Winter can have glorious color – sunsets with contrasting blue and red – but otherwise, black, white, and brown predominate. When it starts getting to me, I give in and go to a greenhouse for color and flowers. This time I went to the greenhouses at Wellesley College.
There were quite a few pots of this flower; one was labeled “Sonoran wildflower”. My guess is that it’s Phacelia campanularia, Desert bluebell. I have a followup image for this one, much closer, that I’ll post soon. Some year I’ll make it to the desert to see these in the field…
When it gets really cold, frost crystals grow on the snow near streams. These crystals were growing in a hole in the snow, the stream was flowing underneath:
Snow covered the stream, with a few holes like this one. The snow was pretty deep, so I set up my tripod in the snow over this hole, in the narrow stream bed, holding my breath that the snow and ice underneath would hold the camera and tripod. It held, thankfully. I didn’t ruin the crystals by knocking snow in, which I’ve done many times.
I’ve been busy with ice and snow, but it’s time for a look at something out of season, mosses in a redwood grove in California:
These trees and mosses the beginning of the Steep Ravine Trail near Mt Tamalpais in Marin County. I went there in August hoping for some nice waterfalls, but the flow is too low at that time of year.
Another ice star image from last week. The edges of the stream were matted with a network of crystals, and in the middle, the crystals thinned out to small groups, like this one:
The crystals are on a fine matrix of bubbles, hard to see except in a print or at full size. A few bigger bubbles as well.
Spiky crystals from the cold snap last week:
The crystals made dense mats on the stream surface, especially at the edges. Around the edges, there were gaps or holes where darker ice showed through, like this one. This isn’t that magnified, the crystals are fairly large. More to come later…
The recent cold snap here produced many pretty crystalline formations – spikes and stars have been the most common, single stars or dense carpets of spikes or stars. Here’s an isolated star on a varied stream ice background:
When the weather is consistently in single digits F, I’m hopeful that I’ll see the beautiful leaf or fern-like crystal growths I’ve found in the past near streams. Not this time! Just goes to show you how unpredictable ice crystals are. Consistently cold nights (4-8 degF) and clear skies aren’t enough, there must be other factors.
I think I’m going to go back to the hill across a few seasons. Last week the snow fell heavily for a few hours:
I headed to the hill while it was snowing, hoping to capture snow falling. For a while, the flakes were in lumps the size of cotton balls, but that tapered off by the time I got up to the tree. It’s still snowing, but the flakes are too small to be noticeable.
A pasture tree from a local conservation area:
I was visiting a local meadow, and saw on the trail map for the site that there was another open space across the street called Lone Tree Hill. I doubted the “lone tree” part – woods and woody hilltop in my area are usually pretty dense and overgrown. As it turned out, the woods thinned out to a mowed pasture at the top of the hill with a number of isolated pasture trees. Not a lone tree, but I was able to isolate one with feathery clouds in the sky. Some day I’ll go back for a more colorful sky…