My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Friday, October 17, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: "O Hushed October Morning Mild…"

I fear that between last month's premature killing freeze and some very wicked winds, we've been robbed of most of our fall foliage here. 

But we've been enjoying - and taking full advantage of - a long stretch of glorious Indian Summer weather to make up for it, and on a recent lovely evening spent at the local cemetery fulfilling photo requests for Find A Grave, I spied this stately cottonwood. Despite its golden leaves being more muted this year, it's still a standout against the blue sky and its evergreen companions...

Though the local leaves aren't providing much fall color this year, the local skies certainly have been! Here's a sampling of our harlequin sunrise on Wednesday, taken during a five-minute span (from 7:07 - 7:12am):

Autumn mornings: sunshine and crisp air, 
birds and calmness, year’s end and day’s beginnings. 
~Terri Guillemets

It was October again... a glorious October, all red and gold, with mellow mornings… 
~L.M. Montgomery, "Anne of Green Gables"

In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October, when the trees are bare to the mild heavens...
 and you can feel the breath of winter morning and evening.
~Alexander Smith, "An Essay on an Old Subject"

O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief…
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst…
~Robert Frost

Autumn bowed to place a beautiful crown on the Queen of Morning, 
and her velvet robes sway merrily in the chilly breeze. 
~Terri Guillemets

There is a harmony 
In autumn, and a luster in its sky…
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Enjoy more October skies ~ lustrous & mellow, glorious & crisp ~ from around the world...

Friday, October 3, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Winged Flight & Bing Wright

Okay, I admit it, I took some poetic license with my post title. But "Red-tailed hawk sitting on a lamp post in the mist" simply doesn't sound as melodious with "Bing Wright." :-)

A Pensive Pose

It was a misty, drizzly day and our friend repeatedly stretched out his wings like this;
whether to shed water or take advantage of a free shower, we're unsure!

"They went that-a-way!"

I took the above photos with my telephoto lens. Here's one with my regular lens for perspective…

Our skies have been overcast and dreary most of the week, so no colorful sunrise or sunset photos for this SkyWatch post, I'm afraid. However, I've been saving this treat for just such an occasion. In case you're wondering who the Bing Wright in my post title is, he's a photographer who often takes photos of sunsets reflected in shattered mirrors, making them look like stained glass...

See more of Bing's "broken mirror/evening sky" (and other) photos here: 

And as always, enjoy more sky photos of all sorts here:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 Sheridan Annual Garden Tour, Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 in my 4-part series of this year's Garden Tour!

We toured seven of Sheridan's eight competing gardens on July 19. The finalists, chosen by the local greenhouse that sponsors the tour, competed this year for the most votes from the touring public in two categories. Part 1 and Part 2 featured finalists from the Backyard Garden category, while this post showcases our favorite finalist from the Estate Garden category...

The beautiful English style gardens of Lloyd and Diana enticed us in and entertained us during our visit with enchanting and soothing harp music...

Major bonus points for the lovely touch of a harpist among the roses!

As I was photographing the harpist another woman approached me with a similar camera, and as we were comparing them I noticed her shirt was a perfect match to the pink roses in front of us, so I offered to take her photo with them. But she politely declined - since they were her roses! Turns out she was Diana, delightful co-owner of this slice of paradise, who (she humbly disclosed during our conversation) worked for 20 years as the master gardener at Trail End State Historic Site, whose gorgeous gardens and grounds have appeared in some of my posts, this being my favorite. This explains why her own gardens are so exquisite! During the 22 years she and Lloyd have lived at this property they've planted 300 trees, designed and planted all the gardens (including a large vegetable garden), built all the sheds, cupolas, gazebos, arbors and fences, and installed all the rock walls. And now that he's "retired," Lloyd has taken up iron work (he built the handsome iron railing on their new deck, which I failed to photograph), and is now growing hops and grapes to use in making spirits. 

I loved many of their decorative touches, including this beautiful Victorian birdhouse…

And this wonderful dragonfly crafted by Lloyd from vintage utensil handles, one of two that I spied hiding in the foliage of their extensive gardens...

Diana designed the gardens to create outdoor rooms and secret gardens. The peekaboo glimpse I got through some tree branches (those dark green blobs in the foreground are leaves) is my favorite of her secret gardens…

I'm convinced that sweet woodland creatures bed down here at night, 
falling asleep to the softly twinkling sound of singing faeries.

My final garden tour post will feature the Estate Garden winner. Stay tuned!

2014 Sheridan Annual Garden Tour, Part 1
2014 Sheridan Annual Garden Tour, Part 2
2014 Sheridan Annual Garden Tour, Part 4

Friday, September 26, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Summer Sets, Autumn Dawns

Seems it was summer just yesterday! Or at least just last weekend….

But all good things must come to an end, and so the sun has set on another summer season. Literally. I took this series of sunset photos over the course of 15 minutes from the all-but-deserted Sheridan visitors center/rest area off I-90 last Friday evening. We'd gone there to use the free RV dump station after a weeklong camping trip in northern Montana (future post!), only to be thwarted by a new - and premature, IMO - "Dump Station Closed for the Season" sign and a winterized, waterless hose. Oh well, at least I'd thought to bring my camera since the views of the Big Horn Mountains from the visitors center seldom disappoint!




But even more spectacularly than it set on the final weekday of summer, the sun rose on the first day of autumn. What an enthusiastic greeting for the new season! I took these straight-out-of-the-camera photos just 7 minutes apart. Amazing how much the sky can change in such a brief time...




That sunrise will be hard to top, but I'll give it my best from now till the winter solstice. :-) Meanwhile...
And happy spring to all you Southern Hemisphereans! :-)

Friday, September 12, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: "Harvest Moonday" Hike, Early Snow

It's been a week of many seasons - Monday and Tuesday were definitely summer, with highs of 90ºF. Most nights and early mornings recently have had the chill of Autumn to them, and Wednesday was a chilly, rainy, Fallish day. Wednesday night and Thursday we were under a Winter Storm Warning and it snowed several inches (14" in our neighboring, higher elevation town of Story and up to 18" in parts of the Big Horns). Though we didn't get nearly that much (about 4" at our house), by early this morning our temp had dropped to 19ºF.

But let's begin with the summery weather and Harvest Moon of Monday, before the flowers, trees and shrubs were dealt such a cruel blow that also likely annihilated our chances for fall foliage.

Monday morning, before it got too hot, we loaded up the dogs and took them walking on a new extension of the wonderful Sheridan Pathways system (on the attached map, it's the red and black path near the bottom right, running between the yellow and purple signal light symbols). This part of the path leaves very busy Brundage Avenue and as it heads toward Sheridan College it takes you into a different world… one of trees and marshes and birdsong and tranquility. And shade - which was our chief objective on such a warm, sunny morning!

Here are BW, Willow and Josie crossing one of two handsome footbridges that cross the marshy stream meandering through this area...

Once over the footbridge (you can just see it in the bottom right of this next photo) and out of the trees and into the meadows, you get to enjoy this beautiful view of the soon-to-be-snowcapped Big Horn Mountains (if you know where to look, you can even see the road that led to our old house on its way over the mountains!)…

Look at that clear blue cloudless sky!

Oops, I spoke too soon. Startin' to cloud up. :-)

And you thought I was joking about it clouding up, didn't you? ;-)

Here's Willow enjoying a rest in the shade back at the trailhead after our walk. Notice her leg draped elegantly over my foot, her way of keeping me from wandering off! :-) …

She was intently watching BW deploy our wonderful PetLoader, which Tess demonstrates...

That night, of course, unveiled the full Harvest Moon, seen here rising over the dry hills to our east...

Rarely satisfied with how my moon closeups turn out, I decided to have some fun and make this one a little funkadelic….

And now for a too-soon taste of things to come, the wintery scene from our patio yesterday…

We covered our front flowerbed Wednesday night, but could do nothing for our large rose bush except pluck this last beautiful, fragrant bloom and bring it inside to enjoy for a while. The bergamot on the right had already broken off when I went out at 5:30am to knock the snow off the trees and shrubs, so I brought it in, too. I think the rose looks sad, and doubt the reassurance that our temps will return to the 80's early next week offers much consolation…

Wishing you a week of lovely skies! 
We'll be spending it in Big Sky Country (Montana) with our dogs and camper! 


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  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • LIFE AFTER LIFE ~ Jill McCorkle
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • THE MUSEUM OF DR. MOSES ~ Joyce Carol Oats
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"