Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blessed Samhain, Happy Halloween!

It's Samhain time again. This is the old Celtic New Year, celebrating the last of the harvest and settling in for the "death" of the Earth in Winter, waiting for life to return in the Spring. It was a time when it was believed that the veil between this life and the afterlife was thin, and the dead could cross over and speak to the living. So it's a time for remembering those who have passed on, memorializing the ancestors and the recently departed. It's a somber time yet it's also a joyous time, celebrating the lives of our loved ones. It was appropriated and "Christianized" by the Church in the early days, turned into a holiday to celebrate the lives of the saints; it was called All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, and the night before was called All Hallows Eve, which is now called Halloween. You can read my full essay on this here.

I woke up this morning to find fog and just had to get up to Spring Hill Cemetery to catch the appropriately Halloween-ish mood. I so wished a Crow would appear and perch on one of the graves, but no such luck. In any case, here are some shots of Spring Hill in an evocative seasonal mood.

That was for Halloween. Now for a mood more in line with the celebration of Samhain. The church's traditional Requiem mass is sung at funeral services and can often be a most moving and awesome experience (just listen to Mozart's and Verdi's requiems), but it's didactic, meant to teach a lesson about death. And that lesson is fairly dark, with threats of hell and eternal damnation, warning the attending congregation that they need to get their affairs in order and get right with God or else. 

Johannes Brahms changed all that with his Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem); this work abandons the traditional format of the mass and instead presents six movements dedicated to the comfort of the friends and family of the deceased with promises of life after death and reunion with loved ones and with Christ. This air of comfort is much more in line with the atmosphere of Samhain, so I'm posting the first movement of that symphony. Read the libretto to see what I mean about comfort.
Blessed are they that mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
They that sow in tears
shall reap in joy.
They that go forth and weep,
bearing precious seed,
shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
bringing their sheaves with them.
Here's Otto Klemperer conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1961. Blessed Samhain!

Photos & text © 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Scenic Route Again

This is the start of what promises to be a busy photographic stretch. I took the shots below on the way to the grocery store this morning. I'm off again tomorrow and I'll be hiking to some of my favorite cemeteries for pics for my annual Samhain post. And then Saturday starts my 9-say vacation. It'll be a stay-cation and some of it will be spent updating my calendars on to 2014 and maybe creating some new ones. But I'll also be hiking around getting more Fall color, and there's also a good chance that a good friend and fellow photographer will be visiting, so there's sure to be some photographic magic in the air in the coming days! Meanwhile, here's what caught my eye on the way to the grocery store today.

The north duck pond, Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Reflections on the south duck pond, Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Timber Hill from the upland meadow in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Jogger on the hay road in the upland meadow
The hay road in the upland meadow, looking west
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lemons ==> Lemonade

I'm home suffering through a stomach bug; you don't want any more details than that. But... You know the old saying, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Well, as a photographer, I decided to turn illness into a mini photo shoot. Don't worry, no graphic scenes, just me on the sofa and my prescription for viruses.

My "station" during illness - the living room sofa
My treatment for viruses - chai masala (spiced tea) and honey
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, October 25, 2013

Around Town on a Crisp Fall Morning

A single day off again, so I've been spending my day running errands, and the following shots were taken while running said errands. It's been very chilly and a bit blustery lately; the highs yesterday and today never got out of the 40s (4º - 9º C). And yet there's still not a lot of Fall color here in town. Up in the mountains there's certainly color, but here in town only the occasional Maple blazes out, like the one in the gazebo park across the street from me, and some Dogwoods have turned a bronze color. But others are being slow to catch up; even the usually fluorescent yellow Ginkos are still green. And the wind is stripping the trees that have turned. In any case, here are some shots that catch what Fall color there is in town.

The colorful Maple in the little gazebo park across the street
Branch Creek at King St., still green but with some hints of color
The view of South Mountain from the Baltimore Rd. rail overpass
Looking west up the tracks from the Baltimore Rd. overpass
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, October 20, 2013

More Fall Color

On the way to the grocery store this morning I walked through the upland meadow of the Dykeman Spring Nature Park  on the Meadow Trail and got these scenes of advancing Fall color.

Calico Asters along the Meadow Trail
Meadow view with Blue Mountain
Meadow view with Blue Mountain
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Gray Sunday Stroll

The rain came back overnight. No big downpours, just occasional light showers and patchy drizzle; enough to keep the streets and sidewalks wet. A little too wet for a hike out into the country, but just right for a leisurely stroll around town. And black and white photography would be perfect to illustrate the mood of the day. So I walked up King St. to the God's Acre cemetery on Prince St., then back down King St. to home again. I shot in b&w in ISO 400 to emulate the look of Kodak's classic b&w Tri-X film, and honed it in Photoshop, tweaking the curves to get that silvery look. 

The little gazebo park across the street from my house
Branch Creek at King St., still running a bit high
"Downtown" walking east on King St.
Looking east on King St. from "The Square", the intersection of King and Earl Streets
God's Acre historical cemetery on Prince St.
Walking west on King St., heading home from the cemetery
Looking west on King St. from "The Square"
The Shippensburg Historical Society and it's equally old neighbors
And now it's time to get started on cooking up a big pot of chili for suppers for the rest of the week. Mmmmm! I love chili season!

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

After the Rain

We had two days of steady rain. Given that we were working with a 5-inch rain deficit for the year to date, the rain looked like a good thing. But on Day Two a lot of streams and creeks started rising over flood levels and basements started taking on water. Luckily there was no Day Three; today dawned overcast but rainless, and gradually the sun poked through the clouds. On the way to the grocery store I got some shots of the aftermath here in Shippensburg, which was really only damp ground and a swollen but non-flooding creek.

Branch Creek at King St., swollen by two days of steady rain
The beginnings of the creek in the Dykeman Spring wetlands
The clouds begin to break
Near the end of the meadow the Sun breaks out and brightens things up
Naturally, all this talk about "after the rain" and all reminds me of a song, in this case "A Pause in the Rain" by one of my favorite (but now unfortunately defunct) bands - Shadowfax. Enjoy!

Photos © 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Another Autumnal Stroll

I was once again strolling through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park this morning, chronicling the advance of Autumn. We were hot and tropically humid last week through the weekend, but yesterday a very strong cold front blew through and ushered in some much more seasonable October weather. So today's walk was very pleasant. Here are the best scenes from the day.

Reflections on the north duck pond
Reflections on the north duck pond
Tree fungus along the Upland Trail
Forest floor along the Upland Trail
Meadow Trail view looking west
The entire meadow viewed from the top of the hill on the east end
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, October 03, 2013


There were some special visitors to the feeder station today. Aside from the usual House Sparrows, Mrs. Red dropped by for lunch, and while she was there a couple of Tufted Titmice flipped in and out several times, each time picking up a sunflower seed and flying off with it. There was a Chickadee as well, but its visits were even more fleeting than those of the Titmice, so I never got a shot of it.

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Scenic Route

I've decided that the route through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park, especially including the Meadow Trail, is my preferred route to the grocery store. Walking through nature is always a calming, mellowing experience. I've figured out that it's also a straighter route, and a bit shorter distance than my street route. Of course timewise it's a bit longer, considering how many times I stop to take pictures. Ah, well, the time is well worth it! Here are the scenes that attracted me this time. As you can see, Autumn is advancing apace.

Swamp bridge in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park
The north duck pond, Dykeman Spring Nature Park
A Chipmunk on the Upland Trail, Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Meadow Trail scene. Dykeman Spring Nature Park
An old tractor and barn on Baltimore Rd., next door to the grocery store
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger