Our family gathers for Thanksgiving in a meadow on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, for a feast and family reunion. In recent decades it has been held every year, on even years – but last year we had to postpone it due to the pandemic. So it was with great excitement and relief when the family gathered again, this year, reconnecting after three years. Only 80 attended this year – whereas almost 120 appeared three years ago – but it was a beautiful day, with fine weather and fine food and fine family.
Lunch was a potluck event, with an incredible spread of salads, sides, meats, and desserts.
The meadow is surrounded by oaks adorned by Spanish moss, adjacent to a pond filled with brilliant green duckweed.
I woke suddenly as the cat jumped onto the bed and leapt over my face to get to the other side. He likes that side, as it makes a good vantage point to look out the window and survey his territory. Following his gaze, I noted it was still quite dark – too dark to be yet awake – but with a sky more clear than had been forecast. I rolled over for a better angle and, yes, there she was, the full moon setting into the west. A partial lunar eclipse had begun a couple hours earlier, and I was fortunate to be able to see it still underway. Apparently, this was the longest eclipse of its kind in 580 years.
By the time I fetched my cameras – I was unprepared because the forecast was for clouds and even some snowfall – the moon had settled behind thick clouds. I waited, not too patiently I might add, because the eclipse was rapidly fading behind those clouds. When the moon re-emerged, I snapped a quick photo in which you can barely discern the remaining eclipsed portion at lower right.
The moon disappeared behind more clouds and the branches of a leafless tree. When it reemerged, and I had relocated outdoors, the beaver moon shone again in its full glory. Exposure was tricky, and I never got it right before the moon set behind its final cloud bedding for the night.
I used a Nikon D500 with a Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 lens. For more impressive photos – from better prepared, better located, better skilled photographers, check out this space.com site.
Today I went out with a friend for a short hike in the hills on the eastern side of Hanover. It was a warm afternoon, but we were surprised to see an inch of fresh snow on the leaf-covered forest floor, with melting snow dripping from the fir trees overhead. It rained hard here last night – down along the Connecticut River – but only a few hundred feet higher it had apparently snowed.
It was nonetheless a lovely hike through the forest along a set of trails managed by the Hanover Conservancy, culminating in a series of rocky overlooks on the ledges of the ridge that extends south from Moose Mountain.
We wore bright-orange vests, because this weekend is the first big weekend of deer season, and we could frequently hear the report of rifle shots in the valley to the east. The sight of snow – as much as an inch of heavy, wet snow in some areas – reminds me of how quickly winter is coming.
Hike stats: Distance: 3.94km Time: 1h12m Map: see red route below. (The green route refers to my prior visit)
Today I enjoyed the last fresh raspberries from our berry patch – incredibly, due to the unusually warm fall weather, we’ve been harvesting berries right into November. And, despite eating a handful of berries with my breakfast every day, we’ve put away ten pounds of raspberries in the freezer. I look forward to enjoying them all winter!
Ten pounds is 15 very full quart-sized ziplock bags; two full grocery bags!
Once again – just like last fall – someone has been eating crayfish on our dock. Most likely the mink we saw here over the winter, or perhaps the otter I saw munching crustaceans this summer. I found parts of two or three crayfish this week alone!
About a decade ago, we cleared brush between the house and the road, and planted a set of young trees in their place. Last week, after long forgetting, we realized that – among the trees planted – was a pear tree. And, more impressively, there were several dozen, nearly ripe pears! Here are a few:
They’re quite tasty. Soon they will all be ripe. Time to make pear compote, pear crisp, pear sauce, and more…
The cold and darkness of late autumn has made it increasingly difficult to get out sculling on the river. With the end of Daylight Savings Time in a few days, I will regain the morning daylight but mornings are now too cold to row – my lower limit is 40ºF. Afternoon rowing has been feasible for the past week, but will surely be impossible (with my work schedule) next week. So today I bid farewell to the river, recalling the Great Blue Heron I saw browsing the reeds a few days ago, and the ducks I saw heading south this evening. Even the hunters have shifted inland, with duck season ending and deer season opening in a few days. Now my attention turns to winter – and six months later, back to the river.
October has ended but the fall foliage is still brilliant – at least in certain pockets of our valley, and in valleys further to the south. On Sunday October 31, after photographing Dummerston Falls in southern Vermont, there were spectacular colors along the hillsides lining the interstate highway heading northward. So in Windsor I pulled off the highway to cross the Connecticut River on the iconic Cornish-Windsor covered bridge (the longest wooden covered bridge in North America, dating back to 1866), where I knew there was an opportunity for a view of the river, the bridge, and Mount Ascutney beyond.
I was not disappointed; there is an informal pullout for parking nearby, and a quick dash across the road and a hop over the guardrail gives one access to this spectacular view. As I turned to head back to my car, I noticed a wooden post – rather new looking, with a square board screwed atop as if to form a seat. I looked up to see a man approaching, dressed for the weather, wearing a hunter-orange cap and carrying a camouflage bag. After a short greeting he sat on the wooden post, pulled a Canon camera out of his bag, and we began to chat as he began to photograph the same scene.
Dan lives and works nearby, and stops to sit on this post every day. He has captured a new photograph here pretty much every day for the past ten years, posting them to his blog The Shape of the Year. It’s quite interesting to see, for example, what this scene looked like on November 3, February 3, May 3, and August 3. It was fun to meet another photographer, and to exchange our calling cards. Here’s my shot of the similar scene, October 31.
See a gallery with a few more of my roadside fall-foliage photos from across the month and around the region.
Another weekend of fall foliage, another opportunity to visit a beautiful cascade. Again I headed south, chasing the foliage season. I am feeling a bit under the weather so I was not eager for a hike; Dummerston Falls was the ideal choice, because it is visible from the roadside. Indeed, my gallery of photos are taken from the guardrail on VT Route 30, adjacent to a small parking area.
The route to this tall waterfall took me through Brattleboro, VT – always a tantalizing place to visit – and an opportunity to visit one of my favorite shops, the Vermont Country Deli. It is literally impossible to enter that store and not come out without buying a buffet full of incredible sweet and savory food.