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Wolf Moon Through the Apple Tree

The first Full Moon of the year is named after the howling of the wolves. January is their mating season, so they can often be heard during this month.

The moon shines through the dormant buds of my apple tree in these photographs, reminding me that Spring is hidden just underneath the coldest of nights.

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Look to the Cardinals This Year

It is widely believed that the cardinal is a spiritual messenger. But did you know that a cardinal’s bright color is associated with energy and vitality in many traditions?

Cardinals are seen twelve months of the year and mate for life, so a cardinal sighting is associated with stability, survival, and security in Native American lore.

A final reason to look for cardinals: their various calls brightens the spirit, as if cheering us on through the day.

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The Circle of Life

Sometimes the best photographs are the unexpected ones. Walking in my town at dusk, I was struck by the juxtaposition of old and new, beginnings and endings and natural and man-made elements. Although I have walked my town for years, I never quite saw it this way before.

Happy 2018!

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Fences and Walls in Black-and-White

Black-and-white photography can help us see textures, patterns and shapes that we might miss in color photos.

On a recent walk, I was struck by the shadows cast by the architecture and the subtle shading in the farm landscape. Digital photographers today have such a wide variety of options. I was able to alternate between black-and-white and color photos with one simple click of the computer!

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A New Year of Birding

Did you know that birding is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the United States?
The American Birding Association lists these reasons for its booming popularity:

It is an inexpensive hobby.

It is convenient – you can bird watch in your backyard or a local park.

You get to spend time outside.

It is interesting and challenging.

It is relaxing.

The concentration and focus are calming.

You meet interesting people.

It keeps you ‘in the moment’.

It involves you in conservation and nature.

I am glad that birding is a year-round hobby. I look forward to wearing my new fingerless mittens on my winter treks. My hummingbird calendar reminds me that warmer days of birdwatching are on the way.

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The Game is Afoot

I gathered important evidence regarding the clever red squirrel at the Audubon. Beware squirrels, I am following your tracks, just like Sherlock Holmes!

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Winter Guest

This White-Throated Sparrow watched me warily from a nearby bush on a recent walk. It only visits in Winter, spending the other seasons in more northern woods. I think that its “lore” (the bright yellow spot near its eye) stands out just as much as its white throat. Unfortunately, I did not hear its unusual call: a slow whistle following the cadence “Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody”.

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A Gift For the Birds

Wachusett Meadow Audubon gets into the holiday spirit each year by giving a present to the birds. An evergreen tree is set up near the farm porch for children to decorate with seeds, berries and other “goodies” for the birds to feast on. With the protection of the porch and its grapevines close by, birds zip in and around the tree all day.

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All Aboard the Fairy Garden Train

Looking for a way to involve kids in holiday decorations? How about having them create a richly colored, imaginative holiday fairy garden?
Tower Hill Botanical Garden used natural items such as greens, berries, seeds, nuts, stones and wood to create this child friendly garden. A train set runs through a grapevine tunnel and past mossy greens and birch bark houses.

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First Snow

First snow of the year: golden tree limbs and deep blue skies beyond, while puffballs decorate the garden pathways. It was a Currier and Ives morning!

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The Legend of the Christmas Poinsettia

I loved the festive color of the poinsettia when I was a child. Each December, as a special gift, my father presented my mother with a vibrant red plant, which became the centerpiece for our Christmas decorations.

As a garden enthusiast, I marvel at how long -lived the bright red leaves are, and how easy it is to care for this plant.

When I was a primary school teacher, I came across the Legend of the Poinsettia, which I was naturally eager to share with my young students. In that way, the legend and the plant have become a special gift to other generations.

Tomie dePaola, my favorite children’s author/illustrator, created a lovely retelling of the legend. Click below the picture to hear him read this delightful story.

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You can listen to Tomie dePaola read The Legend of the Poinsettia HERE.

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First grade creations of candles with poinsettia after hearing the Legend of the Poinsettia.

Before the Lights Came On

Tower Hill Botanical Garden in West Boylston, MA is well known for its astonishing winter color and light show most evenings during the holidays.

As I hiked the trails there this afternoon, I was immersed in the blue of Mr. Wachusett, the reds and oranges of the winter berries and the golds of the Wildlife Pond. Even the emerald of the famous Moss Steps sparkled with an overlay of red leaves. Throughout my walk, I was treated to a vibrant palette of colors even before the electricity was turned on!

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A Wayside Christmas Visit

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts is the oldest Inn still operating in the United States. It has been serving travelers along the old Boston Post Road for almost 300 years.

I lived in a colonial home built in 1791 for a number of years, so I recognize and appreciate the architectural sturdiness, twelve over twelve windows, pediments, stone walls and other 18th century features.

While I was eating a delightful traditional New England meal today at the Inn, two thoughts came to mind. Did Longfellow ever imagine that the Wayside would still be thriving in 2017? And had he also enjoyed a glorious Indian pudding like the one I just ate?

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