Feb 11th, 2010
Archive for the 'seasons' Category
Feb 11th, 2010
Dec 23rd, 2009
We had an epic leaf-fall this autumn. Or maybe it just seemed epic because I did nearly all of the raking and bagging myself. Where we live, yard waste is picked up only eight times a year (four Saturday mornings in the fall, and four Saturday mornings in the spring). That’s it. Anything that isn’t out by the curb on those days has to go out with the regular trash, straight to the landfill.
(I have contacted my township administration about this, suggesting that perhaps they could arrange for once-monthly pickups year round. I was told that “people won’t want to save their yard waste for those pickups,” and when I pointed out that they would if putting it in the trash cost them more money, I was told that this just wasn’t an option. And then, in her next breath, the woman I spoke with said, “Yeah, the township has been fined by the county for putting too much green material into the country landfill.” Grrrr.)
In our backyard, we have a three-bin composter that we built ourselves shortly after we bought this house. Kitchen scraps and yard waste go in there, but it can hold only so much leaf material. So once we fill the bins we rake and bag the rest and send it off to the county’s composting facility.
We had a lot of leaves. A lot. This is what our curb looked on four Saturday mornings this fall.
Fortunately we got all the leaves up before winter weather arrived. We got our first big snow last weekend, and because it started while we were at my mother-in-law’s place (about three hours away, just north of NYC), we ended up driving home in it. We had clear sailing the first half of our trip, but once the snow started around Newark International Airport (which is always fun to drive past, because the NJ Turnpike runs parallel to the landing runway, and we usually see at least one plane land), we had to slow down considerably.
The rest of the way home, the roads were a mess. Here’s an iPhone photo snapped through our front windshield as we drove on the PA Turnpike.
At some points, the roads were so deserted (and visibility so poor) that we couldn’t see any other cars around us in any direction.
We made it home safely, though. Just in time to unload the car and enjoy some homemade hot chocolate!
May 21st, 2009
May 19th, 2009
May 18th, 2009
I just can’t help myself: suddenly, gobs of flowers are appearing everywhere, and I must photograph them.
I spent Mother’s Day with Jan and Sylvia (and two of our friends) at Winterthur. We visited the fairy garden first (of course), then strolled though most of the other gardens. Weather-wise, the day couldn’t have been better. And our timing was impeccable: the blossoms in Azalea Woods traditionally reach their peak on Mother’s Day, and this year was no exception.
Azaleas don’t do much for me during the fifty weeks when they’re simple shrubs. But when they’re festooned with brilliantly colored flowers for two weeks each spring—wow.
May 16th, 2009
Apr 3rd, 2009
Tuesday was one of those spring days that are just about perfect. You know what I mean? Sylvia didn’t have school that day, so we decided to celebrate the arrival of spring with a trip to Winterthur, a self-described “museum and country estate.” It was built by the DuPonts, and it’s a pretty amazing place. The house now houses a museum with several collections of the sorts of things that make the Antiques Roadshow hosts start to drool. I much prefer the grounds, which are a delight to explore in any season. On this visit, Sylvia and I got to see the March Bank covered with a carpet of periwinkles.
When we got on the open-air tram (Sylvia loves to ride it), the driver looked at us and said, “I bet I know where you’re going. The Enchanted Woods, right?” You bet. We call it “the fairy garden,” and it’s our favorite part of the entire estate.
As soon as we got there, Sylvia visited the Green Man, hopped on some stepping stones, and ran a labyrinth (so much for its meditative aspects!). We visited the fairy ring and the little (kid-sized!) thatched cottage and the giant bird’s nest and all of our other favorite spots.
After that, we just walked around and explored. We saw one of our old friends, a 250-year-old sycamore. By late morning we had shed our coats and by lunchtime the sun was warming up everything nicely. All told, we spent four hours there, finding signs of spring everywhere we went. All over the place are huge swaths of dark green, where daffodils are pushing through. I expect they’ll be blooming in a week or two. And we’ll probably go back to see them.
Mar 19th, 2009
I’ve been feeling fairly “meh” with photography lately. The last few photography assignments (“rhythm,” “self portrait,” and “portrait of a person”) just haven’t inspired me much.
I have been taking a lot of pictures, though—mostly outdoor shots, since the signs of spring are evident everywhere: crocuses showing off their colors in random spots in the yard, the promise of daffodils. Why can’t there be a photo assignment called “flowers that are growing in my yard right now”? I’d be all over that one.
Nov 22nd, 2008
So those purple coneflowers I wrote about a few days ago? Brown and whithered the day after I posted that picture. In a “holy shit, winter is almost here” the trees all dropped the rest of their leaves, which then went into bags for the compost-truck pickup. (Our three-bin composter is huge, but we can cram only so many leaves in there.) A hard frost three days ago burst the cells in the Swiss chard remaining in the garden, so now it’s all sad and droopy. And yesterday we woke up to the first snowfall of the season.
After Sylvia came home from school, we suited up and went outside to play. Jan was working from home yesterday, which was very fortunate. Daddies wearing slippery nylon parkas make great sleds for three-year-olds.
We threw snowballs, built this “castle” (at Sylvia’s insistence), and had a lot of fun. A huge grin spread over Sylvia’s face when she remembered our family’s post-play-in-the-snow tradition: having homemade hot chocolate inside afterward. Before we went back in for this treat, though, she just had to make a snowman.