Happy New Year!

Snowy12Feb14#018E15c8x10

Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

Fun with Squirrels: the Big Grays

The Eastern Gray Squirrel, one of the most familiar animals in eastern U.S., is not timid around bird feeders in wooded residential areas. They’ll visit feeders year-round, but arrive en masse when the snow flies!

GraySquirrel29Dec15#2488E2c8x10

The prominent bushy tail becomes larger and fuller with age. At maturity, it can be half the total length of a squirrel and is a thing of beauty. A gray squirrel isn’t all that big – about a pound – but the tail gives a much different impression!

GraySquirrel28Dec15#2430E2c4x6

GraySquirrel10Dec15#1993E2c3x5

GraySquirrel10Dec15#1990E2c8x10

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Christmas “Flowers”

Flores de Noche Buena: “Flowers of the Holy Night”

Cross22Dec15#2138E2c4x6

The Poinsettia plant has been associated with Christmas since the early 19th century when Poinsett discovered it in a church in southern Mexico, decorating the nativity scene. He introduced the plant to the U.S. in 1825 and soon began propagating it in his green houses in South Carolina. Nearly 200 years later, Poinsettias are synonymous with the Christmas season around the world.

Poinsettias21Dec15#2106E5c8x10

The vivid red flowers – actually leaves – have been revered since Aztec times. To the Aztecs, the deep red foliage symbolized the blood of sacrifices to the Gods; to Christians, the blood of Jesus on the cross. Christians also associate the star-shaped leaf pattern with the star of Bethlehem.

Poinsettia21Dec15#2134E6c5x7

Of the many legends linking the Poinsettia and Christmas, my favorite tells of Pepita, a poor Mexican child walking to church on Christmas eve with her cousin Pedro.  The little girl was teary-eyed because she had no gift for the nativity at the alter. Pedro consoled her, saying “…even a humble gift, if given with love, will be acceptable in His eyes”. Pepita gathered a handful of weeds from the side of the road and carried them to the chapel. As she approached the alter, a Christmas miracle occurred: the handful of weeds burst into a bouquet of brilliant red flowers.

Isle22Dec15#2189E2c8x10

The five Advent candles……one for each of the four Sundays before Christmas, and one for the Christ child.

Peace, Joy, Hope and Love

Candles21Dec15#2118E5c5x7

Photos by NB Hunter, at the Morrisville Community Church, Morrisville, New York. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

White-tails: December Update

Finding White-tailed Deer feeding in broad daylight is much more challenging now than it was earlier in the fall. The regular (gun) hunting season is winding down, the herd has been reduced, and the remaining deer are very wary. Natural movement and foraging activities are more nocturnal than diurnal.

A small family unit, an adult doe and her button buck fawn, surprised me today in the midday sun. They were drawn out of hiding by the sweet scent of fermenting wild apples on the ground. I also wonder if the mature doe learned something from the long nasty winter of 2014-15: eat now because good food sources will soon be few and far between.

The 6-month-old fawn was reckless, stepping clear of the thicket and feeding on apples out in the open.

Fawn9Dec15#1955E2c4x6

Its mother, older and wiser, chose to feed in heavy cover.

Doe9Dec15#1964E2c4x6

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

December Frost

In this part of the world the typical December landscape is snowy and the default background for everything is white! Bare ground is unusual, and a  contrasting morning frost even more so. Last night started out cold and clear but at some point a heavy fog rolled in and froze, covering everything in huge white crystals.

JapLarch6Dec15#1896E3c8x10.jpg

Japanese Larch cone (about 3/4 inch long) with morning frost

I was a little late to the party and showed up with the wrong lens, but I managed to capture a few memories from this spectacular event.

ChenRiverValley6Dec15#1907E2c4x6

American Elm on the floodplain of the Chenango River

ChenRiverValley6Dec15#1923E2c3x5

Farmland in the Chenango River valley

ChenRiverValley6Dec15#1924E2c3x5

Farmland in the Chenango River valley

JennyFarm6Dec15#1915E2c4x6

Farm homestead

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.