Storm Chasing Again

I chased a storm the other day but never caught it.  I started the chase a half-hour too late.  By the time I reached my destination, the storm was well off to the northeast.

So I turned back for home without having taken a single photo.  Luck, however, was with me.  Just as the sun was setting, I came upon a tractor that had been left out in the field.  I had just enough time for one photo.

Tractor At Sunset
Tractor At Sunset

 

Just a Dandelion

I finally saw my first wildflower of the season at Willow River State Park.  I wasn’t too excited when it turned out to be a dandelion.  Within a yard of the dandelion were a few small, blue violets.  I don’t know what type of violet.  Wildflowers can be hard to identify.  For example, I also saw some small white flowers that could be either a type of everlasting or a type of pussytoes.  I’m not sure which.

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Dandelion
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Blue Violet
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Everlasting or Pussytoes
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Willow River

 

First Wildflower

 

I’m working on a project to photograph wildflowers in Willow River State Park, but the first wildflower I’ve seen this year was on the North Country National Scenic Trail, three hours north of Willow River.  It’s a round-lobed hepatica.  The flower is about 1/2 inch and is two inches above the forest floor.  The resulting photo is below along with a few other shots from on the trail.

 

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Round-Lobed Hepatica
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Scott Rapids Campsite, St. Croix River
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Footbridge On the North Country National Scenic Trail
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Self-Portrait
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St. Croix River On the North Country National Scenic Trail

 

Wildflowers

I’ve started working on a project to photograph wildflowers in Willow River State Park from the start of the season until the frosts of autumn:  wildflowers in the same location throughout a single season.

I’ve seen no wildflowers yet, so I’ve been shooting leftovers from last year that have spent the season under the snow and whatever new growth I can find.  The first things I noticed were the sporophytes of moss.  The moss is a brilliant green among the drab browns and tans of early spring.

Then there is a small plant with geranium-like leaves that always seems to be green.

Within the last week, the buds on trees and shrubs have plumped up.  They’ve added a tinge of color to the forested hillsides.  Over the last few days, new grasses have emerged and are adding their bit of green.

Wet Leaves and a Roll Of Birch Bark
Wet Leaves and a Roll Of Birch Bark
Grass That's Spent a Season Under the Snow
Grass That’s Spent a Season Under the Snow
Old Bracken Ferns
Old Bracken Ferns
I'm Reminded Of Bryce Canyon
I’m Reminded Of Bryce Canyon

 

Last Year's Acorn
Last Year’s Acorn
Withered Mushrooms On a Trunk
Withered Mushrooms On a Trunk
Moss Sporophytes
Moss Sporophytes
New Grass
New Grass
Buds On a Shrub
Buds On a Shrub
Rising From the Forest Floor
Rising From the Forest Floor
What Will This Become?
What Will This Become?
New Growth
New Growth
One Of the Earliest Things To Sprout
One Of the Earliest Things To Sprout

No Irony

 

Spoken without irony by Nigel Danson:

Photography is so much fun.  It’s minus two with a wind chill of about minus thirteen.

The quote above is from one of Nigel’s YouTube videos from Iceland.  It’s just as cold in Wisconsin, actually colder and a lot more snow, but photography can still be fun!

On Burnett County Road O
On Burnett County Road O
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Shed and Bare Tree
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On Grettum Dike Road
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As if!
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Winter On the Chippewa River
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Animal Tracks On the Frozen River
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Open Water On the Frozen River

 

Stuck Again

February 3rd, 2018:  Stuck in the snow in Cornell, Wisconsin.  It was a Saturday, and I had to call 911 to get a tow truck to come and pull me out.

February 16th, 2019:  Yesterday, a year later, and I was stuck again, in the ditch of a dirt road in Pierce County, Wisconsin.  Again I had to call 911.  Lots of help eventually showed up at the same time; a sheriff’s deputy, a farmer from the top of the hill, and a truck from Larry’s Towing.  The farmer pulled me out before the tow truck arrived.  The towing company didn’t charge me a cent even though they drove many miles to where I was stuck.  I greatly appreciated all the help.

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Stuck Again!
Cady Creek
Cady Creek
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Pierce County Quarry

 

To Go Or Not To Go

I wrote what follows yesterday at noon.  The weather remains frigid.  I’ll stay inside today.


Cold Road
Cold Road

I’m trying to decide if I should leave my apartment today.  It’s blisteringly cold outside – minus 20° F, wind chill minus 39° F.  I do not want to go out there.  On the other hand, I’m bored with the food I have on hand in my apartment.  Should I venture out in search of food?

At some time today, whether I go out or not, I’ll use a great app I recently discovered, A Soft Murmur.   A Soft Murmur does an excellent job of playing “Ambient sounds to wash away distractions” including rain, waves, wind, birds, crickets, fire.  One can adjust the individual sounds and mix them.

I’ve found that if I lay on my sofa listening to my mix of waves, wind, birds, and crickets and feeling a soft breeze (my ceiling fan on low), I can close my eyes and feel that I’m relaxing on a warm June day.  I find it somewhat uncanny.  All that’s missing is some scents of summer.  It’s free and easy to use.  You can find it at asoftmurmur.com.  (I’m not getting a penny for this plug.)

It Is Cold Out There
It Is Cold Out There

I did go out and even took a few photos.  In doing so, I was only out of my car for two minutes.  Then my lungs started complaining about being subjected to the icy air.  Here are a couple shots that I don’t think actually convey how cold it was.

 

 

Shooting Flowers

I’ve been stuck in my apartment for most of January fighting a chronic respiratory ailment.  So I’ve turned to photographing in my kitchen-table studio.  I have large north-facing windows to provide good natural light.  I’ve not used artificial lighting except for a small light pad.

My subject has been flowers.  I’m experimenting with different styles and techniques ranging from straight-forward shots of a single rose to more complex and layered images done with a bit of Photoshop work and added textures or backgrounds.

One Rose
One Rose
Pink Carnation
Pink Carnation
Alstroemeria
Alstroemeria
White Flower
White Flower
Exotic Greenhouse Plant
Exotic Greenhouse Plant
Asters, Rose Petals, and a Daisy
Asters, Rose Petals, and a Daisy
"Words fell Like roses at our feet", Lucinda Williams
“Words fell Like roses at our feet”, Lucinda Williams

 

Wandering In January

 

Alone and Abandoned
Alone and abandoned in farm country west of Prairie Farm, Wisconsin

It’s been like April around these parts, but it’s January, the coldest part of the year.  Last Friday the temperature was thirty degrees above normal.  It was sunny; there was no wind.  I had to get out and enjoy the weather in spite of being a bit ill.  I spent most of that day out in my car or walking along the side of the Chippewa River south of Durand, Wisconsin.  I’ll mention one rural, back road I was on just because I like the sound of the names:  I drove Swede Rambler Road, which crosses Little Plum Creek, to its end at a farm gate.  Along the way, I checked out a parking lot at the head of a trail into The Tiffany Bottoms State Natural Area which contains the largest floodplain forest in the United States.

I ended the day in Pepin, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Pepin.  The sunset, two ice fishermen, and I all arrived at the perfect time for a photograph.

The Light Fades On Two Ice Fishermen On Lake Pepin
The Light Fades On Two Ice Fishermen On Lake Pepin
The Chippewa River Taken From Mosbach's Landing
The Chippewa River Taken From Mosbach’s Landing
The Rear Of a Pole Building In Ella, Wisconsin
The Rear Of a Pole Building In Ella, Wisconsin
The Chippewa River in Ella, Wisconsin
The Chippewa River in Ella, Wisconsin
Abandoned Barn On Swede Rambler Lane
Abandoned Barn On Swede Rambler Lane
The Ice Of Lake Pepin
The Ice Of Lake Pepin
Broken Ice, Broken Leaf
Broken Ice, Broken Leaf

 

Stockholm By Night

 

Sorry, not Stockholm, Sweden but Stockholm, Wisconsin, a tiny town on Lake Pepin, a wide section of the Mississippi between Wisconsin and Minnesota.  I drove through Stockholm shortly after sundown yesterday.  No one was about.  I saw only a single person as I wandered with my camera.  In the summer, the village would be thronged by tourists taking the popular day trip around Lake Pepin.  Here is how things looked on a cold, dark December evening.

Kudos To 911

Inside Looking Out

I wrote this post in February of this year.  I got sick a few days later and forgot about it.  I’ve decided to go ahead and post it.


I got stuck in the snow on Saturday when it snowed all day.  I was in Cornell, a small town on the Chippewa River in Wisconsin.  I tried calling some local services for a tow truck, but, being the weekend, no one answered their phone.  Some snowmobilers came by and tried to push me out without success.  My smartphone was having trouble finding WIFI.

My only recourse thus seemed to be 911, but I was reluctant to call because I didn’t seem to be in a true emergency.  But I couldn’t think of what else to do, so I called.  I apologized to the gentleman at Chippewa County Emergency Services, but he didn’t seem to be bothered by my call and went out of his way to make sure I got help.  I know he made several calls before he was able to find someone in Ladysmith, over thirty miles away.  Eventually, a tow truck arrived and pulled me out.

Thanks very, very much to the man who helped me and Chippewa County Emergency Services.

In my love/hate relationship with smartphones, this day was all love.

P.S., while waiting in my car to be rescued, I noticed the drops of melted snow on my car window and snapped a decent photo.  I was in the snow waiting for a couple of hours and was able to get a few more decent photos.

Morning Thoughts

 

Morning thoughts, yesterday:

  • It’s gray and gloomy outside.  Bummer.  The prediction was for sunny skies.
  • A lousy day for photography.  Why bother to go out?
  • And it’s cold!
  • I’m tired, run down.  I’d just as soon lie on the couch all day.
  • The morning blues.

Afternoon thoughts, yesterday:

  • It feels so good to be outside in the fresh, clean air.
  • It doesn’t seem as cold as I thought it would be.
  • I’m finding good shots in spite of the flat, gray sky
  • I can forget about the fatigue when I’m out exploring and shooting
  • A great day to be alive

I ended up shooting interesting signs or incongruous signs or signs that said something about the nature of the area I was exploring.  My day’s work was part of my long-running project to photograph the cuesta in Wisconsin west of the Chippewa and Red Cedar rivers.

I felt like a real, true artic explorer.  At one point I reached the top of an unplowed twisting road [photo below] and decided that going down the other side would be putting my life at risk even though I was driving an SUV.  This was in civilized, pastoral Wisconsin.  Unexpected.

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Hillside In November
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Wendy’s On the Hill
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Cheesehead Territory
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I’m didn’t risk driving down
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Barn At the End Of the Road
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Landfill On a Hillside
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The Road Down

 

 

Late November

November is almost over.  The autumn color is gone;  the trees are bare;  there’s no snow.  The forest floor is damp and littered with fallen leaves.  There is a bit of color – the emerald green of moss.  A single leaf still in its autumn color.  Small plants on the forest floor that never seem to suffer from the snow and cold – they’re always green.  A few bare trees with silver branches that stand out against a somber hillside.

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Silver Branches
Root, Trunk, and Moss
Root, Trunk, and Moss
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Last Fallen Leaf
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On the Forest Floor

 

Rustic Road 51

I spent a few hours Sunday afternoon driving and walking Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 in Pierce County.  This is the most rustic of the rustic roads I’ve driven.  It was not much more than two wheel tracks, in many spots suitable for only a single vehicle.  It starts at the top of a small ravine.  The road and ravine plunge downhill with a cliff rising up on one side of the road and the ravine on the other side of the road.  There was little water in the ravine, only a few small pools.  In the spring after snowmelt or perhaps after heavy rain, there would probably be water rushing down the ravine and over least one waterfall.  Eventually, the ravine levels out into a narrow, flat-bottomed valley run through by Pine Creek, a small, meandering stream.  In four places the creek crosses the road in gravel washes –  no bridges or culverts.

I spent a couple hours photographing the road and didn’t encounter a vehicle or a person.  The weather was not good.  I had to use an umbrella to keep the rain off my camera lenses.  Not the best light or weather for photography.  I did get a few decent shots, not just on Rustic Road 51, but on other back roads in southern Pierce County.  I think I did OK considering the conditions.  And – I had fun.

Abandoned Log Cabin
Abandoned Log Cabin in Pierce County, Wisconsin
Gnarly, Bent Trees
Gnarly, Bent Trees
Highway 72 Snakes Up a Hill
Highway 72 Snakes Up a Hill
Tributary Of Plum Creek
A tributary of Plum Creek meanders through a pasture
Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
The top of Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 before it plunges down to the valley floor
Curve In Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
A curve in Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 as it snakes down to the valley floor
Pine Creek on Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
Pine Creek crossing Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
Pine Creek
Pine Creek just before it crosses Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
The Side Of Pine Creek Valley
The hillside that forms the side of Pine Creek Valley

Past Prime Color

The fall color season is past its prime in our neck of the woods.  Colors are waning and strong winds over the last few days blew down lots of leaves.  Many days of peak color were gray, damp, and gloomy.  At one time, I feared that the season would pass with no sunny weather, but it’s ending with a few good days.

Here are my best shots of this year’s color.

 

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The Great Bagel Conspiracy

bagelI have uncovered a sinister, global conspiracy – one to corner the market for bagels!

It started a week ago when I noticed a new slogan on the wall of Bruegger’s Bagels:  “Life Is Short.  Stay Awake For It.”  Later that same day, I saw a large, Caribou Coffee panel van in the parking lot of my local supermarket.  On the front of it was the exact same slogan! [sinister music playing in the background]

A couple days later, I talked to a clerk at Bruegger’s.  She said that Bruegger’s was now owned by Caribou Coffee.  It got worse.  There is actually a holding company, JAB Holding Company, that owns or has a majority stake in Bruegger’s and Caribou and other bagel companies.  Here is a list of all the bagel companies under JAB’s umbrella.  I don’t know if the list is complete; there could well be more.

  • Bruegger’s Bagels
  • Einstein Brothers’ Bagels
  • Panera Bread
  • Manhattan Bagel
  • Noah’s  Bagels
  • Kettleman Bagels & Bakery
  • Chesapeake Bagel Bakery
  • I. & J. Bagel Inc

This is truly frightening.  The worst part is that Caribou will not allow Bruegger’s to use crunchy peanut butter.  (I swear this is true!)  Creamy only.  Sacrilege.  I’ve been forced to switch to honey-walnut cream cheese.  What would the world be like if there was only creamy peanut butter?  I shudder to think about it.

I think I’ll go take a nap.