Dedicated to learning…

I thought my Japanese Anemone painting was done. But, thanks to a wonderful teacher I spent 3 more hours on it and I have to admit it IS better than before. Learning is exhausting and yet always fun too. Now for a nap.

Japanese Anemone acrylic painting. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Last week’s 6 hour work of Japanese Anemone. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Winter blessings…

May your days be

full of miracles,

large and small.

I wish you faith, hope and love.

May you have faith as

You set hope-filled goals which

Include love

Love for yourself and

Love for others.

Faith that spirng will arrive at winter’s end. Hope that the robins’ return as plants waken from dormancy. Love for all of God’s “routine” miracles. ….nothing is routine about miracles. Each is wondrous. Happy New Year. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

A different naked lady…

My southern sisters are proud of their Naked Ladies (Amaryllis Belladonna), while here in Chicago the Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale) is our “Naked Lady”. Both gained their nickname because when the flowers are in bloom their leaves already have become dormant, so are no longer present. These bulb beauties were at Lincoln Park Zoo several weeks ago and drew attention from the Lion Den.

Close up of sunlit petals. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Vibrant autumn color. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Prolific blooms. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Garden bouquet of flowering fall bulbs. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Dangerously cute…

Cute but with powerful built-in defenses. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg.

While we walked through Starved Rock State Park we came across this oh, so cute caterpillar. It was moving rapidly down the length of a rail making it a challenge to photograph. This is when I’m grateful for digital imagery; I can take multiple images in hopes of a few “good” ones and the cost is no obstacle as it was in the days of using film.

Fortunately, I did not choose to hold this fuzzy fellow. It was the larva of the American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana). If I’d known the name I would have thought twice about its cuddly appearance. The decorative black spikes are its defense containing a poisonous liquid that quickly causes irritation and swelling when it touches one’s skin. So, if you see this fellow, look but don’t touch!

On closer inspection…

The Winged Loosestrife’s (Lythrum alatum) vibrant color stood out on the cliff’s wall across from our descending path to Wild Cat Canyon in Starved Rock State Park. Only later when I was home and reviewing these images did I realize the plant was a resting spot for this winged insect. Such is the joy of photography. My eyes often miss seeing all the subjects in my compositions. Sometimes what I capture is distracting to my desired focus (unwanted elements in the background). This added subject was a wonderful surprise.

My initial thought was that this insect was a dragonfly or damselfly. But those insects have two pairs of wings. I am guessing that this is some variety of Crane Fly (Tipula) instead. The other joy of nature photography is that I am always learning!

I zoomed in to get the original picture (bottom image) and found a new and more interesting composition when I zoomed in still closer (first image).

Posing nicely for my picture. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

I spo

Longer view of this Loosestrife and Crane Fly scene, to show more of the habitat. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

tted

 

Under-valued communities…

Fungi (mushrooms) and algae produce lichen on this dead tree stump. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Yesterday’s post of Lichen was witness to what happens when fungi and algae live together. The fungi benefit from algae that make food through photosynthesis. These images show the lush diversity within these miniature communities. I always feel the presence of a superior entity (God, to me) when I observe such creations.

Colony of mushrooms appear after rains; on less moist days the fungi thrives underground. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

 

Never seen this kind of fungi. The variety at Starved Rock after a few days of rain were many and diverse. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Fungi ring around the tree stump. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

This tree hosts a prolific, rich community. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

The moist walls of the canyon supports more miniature communities. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg.

Too often ignored…

Lichen on top of cliff’s edge. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

This Lichen lives atop a rock at Lover’s Leap in Starved Rock State Park. Though its tiny, its resilience merits appreciation.

Difference between fungi, lichen, moss and algae: https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/you-moss-be-joking-if-you-lichen-this-to-fungi

Hunger has been satiated….

Chicago is FLAT unless you include concrete overpasses and underpasses. Starved Rock State Park is a short two-hour drive west from my hometown flatland. The change in environment is extreme and refreshing. Also, it is exhausting for Chicagoans’ muscles used to walking flatland. So, while I rest my arthritic knee and other stressed body parts, I will share some this area’s splendor. My aches are welcome remnants of time well spent; my body will heal and my memories will last for ages.

Some images are from the nearby Matthiessen State Park which we visited as well thanks to the strong recommendation of our daughter. Both Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks in Illinois are results of glacial movement south and then melting and retreat. These parks are witness to natures’ strength and constant change.

Warning to anyone that thinks venturing off marked paths would be fun! Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Canyons of Matthiessen State Park. The people in the background give you an idea of its grand perspective. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg.

That bridge is partway down into the canyon. Awe inspiring views. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Wild Cat Canyon in Starved Rock State Park. One of many canyons in the preserve. Waterfalls were very small because of lack of rain recently. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

 

100 steps down from the Lodge was the “beginning” of many more steps down into canyon bottoms. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

 

Natural respite…

Wilderness inside Lincoln Park, Chicago. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg

Wilderness haven inside Lincoln Park, Chicago. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg

Behind the black wire barrier, a volunteer pulls weeds, non-native species, from an area restricted to non-human entrants. This sectioned-off part of Lincoln Park is one of several “Migratory Bird Sanctuaries” in the park. The designated space has earthen trails around its perimeter providing a wilderness reprieve for the urban weary. The space is comparatively small, but time spent here is relevantly grand.

Beautiful spring wildflower blooming along the trail. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg

 

Breaking through…

Fresh snow and newly arrived sunshine in Harms Woods, Skokie, Illinois. Copyright 2016, Pamela Breitberg

Yesterday was all grey as the we received the first measurable snowfall of this winter, 7.5 inches. Today, as I drove past my old Forest Preserve stomping grounds I saw the sun peaking in and out of the clouds. Look closely and you can see a round disk in the sky that at first appears to be the moon; but it’s the sun bringing an array of color to the monochrome scene.