Archive for August, 2015

My new homebase

Back when I lived in NH, I could and did spend hours in my yard photographing tiny things of beauty. It was barely 1/2 an acre of sand and weeds (for the most part), but it kept me occupied and occasionally intrigued. Now I’m in the northwoods of Wisconsin on a bit more land and I have a feeling I could be spending a lot of time finding more of the same. Way more.

So what are we dealing with? An acre and a half of hardwood forest with 150 feet of waterfront (we’re looking into buying the lot next door which will bring the total to about 3 acres). Here’s the big picture –

That’s a view of the dock with a slice of the backyard and the house. I was in the kayak, I didn’t wade out there. It’s probably far over my head anyway. They say the flowage is 20 feet or so at its deepest point.

This is what we like to do best! Beverages on the dock when the water and winds are calm. It doesn’t happen too often; it’s pretty windy through here and the water is often choppy and full of life. Luckily it’s mostly a southern wind, which would be coming from the right in the picture, downstream.

Here’s a view from my chair across the river to Billy’s house –

So that’s some of the big picture, but there’s always a small one for me. The unseen and ignored. Like this liverwort and the sporophytes it makes, like little palm trees.

And then there’s the flowers. Wildflower central. In May the wooded part of the yard (which is most of it) is awash in trillium which comes after the masses of bloodroot bloom. I’ve seen catnip, daisies, tiny pink ones that I don’t know what they are, indian paint brush, spotted touch me not, heal-all, evening lychnis, water hemlock, spring beauty and various kinds of aster, like this rattlesnake root –

And to my utter delight, my favorite, indian pipe –

And of course mushrooms. The yard is loaded with them as are most of the nearby forests (warning, warning, many mushroom photos soon to come).

Being so remote, we have a lot more wildlife than is present in southern NH. I’m not a wildlife photographer, but I may have to become one. We’ve got a loon that lives very close by and that I see or hear almost daily, bald eagles, too. Waterbirds nest in a nearby inlet that is quiet and host to a resident great horned owl that I’ve scared twice now while paddling (previous post). One time a ruffed grouse and I eyeballed each other from mere feet away when I was in the kayak – so different from the other times where we scared each other to death in the woods; me by making one explode out of the undergrowth with furious wing-beats. I had the privilege of watching a family of pileated woodpeckers dining on some stumps and logs right next to my driveway. There are frogs and toads galore and we even have a resident gray tree frog like we did in NH. I hear it singing frequently from the gutter on the roof and others respond back. Oh and then there are the spiders –

That big momma is a fishing spider and she lives on our dock with a few sisters, each 3 to 3 1/2 inches including those marvelous legs. They’re nursery web weavers and that’s what she’s done here; woven a protective net for her hundreds of babies. They’re between the metal frame and the wooden dock segments themselves. I’m the only woman in the world that would be happy about this, I think. And of course there are other kinds and my spider ID book rarely stays put.

So my adventure begins in my own backyard once again.

It is wonderful, but posting is going to be a problem. I have really terrible internet here at home. There is no cable or any other high speed connectivity and so a cellular connection with 20gb per month is all we have. Not nearly enough to upload high res photos like I’ve always done. So I need to go to the library and use the wifi there and that will only be once a week or even less. If you tap into any of my online galleries like Flickr or Smugmug, it will be a big batch load instead of a trickle of a few photos per day. Just the way it is. I think I’ll go down to the dock and cry about it. ; )


Rumors of my death

have been greatly exaggerated.

The move to Wisconsin is complete and we’re good and settled in. We love our house to bits. The country is really beautiful, the lake is a lot of fun and the neighbors we’ve met have been great. There’s even a local coffee shop where we hang out for some local color and have laughs with other folks who live on this section of river. It’s the Wisconsin river and particularly the Grandfather Flowage. That’s the part of a river between 2 dams, this section has the Grandmother and the Grandfather, both of which make electricity so the water is always moving a little and the level never gets too high or too low; hence the name flowage.

Anyway, being where we are has some challenges. The biggest is the internet. It sucks. There is no cable at all and so that leaves satellite or cellular. For now we’re using cellular, but are limited to 20gb per month. Yep, that’s it. So given that the images I work with are so large, I’m going to batch upload to my photo sites when I get to the library and can use the wifi there. Luckily we have a pretty great library system up here in the Northwoods so it shouldn’t be an issue. It will be weird though and I won’t be able to post nearly as often to those sites. At least I can upload high quality images though. You should see the crap that comes from keeping jpegs under 100k. The horror, the horror.

Here are some shots that are processed and uploaded. They’re from a kayak trip upriver. I really need a longer lens for bird photography. This little green heron was very patient and let me drift rather close, but eventually it spooked and off it flew. We also have a resident loon that I see or hear pretty much every day. It seems to hang out within sight of our dock quite a bit.

Little greenie hunting

Because the flowage is fairly large (750+ acres) and there’s a lot of wind, the chop can be merciless. When a still day comes around I jump on it though and believe me, it’s nice being able just to be able to walk into the backyard and put the kayak in the water.

Clouds in the flowage

Eventually I’ll strap it to the car and explore other areas, but for now this section of the river will do. There’s a great little side channel (where I found little greenie) about 40 minutes up river and it looks like it shelters a lot of nesting birds. I found a bunch of sites that are no longer used since the babies are so much older now, but it’s still got a lot of ducks, mergansers, herons and I think, a great horned owl. I’ve scared off a really large, silent bird twice now and that’s what I think it is. Maybe one day I’ll be able to photograph it instead of scaring it. Gonna need a longer lens though. Next time that 100-300 Panasonic goes on sale, I’m grabbing one.

Anyway, some more shots will be coming when I can get back to the library and wifi. My new yard is a haven for macros and other photography, so there’s plenty to keep me busy. Plus there’s tons of abandoned stuff around here – houses, barns, farms, cabins…it’s crazy. Stay tuned and thanks for waiting for me to get back to the land of the living. European vacation post coming soon! Brussels! Amsterdam! Bruges! We’re not in the woods anymore.