A winter walk at the millpond

February 17th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

The lanterns on the Tridge create patterns in the pond's snow below The Tridge is plowed but with no where to put the snow except over the edge, the center has a tall mound.

The trail is plowed. 12-15" of snow remain beside it.My Valentine night walk on the millpond trail was only possible because the dedicated city crews have plowed it. The half mile walk is too difficult when more than a foot of snow covers it. Lanterns along the Tridge illuminates the snow on the pond six feet below as you walk between snow banks on both sides and a large mound of snow at its center (above).

Snow plowing has built mounts 5-6' high on the edge of parking lots. More recent snows blanket them.The trail dims beyond the Tridge. Banks up to 15″ line both sides of the plowed walkway. Plows have shoved snow into 5-6 feet tall mounds beside the parking lots and fresh snow has covered the zagged clumps so they appear to be landscaped winter gardens (left and below).

Mounds of plowed snow surround the Fire Station next to the millpond trail.The sky after sunset paints the snow a rich blue punctuated by gold from nearby street lamps. On this night, the lamps along the trail weren’t turned on, but enough light from the city provided adequate light to enjoy the trek.

We’ve already exceeded the usual winter’s accumulation of snow, about 50″, and we have weeks to go before snow quits falling. It’s not unusual to see shoveling jobs left unfinished. Shoveling is hard work. The snow is heavy and it sometimes takes days to clear areas like this patio at the Wooden Spoon restuarant.Chairs on the Wooden Spoon restaurant patio have been moved to the top of the snow mounds to make it easier to clear the snow (left). It hardly matters that the shovel has been abandoned for the day. The patio won’t see diners for three months.

Snow doesn’t only melt on days still below freezing. It also evaporates. Items like cords from Holiday decorations come back into view as they emerge from deep snow banks (below). Walking the trail in winter is worth your time, day or night. The one-mile round trip takes as little as 20 minutes or you can linger for more than an hour if you’re suited for the weather. Ducks at both ends of the trail will be glad to quack a greeting since few visitors enter their territory at this time of year .

Snow melts even when the temperature remains below freezing if it's in the sun. Here wires from Christmas lights emerge as they cross a railroad tie near the gazebo.

It’s beautiful until it involves shoveling

January 5th, 2014     1 comment     permalink


bunnytrail_1446_225These images aren’t from the millpond. They are taken near my residence. Shooting into the dark woods captures the falling snow as orbs of all sizes (above).

drain_1426_225I saw the rabbit, but by the time I was positioned to photograph him, he had hopped out of sight beyond the fallen tree (above right).

Oak leaves collect in a small pool of open water at a pond’s storm drain (left). Tracks enter and exit the pool where wildlife have come to drink. Crabapples fill the branches of trees lining a pond. Before winter leaves, wintering robins and cedar waxwings will devour them. Distant snowflakes have a bluish tint in this image. I’m not sure why, but it plays well with the tree’s red fruit.


Winter finale, maybe

April 22nd, 2011     0 comments     permalink

April 18: A little less than 2″ of snow fell again, well past when we expected it. The only difference between this snow and all of the other ones during the past six months is that, where it was visible, the grass was green instead of ash gray/brown. That’s a hopeful sign. The snow only stayed on the ground for a day because rain washed it away.

A reason to hate the Green Movement

February 13th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

White hot that isn't

The lights on the Tridge illuminate the fresh snow on February 10th before dawn. The light is so bright, it burns out the highlights in this image, but it’s so energy efficient you can lay your hands right on top of them and cannot warm them. Too bad. There are times like this morning when I detest the environmental movement. Nothing chases me back to the warmth of my car than numb fingers that can no longer detect the shutter button. Damn.

Ripe cottonballs, ready to harvest

February 12th, 2010     1 comment     permalink

The 2010 Cottonball Crop

As you can see, it’s time to harvest the cottonballs! They are big and very ripe on this February morning. Now that the auto industry is on life support in Michigan, perhaps this exciting new agricultural product can bring us back from oblivion.

Whenever I can photograph scenes without using my camera’s flash, I’m thrilled. Thrilled! The flash flattens all things and often leaves harsh, unrealistic shadows. I’d rather shoot fuzzy images illuminated by available light than use it. Here, the light comes from a spot attached to the soffit of a Brighton home. It casts beautiful shadows on the freshly fallen cotton, don’t you think?

The pre-dawn glow of fresh snow

February 11th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

The pre-dawn glow at the millpond

Nothing covers the sins of the world better than 7″ of fresh, fluffy snow. Above, Main Street is on the left; the millpond on the right. In the distance, you can see one of the tall pointed roofs at the children’s Imagination Station. On the left edge, you can see the bronze figure that wore the party hat on New Year’s Eve.

At about 5:00 am, a city worker scooted by on an ATV that had a plow on the front of it. He looked like he was having a blast sending the light snow through the air as he cleared the sidewalks in downtown Brighton. He’s the dark blur (far right) in front of the storefronts, below.

Plowing snow in downtown Brighton

The temperature of light

February 11th, 2010     3 comments     permalink

Illuminated Crabapple Tree

You’ll get sick of seeing these crabapple trees. I photograph them because they’re a few steps from my front door. Even though you’ll see them often, they aren’t memorable or a deep exploration of crabappleness like Monet’s 30 canvases of the Facade of Rouen Cathedral. They’re just handy subjects.

February 10th’s storm left every branch topped with white frosting. The warm yellow light on the left is cast from a street lamp just beyond the image’s edge. The trunk and low branches are illuminated by the cool blue tones of my car’s headlights. It’s an interesting mix of light temperatures in the lace of branches.

Snow Pearls

February 11th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

Snow Pearls

Under a snow-laden evergreen next to the hurricane fence shown in the previous post, spherical lumps of snow rest. Nature didn’t create them. A snow plow did when it zoomed by as it cleared the road. :-) The distant blue light is from the street light at the condominium pool. The raking light in the foreground is from my headlights.

Diamonds on Diamonds

February 10th, 2010     2 comments     permalink

Snow on Hurricane Fence #2

5:00am Today: Seven inches of snow drifted from the heavens within the past few hours. The flakes were large, the wind was calm, so this hurricane fence around the pool at Hamilton Farms Condominium caught and arranged them in beautiful ways. Diamonds caught diamond-like crystals.

Even in winter, the pool area is lit by a large mercury vapor street light so I was able to take shots with and without my camera’s flash. As you can see, each has its own quality. I’ve set up a separate page for these shots along with two more where you can download desktop patterns in much larger sizes and enjoy more detail.

Snow on Hurricane Fence #3

Open Water: odd shapes and edges

February 7th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

Open Water, February 5, 2010

Tribute to Frank O'Hara by Motherwell

The world here is mostly black and white these days so it forces me to think about patterns and textures. I’m finding patches of open water interesting because of their shapes and the edges where ice meets water. Slight differences in temperature determine what stays frozen and what melts. When previously open water freezes again, edges-within-edges are formed. The colorful prismatic sparkle of distant snow crystals, broken branches and footprints of critters coming to look or drink add some subnotes.

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) was another Abstract Expressionist admired during my college years. His stark black ink on white paper always had a calligraphic feel I liked. The shape of this open water reminded me of his work, but it probably won’t tomorrow. Freezing or thawing will change the composition.

Nocturnal Snow Scuffling

February 5th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

A Scuffle in the Snow

Like backwoods bars, open water attracts unsavory characters who need a drink in mid-winter. The tracks were more than 24 hours old so I can’t tell you who the perps were in this encounter, but they were obviously rolling around in 2″ of fresh snow. It doesn’t look like a consensual tussle although there were no blood or guts on the scene. I wish the nature interpreters at Kensington Metro Park offered a CSI unit to explain such events.

scuffle2_5294_300Here’s another view of the crime scene, if you want to conduct your own investigation. The fresh tracks leading away from the center toward the 11:00 o’clock position are from a feral cat. I saw it drink moments before. I tainted the scene with my own footprints (center, left edge) as I stood on the culvert to observe the miniature snowscape. My best guess is one of the ruffians was an opossum. There are many marauding the neighborhood.

Still Breaking: Serial Symbologist on the loose

January 25th, 2010     1 comment     permalink

Radioactive Drink and Message

Swinus Americanus don’t migrate. They remain in Michigan throughout the year and the crap they leave on their trail will become more apparent at the end of winter when the snow reveals all of it. This beverage landed upright after being dropped from the boardwalk about 8 feet above it. Note that none of it splashed out because the 2″ of soft snow cushioned the impact.

I have a hunch this drink was being consumed by the Serial Symbologist I’ve previously mentioned. Notice how the straw provides us with a directional clue. It points directly to the historic cemetery at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 100 yards away. The symbologist full message is surely, “The cemetery is nearby for those who consume vile green beverages that look radioactive.” Prove me wrong.

Directional Signal

The interplay of gloss and matt surfaces

January 21st, 2010     0 comments     permalink

The Gloss and Matt Finishes on the Pond

Claude Monet (1840-1926) spent the last thirty years of his life painting water lilies on his pond at Giverny. I don’t know if his pond ever froze over like ours does in Brighton. I was reminded of him when I took this shot at the millpond. The colors matched some of his paintings. What interested me most is the interplay of glossy and matt surfaces on the pond. The shiny patches reflect more light and the trees on the far shore. The larger version shows more detail, but it still doesn’t rival being there.

Breeze-built cathedral arches

January 13th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

Cathedral Arches in Snow

Looking down from the tridge at the drifting snow presented in the previous post, you can see the patterns created by the breezes and winds. Winter arrived early and temperatures have remained below freezing so accumulating snow continues to move. “Spring thaws” in January or February will freeze the snow in its current position and alter the patterns of future snowfalls.

Where snow rests and where it doesn’t

January 13th, 2010     2 comments     permalink

Drifting Snow

The piers of the millpond Tridge alter the wind patterns of the snowflakes as they slide along the glassy ice under the walkway. Apparently, the tridge retains enough warmth to occasionally melt the surface of the pond so it retains a rich, deep gloss while the rest of the pond lightens and becomes pitted. I like the subtle colors in this image: the dormant moss green of piers, the almost-black green of the water seen through the ice, the cool gray-blue of the steel brackets and the inviting pink of the setting sun on the snow and natural wood.

When gravity creates art

January 13th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

Snow Pattern 1

This is a stretch. Bear with me. My dad liked light verse because he loved words. One of the poems he endlessly recited to me was written by Augustus De Morgan in A Budget of Paradoxes (1872) as a parody to a snippet from Jonathan Swift’s On Poetry: A Rhapsody (1733):

Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

Here’s the stretch: The same is true with dust or mist that adheres to windshields. They catch snowflakes and other snowflakes are caught by the first ones to land. They build upward and outward, sometimes make interesting patterns until either the weight of these cantilevered mounds causes a micro-avalanche or the breeze/temperature destroys them. Sometimes the reflected images in the glass add an additional element like in this image. Rather than fill this post with several images, I’ve placed them on their own page. I’m sure I’ll add more throughout the winter.

Tail-dragging through winter

January 9th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

Muskrat footprints in snow

For the past few months, I’ve become a fan of muskrat hunting with my camera as mentioned before. When the millpond iced over, I thought I could continue to hunt them because, in past years, I have occasionally spotted them above the ice. But they’ve been staying below the surface more than I expected. I rarely see footprints like these I spotted below one of the boardwalks. I think it’s because we haven’t had many warm days. If I had to drag my tail through the snow, I’d stay in my burrow, too.

Turning snowflakes into bubbles

January 9th, 2010     4 comments     permalink


It was an ordinary snowstorm, nothing special. I ventured out to take some photographs but the snowflakes obscured everything I shot. So I played in Photoshop with what I had. Above is what I started with. Below is the end result which you might like for a temporary desktop pattern in its larger size. Cheers.

Snowflakes Become Bubbles

These Trees

December 19th, 2009     2 comments     permalink

These Trees

These Trees
They confer often, these trees
In my yard.
Summer and winter,
they whisper to each other
in their own shade
as their roots do
unimaginable things
beneath the garden bed.
It is all the more
the neighbors tell me
in hushed tones,
because they are siblings.
Oh my God.
Siblings who never left
the nest
but don’t have a cadre of cats
like that couple in
the wood pulp rag
who enshrined mom
on her bed
for years.
They had 73 but no inheritance
to feed them.

Copyright: Douglas Alden Peterson, 2009 – All Rights Reserved

The comings and goings of cranes

December 19th, 2009     1 comment     permalink

The Comings and Goings of Cranes

It snowed last night, a light dusting. I found these tracks beside the pond where I live early this morning. My immediate reaction was that a sandhill crane had visited, and I titled it as I shot it. Later, I realized the visitor was more likely a great blue heron. The sandhills were probably a thousand miles south of Michigan by now. But I’ve kept the original title. I like the way it sounds. Creating art allows me to lie.

I’m ignorant about poetic forms, structure and rhythm. I’ve forgotten what little formal instruction I had decades ago. But, like all amateurs, I know what I like when I say it:

This sounds better: The com ings / and go ings / of cranes
… than this: The com ings / and go ings / of her ons

The second choice is probably rhythmically better yet doesn’t carry the same romantic tone. Maybe it’s because herons are more common here than cranes.

Below is a second image from this morning. It’s a better composition with more striking lights and darks, but it doesn’t go with the headline so it’s playing second fiddle in this post. Click either image to see larger, better versions.


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