After much whining (and an exhaustive search), I have realized that however convenient it may be, I just cannot take photos of my projects that I like with my iPhone. Some people may be able to do it, I am just not one of them. I did have to search my house pretty thoroughly for my real camera, it was in hiding. It is fairly old (Fujifilm FinePix), but it still takes good photos. I am much happier with the results for today.
If you have been watching the news, you would have seen the massive cold weather system that tromped all over the Midwest yesterday and the extreme cold that has followed it. Due to this, my place of employment closed for the day and I have had a wonderful day at home, staying out of the cold. After a big breakfast and some lazing around, I made these wonderful hoop earrings with a zigzag in the center.
I am really happy with how these turned out. They are made out of 21 gauge sterling silver wire. I wrapped the hoop around a mandrel to make the main frame of the earrings. Then I used a 4″ piece of the same wire to make the zigzag which is connected to the hoop frame with 26 gauge sterling silver wire. After the zigzag was wrapped to the frame, I used a plastic mallet to harden the hoop and zigzag so that they wouldn’t get bent too easily.
Back on the road after the great time in Chesterton, we went to the campground hoping our campsite would be open early. It wasn’t. It didn’t help that we were an hour earlier than we thought. The northwestern counties of Indiana are on central time and we just a hundred miles away are on eastern time. Time is not a constant in Indiana.
The gatekeeper sent us to the Nature Center to occupy our time, no doubt wondering about our clock reading skills. The best exhibit was a glass-walled room looking out onto a bird-feeding station complete with a microphone to pipe in the sound of running water and bird peeps. It was quite lovely and peaceful until I remembered the hummingbirds were trying to kill each other.
Unfortunately, the Nature Center did not entertain us for very long and we were at a little bit of a loss about what to do when I thought: “Silly, you are at Lake Michigan. Go see it!” And we did. We went around a roundabout to a sign marked “beach” and there it was. Awesome, breathtaking, and blue.
The photo above is one of the first of many I took. I just cannot get over the juxtaposition of the blue with the sand. And since it was raining there were people walking the beach with black umbrellas over their heads. I thought for a moment that we had exited the roundabout into a Victorian time warp. If you enlarge the photo by clicking on it you can just see them in the far right corner.
The blue, the sandy brown, the rainy atmosphere and the Victorian umbrellas were a perfect introduction to Lake Michigan.
Lynne: This is my first entry in the sunset challenge with photos from the Indiana Dunes. We made it most nights to the Lake at sunset. I took so many pictures that it has taken some time to sort through them. I have to remember the maxim: You can take 100 photos and have them all turn out bad.
I liked this one particularly because it shows the motion of the waves of Lake Michigan. I tried recording the sound of them but the low rumble that resounds in your body does not come through in my recordings. Perhaps you need all your senses, not just hearing, to truly know the dominion of such a body of water in motion.
Lynne: My last post was about the beauty of the prairie on the farm, today, I want to post about the beauty of the wetlands on the farm. One of the best things about the farm, is the number of different habitats you can see.
The wetlands are as wonderful as the prairie, but I like to look at them more than I like to walk in them. There are insects and snakes and sucking mud that make me careful about what I wear when I do go exploring. I put on those Wellingtons I spoke of the other day and resign myself to getting really dirty and really wet. But there is so much to see, it is worth whatever it takes to get clean when you’re done. I think of it like swimming in cold water those first few days of summer, once you’re in you enjoy it so much you don’t want to get out.
The photo above is of a stretch of creek that has already been filtered by the main, marshy areas and you can tell that the creek is running clear and swift. The bank of yellow flowers in the foreground is a showy clump of the pointy sticktights you find on your clothes and your dog after a walk.
The creek is clear, because the wetlands have captured the silt and fertilizers that run off of fields and land cleared for building. The marshy areas act like a sponge that absorbs this run-off before it is dumped into rivers and streams. The wetlands also act as areas of flood control as they absorb water during periods of flooding and release their water during periods of drought. Purdue has a very informative webpage on wetlands and water quality, if you wish to know more.
These two photos show a beaver dam. Footprints and the more telltale tooth-cut logs and branches helped us discover it. The Great Plains Nature Center has great photos of beaver and their chewing habits. Water is dammed and pools behind the dam create more beneficial marshy areas. However, wetlands change quickly because of their response to the weather. A beaver dam today is not a beaver dam tomorrow and ‘busy as a beaver’ has meaning when you have to repair or start over whenever a big storm passes through.
Now that I think about it, maybe I do like the wetlands better than the prairie. Oh wait, I haven’t posted about the woods yet or the pond. Well, I guess I don’t have to worry about which is best…If you can’t choose which one you love, love the one you’re with.
Lynne: Have you ever watched Little House on the Prairie and wondered what it was like to be Laura Ingalls running through the tall prairie grass? Well, the farm has an area of prairie grass and at this time of year it is turning the most fantastic shades of purple and gold.
I cannot describe properly the look and feel of the prairie. The wind moves in waves over the grass and the smell is like hay but less dry and the feel is people-less. Just me and the wind, the grass and the sky. I have tried to get the colors and the feel captured in these photos, but at every angle the light is different. I’ve played with Photoshop to give an approximate vision of what I see with bare eyes, but of course it is not the same. We need more than sight to see something properly.
I wondered about the prevalence and history of prairie in this area and came across this book on google, The History of Cass County, Volume 1, edited by Jehu Powell. There are numerous references made about prairies and prairie fires in Cass County. Isn’t it a marvel that I can yearn for the days of vast plains and yet rejoice at the ability to read and search a rare book with ease.
Jehu Powell relates the troubles the pioneers had with prairie fires and I suspect that every acre of grass turned into farmland made them feel safer. I cannot imagine the tremendous heat and roar of a prairie fire, but the grass needs fire to reseed itself and to keep thickets and trees from taking over. One third of the prairie here at the farm is set on fire every year. Careful attention is paid to weather conditions, proper fire breaks and there are firefighters on standby.
Mackie, my black labrador, loves the prairie grass. He bounds up and down through it like a deer. You can just see the top of his head and his ears flapping for a split second and down he goes again. His tongue hangs out and he has what looks like a huge grin on his face. Sometimes, watching him, I wish that I were young enough to run with him. I remember running through pastures barefoot and wondering why running meant fewer cuts on your feet than walking. However, I am satisfied watching him from the Mule and dreaming of past times.
Lynne: This afternoon at the farm, I looked to the north at the fields of wild grasses and was surprised by a mass of yellow. The goldenrod is in bloom. When goldenrod blooms all the insects know that frost is not far behind and all the bees and butterflies and insects can be found with their snouts buried in the pollen.
Since all those creatures were busy with the goldenrod, I thought it would be a good time to get some of those interesting closeup photographs of tiny creatures. I rode out in the Mule (machine type Kawasaki not 4 legged type animal) and stopped near the edge and put my finger to the shutter release. There were so many insects on the goldenrod that I wanted a picture of them all, but these two pictures with the bees show the rich heavy pollen and the bees’ determination to gather it even with a nosey photographer and her camera too close for comfort.
I sneezed for a while afterwards and I blamed the goldenrod, but I found this website, The Great Plains Nature Center, and learned a great deal of information about the flora and fauana of prairies. Goldenrod is not the culprit of fall allergies. Its pollen is thick and sticky to attach itself to the insects that pollinate it. Ragweed is the culprit because it pollinates with the wind by releasing millions of grains of pollen into the air and into your nose. Ragweed is green and fades into the late summer foilage, but goldenrod stands proud and yellow. Guess who gets the blame for allergies.
Next time you see a field of blooming goldenrod, take the time to thank the land owner who is willing to allow weeds to grow. Weeds are only plants that humans have not found a way to make money from, but to the insects and birds those same weeds are their super Walmart and discount shopping mall all rolled into one.
Hummingbirds seem like such sweet birds. After all, they live on sweet nectar and sugar water, but…they are vicious little buzzers screeching and shoving each other with sweetness only on their beaks and never in their hearts.
The farm is a great place to watch hummers. I have counted as many as 75 of them at a time among the flowers and feeders. The air is loud with the hum of their wings and their shrieks of fury as one of them occupies the space another wishes were his. There is little peace where hummers gather, but then peaceful is not nearly as amusing.
There was an interesting sky over the cornfields as I came up Highway 29 tonight. I was practically standing in a field to get the photo. I did play with curves in Photoshop a bit when processing this photo. What do you think?