Lucky Charm

This bent nail was picked up off the floor yesterday backstage of the Metropolitan Opera where I was having a private tour with my daughter, a huge red letter day for me, being an avid opera goer. You’ll find these nails lying around as they are used in the hinges that hold the sets together and they are bent so they are easier to remove. I was also told by my guide, that Luciano Pavarotti wouldn’t go on stage at the Met unless he had found one of these nails, so the stage hands would make sure that by leaving them in strategic places, he would always find one.

In walking around backstage you feel dwarfed by everything, the elevator that can hold 40 foot high scenery, the props, the holding areas either side of the stage, just walking past the cases of double basses lined up against the walls makes you feel you are in a giant’s castle, this is a mind blowing experience. The vast warren of the wardrobe department with racks upon racks of costumes is just stunning. The costumes are made from the best materials as they are expected to last twenty years, they are also exquisitely made, no tacky Velcro here.

Standing on stage looking out into the auditorium was amazing, just thinking about who had performed here gave me goosebumps. Peeking through a window in a door I saw Patricia Racette rehearsing a scene from Madama Butterfly, never in my wildest dreams had I imagined this.

Even years from now I will be talking of this visit with my heart still pounding. If a bent nail was a good talisman to Pavarotti then I am adopting this one as mine.

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Town Fox

This fox was on Route 116 within the 30mph speed limit of Ridgefield, it’s not the first time I’ve seen town foxes but this is the first time I had my camera handy. These are such beautiful creatures, and as I have said before, getting to view them makes my day. This one looks very healthy and like us all, is probably enjoying this mild winter.

Look At That Light

This is one of reasons I get up early to walk the boys, the first light in the morning is fantastic. It can be well below freezing with the wind biting into your face but with the sun just coming up over the horizon and kissing the tops of the trees makes it very magical and compensates for any weather.

Skies with interesting cloud patterns are my favorite, pure blue skies are nice but usually have very little photographic value if the foregrounds have no interest. The drama of storm clouds racing across, the pink tinged puffs like floating cotton candy, the striped Altocumulus clouds (Mackerel or Buttermilk Sky) all make for great photos.

The Mackerel Sky I saw was today so we can be expecting some light rain soon.

New Year, New Faces

Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while, Christmas and a house full of guests kept me from spending much time at my computer. Now that the New Year is here I feel refreshed and eager to start up again.

The end of last year was very sad, we lost two of our doggy companions, Laddie and Serge, they were wonderful characters and are greatly missed. With any loss of your best friend and constant companion there is much sorrow which, in my mind, can only be alleviated by getting another dog. I know they will never replace the memory of the one you lost but they will fill the void in your heart. Just look at the photos of two newcomers to our morning walk and tell me you couldn’t love these beautiful creatures just as much. Life will go on without a new pet but look at these faces, life would be infinitely better with a dog who loves you.

Autumn Leaves

Turkey Hill, October 12th 2011

In my last post I mentioned that I thought the fall colors this year would’nt be spectacular and unfortunately I was right. Take a look at the difference between October 12th this year and October 12th last year, less leaves and a lot less color but it’s a shame it won’t make a bit difference with the fall clean up, there’s still plenty of leaves left to keep me busy way into November. In saying this, I still love the Autumn.

Turkey Hill, October 12th 2010

Treading On Lady’s Thumbs

No, this is not some sadistic ritual I practice but the act of walking on the plant called Lady’s Thumbs which has been most prolific this year, I think mainly due to the huge amounts of rain we’ve had. Normally seen at the trail edges they have exploded and are carpeting the paths in foot deep clusters making it impossible not to tread on them.

The excessive rain is also responsible for the proliferation of the many other wet loving plants including Joe-Pye Weed, New York Ironweed and Asters which aren’t usually seen in great numbers on the open lands but have been in abundance this year.

The Milkweed hasn’t faired so well, nor the Goldenrod which hasn’t been so showy and indeed the opposite, it looks positively sick with browning leaves and few flowers, this time of year you expect to see the fields a blaze of yellow with these plants.

I think the Fall Colors will also be affected, the leaves seem to be staying green and if they do change there might not many leaves left on the trees to put on a great show, but I do hope I’m wrong, it is my favorite time of the year.

Lady’s Thumb (Polygonum persicaria) have a purplish triangle in the middle of it’s leaf resembling a thumb print.

Lock Up Your Chickens

About two weeks ago I was told that a pack of seven Coyotes were seen in North Salem. I have come across smaller packs of up to five and have photographed pairs but never a pack this big so I was eager to see if I could get a picture of them all together. I had heard of additional sightings so I drove around for several days looking in the open fields where the Coyotes had been spotted hoping to get a view, but no such luck. Then one hunting morning out with the Golden’s Bridge Hounds I saw a large Coyote leave the woods about two fields away, out of the range of my camera. The Hounds followed but lost him after a few minutes. I wandered down the road where I have seen Coyotes before and waited, hoping to see if this one is going to do a loop. Suddenly a Coyote pops out from the hedge in front of me, crossing the road and into the field opposite, he stops and looks at me, then trots off. I photograph him as he slowly walks along the side of a stone wall. Meanwhile another coyote crosses behind me and all I see is the tail disappearing into the undergrowth, unfortunately no picture. Then across the field, trotting along calmly, comes another Coyote, I get several pictures of him, one with his four legs off the ground. No sooner had he disappeared another one arrived. That was four Coyotes I’d seen in almost as many minutes, all within forty feet of me and, I was told later, another two Coyotes had been seen crossing Route 121. All this was absolutely amazing but to top it all off a young buck took a unbelievable leap over a big rail fence right in front of my eyes. You could definitely say that was my lucky day, maybe I should have rushed out and bought a Lottery Ticket.

Strange Bedfellows

The other day I came across a Turkey Vulture among a flock of Geese, earlier I had seen him soaring above looking as though he was about to swoop down and grab one. I thought it strange that the Geese didn’t take off when he landed amongst them, the Vulture is potentially dangerous so why would they want to hang out with him. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this mingling of natural enemies, a week ago, there was a Hawk sitting with a Crow on a fence having a chat, usually the Hawk is being mobbed by Crows or Red-wing Blackbirds, they are definitely not the best of friends. Maybe there is a trend happening and every creature is getting more tolerant with each other, so I began thinking shouldn’t this be happening with other animals, for instance Donkeys and Elephants.  I am so fed up of the partisan bickering in Congress, politicians are only thinking of themselves, isn’t it time they really listened to the people and put the country first. Come on, stop the “politics as usual” stuff and put America first.

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.”
Isaiah 11.6

Happiness Defined

Pickles is a fearless little hunter and has the typical Napoleon complex associated with Jacks. He will face off with anything but when it comes to loud noises he is off, into the arms of my wife first, me next or under the bed when there is no one else to comfort him. July 4th is no celebration for him, the week long firework fest drives him frantic so, the other night, during the all nighter thunderstorm he was not a happy chappy. He constantly wanted attention, panting into my ear, keeping me awake most of the night, not that you could get much sleep with all the thunder going on.

It is a small but essential thing we do for our pets, trying to keep them calm during a storm, and I feel they give us the same comfort when we get worried. Waking up in the middle of the night with the night demons in my head, the first thing I do is reach out for one of the dogs on the bed and feeling the soft silkiness of an ear I can go back to sleep reassured everything will be alright.

I am always saying aren’t my dogs lucky that they are owned by me, spoiled rotten, their every whim catered for, but now, I think it is the other way round, I am lucky to have them. They are protective and possessive, very demanding and their unconditional love is a constant.

I once saw a pillow with “Happiness is being owned by a Jack Russell” embroidered on it, I wish I’d bought it, because a truer statement couldn’t be made.

The Power of Nature

It is the day after Hurricane Irene hammered the East Coast and I am in the car slaloming around fallen trees and downed power lines. Making many detours round blocked roads it takes me and the boys an extra 20 minutes to get to North Salem causing a little extra strain on their bladders. They were on three legs for some time before we could start our walk.

Rivulets of water were spraying off my boots as I walked through the grass. The ground was more than soggy underfoot, unable to soak up the rain large puddles had formed everywhere and the boys were getting extra muddy. I spied several ponds and streams where they shouldn’t be and the spill from the lake was roaring like a miniature Niagara Falls.

There were many big trees down in the fields, some torn up from their roots others snapped in half and a lot with missing limbs. The power of Irene had caused major destruction all around but then I was surprised to come across a spider’s web still standing, looking almost undamaged by the winds. A flimsy construction that can be whisked away with the wag of a dog’s tail was still there after the storm. Nature is truly unpredictable, mighty oaks can be toppled and humble spider’s webs left standing, one day 80mph winds and the next, beautiful clear blue skies.

And of course we were without power for the next five days.