Another Healing

Another Healing

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another Story Accepted!

Guess who's getting married?

That's right!

Varian and Josh!

And you're all invited to the wedding!

There will be champagne, roses, rainbows, and swords.

There will be swooning (not from whom you'd expect) and wings (not from whom you'd expect)

There will be uninvited guests and presents literally out of the blue.

When the folks at Torquere announce the date, you all will be the first to know.

In the meantime, hold your breath for A Sky Full of Wings, the next installment in the Notice world, a novelette following Notice and "The Dragon and the Mistletoe."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Biggest Snowfall of the Year!







To get our biggest storm on February 25, I have to say that for Vermont, that's rather pathetic. Many years, the snow is waist deep by now. I think we've got about fourteen inches.

I was very glad that it came on a Saturday and I could enjoy watching it fall while sitting at my computer, sipping tea. I took these photos this morning. The only sounds were my neighbor out plowing in the distance, and a disgruntled robin making occasional "I don't like this," churps from a maple.

I'm on school vacation this week, and I'm going to relax and enjoy it. (She says, thinking up more projects that really ought to be done by the minute.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Swans!

Recently, I learned that three Tundra Swans were hanging around in the Ausable Marsh State Wildlife Management Area, just south of Plattsburgh, New York. Tundra Swans are very unusual around here. They nest in the arctic in Alaska and the northern reaches of Canada. Most of them winter in the west, but a few head over to the Atlantic. No one knows why three of them have decided to hang out here for a while, but I suspect the lake caught their attention because of all the unusual open water this year. Or they just know a good lake when they see it.

Whatever the reason, I got over my cold in a hurry and organized a trip.  A friend of mine said in amazement, "Are going to give up half your weekend to a possibly vain attempt to peer at three birds through binoculars?"

My response was a slightly more eloquent version of, "Hell, yeah!"

So my family and I headed across the lake on a ferry last Sunday afternoon in temperatures that weren't much above zero, into a wind that literally felt like knives. It took us a few attempts to find the park because the sign had been taken down for the season, but within about thirty seconds of leaving the main road, we came upon a line of cars full of people with binoculars and spotting scopes trained on the water. My kind of folk.

And within another few moments, I had nailed species number 240 for my life list.

We spent about an hour watching the swans. There were three of them -- two adults and their immature offspring. Tundra Swans mate for life, and their young stay with them for a while. Our timing couldn't have been better. Soon after we arrived, the swans stopped feeding and began to bathe with much splashing and flapping, and then they stepped out onto the ice to preen their feathers into place. I took over 90 shots of them, periodically popping back into the van to warm up. These are my favorite:

As we first saw them, looking elegant. The immature is on the right.

Because they were eating aquatic plants below the surface, I got a lot of shots that looked like this.

Or like this.
"Really not your best angle, honey."

Then they began bathing and splashing.

The immature came up on the ice first and shook like a dog.

Then he got down to preening

Dad joined him.
Mom: "Guys, I'm still bathing! Quit staring at a lady!"

"Oops, sorry!"

"Jeez! What I don't go through!"

"Yeah, but you know I'm gorgeous!"
 "Do you notice I'm not looking at you?"
"God, parents!"

"I am so not looking at you! Even though I know you're doing the leg thing."

"On the other hand, there's a famous author with a camera over there, and she blogs a lot, so we'd better give her a nice shot, huh?"



Just for the record, it's impossible to tell the genders of Tundra Swans apart. (Well, for us to, anyway.) I just have an overactive imagination. But what else was I supposed to do with 90 shots of swans? And also for the record, these shots were all taken with my 300mm lens and then enlarged, so I was (obviously) not near enough to disturb them. (I love digital. You don't want to know how much money I used to spend on film. Yes, I developed my own. A darkroom used to be one of my favorite places.)

So after we bade the swans farewell, we were all eager to warm up in a restaurant in downtown Plattsburgh with my skeptical friend, who is probably no longer skeptical but convinced that I've lost touch with sanity. Then another ferry ride home. Yes, I stood at the railing and looked at the dark sky and the dark water and the lights on either shore, and thought lofty thoughts about swans and freedom and flying and how wicked cold my ears were getting.

All in all, a lovely day, well spent!









Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Bear Day!

Well, the rest of the country is celebrating Groundhog Day, but I'm celebrating Bear Day. While I was driving home from school today, I saw a bear! I came around a bend on a winding, narrow road, and there, just ahead of me, stood a big, black shape. I knew it was a bear -- I didn't even think it might be a big dog. Nothing else is that color black. It was just really, really black, and beautiful, and wild, and man, was I glad I was in my car. Before I could get a good look, it was gone. Just gone.

When I got up to the spot where it had been, I slowed and looked hard, reaching for my camera, but there was no sign of it. Far down below, a stream crossed under the road in a large culvert. I suspect the bear had been following the water. When the stream disappeared into the culvert, the bear was forced up and over the road. Somewhere in the woods below, the bear was still probably heading downstream.

It seems early for bears to be out of hibernation, but in the last few days, I have been seeing raccoons and smelling skunks, so I assume bears are waking and rambling about, too. This means I probably should bring in my bird feeders, but I really don't want to do that yet. This bear was miles from my house. The ones who live around me are still sleeping. I'm certain of it. Yup.

It was cloudy, so the bear didn't see its shadow. I wonder what that means for the rest of the winter?

Probably absolutely nothing.