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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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
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.Continue reading
The first dusting of snow covered this old shed near Redmond, Oregon. Winter is on its way to the High Desert!
On a distant shore
Rushing away from the flow
Resting in the ebb
I’m pleased to announce that one of my short stories was recently published in Placed: An Encyclopedia of Central Oregon, Vol. 1. This slim volume, however, is not an encyclopedia in the traditional sense of the word. It contains a collection of poetry and prose about this part of the planet. Central Oregon includes sagebrush deserts, thick pine forests, winding rivers, and volcanoes lining the horizon. Placed embraces tales of the wild, but also stories related to unique features – like Ocean Rolls from a local bakery.
My contribution is The Toad Queen, written after encountering a Great Basin spadefoot toad in my yard. It is one of the most unique things I’ve observed in Oregon – unlike anything I have ever seen. I snapped a couple pictures of it and gently pushed it off the trail. This creature with such an odd appearance and life history deserves a special story.Continue reading
These colorful flowers are on a goldflame honeysuckle plant. Hummingbirds frequently visit this vine’s gorgeous flowers. In North America and Eurasia, 180 species of honeysuckle have been identified.
Like the rest of you out there, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home. This week I’m featuring photos taken in a High Desert yard near Bend, Oregon.
If your gaze is focused downward lately, look at the elements of earth in a new light. This layer cake rock is interesting in color and form.
As your gaze moves up, notice the textures you may have overlooked. The multilayered bark of juniper trees always catches my attention.Continue reading
This feather is about 12 inches long – maybe from a large raptor such as a hawk or owl. The feather rests on a pinecone pillow and bed of ponderosa pine needles.
Sepia tone image with selective focus.
In the morning light
Fireworks light up the fall sky
When the day breaks bright
We find our comfortable place
Basking in its warmth
California scrub jays are usually a loud and active kind of bird. I shared this painting I did of a calm jay exactly four years ago today after a hectic political season. I wanted to show that a sense of calmness can return even after a time of chaos.
The jay pictured above, and the one below, appear calm on the surface. But underneath those calm exteriors, there is a flurry of activity. Their minds are running through a lot of “what ifs” and their bodies are ready to spring into action.
Today we are facing many challenges and “what ifs.” It may be difficult, but I hope you’re able to capture moments of calm, no matter how brief, before you flutter to your next destination.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
This delicate beauty is sweet alyssum. Sweet to see and sweet to smell. Most common as a white flower, this dwarf variety has lavender purple blossoms.
When the warmth of summer slips into the shadows, the tree people of autumn emerge. No one notices them at first. Their queen guides them concealed beneath a cloak of crimson leaves.
The tree people camouflage themselves as creatures of the forest. Their colors shift as their power increases.
Sometimes they appear as deer, leaping through the forest with antlers of glowing gold.Continue reading
This peninsula of flowers was seen in the Old Mill district of Bend, Oregon. The gardeners do a great job maintaining these picturesque flowerbeds. They brighten up even the darkest of days.
I took some pictures of a varied thrush drinking yesterday. I’m posting them for the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge and Sunday Stills challenge. My previous post, Backyard birding adventures, shows other birds in my yard.
One or two varied thrushes always visits us in the fall season. They travel with the American robin flocks.
You can see how they’re closely related to robins. To hear the eerie song of varied thrushes, scroll down this page to Songs and Calls.
We have a water feature in our yard so we have lots of backyard birding adventures. This summer I bought a special mount to take digital pictures through my spotting scope. This process is referred to as “digiscoping.” Unfortunately, many of the pictures I first took turned out blurry. I’m having much better luck with my brand new mount.
Here’s a photo of one of our California scrub-jays taken with my Google Pixel phone. Isn’t it a beautiful bird?
I used my point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix camera for this one. It was a little tricky to hold it in place on the mount. This a European starling and an American robin.
We get tons of robins at this time of the year and they chase other birds away.Continue reading
Rounded river rocks
Solitary standing snag
We recently took a short drive west from Bend to visit Dillon Falls. Splashes of color border the river near the falls.
Temperatures were cool and we didn’t see anyone else on this early morning trek.
The short trail to the falls is lined with manzanita shrubs – one of my favorites! They have so much character.Continue reading
This is a sculpture of Fungie, a bottlenose dolphin who has lived in and around Dingle Bay in County Kerry, Ireland for 37 years. He has brought much joy to visitors and residents over the years. Unfortunately, he has not been seen for over a week. A large scale search is underway.
Fungie holds a place with Guinness World Records for being the longest-lived solitary dolphin in the world. He is thought to be in his forties.
I am sending good thoughts his way…
May you live as long as you want,Irish Blessing
And never want as long as you live.
This week I took a walk into fall at Pine Nursery Park in Bend, Oregon. Saw lots of beautiful fall colors and a comfortable bench along the way.
Pull up a seat photo challenge Week 43
This golden-mantled ground squirrel was not exactly shy. It came right up to me looking for a snack at the High Desert Museum. Yes, it was cute but it didn’t get anything from me besides a photograph.
I showed you how I created this mural but I didn’t show you the inside of my High Desert hideaway hut. This 8 foot by 16 foot hut used to be a garden shed. We repurposed it into a guesthouse for visiting relatives and a studio space for me.
This $50 thrift shop door we installed is interesting on the inside and outside. What a great find!Continue reading
Owls in the mist
glide into view
on silent wings
Round and wise