Sunday, August 31, 2008

Northern Harrier




This beautiful little hawk visited our backyard yesterday. It is shockingly cold these days, and I am sure the reason he is here is that he is already headed south for the winter. I think this is the coldest and wettest "summer" that I can remember in about 15 years. It makes me think about migrating south myself! Last night the temperature dipped down close to the freezing mark, and it poured rain. It is 9:00 right now, and only 4 degrees Celsius, with the forecast high only 8 degrees for today, with rain. It feels like it could snow.

I have talked a lot about weather on this blog, but here in the north, weather is a big part of our lives. We buy clothing for our weather. We spend more money on clothing than most anywhere in the world. We have to have clothing for hot (34 degrees one day) and for warm (heavier fabric than for hot), and for cool (need a light jacket, or a sweater), fall (warmer jacket, getting into sweaters underneath or layering), winter (different type of jacket and footwear, mitts, hats) and for REALLY COLD (down jackets, fleece vests, sweaters, long underwear...). We spend more money on our cars, as the salt and sand placed on icy roads takes its toll on the undersides and finish of the car. As well, they seem to suck back more gas when they have to run in -40 cold. And then there is the gas to heat our houses. I really should turn the furnace on today - it is that cold in the house, but instead, I will add another layer of clothing and perhaps have a fire in the fireplace. And it is ONLY AUGUST.

Okay - I feel so much better now that I have ranted about my disappointment in the weather. When it really comes down to it, we don't have hurricanes, very little flooding, only an occasional tornado, no major earthquakes, no tsunamis, no monsoons. We have skiing, ice skating, and other winter sports that places like Dubai have spent millions of dollars building structures so that they can have just a small taste of that experience. We also have magnificent mountain vistas, foothills, prairies, and wildlife to enjoy. It is more than enough to make up for the little bit of shivering I experience every now and then. And when a small hawk comes and makes eye contact with me in my own backyard, I feel there is no place that I would rather be than here in this home, even if it is cold and rainy. 

11 comments:

Paz said...

Love your photo of the hawk. I think it's pretty cool that it lands in your backyard and makes eye contact with your. Very cool. I wish I could have sent you some of our summer weather, which I hate. Hot, humid, hazy... horrible...Ugh! I'm so glad that autumn weather is close by.

Paz

Frank Gardner said...

That is a great visitor to your yard Joanne.
Well, it has been real wet here lately if it makes you feel any better. My winter clothes seem to last me a LONG time these days.

Jean Victory said...

Joanne,
You're making me think of winter here in Maine, a very depressing thought. I just bought 125 gallons of heating oil and it cost me $495.00 and it's only going to get worse. The salt kills our vehicles here too. I don't know what we're all going to do this year. I was contacted by email over the weekend by a gallery in Rockport, Maine. They wanted to know if I had representation in their area and they want to view my work. They actually like my still lifes! I have an appointment with them on the 8th.

Joanne said...

Hi Paz,

I guess we all have our burdens to bear - mine the cold, yours the humidity! I appreciate your comment on the hawk. These moments in time are very special, and to capture them through the camera lens is just such a wonderful feeling as you well know. By the way - are you back to work yet, or still recovering from your surgery? Hope all is well with you. Talk to you again soon.

Joanne said...

Hi Frank,

Sorry you are experiencing wet - seems the weather has been unusual across the entire continent! Is your daughter enjoying school this year? When the end of summer comes, it is hard to send those little ones off to school, isn't it? It's nice that you can walk her there and back though - such special times between a dad and his girl! Take care.

Joanne said...

WOW Jean! How long will that much oil heat your place? That seems like a lot of money, doesn't it?
And congratulations on the new gallery contact! I am just thrilled for you!!!!I know they will snap you up as soon as they see your work in person - I'll be cheering for you on the 8th. Let me know what happens!

Paz said...

Hi again, Joanne: There used to be hawks in my area, years ago. They made a home in the church bell tower. However, I don't think they are there anymore. It's been a couple of years and I no longer hear talk of them or see the remnants of birds they've attacked.

I'm still recovering but am feeling much better. I'm scheduled to return to work in about two weeks. Thanks for asking.

Paz

Jean Victory said...

Hi Joanne,
There is nothing new here this week. I've been struggling with still life setups all week. I can't get what I want. Do you struggle with this at all? If so, do you have any hot tips? Are you working on any new paintings?

Joanne said...

Hi Jean,

I have begun a new watercolor of a bucket of crabapples. I received a huge plastic storage container full, and made juice from most of them (for our smoothies), but I kept some for painting. I understand your frustration with the setup of still life. What I tend to do is to set up and shoot still lifes with my camera at night. I find I can get the dramatic lighting I want when it is dark, and I can use indirect lighting which is not destroyed by sunlight creeping in. I will take several pictures, download them, critique the setup, and alter it to improve the composition or the lighting. I continue to shoot photos, and move things around until I get something that is pleasing to the eye both in terms of position and lighting. Once it looks good on camera, I know I have the set I want. It also helps when I am critiquing the photos to crop the picture to see if eliminating anything will make the grouping better. I also try from different angles, from on top, further from the light source, closer to it, and so on. Because I love photography, it doesn't seem like tedious work, and I learn a lot in the process. I have also build myself a shadow box from black foamboard. You can put a mirror, a piece of glass, cloth or whatever as your base, and create a setup within in the box. You can direct your lighting from the top (I have the top completely open, and then place varying sized pieces of black foamboard in a crisscross pattern to create larger or smaller openings for the light to shine through), or you can direct your light from the front to create some neat effects and shadows. Another thing you can do in the daylight is take your objects outside and palce them in dappled shadow created by trees, or in the reflected light of a verandah, porch, and so on. This gives a soft light which sometimes makes the objects come to life in a unique and different way.
This seems like a very long answer to your question... , but out of all of this perhaps you will come up with your own idea for how to create that setup that is just begging to be painted!
Let me know how the gallery interview goes!

theresamillerwatercolors said...

What a beautiful photo of the hawk!!

Joanne said...

Thanks, Theresa! Around here, hawks are very difficult to get good pictures of. They are either extremely shy or very territorial. I have had them dive at me when I try to get a photo. They also take off and fly to the top of huge power poles where they are just a dark shadow against the sky. So needless to say, I was pleased and surprised at how long this one sat and waited for me to get this picture! What are you doing these days? I'll have to come visit your blog....