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, Amy is kicking off a month of seasons with Summer for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. What would summer be without a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden.
In my own garden, summer means dragonflies, flowers and butterflies. Heavy rains and fierce winds knocked a lot of plants down yesterday, so I will be spending some time in the garden propping things back up.
And finally, I had to include this scene, captured as we took an early evening boat ride around the lake on the 4th of July. It seemed so typical of a summer day with everyone, even the dogs, enjoying the sun and taking time to sit back and relax.
Here is my first entry for Becky’s Square Perspectives Photo Challenge. While I was at the Chicago Botanic Garden the other day, I came across a turtle sunning itself on a rock. The Garden has many beautiful pieces of artwork scattered about, and at first I thought that the turtle was one of those, strategically placed in a natural setting, it remained so still. I took a picture anyway to add the sculpture photo files. And then it blinked. I took more pictures and after a few minutes, just to show willing, it turned to present me with a different perspective, a little leg-stretching added for good measure. Finally, it turned some more and faced the camera. Thank you Mr. Turtle!
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, Patti encourages us to share a Quiet Moment for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I like to get to places early in the morning before the crowds arrive. That way, I can take uninterrupted shots of the bigger picture and concentrate on individual subjects later in the day. So it was when I visited Cantigny Park recently, as I enjoyed few quiet moments, contemplating the various views in the gardens.
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!
This week, Patti suggests that we try Cropping the Shot for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. One of the most useful tools in the image-processing arsenal is the cropping tool. I can’t tell you how many shots I rescued from the trash with a little judicial cropping.
I can even ‘zoom in’ by the simple expedient of the cropping tool, giving me a closer look at something way off in the distance, as I did with this shot taken at Arches National Park in Utah.
And if I’m really lucky I can get four shots for the price of one with the aid of the cropping tool, as I did with this image that was captured along Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago, each picture focusing on a different aspect of the overall scene; the more leisurely pace of the bike path, the hustle and bustle of the traffic on the Drive and the work going on aloft.