Celebrating 100

Today marks my 100th blog post! To me it’s a big deal, but I will celebrate it here in a simple way. 

This is a photo I took of a Bromeliad at a local botanical center years ago. Using a photo program to create a tye dyed look made it much more interesting. 

I am such a purist about my nature photography; I rarely modify them. But this one makes me happy. 100 makes me happy. You joining my journey makes me happy. 

Happy to have you along for many more beautiful times! Thanks!

Bistineau Burning

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Who knew a lake could burn? In 2010 Lake Bistineau showed us just how easy it can happen. These photos are void of color, void of life, and void of my happiness.

Each year this lake experiences a “draw down”, meaning that the water level is dropped to 7 or more feet lower than normal stage, so only the main channel has water. This is an (very poor in my opinion) attempt to control aquatic weeds, such as giant salvinia.

This year, a good-intentioned lake resident was cleaning debris and burned the pile on the dry lake bed. Who would have thought the fissures in the cracked lake bed would send fire racing around three fourths of the perimeter of the lake.

The fires traveled quickly. Sometimes out of control. Sometimes fire crews worked all day and night to squelch them from burning boat houses and homes. Sometimes the fire won.

Nearly daily for a month I walked the lake bed. I would stand on areas of green weeds and feel heat rising up inside the legs of my pants. I watched fire rise up and destroy one tree and leave the one next to it unharmed. I worried every day. I cried every day.  This place that I love so much was forever changed.

From an audio recording on 10/6/10:

“Solemn.  That’s the only word I can use to describe how I’m feeling as I watch the sun come up behind a thick mask of smoke rolling over my home and through the pine trees. I try to trick myself into thinking it’s just morning fog but the smell of smoke permeates everything and I can’t maintain that lie.”

From an audio recording on 10/9/10:

“I’m out taking pictures this morning in areas where the sun is shining and I notice I can feel heat on my legs and I have a hard time deciding if that’s because I’m walking in an area where there is heat underground or if the sun is warming the ground from above. But then when I step into a shaded area and I still feel heat, I don’t have to wonder. I know somewhere underneath me it’s burning and that’s a very uneasy feeling. I only see a couple of hot spots smoldering in green areas this morning and that’s good. Lots of birds singing and animals running under the brush.  Squirrels are barking and life is here; spiders and lots of insects. I think about (Hurricane) Katrina and how after the water went back down all everyone could think about was getting back home. They didn’t care that it was destroyed or what it looked like; they just wanted to get back home. Now I can see where that native instinct comes from. Nature is that way. Nature say “This is my home. No matter what it is and what it looks like, this is where I am, this is where I exist, this is where I BE and I make it what it is today. Where so many people didn’t understand why humans wanted to go back to their devastated areas of New Orleans, this helps me understand that a little bit better.”

Seven years later, the dead trees still stand and lie on the lake bed. The lake is on draw down right now, and I will soon be walking out amongst them, once again wondering why but accepting what is, and hoping it never happens again.

Cypress Neighbors

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If you have visited a swamp or lake in Louisiana you have likely seen the showy white great egrets and blue herons. Many though, have never seen other friends that live amongst the cypress trees.

Alligators, of course, can be found in nearly every Louisiana waterway. I have been told that if their belly is off the ground and they are on all four feet, you are already too late to run! They are more scared of us than aggressive towards us.

There are plenty of varieties of frogs, and reptiles. I try to stay well away from snakes!

Fish, of course, and CRAWFISH! The fourth photo is a crawfish “chimney”. ¬†This isn’t a very tall one, but you can definitely see the definition in each of the balls that the crawfish rolled to the top to make room for his water-filled silo, in preparation for dry times.

I love the cypress and Spanish moss, but it does give me delight to encounter so much of the wildlife that live among the trees Рminus the snakes.  Sorry.

Spanish Moss (6 beautiful photos)

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Morning, noon, and night, Spanish moss makes its’ constant home on the branches and trunks of cypress and oak trees on Lake Bistineau. ¬†It grows and spreads, although I never seem to catch it in process; it duplicates by some sort of swamp magic.

These are some of my favorite photos of Spanish moss at different times of the day. Each one has it’s own mood, and that definitely keeps me interested.

Hints of Human (5 photos)

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Whether it is a bobber caught on a branch, a trap swinging from a tree, or a whole houseboat that drifted in, humans always seem to leave their mark on the lake. I have found so much trash that it is disgusting and I refuse to photograph it. The subtle hints are what grab my attention.

Most of these are discovered when the lake is on a draw-down. I don’t mind as much the paths that are made by four wheelers and off road vehicles, as long as I am not seeing destruction. Some of them are actually picturesque. And occasionally, a good-natured human doesn’t leave a hint, but jumps out in full spirit and gives you the peace sign ūüôā

Cypress Sentinels

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Morning, noon, and night, the cypress trees on Lake Bistineau remain vigilant, constant keepers of the lake.  These photos show trees at sunrise, late afternoon, and evening. Moods are different in each photo, but what is so consistent is that these trees are steadfast in not only their size, but also the importance of their placement of the lake.

During draw-down of this lake, the trees become recognizable markers for people who travel out onto the dry lake bed. ¬†I definitely have “go to” trees that are my favorite to photograph.

Once again today, I can’t help but see the analogy between humans and cypress trees. Throughout the years of my life, I have come to know that certain people show up as my “rock” – ¬†and consistently show up, and are dependable. ¬†Cypress trees? ¬†Check. ¬†Indeed.

Cypress Personalities

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The weather and environment definitely have an effect on how I perceive cypress trees, but individually, each one carries its own personality. ¬†Truly, their growth isn’t an observable event, so each time I visit, they appear to remain steadfast. ¬†Storms may cause them to drop a branch or some moss, but they become as familiar as going to visit my own family.

I have to tell you about the middle photo. ¬†The lake that I live on has a draw down each year, and this photo was taken when the water level was down about 7 feet. ¬†Those “arms” that first made me giggle, and later caused me to gasp in wonder, would never be seen if the water was at normal level.

It reminded me of humans; how we have things “going on” under our surface. ¬†More traits, more for others to get to know, more personality. ¬†Yes, these trees truly are kin to me.

Cypress Textures

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These cypress trees keep me fascinated every time we meet. So much personality and each is unique. They don’t seem to mind me getting my hands on the many textures when I can.

The first photo is the whole ball of wax for me. The bark, the moss, the branches, and placement in the group. It stands out from the crowd and it is one of my most favorite cypress trees in Lake Bistineau.  Standing underneath feels like being in a cathedral.

The next photos are the textures of peeling bark, smooth uncovered wood, dried moss and sap on the exterior, and frost-covered leaves that have fallen to the ground.

Again today I had difficulty choosing photos from my vast library of shots.  Most frustrating, I could not locate my closeup photos of cypress balls.  Cypress balls are the “fruit” of the tree and can be planted to start new ones.  Maybe I will find them soon and share.

Cypress Seasons

spring

summer

fall

winter

Spending inordinate amounts of time with cypress trees gains one a significant library of photographs that span all of the seasons, morning, noon, and night.

First is a favorite spring photo; new leaves on the cypress trees are bright green, contrasted in the early morning sunrise and misty fog when mornings are still cool.

Second, a summer photo of what happens when cypress life is in full swing in the heat and humidity.  Visitors are out on the lake and enjoying their activities, whether they understand how healing the lake is or not.

And then fall….ahh, fall. ¬†Temps and humidities are both dropping. ¬†So are the cypress leaves after they turn brilliant oranges and reds. ¬†The lake glows at sunset.

Winter. ¬†It is a bittersweet season. ¬†Trees and plants go dormant, although lake life doesn’t. ¬†It’s a chance to recharge the batteries; to have our own dormant period, to relax and reflect.

I can’t say that any season is my favorite; I love them all. ¬†I enjoy the energy and beauty that each brings to the cypress….and to me. ¬†Thanks Mamma N.