Thursday, January 21, 2010

St. Regis River Shoreline

Yesterday afternoon I walked down to the bridge at the bottom of the hill I live on and took several photos of the ice on the river. Above is my favorite of the half dozen or so that I took. It is the ice and snow on the water (left) and the shoreline (right). I'm getting quite a collection of photos taken from the bridge and a fair number of the bridge itself. I'm particularly fond of the ever changing abstract patterns of ice in the winter and the collection reflects that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Snowy Morning

We got a bit more snow last night and through the morning. Only an inch or two but it made the world prettier after the recent thaw that left dwindled and dirty snow banks. On the way home from some errands in Potsdam I pulled over to photograph this tree in a farm field. As a boy growing up in the country they were very familiar to me. They grew in many farm pastures. Livestock left them alone because of the thorns and farmers rarely bothered to cut them in fields they weren't plowing. We always referred to them as Thorn Apple trees.

I have photographed some of this one's kin before. They are quite attractive with snow on them. I'm fond of trees for their aesthetic qualities and can identify quite a few common ones but am by no means an expert so this morning I decided to find out if 'Thorn Apple' was indeed what they are and did some research. I was surprised to learn that Thorn Apples are varieties of Hawthorn. I had never heard anyone refer to them as such, and (for reasons I cannot explain) I had always thought Hawthorns were a Southern and/or British Isles species. I also learned that there are several varieties. I'll have to look at them more closely in other seasons.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snowshoeing Again

Another snowshoe trip on the Stone Valley Trails, this one the NE section by Brown's Bridge. The river along this portion is flat and the trail is on a bank with trees between it and the water. I thought the line of open water seen through the young saplings was a nice abstract composition.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Non-photo Blogs

A few posts back I said I would list the non-photography blogs that I follow for those who might be interested. The first is a local Public Radio blog "The In Box".  I am aware that some of my friends on the right will see a left bias in the Public Radio connection but the guy who writes most frequently on this blog, Brian Mann, is a self described Republican and the blog is a pretty good (and fair) mix of view points from NCPR's staff. While it mostly deals with local and regional issues it gets into larger issues as well.

It has been proposed by some passionate bloggers that the Internet with its blogs, Facebook, You Tube, etc. will bring about greater democracy because information is no longer controlled by the major news organizations. Without getting into the history of abuses of major news organizations (which I concede) I see a danger in totally unfettered access to publish whatever one thinks via the 'net. I would not even hazard a guess at the number of blogs out there and it is growing daily. If you did come up with a number it would be wrong by the time you wrote it down. How does one sort out which blogs to follow, which passionate writer to believe? I follow two sites "FactCheck.Org" and "" to help sort things out. Both sites involve researching and verifying whether something is true or false. Politifact has an amusing scale (the truth-o-meter) that they apply. Although it isn't a blog or something you can subscribe to, for the really outrageous emails that get circulated "" is a good source to sort out truth from fiction. In the end the old adage to believe half of what you see and none of what you hear applies. In my own experience a commentator's objectivity is inversely proportional to their passion. That includes me.

Among other things I am an amateur genealogist and I subscribe to "The Genealogue". It is an interesting mix of oddities that appeal to genealogists.

The last on my list is just for amusement. I am rather fond of maps and "Strange Maps" is just what its name suggests, old, odd, unusual and occasionally silly maps.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Cold Morning

It was 0ºF when I stepped out the door to fetch the morning paper from the tube by the driveway. The snow crunched underfoot, the low sun cast long blue shadows and sparkled off the fresh layer of flakes that had fallen in the night. The rabbit and the squirrels had already been checking beneath the bird feeders for seed that had been rejected by the birds. We've had much colder mornings in winters past but 0º is cold enough for me. It need not try to match past performances.

Regular readers may notice a change in the name of the blog, formerly Random Ramblings, I have changed it to  North Country Ramblings. I'm considering adding an archive gallery of just the photos separate from the posts which will continue to be available in the current format.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Snowshoeing the Stone Valley Trail

I've taken you to Stone Valley before, first in the spring to see Bloodroot blooms by the trailhead on the East side. I've even photographed this particular view before in autumn. Today I went snowshoeing on the West side of the river which, like most rivers in this area, flows North toward the St. Lawrence. I was surprised at how much the river was frozen and snowed over already this winter. I went downstream shooting as I went but shot the above photo on the return trip. I was first attracted to the white pine with the crooked top and came out of the woods onto the riverbank for a better view, Then I saw the water flowing out at the end of the open pool but it was too far right relative to the tree so I photographed them separately before moving along the shore upstream. When I reached this spot where I could see the open patches of river as it meandered toward me I knew I had found 'the spot'. Taken with a Canon G10 on aperture priority, 1/40th sec. f/8, RAW format.

It was a wonderful afternoon to be in the woods with fat snowflakes falling periodically and lots of unbroken snow. I spent part of the morning shoveling again but for some reason, despite the frequent need to clear the walk & drive plus colder than average temperatures, I find myself really enjoying winter so far. I'll probably tire of it by mid-February but for now I'm even enjoying the snowshoveling.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Bunches of Snow, More Snow, Piled higher & Deeper

I got my PhD today. We woke up to 7½" of new snow and 6º F. I spent a couple of hours clearing the walks and driveway with shovel and snowblower then took the snowblower down to clear the pedestrian walk on the bridge. It is a county road which joins to town roads at the bridge but neither the county or the town seem to feel obliged to keep the walkway clear so it ends up being done by locals. I do it several times a winter but there have been times that it has been cleared before I got there so someone else (more than one someone?) pitches in. It is nice to have the walkway cleared because it is a one lane bridge (when they replaced the bridge a few years ago the highway folks proposed making it two lanes but we like it one lane) and I'd rather not walk in the roadway.

As if I hadn't had enough of snow I went snowshoeing on the trails in the Southville State Forest. Another snowshoer had been on part of the trails but I was breaking trail at least half of the time, sometimes in snow up to 16" deep. Tiring but fun. I got the photo above where the trail runs along the St. Regis River. This drift was along the shoreline and I liked the form with the contrasting reddish weeds sticking out of the snow. The snow BTW is forecast to continue through next Friday. I may get another PhD or two by week's end.