those iconic creatures of the Wild West, differently. Maybe I could learn something from them. They are a one-of-a-kind animal, not quite fitting into any family. I felt that way too and I began following pronghorn.
If pronghorns encounter obstacles, they cannot leap over them, they must find a way under or around them. I honed my skills at getting out of difficult situations. Finding the path is not always easy.
Pronghorn’s excellent vision and enormous eyes give them a 320-degree field of vision. I broadened my views and opened my eyes to observe more of the world around me.
In parts of their range, pronghorn migrate seasonally, while in other locations, they stay year-round. I migrated from the rain forest to the High Desert where I found a comfortable life. It’s the right habitat for me throughout the year.
Pronghorns are cautious yet curious. They have come within inches of me, close enough to inhale the scent of their musky perfume. It’s difficult to let your guard down, but it’s okay to let curiosity guide you once in a while.
Though capable of traveling at amazing speeds, pronghorn spend much of their time grazing. I’m not fleet of foot, but I found the pace that works best for me. Fast is not always better.
In winter, pronghorn live in large herds. At other times of the year, they travel in small groups or alone. Large groups are fine at certain times, but it’s okay to find comfort alone or with just a few.
Rooted in place
Pronghorn settled into High Desert environments best suited for them to survive. They are rooted in the West.
Other restless wanderers blow by me, like tumbleweeds tossed by the wind. I allow my roots to grow through sandy soil and anchor themselves under boulders, dense and volcanic. This is home.
Here’s a colorful corner filled with blooming summer flowers. This planting includes: hollyhocks, foxglove, blanket flowers, ‘orange blaze’ red hot poker, black-eyed Susan, pansies, and more. I’m looking forward to seeing them again in a few months.
Here’s a white coneflower up close in my garden. I usually see pink or purple coneflowers, but they’re also pretty in this color. Their scientific name, Echinacea, comes from the Latin word for ‘sea urchin’ and the Ancient Greek word for ‘hedgehog.’ The spiny cone-shaped central disk resembles some type of prickly creature.
One of the challenges of photography is capturing images of elusive birds. Sometimes certain species are not considered difficult to photograph, they only elude YOU. Here are a few of mine.
Intelligent & elusive birds
I have been trying to get a decent photo of a black-billed magpie for a long time. These intelligent birds usually take flight when I approach. I finally captured the essence of a magpie recently near my home. This photo shows its long, elegant tail, striking markings, and iridescent plumage.
Slide the slider to the left to see the type of photos I have taken in the past of magpies. This one was near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. It teased me by hiding behind the sagebrush.
Shy & elusive
I’m lucky because mountain bluebirds nest in my yard. When I visit Glass Buttes, an hour away, during the spring months, the bluebirds pop out ready to be photographed.
However at my home, the birds are especially shy, as you can see in the second shot. They somehow sense I’ve picked up a camera and fly away or turn their back towards me.
Distant & elusive
I have seen white pelicans at several locations. On a recent trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, I finally got some good photos of them on a pond north of the Refuge. I like this photo because it looks like the one on the left is lecturing the one closest to it. The double crested cormorants are listening attentively. I posted a couple more pictures of them on my recent Spring Birds post.
The second picture is the view I usually get of white pelicans. Way too far away! This lone pelican was near Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone.
Burrowing & elusive birds
The last pictures are of burrowing owls. Instead of taking flight, this little owl often hides underground in its burrow. I was lucky to get a photo of this one near Malheur.
On a previous trip, at another location nearby, windy conditions caused this owl to take shelter. Can you see its golden eyes peering over the dirt mound?
I will continue to pursue some of my most elusive birds in an effort to get better pictures. The quest continues…
Here’s a sepia tone view of Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in the Oregon Outback. Twelve buildings built in the early 1900s were moved to this site. It’s one of my favorite roadside attractions in Central Oregon.
Wildflowers in the desert sunshine
Emerging in harsh conditions
Shining with an inner light
Jewels in the sand
Wildflowers in the desert photographs taken at Gray Butte, Oregon in the springtime.
The challenge this week is to show photos of birds seen over the past two weeks. As spring progresses, more and more birds, and tourists, are showing up.
Here’s a California scrub-jay perched on an interpretive sign in Bend, acting like a tourist. They change the flags displayed on this bridge throughout the year. On this day, they happened to match the jay.
I’ve been seeing this lone swan near the flag bridge for several weeks. It was hard to figure out if it was a tundra swan or the less common trumpeter swan. It finally got within a few feet of me last week. It’s a tundra swan. See the bit of yellow near the eye? They don’t always have the yellow patch, but it’s the best clue.
For comparison, here’s a trumpeter swan we saw this week at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The skin between the eye and bill is thicker and all black.
More Malheur spring birds
We saw lots of birds at Malheur as we traveled along the Center Patrol Road.
There were several hawks hunting over the meadows. Here’s a rough-legged hawk taking off from a willow tree.
We saw a few pairs of ring-necked pheasants foraging near the road. They’re not native to Oregon, but they fit right into the basin and range habitat.
We saw several sandhill cranes, but not as many as I expected to see. These two were showing me their best side and only putting their heads up one at a time.
This flooded field, north of Malheur, had several kinds of waterfowl. The pintails in the background decided to show me the feature that gives them their name. There’s also a few mallards in this picture.
A nearby pond had more species of birds. A graceful great egret took off right when we stopped. There was also a great blue heron foraging nearby.
I was excited to see white pelicans at the pond. They are one of the birds that I have never been able to photograph well. These three look like they’re in a parade with the double-crested cormarants.
The pelicans made themselves right at home with the other birds. You can see a ring-billed gull, double-crested cormorants, a canvasback (with head tucked), a ruddy duck (with head tucked), and an American coot. A smorgasbord!
A harbinger of spring
I’m ending this post with a blue-colored bird, just as I started it. This mountain bluebird was perching high in a juniper tree a couple miles from my home. I’ll start looking for the pair that nests on our property. The spring birds are definitely here!
The Deschutes River mural is by husband and wife artists, Paul Bennett and Carolyn Platt. The artists created this mural in 2012. This piece, along with their Dogs mural, is on display at the Strictly Organic coffee shop. These works are in the Old Mill District of Bend, Oregon.
In this shot taken from a distance, you can see the smokestacks of the old mill building that now houses a REI store.
Today I’m sharing a sockeye salmon 2-sided rock painting I created. On one side you see what this fish looks like when it’s spawning, and on the other side you see what it looks like at other times in its life cycle. They look SO different!
Sockeye salmon travel from the ocean to freshwater to spawn. Kokanee are a landlocked version of sockeye. If you’re lucky enough to catch one, they are especially delicious smoked.
Here’s a video of sockeye spawning in the Adams River in British Columbia, Canada. The 3-minute video, by Luke Gibson of Life of Luke, shows aerial and underwater shots of the fish. I loved his creative solution to filming underwater shots on a limited budget! A true artist will always find a way to work around obstacles.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
Close up view of a frosty ponderosa pine pom-pom in black and white.
Last week we visited Crack in the Ground in Central Oregon near Christmas Valley. You may be wondering what exactly this place is. Well… it’s a huge crack in the ground in the middle of the desert.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was impressed by the crack’s picturesque angles and curved surfaces.
There’s a 2-mile trail inside that reaches a depth of ~70 feet below the surface. We took the left path that has a more gradual entrance. It’s in the middle of the picture below. This trail is relatively easy but if you go the whole length, expect to climb over boulders and through some cracks.
But how did this crack get here? It’s an ancient volcanic fissure. I learned in most climates, fissures fill up with soil and rock from erosion. Since it’s so dry here, there has been relatively little filling.
Crack in the Ground sits within the Four Craters Lava Bed. During the Pleistocene, four cone volcanoes were active here. A shallow depression formed when older heavier rock sunk. The fissure opened near the edge where there was tension along a fault zone. This Bureau of Land Management map shows the extent of the lava beds and the location of Crack in the Ground.
As the lava cooled, it formed spots with interesting textures. Great for photos!
As we found out, temperatures within the fissure can be 20 degrees cooler than at ground level. These photos were taken on March 23. When we saw the trail ahead, we decided to stop here.
Why? On this trip we brought our dogs and didn’t want to do our own version of dog sled racing on the slippery surface. 😉
Make sure and bring the essentials, including warm clothing, on this short hike. You’ll travel on a 7.5-mile washboard dirt road to get to the site, but it’s well worth it to view this unique attraction.
Also consider visiting the nearby Lost Forest, another special local attraction.
The 0.4-mile Trail of the Whispering Pines winds its way through the forest near the visitor center. You get great views of pine trees, Lava Butte, and several nearby volcanoes. This path sits on part of Newberry Volcano, a 1,200-square mile shield volcano.
South Sister, pictured on the left above, is the youngest and most geologically active of the Three Sisters volcanoes. The mountain last erupted 2,000 years ago, but a “bulge” began forming in 1997. By 2001, the bulge grew to 9 inches in height and 10 miles in diameter. Its growth since that time has slowed considerably. Both South Sister and Newberry are regularly monitored for volcanic activity.
When I was a young child, my grandfather often told me the tale of the Lost Forest. Here is how he told it…
The people of the village disliked them for their beliefs, distrusted them for their appearance, so they fled. The villagers pursued them so they ran faster and faster.
They paused on a faraway hill and sought shelter beneath the sagebrush. The pursuers shouted in the distance. Unsure what to do, they became a part of the environment.
One by one, they stood still and extended their arms with palms tilted upward. Long green needles sprouted from their fingertips. Puzzle-like bark crept over their skin. They wiggled their toes and pale white roots snaked their way into the soil. A shudder ran through their bodies and branches poked through their buckskin clothing.
And then they grew. They shed their human form and grew taller and taller.
They continued running, dispersing themselves among the sagebrush. One froze in mid-stride when he turned into a tree.
Years passed, and they formed a dense forest, lush and green.
They lived their lives apart from their people, always waiting for their arrival. Aged ones stood until they could stand no longer and then tumbled to the ground.
New lives arose from the old. The young ones learned how to thrive in a land with little water.
The old ones told them tales of their former home. They told them the village covered the plains, hills, and mountains. They spoke of loving people, never of those who sowed distrust.
One day a young woman entered the forest. The oldest pines recognized the beaded pattern on her moccasins and cloak. There was something familiar about how her hair was braided. She was family!
The forest trees whispered and a dust devil carried their voices to her. She cupped her ear and nodded.
“I found you at last,” she said.
Others in the village learned of her experience and visited the forest. Some had concerns over their differences, but the forest embraced their kin.
From then on, they called it the Lost Forest. Though their people lived many miles apart, they were united once again.
More about the Lost Forest
My recent visit to the Lost Forest Research Natural Area in Central Oregon inspired me to write this story. This isolated stand was once a part of a much larger forest at a time when the climate was cooler and wetter. The 9,000-acre Lost Forest is 40 miles away from the closest ponderosa pine stand.
Only 9 inches of rain falls in a year near the Lost Forest. Most pine trees need twice that much rain in order to grow well. However, in this location, the unique soil structure, combined with groundwater being close to the surface, helps the trees thrive. The pine trees in the Lost Forest are special in another way since their seeds germinate more quickly than other pines. So even though these trees live “alone,” they have survived.
Here’s a general map of the region from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Close up view of rough & rippling bark of a western juniper tree near Bend, Oregon.
Today I’m featuring photos of waterfowl reflections taken on the Deschutes River. The first picture is of a lone swan that has been hanging around Bend, Oregon for the last several weeks.
Here’s a pair of common mergansers taking off along the Trout Creek trail, north of Madras.
Here’s a pair of hooded mergansers in Bend, Oregon.
This is a Barrow’s goldeneye in Bend, Oregon.
This is a Western grebe seen near Sunriver, Oregon.
This female mallard followed me for a long time when I kayaked the Deschutes near Sunriver, Oregon.
The Deschutes River is 252 miles long and there are lots of opportunities to capture images of waterfowl reflections. I hope to see many more of them soon!
These street scenes in Dublin happened on March 6, 2020, six days before the lockdown. On this St. Patrick’s Day I thought it would be nice to remember what “normal” used to look like.
Here are a couple buskers downtown. See the crowds pausing to take in their performance?
They were not allowed to perform around the winter holidays due to COVID-19 concerns. Some traveled to Cork or Galway where they didn’t have the same restrictions.
Here are a couple views of the famous Temple Bar. Lots of people out and about.
People waiting for the bus outside O’Neill’s. Love this building’s interesting architecture and pretty green trim.
Horse and carriages lined up outside of Guinness Storehouse waiting to transport tourists.
We spent the whole day taking in the street scenes in Dublin. A couple of the businesses had names that were entertaining. 😁
We ended the day with a great dinner at the Bakehouse. I had salmon and my daughter had corned beef. Yum!
A funny thing happened after my trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland last year. I checked an ancestry site I’m registered on when I got home. It said I had 71.4% British & Irish ancestry, mostly from County Kerry & County Cork. In 2019, I only had 49.6% British & Irish ancestry. Guess a part of my ancestral homelands stuck to me when I left. 😉
On this day when everyone is a bit Irish, I hope you have a good day with better ones to come in the future.
May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.Irish blessing
When I walked around a corner into a gallery at the Baker Heritage Museum a couple years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. Wow, what a special moment! As you may know, I like rocks and this is an amazing collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils.
One of the first pieces you see is a 950-pound crystal from Arkansas. I would love to have something like that in my rock garden.
Two sisters in Baker City, Mamie Cavin and Elizabeth Cavin Warfel, collected specimens for 45 years and donated their collections to the museum in 1983. The 18-ton Cavin-Warfel Collection, together with other donations at the museum, is considered to be one of the best collections in the country. In fact, at one time the Smithsonian offered $500,000 to acquire it.
Cabochons and cut pieces of picture jasper cover one wall. Cabochons are gemstones that have been shaped and highly polished, rather than faceted. Billy Wyatt donated this collection.
Colorful specimens of green malachite and blue azurite are in this cabinet. Both are secondary minerals found in copper deposits. Malachite is one of my favorites and I have a few in my collection. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries donated specimens related to mining to the museum.
This cabinet features moss agate. It often contains formations that look like mossy growths and specimens can be found not far from Baker City.
This cabinet holds fossils on the top shelf and petrified wood on the bottom shelf. The middle shelf holds fossilized bones. One of the best places to collect fossils in Oregon is in the town of Fossil. 🙂
There are several slabs of Muscovite on the top right shelf and clear Selenite below it on the second shelf. Can you find the jade in this display? Rockhounds can find jade in the southwest corner of Oregon.
This display has a wide variety of specimens. There are examples of marble on the third shelf. I like the tiny carvings in the lower right corner.
The middle shelf contains many examples of quartz. I like the greenish rock on the top left shelf. It’s the mineral Adamite and it has a neon green glow under ultraviolet light.
The brown crystal clusters in the middle of the next photograph are “desert roses.” Their flattened crystals look like rose petals. Some of the pink rocks on the top shelf are Rhodonite.
There are some nice slabs of Brazilian agate on the top row. I have several that I use for coasters. The agates on the second row are Oregon bubble agates.
This case contains some great amethysts on the second row. Did you know the Ancient Greeks thought if you held an amethyst in your mouth it could prevent drunkenness? There are a few rose quartz rocks on the right side of the top row.
There are some beautiful quartz crystals in this display. The ones on the top shelf are from Arkansas – tiny cousins of the giant one at the beginning of this post. The bottom shelf contains Oregon quartz crystals.
If you’ve visited this museum in the past, consider stopping by again when it reopens since displays change. Members of the Baker Rockhounds have put hundreds of hours into organizing, cataloging, and cleaning materials in the collection. With the help of geologists, everything is getting labeled correctly. Sometimes they make unusual discoveries and if you look long enough at this amazing collection, you will too.
After the fire, this split-trunk western juniper tree is still standing tall in the grasslands near Warm Springs, Oregon.
Walking among the hoodoos in the morning light, feeling out of my element.
Sculpted towers surround me, casting tall shadows. Their wind-carved faces turn towards the sun,
until clouds block their view.
Shadows lengthen, darkness threatens me.
Snowdrifts create luminous lights.
Hoodoos retreat, marching towards another day.
Today I’m sharing a simple drawing I did of a western snowy plover on scratchboard. This drawing shows stippled sand, waving beachgrass, and an alert snowy plover ready for action. This tiny shorebird is classified as a federally threatened subspecies. In Oregon, certain areas along the coast restrict activities from mid-March to mid-September, when plovers nest. Snowy plovers also breed on alkaline flats in eastern Oregon.
If you want to see how an amazing group of animators interpreted shorebirds, watch Piper from Disney. The star of this Oscar-winning short is a sanderling, but snowy plovers show similar behaviors. The artists who made this film spent a lot of time studying shorebirds and it shows. Enjoy this clip!
Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
This photo of the sun-dappled Mayors Square Mural reflects past times in Troutdale, Oregon. Muralists Dwayne Harty and Tammy Callens created a depiction of what the town looked like in the early 1900s. Completed in the fall of 2016, this work shows every type of ground transportation available in the beginning of the 20th century. The mural includes a train, horse & buggy, automobiles, bicycle, freight truck, and freight wagon.
Snow-capped mountain ash berries are a delicious dessert for our feathered friends.