Lunar eclipse

A glimpse too late.

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.

At the tail end of a lunar eclipse, the remaining occluded portion of the moon is visible but also occluded by a bit of cloud.

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.

Full moon setting after a lunar eclipse.

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.

Hiking in snow

A lovely outing in late-fall conditions.

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.

First snow along the trails of the Shumway Forest in eastern Hanover, with views to Moose, Smarts, and Moosilauke.

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.

First snow along the trails of the Shumway Forest in eastern Hanover, with views to Moose, Smarts, and Moosilauke.

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)

End of the season

Likely my last sculling opportunity this year.

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.

Last row of the season.

Fall foliage

A chance encounter.

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.

Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, with Mount Ascutney at rear; NH-VT.

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.

Five cascades

Five for five.

The month of October had five weekends and I visited a different set of cascades each weekend. Here are my favorite images from each; follow the link for a gallery of more photos.

Georgiana Falls (October 2)

Georgiana Falls, Franconia Notch, NH

Beaver Brook Cascades (October 10)

Beaver Brook Cascades, Appalachian Trail, Mount Moosilauke, NH.

Grant Brook Cascades (October 17)

Cascades and waterfalls along Grant Brook in Lyme, NH.

White Rocks (Bully Brook) (October 23)

Cascades on Bully Brook – White Rocks National Recreation Area – Vermont.

Dummerston Falls (October 31)

Dummerston Falls, Vermont

Grant Brook cascades

A return to an old favorite.

It’s becoming a pattern – a visit to Georgiana Falls two weeks ago, then Beaver Brook cascades last week, and now a return to my favorite Lyme cascades, along Grant Brook. Although I arrived perhaps a week or two late for the best foliage, the falls were still spectacular. A heavy rain yesterday brought the stream up to full force, and the surrounding forest still had plenty of yellow and orange to lend color to the scene.

Cascades and waterfalls along Grant Brook in Lyme, NH.

I first encountered these cascades four years ago when I traversed the entire watercourse of Grant Brook from the Connecticut River up to the summit of Smarts Mountain, and returned a year later to snap an award-winning photograph. So today I hoped I might find similarly good conditions. I parked beside the brook and worked my way upstream, capturing each set of cascades and trying to push my ability to think through composition, exposure, and depth of field.

Continue reading “Grant Brook cascades”

Stakeout

Watching and listening.

My last meeting ended early and there was some remaining daylight, so returned to the meadow where I saw a coyote yesterday morning. I knew it would be incredibly unlikely the coyote would be there again – perhaps ever, let alone when I happened to stop by. But I grabbed my camera and long lens and drove up to the site, parking before the road bent and the meadow was visible, then walking quietly up the road and into the crunchy leaf litter beside a crumbling stone wall. I waited.

I’ve never been a hunter, and don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to be one. I find it difficult to stand and do nothing, and yet stay alert, perhaps for minutes or for hours. And yet, as I leaned on the crusty bark of a sugar maple, enjoying the way the last rays of the mid-October sunshine made the yellows and golds and oranges of the nearby trees glow, I found myself tuning into the environment around me. A nearby rustle signaled a chipmunk scurrying under the stone wall and through the leaves to scrounge for acorns. The flash of a grey tail behind a tree – is that a coyote? – no, just a squirrel. The stare of a brown cow, far across the meadow in the adjacent pasture. The distant coo of an owl, far down the road. The clear rings of a Vermont village church bell from across the river, reminding all that it was 6pm and sun would set soon. Even the falling autumn leaves made noise, a quiet ‘click’ as they touched down on stones of the ancient wall.

No coyote today, but a worthwhile outing nonetheless.

Beaver Brook cascades

An incredible photographic journey.

After my visit to Georgiana Falls last week, I realized the tremendous photographic potential of this season. I determined to visit another appealing waterfall this weekend, and selected Beaver Brook cascades. This impressively long sequence of cascades is visible for nearly a kilometer along the Appalachian Trail as it ascends the north side of Mount Moosilauke, the trail often hugging the cascades so closely that the trail is cut into the New Hampshire granite and studded with wooden blocks to enable footing along the water-slickened rock. Read on for a glimpse of one cascade, and visit the gallery for the complete set of full-res photos!

Steep and slippery along the Beaver Brook Trail, Mount Moosilauke, NH.
Continue reading “Beaver Brook cascades”

Predator and prey

Wish I’d had my long lens!

The coyote stopped in his tracks, right in the middle of the meadow. His ears were on full alert, watching me closely from about fifty meters away. I had spotted him out of the corner of my eye as I drove a quiet road on the west side of Lyme, and quickly pulled to a stop. It being early on a Sunday morning, it was no problem to stop in the middle of the road and just stare back at him for a while. Although I was on my way out to do some photography, I had plans for landscape (waterfalls) and did not have any big glass with me. Curses! The coyote turned and trotted back to the edge of the woods, then paused to look again to see whether I might move along. I edged forward for a better look, and he moved further into the woods.

Turkeys cross the road in Lyme.

It’s not like I was going anywhere soon. After I stopped to watch the coyote, a family of wild turkey decided to cross the street in front of me. They were headed toward the coyote; it’s not clear whether either predator or prey were yet aware. Between them and beyond in the next meadow, a pasture full of sheep grazed peacefully as the morning fog began to rise. This coyote seemed to have several options for his breakfast, and it would have been fascinating to find out how all this ended. I had places to go and things to do, so I nudged the turkeys into motion and made a promise to return to stake out this location another day.

Turkeys finally let me pass.

Duck season

Wabbit season!

As I carried my rowing shell down to the river side this morning, a warm October morning with the river so calm it looked like a mirror, and light wisps of fog clinging to the riverside trees, I tried to remember when Duck season was set to begin. I knew it was somewhere in the first week of October.

So it was not too surprising, as I sculled past the Wilder Wildlife Management Area, a half kilometer upriver, that a gunshot rang out. Close by! I looked toward the sound and saw a duck falling from the sky, and a puff of gunsmoke hovering over the wetland I knew was behind the row of riverside bushes. I paused, listened closely, and could hear the murmur of conversation a few hundred meters away, where the duck hunters were celebrating Opening Day.

Good thing I have a bright red shell and wear a bright red jersey when I row. Still, I think I’ll head downriver next time.