Pine Tree With Snow

(Toledo, OH) Yes, I am under the influence of both the winter blues and cabin fever, but that doesn't mean that I am occasionally capable of recognizing some of the aesthetic pleasures associated with a new snowfall. The six inches of snow that fell last night in Northwest Ohio created some idyllic scenes in my backyard.

The snow-draped pine tree pictured is about 60 feet in height, but it is dwarfed by the 100-foot oak into which it is beginning to grow. Yet the clustered needles probably retain 20 to 30 times as much snow as the bare branches and trunks of the oak.

As the snow reaches a critical weight mass on the pine tree, it eventually slides off in an audible whoop, falling either harmlessly on the ground or burying any of my dogs who might be wandering nearby at the right moment.


Snow, Barn, Cold

(Ida, MI) The winter storm that passed through the area the other day created some blinding driving conditions, although the image on the left does not quite do justice to the near-blizzard like experience.

As a lifetime city dweller, I have long had an affinity for barns, which are buildings I really understand only on an intellectual level. There is something timeless and hearty about barns that draw me to them like an iron nails to a magnet. I'm not sure that I would like to relocate to the country and hang out in my own barn, but the rustic solitude of an old barn appeals to me on a visceral level, far deeper than that of system memory.

Maybe I should get a job on a farm for a week to either beat the love of barns out of me, or to appease the peasant that lurks within my soul.


Refracted Sunlight

(Toledo, OH) The alternate cycles of warmth and Arctic cold that have passed through Northwest Ohio caused a number of icicles to form on my garage, and I found the brilliant light that refracted through them to be quite mesmerizing. Even though little heat trickled my way, the reassuring rays of the sun reminded me that winter will not last forever.

That is good news, as my lower levels of activity have caused me to stay stuck at 20 pounds of extra heft, and those cheesy commercials for diet pills call out to me.

Get thee off my television set, oh pharmaceutical Satans!

Hefty Robin

(Toledo, OH) In my neighbor's tree appeared a chipper and rather well-fed robin the other day, and his song rang like a tin whistle across the crisp snow in the sub-zero temperatures. Amazingly, the bird seemed to keep his warm weather weight in spite of the apparent reduction in food choices during the winter, and cheap diet pills seem to be the least of his worries.


Snow on Trees

(Toledo, OH) Nearly 15 inches of snow have fallen in Northwest Ohio over the past six days, and some of the trees are beginning to strain under the added frozen weight. The snow also deadens outdoor sounds, and I could hear little beyond the crunching of my boots in the snow and the occasional bird chirp.

Crunch! Shweeeet! Crunch! Cheeeep!

I sometimes wonder how birds can maintain their metabolism during the winter. Between the scarcity of food and the high rate of caloric burn to produce heat, wild birds have a tough life when the leaves fall and the cold arrives, something that can never be captured on a receipt printer.


Window Frost

(Toledo, OH) I know that frost follows random patterns in its development, and yet I cannot help but try to see images when a particularly interesting patch of frost appears on a window. In this image I see seagulls in flight against a summer sky, the individual members of the flock following subtle movements of their neighbors, but the groups achieving a distinctive pattern.

Or perhaps my perception merely reflects my desire for this cold and harsh winter to end, and for balmy spring breezes to waft through my bedroom windows. That, or for the sudden appearance of Patek Philippe products to arrive via an anonymous benefactor, coupled with a winning lottery ticket.


Young Protester

(Toledo, OH) There were quite a few younger participants today in a Toledo protest against the Israeli war on Gaza. This young woman was with her parents and siblings this afternoon, braving the rain and cold to make her voice heard.

Approximately 150 people attended the rally, and the honking of passing vehicles occasionally bordered on the cacophonic.

Some folks are against the idea of parents bringing children to protests, but I have always supported this. Such participation teaches civic responsibility, and encourages young people to speak out against injustice. I once attended a protest rally with a two-year-old toddler of mine in tow.


Octagonal Building

(Detroit, MI) I found intriguing the shape of this residential Detroit building on East Warren near John R. Street. I wondered what it might be like to live in such a structure.

Then I looked down and noticed I traveled to Detroit without a memory card in my camera, making me wish that I had invested in a compact flash memory device for such moments of brainlessness. Of course, the rub here is that my own memory is the problem, but that s altogether another story.

Selling Newspapers

(Detroit, MI) The cold, snow, and fog did not deter this entrepreneur from hawking copies of the Sunday newspaper. Our subject staked out the intersection at Forest Avenue and the Lodge Freeway service drive in search of customers.

This is far from a turnkey, rubber stamp sort of business, but in tough economic times, you have to tip our cap to a guy who will try to make a buck in such a time-honored manner. In the 90 seconds or so that I saw him, he sold two copies.