Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A Montana October

Snow whirled around the house today, a never-ending merry waltz of snowflakes, evoking thoughts of the Nutcracker and the approaching holiday season.  But before I start listening to Christmas music and decking the halls, I felt called to pay final homage to a glorious Autumn in Montana.  Day after day of blue skies and temperatures in the high 60s - we didn't want it to end!

One day I was vacuuming the lower level when something outside the French doors drew my attention.  A Ruffed Grouse, perched on top of the cage protecting the Honeycrisp apple tree.  A closer look revealed five Grouse, stalking unseen insects and other delectables.  Surprisingly, I was able to open the door and snap some shots.  According to Audubon, Ruffed Grouse are "our most widespread and familiar grouse, found in woodlands from Alaska to Georgia.  Feeds mostly on plant material."


Speaking of the Honeycrisp, it produced apples this summer, the first time in the five years it has been in the garden.  My July 5, 2018 post tells the story of our two apple trees; the Goodland is necessary to pollinate the Honeycrisp, and yet the Goodland did not deliver any fruit this year.  (Head Chef made a pie from Goodland apples in 2018, as documented in this September 29, 2018 post.  It also produced in 2019.)
 


Hiking in Autumn may not yield many flowers; it is an opportunity to look more intimately at the forest floor, the trees, the moss and the lichen.  I was honored to hike with a former neighbor and Dear Neighbor Friend, fellow conspirators when it comes to observing the more delicate parts of our ecosystem. 




The lake below our property glistens with a Zamboni surface that deceptively calls for Charlie Brown and his buddies to skate figure eights to the Vince Guaraldi tune. (The ice might hold Woodstock but not much more.)  Hard to believe that four weeks ago we were planting seeds at the two entrances to our neighborhood.  


The moon was spectacular in October; I wish my talent for capturing it could measure up!


The shifting arc of the sun, a dipping thermometer and a little precipitation began to paint the landscape with the gold of aspens and larches.  Spores waiting in the soil erupted overnight into mushrooms.


By mid-October, Jack Frost added his diamonds to the palette.  And the Sun would come along and rub it out like a giant eraser in the sky.













Later the same day as this photo, we boarded the first of several planes that would take us to the UK.  As the sun set beyond the wing, we bade farewell to home and to Autumn.



Linking to Mosaic Monday






Sunday, October 9, 2022

Canals, Cottages and a Cathedral

Can you imagine that I still have not finished writing about our April trip to the UK, and we are headed there again in a week for our fall excursion?  I suppose I've been distracted with hiking, gardening, guests, the trail cam and drone, and travel to other destinations ... I lead a very blessed life.

But you can bet that I am feverish with excitement to return to my adopted country.  And what better way to add to the frenzy than a look back at more of the April photos??

This post continues our tour of the Cotswolds; on this day we started with the National Waterways Museum in Gloucester. Appropriately, the Museum is housed in one of the warehouses at the Gloucester docks, which were built in the 1800s as the docks got busier.  They had strong wooden floors supported by cast-iron columns to hold huge amounts of goods.  Cargoes, like grain, were stored in the warehouses before being transported inland.



To the right is the figurehead from the schooner Katherine Ellen, 1922.  The schooner carried coal on the Bristol Channel and across the Irish Sea.

Below is a model of the Liverpool Lighterage Yard, circa 1935.  Lighterage = the transfer of cargo by leans of a lighter. 



And the winch pictured on the left was once part of this yard.






Canals were used to move goods inland, and were plied by narrowboats.  70 feet long and only 7 feet wide, the narrowboats had a small cabin with a stove, table, cupboards and beds.  Most Gloucester boatmen and women had their own homes and only stayed on board when they were working.  The boatmen might be accompanied by another crewman or members of his family who helped.  The boat's skipper was paid per trip, so worked long hours to complete the journey quickly and return to Gloucester.

Below is a picture of the working clothes of boat people in that era.


Roses and Castles was the colorful canal folk art that was used to decorate working narrowboats in the 1800s and 1900s.  Boater's possessions and the boat itself were decorated with these bright and cheerful designs.


Given this is a waterways museum, you might expect to see some boats, and you would be correct, both inside and outside the building.


Bluebelle (above) was home-built in 1965, using a WWII bridge pontoon.  In 1969 it was bought by local couple Mike and Judy Powell.  The Powells fitted a new interior, an inboard engine and the "aircraft carrier" bow.  Moored at Gloucester Docks, the Powells used Bluebelle for many family holidays during the 1970s.


The Queen Boadicea II (above) was one of the Dunkirk Little Ships, and rescued at least 13 people on May 31st, 1940.


The SND No. 4 (above), with her bucket ladder, is representative of an early technique of dredging which was employed to reduce the build-up of silt within British harbors, facilitating their use by deep water vessels at a time of industrial productivity.

We walked from the Museum to Gloucester Cathedral, and along the way we passed this mosaic on the sidewalk.  Very ornate!

And then the Cathedral rose before us.  What words can you possibly utilize to describe such beauty???


The Cathedral stands in the north of the city near the River Severn.  It originated in 678 or 679 with the foundation of an abbey dedicated to St. Peter.  Below you have two views of the nave, looking east (left) and west (right). 


The Mason's Bracket: this curious memorial was built around 1335, and it has intrigued visitors ever since.  Does it commemorate a terrible accident or a miraculous escape?

A young apprentice appears to tumble from the ceiling with his arms outstretched.  Below, a bearded mason looks on in helpless horror.  What happened next is a mystery.

This is an unusual monument in a several ways.  Unlike many Cathedral monuments, it commemorates an ordinary working man.


The walls of the medieval Abbey were covered with colorful paintings like this.  It must have been an amazing sight.

Thomas Gambier Parry completed these paintings on the theme of discipleship between 1866 and 1868.  He was inspired by medieval frescoes he had seen in Italian churches.  He imitated their rich color and detail, although his romantic Victorian style was very different.








I couldn't stop staring at the vaulted ceiling shown in the pictures below, but my neck was hurting!   The complex web of interlaced ribs has a delicate symmetry that boggles the mind when you consider when (and how) it was constructed. And all those decorative 'medallions' at the joints.  Wow!  And then, just for fun, throw in the stained glass window, the altar and the tile floor, and it is almost more than your eyes can process!


Here's a closer shot of the altar.



This gives you a better look at the tile.

The Abbey was built in phases over about 400 years, from 1089 to the 1400s.  During that time, techniques and fashions developed, so the style of the building varies from place to place.



The Cathedral is full of carved faces called gargoyles and grotesques.  In the Middle Ages people may have believed they scared away evil spirits.  Each one is different and shows the imagination of the masons who carved them. 



The Great Cloister, with its fan vaulted roof, outside the North Wall of the Cathedral, was used as a location in the Harry Potter films.  This architecture is another fine example of Perpendicular Gothic.



My June 26, 2022 post displayed some photos of idyllic Cotswold villages, and yet I think we closed out our Cotswold tour with one of the most picturesque villages I have ever seen, Lower Slaughter.  (This was a recommendation from Clare of Walks with Hawks, and she was spot on.)


The village has been inhabited for over 1,000 years.  The name stems from the Old English name for a wet land "slough" (muddy place) upon which the village lies.


This quaint village sits beside the little Eye stream and is known for its unspoiled limestone cottages in the traditional Cotswold style.  We finished our visit to the village with a couple of beverages in the garden of the Slaughters' Country Inn.  It doesn't get much better than this!!!


On our way back to the house of my in-laws, we passed through our old stomping grounds while on an expatriate assignment in the UK.  We stopped in the Fleur dy Lys pub in Lowsonford for some coffee, all while reminiscing about the high-quality meat pies on the menu.  This white-washed, rustic, oak-beamed inn has an open fire and a peaceful canal side garden.


And last but not least, we drove through our old "neighborhood", the village of Hampton-in-Arden.  The house is still there, and looks much the same, but we were shocked to find that the cul-de-sac in which our kids rode bikes and scooters, right across from the house, is now a through road to a new development.  The cricket pitch, once a lovely green space on the edge of the neighborhood, is now rows of samey-samey brick houses.  Bummer.  We resolved to remember it as it was over 15 years ago!
Linking to Mosaic Monday






Sunday, October 2, 2022

Mosaic Monday #192: Summer Farewell

My dear friends, this will be my last post as the host of Mosaic Monday, so it is fitting that I close this chapter with a final set of summer photos.

August featured no less than 3 backcountry camping trips.  Too many pictures for one post, but I can sure show you some highlights.




Our first trip, with an intended destination of Gray Wolf Lake, is a story in itself.  We fell short of our destination, and it rained while we gobbled our dinner, and for most of the night.


Rain is such a unique event during the summer in Montana that we were a bit surprised by this rainstorm.  The thunder and lightning that accompanied the storm ignited one significant wildfire some 15 miles from where we camped for the night.  But I will never complain about rain in the summer, given the extreme drought conditions in the Mountain West!

Between two camping trips, we spent one night in a hotel situated midway from the trailheads.  We were a bit early to check in, so we stopped at a nearby eatery for a treat of coffee and ice cream.


The next day, we worked off that ice cream with more than 3,300 feet of elevation gain in 5 miles.  But this is the reward: Mollman Lake.




The day of these photos also happened to be our 31st anniversary.  I had drawn this card and brought it with me.

"Husband" is just a title every man can have.  But it takes a heart and life to live by it.  You have never failed to show me how much I mean to you.  Happy Anniversary!"

Can you believe we had this whole place to ourselves?  Priceless!!!!

Of course, you don't always have to go far from home to capture beauty.  The next two photos were taken on August 16, right in our own neighborhood as I came home from town one evening.



August brings the Northwest Montana Fair to the fairgrounds, complete with wall-to-wall 4-H competition, food you shouldn't eat and rides that light up the night sky.  I went two days to support the grandkids of my Dear Neighbor Friend, and trust me when I say the kids cleaned up in most of their events!  I continue to learn the finer points of showmanship, and the importance of udders and other body parts on goats, sheep and cattle!  On rodeo night, I worked the funnel cake booth for St. Matthew's Church - I think I can still feel the skim of frying fat on my skin, and smell funnel cake batter in my nostrils.  I took a little time to spin through the quilts/home-made crafts section - always inspiring.

 




In this post in December 2021, I wrote about discovering Spanish blackwork.  I was thrilled to see this example of it at the Fair!  (By the way, I have purchased a design utilizing blackwork, and I am anxious to get started on it!)


At the end of August, rolling over into September, a three-night backcountry camping trip in Glacier National Park checked all the boxes: wildlife, fishing, jagged mountains, glacier-blue lakes.  Let's take a look!


Video of waterfall along the trail.



Video of bighorn sheep ewe and young one.



Back at home, it was wildlife of a different sort and proportion that attracted my eye.  Check out this video of the largest bumblebee I have ever seen.



Grasshoppers pick on the Russian Sage, climbing its stalks and nibbling through the very peak, toppling the lovely, symmetrical flower pyramids.  In the process of hunting the grasshoppers, I spotted this precious little frog.  It is you, my dear, that I hear singing after the sun goes down. 

In early September, we were delighted to welcome my oldest brother and his wife, who flew their "Blue Eagle" plane from Morgan County, Utah, to Kalispell.







Over the five days of their visit, we kayaked on Lone Lake, hiked in Glacier National Park, and were treated to aerial touring in the Blue Eagle.  I was thrilled to provide a garden tour, and Head Chef kept us well fed as usual.  A lovely visit all around.



Flying over the landscapes we see every day, but flat-footed, is a gift.  Is that hill really that steep?  Does Ashley Creek wind in such a serpentine manner?  The area around Whitefish has many more lakes than I realized.  Do they have fish?

I love this video of Ashley Creek in Smith Valley.




The latter part of September has brought wildlife of every description.  One night, sitting in the great room, I imagined an owl calling.  Going out on the deck, I was thrilled to hear Barred Owls echoing each other.  One is a blessing; two or more feels like a miracle.


The cygnets that I featured in this post are growing up.  On September 17, they were swimming together, but without their parents.  And they came so close to me - no fear?


While I was at the lake's edge, Spousal Unit called me.  "Can you see the elk?  It's a mama and a baby, in the water."   I scouted the lake, with the binoculars and without.  Nothin'.  I worked my way north, and then I heard the splashing.  Mama saw me or sensed me first.  The best I got was the baby running away through the woods.


Meanwhile, our neighborhood black bear has been roaming, building up fat for the winter.  We have seen him at least once a week, and in one case, I saw him while running out in the woods ... I took the long way around that day!  These shots were taken as I came home from town one day - less than a half mile from our house.



Thistles are one of the many species that we combat for preservation of the native habitat, but before I cut the seeds off and put them in the trash, I momentarily admire their beauty.  In many ways, they represent the fleeting nature of summer.  Weightless. Perfectly designed for purpose.  Ephemeral.  Majestic simplicity.


And so, we bid farewell to summer and to Mosaic Monday.

*****

My dear Mosaic Monday friends: I am pleased to tell you that Heidrun @ Soul and Mind and so on will be taking over Mosaic Monday, starting next weekend.  She carries on the fine tradition established by our previous hosts – Mary @ Little Red House through August 4, 2014, Judith @ Lavender Cottage from August 10, 2014 through July 24, 2016, and Maggie @ Normandy Life from July 31, 2016 through October 29, 2018.  I hope that you will continue participating in Mosaic Monday – your posts through the years have inspired me more than you know!

Some of you have asked if I am leaving the blogosphere altogether; I will still be posting occasionally, and linking to Mosaic Monday as well as other link parties.  So, I will see you around, my friends!


Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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