This week, Ann-Christine invites us to share some Winter images for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I have to admit that I am a creature of comfort and rarely stray too far from home during the winter months. The older I get, the less appealing the idea of getting togged up in boots, scarf, mittens and heavy winter coat becomes. These shots, three at the Chicago Botanic Garden and one at the Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg are a few in my very sparse collection of typical winter photos.
This week, Patti is looking forward to Autumn for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. For so many reasons, autumn is probably my most favorite time of year. Primarily, I love the colors, and then there’s the cooler weather, not to mention less biting bugs and irate red-wing blackbirds. Of course, any time of year is great at the Chicago Botanic Garden but autumn is a very special season full of bright flowers and glowing foliage.
Autumn is one of the few times in the year that most of our family is able to get together and there is nothing more fun than our Family Fall Festival which is usually held at our daughter’s house in Indiana. She really puts on a terrific show with festive decorations that include Halloween characters, many of which are animated. The kids love it!
The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is the ideal place to visit in autumn when the trees are at their most colorful. A membership to the Chicago Botanic Garden gets you into the Arboretum for free and you can spend the day taking in the sights.
And what would autumn be without a trip to the pumpkin farm. This one is in South Barrington, Illinois, but we also visit a couple in Indiana and Wisconsin. They are a little more low-key but usually just as enjoyable.
And finally, one of my all-time favorite Halloween shots. “Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog,” and a Big Mac to go, please.
This week, Tina is celebrating Spring for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. One of my favorite local places to visit is the Spring Valley Nature Center and Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg. Sadly it wasn’t open this Spring for obvious reasons and and will remain closed at least through August. That being the case, here is a nostalgic look back at Spring in Spring Valley.
This week, Ann-Christine is hoping for a few surprises for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I certainly got a surprise this morning! These two pictures were taken about 30 minutes ago in our garden. Let me explain. Last October I brought several swallowtail caterpillars indoors to spend the winter in our sunroom. Earlier this spring we were disappointed to find that most of them had already been invaded by parasitic wasps which duly hatched out and were released. Two butterflies survived, however, and also appeared earlier this year. Because I’ve been super busy with the stamp collection over the past few weeks, I neglected to clean out the tank where we kept the caterpillars. All the foliage was dead and I assumed that we had seen the last of the butterflies. Imagine my surprise when I walked in this morning and found this beauty. It looked like it was ready to fly so I took it outside and set it down among the dill.
This week, our Lens-Artists guest host, Cee, has challenged us to come up with some Single Flower images. It was a happy coincidence that I had planned to do a garden update post, so it was just a question of picking out the pictures that featured a single bloom, in order to participate.
The weather has certainly been responsible for the lush growth and abundance of flowers in our garden so far this year. The peonies put on a spectacular show. It’s too bad their blooms don’t last longer.
There were plenty of irises, bearded and Siberian, which managed to survive some fairly strong winds and heavy downpours of rain, with the aid of some strategically placed supporting stakes.
Poppies, both oriental and the random Shirley poppies that seem to pop up all over the garden, have added some eye-catching color to the mix.
Even the smaller, less showy flowers such as love-in-a-mist and coreopsis have outdone themselves this year. And the first daylily has finally put in an appearance.
These are just a few of the flowers that are in our garden right now, with many more to come. Thank you, Cee, for giving me the opportunity to share them.
This week, Tina is taking us down the Long and Winding Road for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. We’ve traveled down quite a few of those, over the years. The first shot was taken in Wyoming when we stopped at a rest area on our way to Utah.
Once we got to Utah, there were plenty of winding roads that were so dwarfed by the surrounding landscape that sometimes it wasn’t even possible to tell that it was a road until a tiny dot that may have been a truck or a car came into view.
Of course, distance is relative. After a day of walking around with the camera, looking for things to photograph, especially in hot weather, even a trail at the local nature center can seem like the long and winding road. Now I can’t get that song by the Beatles out of my head! Thanks, Tina!!
Despite the fact that the weather has been freezing one minute and tropical in nature the next, I did manage to capture some Spring things in the garden with the camera. Because of all the rain, everything is looking very lush and green with flowers bursting out all over.
In fact, everything has been growing so well that even the rabbit can’t keep up. We have had what amounts to a bunny explosion here, of late, but thankfully there have been enough weeds to keep them occupied while my lilies and other tasty bits have continued to flourish unmolested.
On the butterfly front, We had a disappointing outcome to the dozen or so Swallowtail pupa that we kept overwinter, when all but one produced nothing but very mean looking parasitic wasps which were evidently the result of the parent wasp laying its eggs in the caterpillars in the fall. I had all but given up hope when the final Swallowtail emerged from its papery parcel and, after sufficient time to dry off, was released it into the garden. What happened to it after that, I cannot say, but it reminds me of a little anecdote regarding a moth.
When our daughter and her husband lived in Texas they spotted a moth that had fallen into the swimming pool. It was making a gallant effort to extricate itself without much success. They were fully clothed at the time (the kids, not the moth) so they couldn’t dive in to assist it but being the tender-hearted people that they are, they searched for the net that was used to scoop out unwanted debris and after much faffing about, finally managed to haul the moth in and laid it gently on the deck to dry whereupon a bird promptly flew down and ate it.
I hope our Swallowtail managed to survive at least long enough to have a look around. We have caught fleeting glimpses of other butterflies in the garden and received a more prolonged visit from a monarch that appeared to be enjoying the chives by the back door as did a rather large bee which put up with me sticking the camera in its face for only so long before it became irate and chased me off.
Usually at our house, at this time of year, you’ll hear the cry go up, “Ducks are in!” For nearly thirty years, we have played host to passing mallard ducks that are making their way to the pond at our local park. They’ll return several times and one year they even made a nest behind one of our shrubs. Unfortunately something ate the eggs, but the following year they returned, this time with ducklings in tow. They appear to feel right at home, helping themselves to the bird seed that I put out, sometimes marching up and down on the roof or paddling in the little ground-level birdbath. They normally arrive first thing in the morning and twice this week I’ve looked out of the window and seen them actually standing on the door mat. They’ll be knocking on the door next.
Strangely enough, ducks are one of the very few species of bird of which I am not afraid. I can’t explain it other than the fact that they don’t do a lot of fluttering, which accounts for the clarity of these pictures as I was standing outside right next to them, rather than taking a hazy shot through a window which is how I get a lot of my bird pictures.
However, it was a different story with this baby robin. The neighborhood probably heard me scream when, going around the garden with the camera and taking pictures of the flowers, I realized that I was within touching distance of this little guy who just sat there looking puzzled as I shrieked and fell backwards into the irises. I ran back into the house to get a longer lens and took this picture from a safe distance.
This week, Ann-Christine is looking for Delicate Colors for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Spring seems to have raced past us at an alarming rate and didn’t really feel like spring at all to me, probably because I missed a couple of the usual spring-time rituals like visiting the daffodils at Morton Arboretum and the lilac festival at Lilacia Park in Lombard. The first picture was taken there last year.
Like many others, I am anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the Chicago Botanic Garden. The palette of colors at the Garden includes everything from delicate pastels to vibrant hues some of which can be found in the annual butterfly exhibit. I’m looking forward to seeing the hummingbirds too, although from a safe distance. (this not because of social distancing but because I am terrified of birds at close quarters.)
After all the rain, the sun finally brought out the flowers on the tree peony in our garden. This event is something that the whole neighborhood seems to enjoy, judging by some of the comments coming from passers-bye. Its delicate colors and heady perfume are something I look forward to every year and it certainly didn’t disappoint, maybe because I gave it some extra words of encouragement.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Challenge last week and for all your comments. I really enjoyed reading all about your pastimes and seeing the accompanying pictures.
Over the past few months, it’s been a great comfort to be able to stay in touch with the outside world through the medium of the internet and more especially through the auspices of the WordPress community, so to say that I was thrilled, not to mention highly honored, to be asked to host this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge would be an understatement.
With so much time being spent at home, many of us have been looking for new pastimes or taking up old ones in order stay occupied or even sane. So that is my theme for this challenge – Pastimes. It could be something that you are trying for the first time or a hobby or interest that you have enjoyed for many years. Feel free to dig into the archives or take a picture to illustrate a current pastime.
If you had told me, a year or two ago, that I would be spending much of my time poring over thousands upon thousands of postage stamps, I would have laughed. But here I am, doing just that. We recently inherited my father-in-law’s stamp collection. That was his pastime; fifty years of squirreling away every stamp that ever came through the door and then some.
We had originally thought to sell the collection (6 large Rubbermaid containers) and split the proceeds between five siblings but after calling dealers and doing some research, we quickly learned that stamp collecting is a dying hobby. Nearly every member of our local stamp-collectors club is there because they inherited a collection and many stamp dealers are not interested in buying because they can’t get rid of what they’ve got. So, I offered to go through the collection and make everyone in the family, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a commemorative album as a tribute to someone who spent so many industrious hours soaking and sorting stamps on every possible subject and from every corner of the world.
Photography has taken rather a back-seat so far this year because of travel restrictions but I love gardening, so when the weather is fine and I’m not sorting stamps, that’s where you’ll find me most days, out in the garden among the flowers. There are stamps for that!
Another pastime I’ve always enjoyed is nature spotting. For several years, I even made a note of all the birds and animals that we observed in the garden or on our walks around the various nature centers and parks. There are stamps for that too!
It’s never too late to take up a new hobby. One of the pastimes that gave me the most pleasure was one in which I never actually participated, at least not at the time. A year or so before my mother passed away at the age of 96, she became frustrated by her inability to continue her favorite pastimes of knitting and embroidery, due to macular degeneration. I persuaded her to try painting and, even though her eyesight was so bad that she could hardly recognize people in the room, she gave it her best shot and had a thoroughly good time while gaining a much-needed sense of achievement.
My problem is that I can never seem to finish any of the projects that I start. The house is filled with half-written novels, partially refurbished doll houses, never-ending family history research files and incomplete photo albums. I hope I can stay the course with the stamps and accomplish the task but new hobbies and pastimes always seem to keep popping up.
I look forward to seeing your interpretation of the Pastime theme. Please be sure to link your response to this post (use the original post link, NOT the one from the WP reader) and use the Lens-Artists TAG so we can all find you.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to give a big shout-out to our three girls, all of whom are working at hospitals in various parts of the country. A most heart-felt thank you to all those who are concerned with our well-being and are helping to keep things running during these troubled times. Stay safe everyone!