Denise Goldberg's blog

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sand, snow, sunshine, birds!

The last day of 2006 dawned bright and clear.

I had hoped to wander on my bike today, but some of the roads were still wet and white from yesterday's snow. It appears that the smaller roads were not plowed at all, bits of snow and ice still clinging to the road surface. My bikes and I had a quick conference, and they decided that keeping their wheels and drivetrains dry was the order of the day. Instead of riding, I headed to the New Hampshire coast once again to follow my footsteps along the edge of the water.

The ocean was quiet, and the birds were playing. It was a good day for walking, watching, and absorbing my surroundings.

A comfortable - but cold - seat in the snow.

I was standing right next to a large group of gulls when they decided to fly. There are just a few shown in this photo; there were many more in the air. Amazing.

Great blue heron after striding toward the edge of the ice (on the non-ocean side of the road) - posing.

Denise, walking.

More photos from today's wanderings can be found in my photo gallery Sand, snow, sunshine, birds! NH coast for a day

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A taste of winter

Today the Weather Wizard brought a gift of snow. I really can't complain though; the start of winter has been very mild.

The snow started earlier than predicted, with white in the air beginning at about 11 AM. It started just as I was about to roll out on my bike, and I quickly rethought my day's activity. At first I thought I'd get in a short ride anyway, but I'm glad I didn't stop with that first thought. When I headed out walking a little while later, there was already a crunch of white beneath my feet. As I walked, the white layer continued to grow.

A good day for walking...

Some days are cloudy but are still light. Today? Daylight seemed dark, and as I walked by this tree snowflakes decorated the air.

I started walking soon after the snow started flying. The pavement and sidewalks gathered snow, and plants along the way provided a canvas for snowflakes.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Visiting birds

Rolling down a silent road, sharing space with birds and very few other humans...

A woodpecker flew by, lighting on a tree trunk just ahead of me. I think he was a Downy Woodpecker; with his wings on his back he was decorated in black and white, almost appearing (at a quick glance) as a skewed checkerboard pattern.

The mirrored surface of a pond was momentarily ruffled by Canada Geese swimming, then taking off with a splash of sound.

I'm so glad that the quiet motion of my bicycle allows me to see and hear, to absorb the beauty of the sights and sounds around me.
Water appearing as a glassy surface, quiet, just before the flight of the geese.

Yes, that bright spot is the sun, attempting to break out of the dense cloud cover.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wind, waves, CRASH!

Walking along the New Hampshire coast... Waves crashing, receding... Wind...

What's that sound? Although there are stretches of sand beach along the New Hampshire coast, I was walking next to a beach composed of rounded stones. The sound that was decorating the air was created by the stones rolling against each other as the water pulled away from the shore. Then - crash! Another set of waves started the cycle once more.

Wind, powerful, pushing... It was a beautiful day for walking, but there was an added challenge beyond moving forward step by step. A strong wind - probably the reason that the morning gray skies gave way to blue - was focused on pushing all objects in its path, including me. Walking in a straight line definitely required focus.

Ah, but the day provided truly beautiful sights!

Crashing waves, seagull standing, watching, and surprisingly not getting hit by the wild water.

Sun sinking, just beginning to tint the horizon and the water in shades of pink.

A few more pictures from today's wandering can be found starting on page 9 of my photo gallery Glimpses of water - coastal New Hampshire, 2006.

Masquerading, prancing

What do you mean I'm not a reindeer?

I was rolling down a narrow road on my bicycle when I looked to the side to see people on horses at a small riding school. The horses were wearing hats sporting reindeer antlers.

Clearly they insisted on a masquerade for the day.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Solstice pondering

Today is the day of the Winter Solstice, the day that brings us the shortest amount of light. My calendar says that today is the first day of winter, yet in other countries in the northern hemisphere today is known as Midwinter's Day.

So which is it? Start or middle? For my winter sanity, I think I'll adopt the Midwinter's Day designation. The days will (very slowly) start to lengthen by gathering minutes of sunshine, and although we still have a couple of months of cold ahead of us, I will hold the thought that as the days get longer, spring will be creeping closer.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Photo recognition

I did a search for my name on Google today and found that one of the photos in my Nova Scotia journal had been selected as photo of the month on another cycling web site.

That, plus the "see her amazing pictures" comment below the photo really made my day.

Mountains ahead

An early morning optical illusion...

Driving down route 125, woods on both sides of the road opened up to show a view of tall mountains ahead. They showed as a deep dusky blue below a light blue sky that was gaining more color as the sun rose higher.

Wait. Yes, there are mountains in Massachusetts, but the mountains live in the western part of the state, no where near my usual stomping grounds. Today my view was of banks of deep blue clouds that were pretending to be mountains.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sky paintings

A Monday play-day... I have a feeling that going back to my normal 2-day weekends in January is going to be a real shock, but for now, I'm enjoying my December long weekends.

I woke to a gray day, with raindrops occasionally decorating the ground. One of my bikes insisted on a morning ride to start the day, and then it was time to head to the New Hampshire coast to share some walking with a friend. What? You think I'm getting into a bit of a habit of walking along the New Hampshire coast? True, but it's a good habit to have.

The drive to New Hampshire was accompanied by on-and-off rain. It wasn't heavy, but it was (windshield-wiper) noticeable. The weather wizard decided to be kind today though, because when we arrived at Odiorne Point State Park the rain stopped and glimpses of blue edged through the gray sky, providing a backdrop for both white and dark clouds.

Our exploration started indoors, at the Seacoast Discovery Center. Curiosity drew us inside, and I'm glad it did. Sea creatures in glass tanks provided some fascinating visions. There were strange-looking fish who appeared to be watching us (and who I'm sure thought that the 2-legged creatures peering at them through the glass were strange looking too). There was a skate with its underside pressed against the glass; instead of the normal "top of the creature" view we had a clear view of its mouth and a far away view of the eyes that were perched on its top (not bottom) side. And in the same tank there was a wonderful optical illusion - I think caused by the thickness of the glass. The view from the side of the tank appeared to be totally different than from the front. It almost felt like I was looking at two totally different tanks when there was really only one.

Off to another tank... The inhabitants were fish that appeared flat when viewed from the top (or bottom). These creatures apparently change their coloration to blend in with their surroundings. The ones that we were watching were a perfect match to the sand that lined the bottom of the tank.

Curiosity satisfied, it was time to walk and to soak in the views. A loop to the south following a trail started our exploration, but the rocky coastline beckoned. As we turned and headed to the north and east, we left the trail, feet treading on land coated with rounded rocks - no sand here! The ocean was quiet, and clouds painted the sky.

Walking, stopping to enjoy the views, a quiet ocean accompanied us to Frost Point. Rocks adorned the coast on the southern (ocean-facing) side of the point, a strong contrast to the sand-clad northern side looking into Little Harbor. The quickly setting sun decorated the sky and cast gleaming reflections on the water.

Paintings created by sunlight, by patterns of clouds. Absorbing beauty...

A tree silhouetted against a sky striped with clouds.

I find it amazing that the distinct line in the clouds seems to be reflected in the water.

And a little more late day magic...

More photos can be seen in my Beauty on a gray day gallery.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cool, warmer, rolling...

Another day of non-winter weather... I like this year's version of December so far.

When I started riding today it was cooler than yesterday, but the temperature eventually edged into the low 50s. The sky managed a similar change; I left home accompanied by a sky covered in clouds, light in some spots and dark gray in others. In fact it was so gray that I used clear lenses in my "sunglasses". The gray eventually parted and allowed some blue to appear. Yes, it was another good day for playing outside on my bicycle.

I think - no, I know - that I'm really getting spoiled. The first day of winter is just around the corner, and I'm sure that it will be a little hard to take when winter conditions hit.

December, relative warmth, bicycle wheels rolling, happy!
I had to stop and watch as this woolly bear caterpillar (what a great name!) slogged across the road, ending in a pile of leaves.

Reflections and ice! The temperature was in the low 50s this afternoon, and while it has been cooling off at night the last few nights haven't been that cold. I suppose that this pond could have frozen in cooler weather earlier in the week; I had to look twice before I convinced myself that there really was ice floating in the water.

This character was doing quite a job of guarding his mail box. From a distance I really thought there was a person standing there.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Smiles via the mail

Sometimes smiles are delivered in the mail. A card jumped out of my mailbox today, a photo of a happy, moving girl on the front, delivering the message

you just gotta twirl.

Twirling... yes, I'll remember to keep that on my list of good things to do. Thanks Mom!

December warmth

I'm happily getting spoiled by the non-December weather that has been gracing the days of this month. Sunshine, bright blue skies, a bit of wind, and relative warmth gave me a perfect excuse for a bike ride.

(...although those of you who know me also know that my bike and I need no excuses!)
Rolling down a sunlit road, tree shadows, my bike, and me

Tree skeleton against brilliant blue highlighted by puffs of white

Occasionally the decorations that people choose at this time of year bring a smile to my face. A truly beautiful bear, waving.

I wonder where he managed to find snow for his ready-to-throw snowball...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Morning smile

Sometimes it's the little things that make me smile. Today it was the license plate on a car that passed me as I drove to work.

What did it say? TEEHEE
TEEHEE. teehee. teehee. Can you see my smile, hear my laughter?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Birthday musings... open letter to my brother

As you celebrate your 51st birthday, your body is misbehaving, serving as a home for a very nasty cancer. My thoughts are constantly streaming towards you, thoughts of comfort, of healing, of love, and of life.

I feel a sense of frustration that there doesn't seem to be a solution, a cure, or anything that I can do to help other than to continue to tell you that I care. I can only imagine the frustration that you must feel as you live with this dreadful disease. I hope that you can feel the love and caring coming your way from all of us, family, friends, acquaintances, and your dear dog Zipper too.

V of geese

Early morning, clear sky growing brighter as the sun moves higher...

As I walked toward my office wishing that today was a play day, I was greeted by the sight and sound of geese. A strong V of Canada Geese was flying low overhead. I almost felt like I could reach up and touch them.

Flying, honking, silhouettes against the sky, a beautiful sight. Will I ever learn that I should always have a camera close at hand? Ah, another memory to store.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Gmail, funny

Sometimes things jump off the the screen at me, and sometimes they don't.

I use Gmail as an alternative email address. Yes, there is somewhat of a method to my email madness; emails from people (as opposed to companies or subscriptions) are directed to my primary email address, and other emails go to Gmail.

I recently noticed that Gmail has been placing a one-line entry at the top of the mail box. The entries are tagged as Sponsored Link, Web Clip, or Gmail Tip. They kind of fade into the background, probably because once my eye was used to the presence of these one-liners they just didn't get in the way. My eye focused on the list of items in the various mail boxes instead of getting distracted by the extra message.

Periodically I take a look at the emails classified as Spam to make sure that what I consider to be valid emails don't inadvertantly get dumped into that mailbox. For some reason my eye was drawn to the one-line entry at the top of the Spam mailbox. How fitting - the entries are links to Spam Recipes. Yuck! But funny too...

Sometimes I'm amazed at what people will eat. But I suppose that the Spam-eaters of the world are probably pretty amazed at the tofu part of my own diet.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lazy, hazy, gray, wet, relaxing

Today's escape from work turned into a day of quiet relaxation. I had planned - well, hoped - to get in a decent length ride, but by 9 o'clock the gray sky had started to sputter with water. My bicycles held a conference and decided that today would be a day without riding. Light rain with temperatures in the high 30s didn't sound like a pleasant riding environment to me either, so relaxing with a book was in order for the morning.

Oh, you're curious about what I'm reading? I just started Ed Viesturs' No Shortcuts to the Top. No worries though - I'm not taking up mountain climbing. Reading about other cyclist's journeys often makes me want to head out on my own journey, but the act of reading about mountaineering is enough to satisfy my curiosity.
The rain stopped by late morning, but the sky remained gray and the pavement stayed wet. A long walk with my camera met my daily need for movement.

The prize of a quiet day, a quiet mind, relaxation...

Isn't she cute? This pup owns a small store in Andover (OK, you're right - her owner probably owns the store!) and can often be seen watching the foot traffic wandering by her window.

An interesting planter...

Late in the day the gray sky finally gave way to a white clouds against a blue background. A beautiful sky painting signaled the end of the day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

By foot with camera

Today was a day for wandering not too far from home, but far enough that I was exploring places I'd never set foot in before...

I headed to Saco, Maine to check out some of the trails in the area. I started my wanderings at Saco Heath, obeying the trail instructions to stay on the boardwalk which apparently at times is over 20 feet of water and partially decayed sphagnum moss. I was lucky that others had walked the area after the snow fell so I had a path to follow in the sections before the boardwalk appeared. I was alone in this very quiet space; quiet but for the clarion call of birds. As I got back to the trail head, I met someone who lives in the area and who walks here often. He described some of the flowering plants and birds he has seen in other seasons. It sounds like I need to plan return trips in different seasons. I'll be back...

The rest of my afternoon visit was spent wandering along the coast on both sides of the Saco River, including beach stops between Camp Ellis and Old Orchard Beach and a loop through the East Point Sanctuary in Biddeford Pool.

The sun was starting to set as I left the coast, providing the gift of brilliant sky paintings. It was hard to keep driving, yet stopping on an interstate highway to take pictures didn't really seem like a good idea. I did stop once though; a closed weigh station beckoned, giving me a safe and quiet place to absorb the colors of the sky.

Beauty can be found in many places...
Tree stump, decorated with moss and topped with a cap of snow

It's very possible that my imagination was working overtime. Are you sure this is a tree root? I was sure that it was a dog...

A snow-covered view of Saco Heath

I heard this bird before I saw him, and I'm amazed that I was able to move quickly enough to capture a couple of pictures.

It's scenes like this that may drive me towards buying another lens for my camera. I'm very happy with my choice of lens from a bicycle touring perspective, but I know I'd love to have a bigger lens when I'm not space constrained. I have a feeling that it's not just the lens though - I think I'll probably want (or need) a tripod or monopod too. More things to carry...

A path to a calm sea, patches of snow-covered sand...

Jet trail and light clouds tinted pink, highlighting bare branches

If you'd like to see more photos from my wanderings today, you can find them in my photo gallery Saco Bay by foot - December 2006.

Driver's distraction

Early morning, rolling down the road on a bike... I stopped as commanded by a red light, and looked over at the car that was stopped next to me. The driver's lap held a small dog who was intently gazing out of the side window. The driver had a cell phone in one hand, and was adjusting her glasses with her other hand. Her car was completely stopped, so I suppose her level of inattention to her surroundings wasn't causing a problem.

The red light turned to green and I took a quick glance at the car before I started riding again. As I was gazing into the car, I saw it start moving forward, obeying the command of the green light. The driver's hands? They were no where near the steering wheel. If the dog had been facing forward instead of to the side I might have guessed that he was driving.

The behavior of drivers in this area really shouldn't surprise me anymore, but yes, I'm still surprised. What do you suppose she was thinking as her car rolled forward into traffic without any human control over direction?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Images along the edge

...the edge of daylight, that is.

Morning light just after sunrise helped to decorate the scattered clouds.

Evening light, the bare structure of a tree highlighted against the sky as the sun sinks below the horizon.

Orange highlights, cloud swatches and jet trails.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Temporarily sinking temperatures

Brrr, cold! I woke to find gray skies with white flakes both in the air and pooled along the edges of the road.

The forecast for today was absolutely correct, with temperatures reaching only the low 20s and the wind howling. It apparently is a temporary dip into winter; tomorrow is supposed to hit 40 and the next few days may be a little warmer - but this very direct short term forecast from the National Weather Service at one point during the afternoon convinced me that today was a good day to exercise in the gym:

We got very little of the predicted snow today, and I'm hoping that was true of (south) coastal Maine too. I have two "use it or lose it" vacation days left, so I'm turning the next two Mondays into play days - and I'm hoping to do some walking along the coast of Maine, just this side of Portland. But the weather forecast for that area called for 2 to 4 inches of snow today. Hmmm... walking in the snow sans snowshoes? Or find another location where the snow goddess did not visit? I think I'll probably head out in my car; I can always stop short of my planned destination if the snow looks like it is getting too deep to support my dreams of wandering.

I wish that the sinking temperatures were really temporary, but I'm afraid that they are just a sign of things to come. For now I plan to enjoy the (predicted) days of respite! And the good news is that the winter weather at the beginning and end of this week has finally restored my habit of exercising in a gym as a supplement to walking and riding in the cold.

Flying down the road

Doesn't it seem like traffic patterns should be consistent? That is, shouldn't the commute in to work at the same time each day present the same driving conditions as long as the weather doesn't interfere?

My usual habit is to drive over I-93 before joining the vehicles on that road. On most mornings, my view is of a sea of brake lights or of slowly moving vehicles. In that case, I continue my commute using surface streets. Today was a different story; in spite of the every 10 minutes traffic report on one of the local radio stations informing me that I-93 was moving very slowly, I could see more road surface than vehicles and the cars were just flying.

Yes, my car & I did hop onto I-93 for a quicker than usual commute to work...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Wet, white, wet, gone!

I woke up this morning expecting to be greeted with a white landscape. The weather wizard apparently didn't agree with the forecast for up to an inch of white stuff because the pavement was dry.

Snow was flying by the time I left for work. Road surfaces were wet, and snow started decorating the grass. Our first glimpse of winter weather was just that - a glimpse - and by 10 o'clock my view of the sky had changed from dark gray to blue decorated with puffs of white clouds. Layered gray made another quick appearance and disappearance as the afternoon brought the gift of a bright blue sky.

A prelude to winter...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A quiet coastal day

...visiting the mute swans (ducks too!)

My dreams for today were targeted at the coast, absorbing ocean views - but before I headed to New Hampshire, I satisfied my bike's (my?) desire for a morning ride. Sunshine and quiet air beckoned. Rolling down the road, 21 miles met today's riding requirement.

It was time to head to the ocean's edge for some afternoon walking. The ocean was quiet, gentle waves lapping the shore at what appeared to be low tide. Walking, sharing the path with a few other people, watching patterns in wet sand, sun flying relatively low in the sky... It was an out-and-back walk, with my turnaround planned for the spot that the mute swans call their own, sharing it with other water birds (sea gulls and ducks). I've been on an alternating swan visit schedule; sometimes they are there, sometimes they are hiding. Today the pair was waiting for me and my camera.

Driving home, the sun was starting to aim for the horizon. Daylight, wisps of clouds highlighting a sometimes hiding sun... And then I saw a colored reflection in the clouds. It was almost like a reflection from a piece of crystal, a piece of a rainbow, a beautiful image to keep as a memory.

It's funny how long my legs look in these walking shadow shots

Mute swan scratching, sea gull watching...

A cloud painting

Interested in more pictures from my wandering today? You can see them starting on page 7 of my photo gallery Glimpses of water - coastal New Hampshire, 2006.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Weather wizard sliding softly...

...heading in the direction of winter

We seem to be edging towards colder temperatures, sliding into the prediction of white falling from the sky early next week.

It was warm yesterday, but a little bit of cold snuck in to prepare me for today. It was 63 degrees out when I left work, and although rain was in the forecast, the air was still dry. Even though I had planned to go to the gym, I decided to take advantage of the warmth and head home for a good walk. That almost blew up in my face; it was 49 degrees by the time I got home, and as I headed out of the door mist was hovering.

Luck... the conditions held until after I finished my walk. Home again, relaxing. What is that loud sound? Downpour! Driving rain pelting the building. And funny, with that rain came a return to a warm temperature. When I walked outside after the rain eased, it was warm and humid with the temperature in the mid-60s.

Weather wizard changing conditions yet again... I woke up this morning to the sound of wind. Wind gusting, howling. It was another gift of noise - paired with the gift of cooler temperatures to test my "dress for riding in cold weather" skills. It was 45 degrees out when I rolled away from home, with the wind at a steady 13 miles per hour gusting to 26, and a wind chill of 39 degrees.

Riding loops on a windy day... From a strong headwind, pedaling against the wind, to getting a push from that same wind - a tailwind wonder - to holding a line while the wind was pushing from the side. It was a challenge at times, but it was also an enjoyable ride under a clear blue sky.

Sunshine means shadows rolling down the road

Blue sky as a background for a "ready for winter" tree

A fresh green carpet; the new grass doesn't seem to know the season is about to jump into winter.