My New Jersey Big Year celebrates the Winter Solstice!
We looking down the barrel of another significant snow storm this weekend. Even though winter doesn’t arrive (officially) until next weekend, this is already shaping up to be a snowy season – at least compared to the past couple years. For those among us who dislike the thought of another cold winter season, I’ve included my cellphone photo of sunflowers growing in the warm summer sun!
If you don’t mind the cold so much, winter provides other opportunities for plant photography that are just as beautiful as summer’s sunflowers. I photographed this ice-encrusted plant at Whitesbog a couple winters ago. The day was so cold I could hardly remove my glove to press the shutter button before my fingers would start to feel numb. But it was still a great day to be outdoors.
For birders, winter can bring opportunities that don’t exist at other times of the year. This is a Red Crossbill I photographed a couple years ago at Seven Presidents Park in Monmouth County, New Jersey. These small finches spend their summers north of the Arctic Circle and, some years, make their way to the Shore for the winter.
And here’s a winter scene you may have never witnessed. My wife photographed this group of Amish men clearing snow from an eastern Pennsylvania road a few years ago. Low tech but effective!
Stay safe this weekend and, if you get the chance, go outside and enjoy the winter weather! You never know what might turn up!
Today was about as nice as you can expect for late winter around here, so I took advantage of the warmer temps and lack of rain to get out for a long walk around Allaire State Park. The Park preserves the remains of an old iron works and makes for a really nice location for a day out.
Back in the early 1800’s James P. Allaire , a New York iron manufacturer and engine builder, purchased a large track of land here in New Jersey that became known as the Howell Works. The Works were a rich source of bog iron at the time and became a major industrial center in the 1830’s. James Allaire ultimately retired to the Howell Works and spent the remainder of his life in this house.
Bog iron forms in the swamps and bogs found throughout this part of New Jersey and blast furnaces like this one were used to extract the iron that used by Allaire’s factories in New York. This is the only one left in the park and is protected from the weather by the structure built around it.
This area was very isolated in the 1830’s, so the Howell Iron Works had to be a self-sufficent town. Several of the building remain and are used as bakeries, gift shops, or as visitor centers.
The church survives and is still used for weddings and special ceremonies. Notice the steeple is built at the rear of the building – the original building is located at the front. When the church was expanded, the original structure couldn’t support the weight of the steeple, so it was added to the rear of the building.
The iron works needed lots of water and there are several canals like this one – Spring must be on the way. The frogs are already laying eggs in several places throughout the canal!
And another sign of Spring – the skunk cabbages are pushing up everywhere throughout the swamps.
Winter took an icy turn this week with not one, but two ice storms. In some ways, we should count ourselves lucky since most folks got much, much worse – in ice and snow – than we got here in New Jersey. Still, the storm-of-the-week club is getting pretty tiring. Thank goodness that Groundhog didn’t see his shadow!!
Following my earlier post and later in the morning, the sun broke through the clouds for a few moments. I just happened to turn around and saw this scene developing before my eyes. I love the way icy trees look in the morning light – takes some of the sting out of shoveling for several hours to clear my driveway.
After shoveling for a bit, we took a break and enjoyed blueberries for a snack. I love all types of fruit but blueberries rank very, very high on my “favorites” list. These were exceptionally juicy and sweet – a great mid-winter treat!
Another Nor’easter has passed over New Jersey, leaving us buried in a foot or more of new snow. This one was warmer than our earlier storms and delivered considerable amounts of freezing rain and sleet before turning to snow. This was the view from my deck as the early morning sunlight illuminated ice-covered trees.
This was the view I enjoyed through my car’s windshield this morning, for nearly two hours. This long predicted storm fooled forecasters at all major weather services here in New Jersey and dumped about 4 inches of snow in about an hour, snarling traffic and causing numerous accidents. I took this photo with my cellphone, about a block from my office, while sitting completed stopped in traffic once again.