Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my family and friends around the world!

© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Day in Black & White

It's Christmas Eve. At least, that's what the calendar says; you wouldn't know it from the weather, which is rainy and unseasonably warm. This is supposed to be Winter, with cold air and snow all around so Santa can visit everybody on his sleigh. It needs to be cold so we can enjoy fires in the fireplace and drink hot chocolate comfortably. And I really need to build a snowman! Someone needs to poke Mama Gaia and remind her what season this is. 

Given how dreary this weather has made the landscape, I decided to shoot in black and white today to emphasize the mood. And I went out on a preliminary walk at 5:30 am to catch some things that look interesting in the dark; I see them walking to work when I go in on the opening shift but I don't have time to stop and shoot, so today on my day off I got up early to catch them. Enjoy!

McLean House at 5:30 am
The creepy doll display in the junk shop on East King St.
Street scene with clock
Branch Creek at King St.
A back entry on Neff Ave.
Entering the Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Dykeman Spring wetland with Purple Martin house
The north duck pond with Dykeman House in the background
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Solstice 2015

O Winter! ruler of the inverted year, . . .
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb'd Retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening, know.
William Cowper

A joyous Winter Solstice greeting to all my friends and family throughout the world! May you enjoy whatever Winter holiday you celebrate surrounded by warmth and light and love.

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, December 18, 2015

Birds of a Feather

There were lots of birds around on my walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park this morning. There were especially a lot of Woodpeckers out and about - a Northern Flicker kept dodging me the whole time I was there, and far back in the woods I saw several Hairy Woodpeckers and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker far up in the canopy, too far away and too hidden behind branches to get a clear photo. But I did run into these two sharing a bush as I walked around the northern duck pond - a Carolina Wren fussing at a Northern Mockingbird. Once the Wren noticed my presence he started fussing at me as well. Heh, heh! They both sat still long enough for me to get their portraits.

A Carolina Wren fussing at a Mockingbird while perched in the same bush
Northern Mockingbird
Carolina Wren
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Sunday Morning Stroll

In contrast to last Sunday, here it is a week later and we're in the 60s (15º - 20º C) and not a trace of frost. In fact those few days of frosty mornings were an anomaly; it's been an unusually warm November and December, and unfortunately flowers are blooming again and even some new leaves are appearing here and there. Not a good thing considering that it's inevitable that things will cool down soon and Winter will settle in for real; things that are "springing" now will be killed by the cold and may not come up again in the Spring. 

Meanwhile, I went on my usual day-off stroll to the grocery store and documented the world as it is today in these parts.

German Chamomile blooming in a planter by the post office
English Ivy climbing a tree on the Dykeman Walking Trail
The Purple Martin house in the Dykeman Spring wetland
My pew in "church" on the north duck pond
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Wildcrafting on a Frosty Morning

I went out early this morning to collect the materials for my wildcrafted Winter wreath and walked into a frosty world. I really love this time of year!

A frost-covered Dykeman Walking Trail
Frosted plants
There was even a thin skin of ice on the marsh pool in the Dykeman Spring wetland
And the wreath - Douglas Fir, Red Cedar, English Ivy, and Holly
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Saturday, December 05, 2015

What a Gorgeous Day!

A beautiful late Autumn day, and perfect for a long, meandering walk on the way to the grocery store  late this morning - temperatures in the 40s F (4º - 9º C), dry, dry air, blue skies, and no wind. I was also scoping out material to use in my annual wreath, which I'll be making tomorrow. I already have a nice bunch of Douglas Fir twigs from work, I already know where I can get some great Holly twigs, and today on my walk I found a good source of English Ivy and a beautiful Red Cedar with lots of blue berries. I'll go back tomorrow morning to gather the Holly, Ivy, and Cedar, and then make the wreath. Meanwhile, here's the gorgeous day I walked through today.

Mallards on the north duck pond in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Reflections on the north duck pond
Pardon me while I go hug this Osage Orange tree
A view from up on the meadow
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

December Rain

There is nothing more dreary than rain in December. The town is all decorated and gussied up for the holiday season - wreaths on doors, garlands and lights on porches and lamp posts, store windows decorated in holiday themes, and lights everywhere. All that's missing is the snow. So it rains; cold, raw, dreary, and wet. A perfect trigger for seasonal affective disorder; bring on the depression! So Mama Gaia, if you want us all jolly for the Winter Solstice please send some snow; the Winter King needs his ermine-trimmed cloak.

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Thanksgiving Morning Hike

On Thanksgiving morning a group of us in my family went on a pre-feast hike. My niece Brittany wanted to revisit the Thanksgivings of her childhood when my brother would take all the kids (which included my sister's two boys, Kevin and Scotty) up on South Mountain and hike on or around the Appalachian Trail. Well, all the "kids" are grown up now and have spouses (or a fiancée in my nephew Kevin's case), so this was going to be an interesting hike. [Note: My nephew Scotty and his wife Samantha couldn't get to Shippensburg early enough to go on the hike with us, so you won't see them in the group portrait.]

My brother decided we'd climb Pole Steeple, a rocky overlook in Pine Grove Furnace State Park up on South Mountain. This was cruel and unusual treatment; the path up to the peak climbs 500 feet (152 m) in 3/4 of a mile (1.2 km)! The "kids" had no problem climbing that monstrosity, but I was breathing like an asthmatic by the time we hit the top, not to mention lagging more than a bit behind the rest of the group. But man, that view was worth it! Here's a little recap of the hike.

The trail to Pole Steeple starts here at Laurel Lake
Another view of Laurel Lake
This is one of the least steep sections of the trail
A trailside memorial to a much-loved hiker
A view from the top of Pole Steeple
Another view from the top of Pole Steeple
The gang who conquered Pole Steeple, from left to right: my brother-in-law Scott, my niece Brittany and her husband Jason, my nephew Kevin and his fiancée Cassie, my nephew Kyle, and my brother Don.
One more look at the gorgeous view before we head down the mountain
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Today is Thanksgiving, and very soon I'll be heading off to spend the day with family, hiking up on South Mountain and then sitting down to the traditional turkey meal. As I usually do, I'm posting some favorite autumnal photos and music to go with this American national harvest holiday. Enjoy your day with family and friends and give thanks for the bounty of the season!

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Black & White Perspective

I'm getting stale. I've been shooting the same scenes over and over. True, they've been changing with the season, but although the colors may change, the setting and perspective is all the same. So today I did what I usually do when I need to get a new perspective - I shot in black & white. Unfortunately the landscape has blanded out some, and too many hues are of the same value and there was a distinct lack of contrast and interest in a lot of what I shot. But these three shots worked.

Where the creek goes under the railroad tracks in the Nature Park
Reflections in the north duck pond
The guest house at McLean House
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Slowly Falling Asleep

Fall color is fading and the landscape is transforming into Winter's gray and brown. Although a few trees are still holding onto their leaves, there have been high winds and rain lately, and most of the leaves have drifted to the ground, leaving behind bare wood. The folds in the mountains are now starkly clear, their lines no longer softened by lush foliage. Mama Gaia is is settling her blanket on her child, the Earth. Soon the last leaf will fall and the snow will come, and at last the Earth will fall asleep tucked beneath a warm, snug blanket of snow and composting leaves, dreaming of Spring.

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger