Sunday, July 28, 2013

Little Critters

Two shots left over from last Sunday, and two more from today, all taken in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park. The theme that emerged was "close-up" - small creatures seen up close, some with the macro lens and some with the zoom. Enjoy!

A Box Turtle along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A photo bomb by a small bee. I was shooting the Cabbage White butterfly when the lttle bugger just popped up out of nowhere!
I found this little caterpillar literally hanging in front of my nose
A small Bumblebee sipping on some Joe-Pye Weed
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Butterfly Sunday

I went walking in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park today, both down in the wetlands and upland along the edge of the meadow. The thing that struck me most was the abundance of butterflies everywhere in the park. I took a lot of shots today; the ones that don't deal with today's topic will be posted later in the week, but the four below are the best of the butterfly shots. Enjoy!

A Cabbage White butterfly sipping on some Spotted Knapweed along the Upland Trail
A Pearl Crescent butterfly along the Upland Trail
An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail by the north duck pond
A Long Dash skipper-type butterfly sipping on the Purple Loosestrife by the softball field
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cool, Cool Water

It's Summer now. We're in the 90s this week with the dew point in the 70s, which means nasty, sticky humidity. So I went looking for cool scenery to at least try and make myself feel cooler. Water seemed to be just the thing. See if these don't make you feel cooler, too.

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hiking the Meadow Trail

Last week when I did a quick pass through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park on the way to the grocery store I noticed that they'd put up a trail map. And in looking at the trail map I noticed I'd missed a good half of the Meadow Trail. So the plan for today was to go back up the hill and do the whole trail.

I took a lot of shots on this hike, and 22 of them passed quality control. I got a good mix of panoramic shots of the meadow with mountains in the distance and macros of the various  wildflowers (and two mushrooms!) in and surrounding the meadow. There were some critters there as well; I got usable shots of a young Eastern Cottontail rabbit and a Groundhog. And there was a bonus to today's hike - the Raspberries are ripening, and there were enough fully ripe ones to halt my progress for a while to pig out on some. Now if only the Blackberries would hurry up...

Obviously I'm not going to post all 22 shots here; after I post some of my favorites I'll include the Picasa slideshow, and you can also visit the Picasa web album of same.  Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite shots of the day.

Pale Jewelweed along the trail
Meadow and copses
A panoramic view of the meadow with Blue Mountain in the distance
Queen Anne's Lace with visitors
And here's the slideshow:

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, July 05, 2013

Friday Odds 'n' Ends

Another singleton day off, and another trip to the grocery store. This time I decided to take a loop on the Dykeman Park Upland Trail and see what there was to see. Four of the photos passed quality control, three along the trail and one on South Penn on the way to the store. I'm not spending a lot of time outdoors these days (except at work, where I have no choice); we're into the July Triple H Days (hazy, hot, and humid), and I really don't deal well with heat and humidity. Maybe next week, when I'm off on Wednesday and Thursday, it'll be cooler and drier and I'll stay out longer. But until then, enjoy these!

Mushrooms growing on a rotting log, Dykeman Park Upland Trail
Haying time in the Dykeman Park meadow
Haying time in the Dykeman Park meadow
An old, decaying barn on South Penn St.

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Independence Day

It's the Fourth of July again, and I'm here to renew the campaign to replace "The Star Spangled Banner" with "America the Beautiful" once again.

This is the kind of imagery I associate with America, and this is the imagery used by "America the Beautiful". As I said a couple of years ago:

I don't like "The Star Spangled Banner". It's a chest-thumping, militaristic poem about a particular battle early in our history, set to a British drinking tune, which explains why it's so hard to sing - you have to be drunk to sing it, and that rise up to the high note (... o'er the laaaaand of the freeeeee...) was where they raised their flagons high in the pub and spilled beer all over themselves. It doesn't say anything about the country, the people, and what the country is all about. All it's about is barely winning one battle. And as the character Belize says in Tony Kushner's Angels in America: "The white cracker who wrote the National Anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word free to a note so high nobody could reach it." (Yes, Francis Scott Key, the "poet" who composed the lyrics, was pro South, pro slavery, from a slave-holding family from Carroll County, MD.)

My suggestion for a new national anthem is "America the Beautiful". The words were written by Katharine Lee Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College, in 1893 after a trip from Boston to Colorado Springs. The music was composed by Samuel A. Ward, a church organist and choirmaster. Unlike "The Star Spangled Banner", "America the Beautiful" is meant to be sung in a reverent and respectful manner and actually praises America for its beauty and principles. Let's face it, it's just a much more pleasant song, both lyrically and musically, than the current national anthem.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov'd,
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

So as usual in my annual campaign, here are two versions - a beautiful choral version and Ray Charles' soulful and moving one. My vote is cast; how about yours?


Photos © 2012 by A. Roy Hilbinger