It will be a long time before we see anything green or blooming in the Northeast.

Winter is a good time to look for interesting stalks and seed pods in the snow.

Well, this plant is not native to New York, and I think, it’s more interesting than beautiful.

I’ve seen it, in gardens, roadsides and woods, all my life.

Wikipedia indicates that Lunaria annua is naturalized, but native to the Balkans and SW Asia.

In both Europe and Asia, the common names refer to money:  silver dollar plant, the Pope’s money, coins of Judas, etc.

We’ve always called it “honesty.”

In winter, the stalks resemble an abandoned optician’s shop, vandalized by the winter, with old wire-rimmed spectacles, gone cloudy, or missing lenses.

It’s a tough, almost shrubby plant, that needs no care, and produces nice purple flowers, and self-seeds reliably.

The seed pods are brownish, flat, and oval – -you can see one hanging on in the pictures, darkened by exposure.

But when the outer layers drop off, it’s the inner part of the seed pod that a lot of people like to gather – – almost pearly, like discs of translucent parchment or paper.

In the last shot above, the membrane is shredded by the winter weather.  (Tattered honesty, this is New York, after all)

I think the last shot looks a bit sinister, like a display for “Sweeney Todd, Eye Doctor”

If you gather it in the fall, when it’s good and dry, you can slip off the outer covers, scatter the seeds, and bring in the money.

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Nature, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York. January. Honesty, a bit tattered.

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The fallen tree seems to be a clear message – don’t try walking up the icy stream bed.

Never seen this stream completely frozen before.

Even listening very carefully, I could not hear the faintest burbling sound under the ice.

Even the places that look like water, are just clear pools of ice, on top of the milkier layers.

 

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Nature, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York ~ January ~ ~ Finger Lakes Forest ~ ~ 5 °F.

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I was taking pictures through a frosted window pane.

This one isn’t the sharpest or most glittery of the bunch, but I somehow like it the best.

 

 

Cold War, Frostbite, photography, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

street lights through a frosty windowpane

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Hello from Boston, Massachusetts, Winter Wonderland!

I haven’t posted any pictures from this town yet.

So I thought I’d send a few cellphone photos, from where we’re holed up,

above the snow line and away from the wolves, atop the Hancock Building.

We’re OK up here for now — we have 7 cans of Sterno, 4 boxes of Saltines, and a whole crate of Ovaltine.

Above is a shot of residents fleeing Boston on snowshoes, over the rooftops.  That’s Quincy Market to the left.

In the next picture, I think the mound at the bottom is the dome of the Statehouse.

 

 

I took a few more pictures from the sledge, when the Lyft dogsledder picked us up.

Here’s the Castle at Park Plaza (on Columbus Avenue)

 

And the entrance to my subway stop on the MBTA line

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And a new advertisement for the ferry to Hingham

 

Dairy aisle in the Whole Foods store.

 

“Looking for the Bus Stop, Friday Night”

 

Heck, I’m from Upstate New York – no worries.

They warned me the Yankees were a bit on the cool side, and a bit of weather doesn’t bother me.

So long for now!  Keep warm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old pictures are from the Library of Congress.  The engraving is by Conradus Lycosthenes (Switzerland, 1500’s) from the Wellcome Library.  The Retreat from Moscow is from the Saratov National Research State University on behalf of NG Chernyshevsky.
Those are actually New York ice crystals in the last photo, as you can probably tell – – sharp-edged, stony-hearted.

 

 

 

 

Boston, Frostbite, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

Pictures of Boston. January. The Evacuation.

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I figured everybody’s seen a million photos of Niagara Falls, by better photographers than me!  So these are mostly snapshots of the area around the Falls, taken on Saturday.

The freezing spray glazed our coats, so they crackled when we took them off, and added layer after layer of ice to every non-moving object in the area, making a walk kind of tricky, but it’s always very interesting and beautiful to visit the Falls in winter.  Until your blood begins to jell, of course.

1,2 = Coin-operated binoculars, coated with ice and turned into friendly-looking robots.

3-6 = Trees and shrubs covered with ice on Goat Island, in the middle of the Niagara River, and the American side of Falls.

7-13 = getting toward dusk, near Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side.  The Falls are illuminated with colored spotlights.

I hope everybody out there has a wonderful New Year’s, and best wishes for a peaceful, happy 2018.

 

Xmas lights reflected in the ice

 

Canada, Frostbite, NY, photography, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York/Upper Canada. December. Niagara Falls.

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Boy, what a difference an hour makes.

I was looking at snapshots taken some time ago, on my cellphone.

I think both of these pictures are a bit awkward – –

but I also thought they were interesting, because of the change in atmosphere.

They were taken just a couple of yards from each other, same day, one hour apart.

The first picture looks “seasonal” and almost festive, nice red winterberries (thanks Linda & Steve for identifying!)

Reminds me of cranberries, which I love.

An hour later, the swamp presents quite a different aspect, kinda spooky.

Reminds me of a ham dinner with too much cranberry relish – a portrait of the atmosphere in my stomach.

The dark blobs on the dead trees in the background, just barely visible, are nests in a blue heron rookery heronry.

BTW, a lot of people, none of them birders, have told me that herons kill off the trees they roost in.

I don’t know if herons seek out dead, mostly limbless trees, because they’re somewhat awkward fliers, and can’t navigate through branches, or if it’s true, what the old folks around here say, that by pooping on the trees day after day, they actually kill them off.

I’m not sure how that would be fatal, but it certainly seems like it would be discouraging.

I remember reading about a primitive tribe, that rather than trying to cut down trees, to clear a field for cultivation, would get up very early each morning, and whack the tree with a club, while yelling at it.

The theory was that the pre-dawn shock killed the tree.

I figure the tribespeople were eventually severing the phloem layer, girdling it, and that’s what killed the tree, but who knows.

Doesn’t it seem an awful lot like waking up to talk radio in the USA?

Caveman thinking & poo-flinging in a dismal swamp.

Heron excrement, Stone Age tree-clubbing, or paranoid rabble-rousers — may not be fatal, but it’s surely discouraging.

As one rookery tree said to another — all this crap just has to be taking years off our lives.

On a happier note, from the album “In My Tribe”

Here’s 10,000 Maniacs with Natalie Merchant “Like the Weather”

Obviously not taken in December! But wouldn’t they make nice Xmas tree decorations?  Same location, during the summer – – I think I mentioned some time ago, seeing buttonbush – – this is the area  where I always see it.  Sterling, NY, on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Nature, NY, Ontario, United States, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York. December. Sterling Swamp

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breakfast, Ecuador, Galapagos, Mail, Post Office, South America, Sudamerica, travel, Uncategorized, Winter

Message in a…barrel ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The Galapagos Post Office.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve just finished up my third winter in a row.  Pretty much twelve months spent in the winter seasons of Milwaukee, then Chile, then New York.

It’s natural that during this Ice Age, my mind would wander sometimes, and take a little vacation from the cold.

Leaving my frostbitten carcass behind, it would daydream of sun, gentle breezes, and warm beaches.

So when I got a break, and actually took a short trip to a sunny, warm beach, I stood in the warmth and sunshine, and naturally my mind strayed again, like that one pesky third-grader on a field trip, and left me with thoughts of…

Cream of Wheat?

 

 

By sheer good luck, in February I got the chance to tag along with a student group going to the Galapagos Islands, pretty close to the equator.  Walking around Floreana Island, under the most intense sunlight I’ve ever felt, suddenly my mind was thinking of my favorite hot breakfast cereal.

Sometimes I worry myself.

 

On the island, looking at a weathered barrel full of postcards, what came to mind, was a famous advertisement from the turn of the last century, which I’d seen for years, on a tin canister in our kitchen.

The ad ran in magazines over a hundred years ago, but a lot of folks would recognize it still.   “Rural Delivery”, painted by N.C. Wyeth in 1906, shows a cowpoke on horseback, six-shooter on his hip, dropping a letter into a wooden box on a post.   “Where The Mail Goes, Cream of Wheat Goes” says the caption.

 

 

The barrel post office I was standing by, on this remote island in the Galapagos, is even older than the ad.  The site (if not the current barrel) has been used  since the 1790’s.  Originally by sailors coming ashore for water or food – – whalers, seal-hunters, and sea-cooks looking to boil up a big pot of turtle soup – and now by tourists from all over the world.

Over two hundred years ago, a British sea captain set up the mail drop, with flags that signaled its existence to passing ships.  Outbound sailors would leave messages, and homeward bound sailors would retrieve letters left by others, to deliver when they got to port.

 

The legacy has continued – – each modern visitor leaves a postcard, and looks for one that they can deliver in person to the recipient.

I enjoyed looking through addresses in places as diverse as Mumbai and Moldova.  That last one, had languished here for twelve years.  One girl in the group, feeling sad for a letter marooned on the island for seventeen years, waiting to be carried to Turkey, said she would defy whatever curse came from violating tradition, and would mail it from the U.S., because she felt like matters had waited long enough.

On the day we were there, New Englanders seemed to have the most luck, and several kids found addresses close to their homes, that they could deliver at the end of the semester.  “This lady lives twenty minutes from my house!”

I am looking forward to hearing from myself, just a card, and it will be a nice surprise to learn what I was thinking, because I’ve already forgotten what I wrote.

The most poignant message, though, was very simple. I picked it up and in big letters it proclaimed:

“I will be back for this. If I die before then, my kids will. Leave me here, I’m coming back!”

 

 

 

Rural Delivery” painting is public domain, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (a gift from the National Biscuit Company!)

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