Enough already…

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2-13-14 tree2It’s been a snowy winter so far, and that trend doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of changing soon. I don’t like winter to begin with, but when it stretches out this long with so much cold and snow, I REALLY don’t like it. FYI… here’s a record of the past week or so… we got 8 inches on Friday, 5 inches on Sunday, 6 inches on Tuesday, 3 inches on Wednesday, and we’re expecting sleet/rain on Friday… joy.

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The good news in all of this is that Oliver can’t seem to get enough of the snow, and since he needs his exercise, at least I’m getting out in the fresh air too. I’m posting a couple of simple photographs of a stark – but I thought beautiful – tree from our walk together during one of the recent snowstorms. And then there’s my handsome boy – I say roll on springtime and enough of this winter nonsense already!

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Like glass…

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12-30-13 oliver16We still haven’t managed to lose any of the recent accumulations of ice received during the holiday ice storm. Instead of warming up, the temperatures have taken a dive for the worse, and that means the landscape is still covered in a glaze of ice. At any other time of the year, this little tree isn’t something I would even think of photographing, but with a coating of glass, it glistens magnificently in whatever kind of light we have. Returning from a walk with Oliver, I was intrigued by the beautiful colors in the sunset sky and grabbed the quick photograph posted above. Several days apart, below is the same tree in very different light…

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Blue Fog

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When you’re up early, you see things most people don’t get to see. The scene above presented itself at 5:40am as Oliver and I started out on our pre-dawn walk. Most of the time, this is just another stand of trees trying to green up for the summer, but on this particular morning, it was transformed into a fog-shrouded and magical landscape with trunks and limbs intertwined and seemingly stretching forever. In fact, the morning fog was so thick, that as we continued our walk, the sun never did win the battle to break through and make an appearance, but the soft light generated made for some unusual views of usual places.

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Morning Frost II

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Actually, this one should be titled Morning Fog. Acting on Tony’s suggestion to return to this location in different seasons and different conditions, I took a look at the tree I photographed previously on a frosty morning. This time the grass is already greener, some of the leaves have bloomed, there’s a beautiful foggy backdrop, and if you look closely, you’ll see a good friend of mine doing his thing and enjoying the wet grass.

The Dark Hedges: before the bright shiny fence

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I just talked to a college buddy of mine who now lives quite close to the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland, and he informed that a new, bright and shiny fence has been installed inside the tree line to help maintain control of the local livestock. Apparently it doesn’t exactly add to the splendor of the view, and that’s a shame, because this is a popular scene that has stirred the imagination of many photographers. While I totally understand the rationale, I can’t help thinking that a different strategy might have been employed… one that kept the sheep where they needed to be, and one that maintained the quality of the view.

This is a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy, County Antrim in Northern Ireland that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. Supposedly haunted by the “Grey Lady” who appears at dusk among the trees, I had an opportunity to visit here a few years back and although I did not see any ghosts, I was fascinated by what was once a pretty spectacular driveway leading to Gracehill Mansion, home of the Stuart family.

As you can see, over the past 300 years or so, the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create a remarkable sight. People flock from all parts to photograph this scene, and although it certainly might look pretty cool on screen, seeing it in person is far more impressive. If looking for directions on how to get to there for yourself, check out a post I made from a while ago… just one of the many remarkable sights to be found back home in Northern Ireland.

I can’t imagine what it looks like with a bright and shiny fence 😦

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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Growing up in Ireland, I don’t remember ever having a white Christmas, in fact, I can hardly even recall getting much snow at all. Winter weather in Ireland usually meant cold, grey and wet… almost always in the form of rain where the dampness would literally chill you to the bone. On the rare occasion when it did snow, there was usually no more than a dusting, and if you didn’t get outside to enjoy it right away, it’d be gone again within hours. When it comes to winter precipitation here in Maine though, things are a little different, and even though the temperatures dip way lower than what I was used to growing up in Ireland, the cold somehow doesn’t feel as bad… unless of course we get an especially frigid blast of arctic air from way up north of Canada. So, even though a white Christmas might be rare in Ireland, here in Maine the probability of there being snow on the ground come late December is pretty good.

Another tradition from my “growing up in Ireland Christmas” days was putting up a tree in the living room. Ours was never real… trees in Ireland aren’t quite as plentiful as they are here in Maine, though I have to admit I always looked forward to the time when that fake and twinkling little tree was dug out of storage every year, and I can still remember what it looked like balanced precariously on the sideboard. Sideboard… now there’s a word I haven’t used in a while. When we moved to Maine a few years ago we started a family tradition of cutting down our own tree. Not quite a Griswold-ean adventure, but it is nonetheless a highly anticipated day when we visit one of the local farms to harvest our seasonal tree.

This year we decided to change things up a little, and instead of going to Piper Mountain, we headed north toward Dover-Foxcroft and “The Finest Kind” farm about half an hour outside of Bangor. Perched high up on a hillside with panoramic views of the Piscataquis River Valley, the quality of the trees on this farm was exceptional, and we had a grand old time wandering around the expansive property sizing up which tree we were going to bring home. We trekked to the furthest corner of the property just to explore and enjoy our surroundings, and as we made our way back toward the road, we weighed our options and made a decision.

The nice dusting of snow covering the landscape certainly added to the atmosphere, and before long we had settled on the perfect tree. We missed big brother Sam who was busy studying for finals at college, but Jack helped choose and then cut down this year’s tree. He was also fascinated by the rings of freshly cut tree stumps scattered all over the hillside, and he was eager to count and share his findings with us. We talked about what each ring meant, and why some of them might have been larger in some years than others… the poor kid is the son of teachers after all! Just like Sam, Jack loves holidays and the traditions they bring, so he couldn’t wait to get the tree home to decorate it. Didn’t he do a great job? I know that it’s still a little early, but here goes anyway… happy holidays to all 🙂

The Dark Hedges, Ireland

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Perhaps it is the changeable yet familiar weather this time of year, or maybe its all of the rain we’ve been getting lately here in Maine, but once again I find myself thinking about home… Ireland.

It has been several years since I was last there, and every time I visit I always vow not make it so long before I return. Time and life stuff pass so fast though, and in the blink of an eye four more years have quickly gone by and I am left shaking my head and wondering when I am going to make it back over there again.

The image above is of a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy, County Antrim that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. As you can see, over the past 300 years or so the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create a remarkable sight – one that I would love to return to with camera in hand when the light was more appealing.

Perhaps it is time to check out the flights on Aer Lingus…

* added a couple more images, this time looking back in the other direction. I have also written a blog post on how to find the Dark Hedges.

** it would appear that a bright, shiny, new fence has been installed inside the tree line altering the original view.

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com