Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Into Action!

Last week the weather seemed more reminiscent of summer than it did spring.  Sunny and temps in the 80's demanded that I shrug off some afternoon work and head outdoors to capture all the buds and blossoms on the trees.  Our pear and plum trees burst with flowers seemingly overnight.  But one day I noticed during this rash of nice weather a bright red exclamation point on my Weather Channel app on my phone that alerted me of a hard freeze warning.  The rug was being pulled out from underneath sandal wearing feet!  So last weekend, with a chill in the air that indicated this warning was all too true, I headed to a local municipal woods that is known for it's naturalized bluebells.  I just had to see if they were a full month early like our blooming trees and capture some photos before this freeze!  Here are the results of my two day photo adventure that took me from sleeveless shirts to shivering with a jacket on in less than 24 hours.

By Charles Spurgeon:

Let us begin with the mark of beauty. There is a great beauty in a fruit tree when it is in bloom. Perhaps there is no more lovely object in all nature than the apple blossom; but this beauty soon fades — one shower of rain, one descent of hail, one puff of the north wind, and very soon the blossoms fall like snow; and if they remain their full time, speedily indeed in any case, they must withdraw from view. Much loveliness adorns youthful piety. The love of his espousals, his first love, his first zeal, all make the newborn believer lovely. Can anything be more delightful than our first graces? Even God himself delights in the beauty of the blossoming believer. “I remember you,” says he, “the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness.”

Autumn has a more sober aspect, but still it rivals the glory of spring. Ripe fruit has its own peculiar beauty. As the fruit ripens, the sun tints it with surpassing loveliness, and the colors deepen until the beauty of the fruit is equal to the beauty of the blossom, and in some respects is superior. What a delicacy of bloom there is upon the grape, the peach, the plum, when they have attained perfection! Nature far excels are, and all the attempts of the modeler in wax cannot reach the marvellous blending’s of color, the matchless tints of the ripe fruit, worthy of Eden before the fall. It is another sort of beauty altogether from that of the blossom, yielding to the eye of the husbandman, who has the care of the garden, a more ravishing sight by far. The perfumed bloom yields in value to the golden apple, even as promise is surpassed by fulfillment. The blossom is painted by the pencil of hope; but the fruit is dyed in the hue of enjoyment.

Here are a few shots of an evening fishing with a spring chill in the air.  My shoes were soaked with dew and my skin was icy cold when I went back up to the house....but a sure sign of spring in action is seeing my sister's ducks being attracted to the bobbers in the water, and watching bass, perch. walleye, and even carp being pulled out of the water!

The coolness of the evening while fishing should have let me know how chilly it would be to walk through Poland Woods, but with so much bright green adorning all the land and scads of blossoms was easy to look out the window and be deceived that it was warmer outside. 

So here is a preview of a hopefully more successful photo trip to Poland Woods in the next week or two.  I just hope the hard freeze didn't kill these plants that were coaxed into coming out to play early, as I was!  Enjoy the shots below from the rest of my chilly walk in the woods and remember to stay behind the lens!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Signs of Spring

After a freakishly mild winter, we are having some freakishly early spring weather!   Ohio springs are usually more of the same as in winter.  Clouds, rain, and cold temps.  Imagine our shock to be hit with MANY warm sunny days very early this year.  It is so convincing even the plants outside have been fooled into popping a full month early.

So, I gave myself a weekend photo assignment so I could get out and take advantage of this great weather, and enjoy every little nuance of this early bird spring.  My assignment was simply looking for signs of spring!  Friday after work I took a walk and didn't get far before I saw some real tell tale signs.  One of our maples was full of red buds...others on the horizon I noticed were taking a reddish cast as well.   This was the beginning shot of a very productive photo productive in fact I had to chop my "final photos to share" list in HALF!  (Had to make my post length reasonable, right?)

Mom spotted a bee on the tree!!!  Excellent sign spring has sprung!

Dad's willow trees are sprouting!

So please enjoy these shots I took, and be sure to head outside as soon as spring can be seen in your neck of the woods!  It's the perfect time of year to get behind the lens!

Please also enjoy a couple spring hymns and a short thought by Charles Spurgeon. Because what could be more enjoyable than to reflect on our loving Creator when we are appreciating His works!

By C.H. Spurgeon:  From Treasury of David, Psalm 135

At the same time it is undeniably right that thy praise should never cease; and were men to be silent, the very stones would cry out. We must begin eternal life here below, not only in our conscience, but also with our praise. Our soul ought to be like a flower, not merely receiving the gentle influence of heaven, but, in its turn, and as if in gratitude, exhaling also a sweet and pleasant perfume. It should be our desire, as it once was that of a pious man, that our hearts should melt and dissolve like incense in the fire of love, and yield the sweet fragrance of praise.


By Thomas Gill:

Divine Redeemer, Thee I bless;
I greet Thy going forth;
I love Thee in the loveliness
Of Thy renew├Ęd earth.

But O these wonders of Thy grace,
These nobler works of Thine,
These marvels sweeter far to trace,
These new births more divine:

This new-born glow of faith so strong,
This bloom of love so fair,
This new-born ecstasy of song,
And fragrancy of prayer!

Creator Spirit, work in me
These wonders sweet of Thine;
Divine Redeemer, graciously
                     Renew this heart of mine.

                    Still let new life and strength upspring,
                    Still let new joy be given;
                    And grant the glad new song to ring
                    Through the new earth and Heaven.




By John Newton:

Kindly spring again is here,
Trees and fields in bloom appear;
Hark! the birds with artless lays
Warble their creator’s praise.

Where in winter all was snow,
Now the flowers in clusters grow;
And the corn, in green array,
Promises a harvest-day.

Lord, afford a spring to me,
Let me feel like what I see;
Speak, and by Thy gracious voice,
Make my drooping soul rejoice.

On Thy garden deign to smile,
Raise the plants, enrich the soil;
Soon Thy presence will restore
Life to what seemed dead before.

Of course, seeing our kitty outside hunting for cuddles is a sure sign of spring!!  In the cold of winter she usually stays inside her fancy heated cat box (yeah, she's THAT spoiled!)  But when the weather turns for the better she starts sucking around for extra pets and cuddles she missed during the snowy season.  We call it "Filling up her tank".

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Forward!

Today is the big day!!!  We get to Spring forward!  In my family we begin counting down to this day from the moment we fall back.  And this week we had a little preview of what is coming our way!  Although it was extremely windy, I ventured out for a little walk because in Ohio you just don't pass up 60 and sunny to stay indoors.  I was shocked to see crocuses blooming already!  So I hoofed it back to the house and grabbed my camera to take some shots of these tiny signs of Spring.

Part of what I love about crocuses is that they are the first herald of the world of flora that is. 

Now I will begin to long to see my other favorites....daffodils, bluebells, hyacinths, and my absolute favorite...TULIPS!  I have a couple good local places to go to photograph these lovely spring bulbs, so this is likely just the beginning of a series of spring flower filled blog posts!  I hope you enjoy this glimpse of spring, and please...remember to set you clocks forward tonight!!!!

He's got a buddy...soon to bloom

 By Charles Spurgeon:

NATURE is a looking- glass in which I see the face of God.

I delight to gaze abroad, and "Look through nature, up to nature's God."

We may delight ourselves in the works of God, and find much pleasure therein,and get much advanced towards God himself by considering his works.

This is herald of fine weather as well.  The Red-Winged Blackbird, who is one of only three birds I can identify by song. (The Northern Cardinal and the Red-Tailed Hawk are the other two).

Because I have always lived near open fields, the preferred habitat of these lovely birds, I associate their call with warm summer afternoons when these guys find the highest perch in the field to trumpet their distinct call.  I have always wanted a nice close up of their bright wings, but this is the closest I came on my walk the other day as one flew past.