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Posts Tagged ‘Meeting of the Waters’

Today’s guest pictures (there are two of them) show that snow was spread from London to Edinburgh today.  They come from our son Tony in Edinburgh and our daughter Annie in London.

Edinburgh snow

Edinburgh at 8am

London snow

London at 9 am.

And to fill up the sandwich, here is Langholm at midday.

John Street in snow

In the end, we got more snow than either Edinburgh or London and rather surprisingly finished up with 6 inches by the afternoon.

It snowed on and off all day.

WARNING FOR BUSY PEOPLE:  There are far too many pictures in today’s post so just take note of the snow and get on with your life.

I had to put on the full set of waterproof clothes and boots to go up to the town for a cup of tea and a meeting with a mover and shaker on a possible call for the Archive Group to be involved in an arts project.  It is all very much up in the air at the moment but the mover and shaker is very articulate and persuasive so funds may appear and the thing take off.  It sounds quite exciting.

On my way home, I went over the Langholm bridge but it was snowing hard enough to spoil the view.  I noticed that it was cold enough to have ice forming on the river’s edge.

meeting of the waters

We used to have more snow I think,when we first came to the town forty years ago and looking in the records, I see that the last serious snow fall here was in January 2016 and the one previous to that was quite late in the spring of 2013 so today’s minor blizzard was a bit of a novelty.

I spent a lot of the day watching birds.  Mrs Tootlepedal kept an eye out too and noticed a single brambling while I was out.  She took a shot on her camera and as there were a lot of other birds about, I have tinkered with her picture to pick out the brambling.

brambling

The brambling is on the right of the picture.  The rest are chaffinches.

She also saw a lot of starlings and unlike the brambling which didn’t come back, they returned.

starlingsstarling

We also had a visit from a song thrush, a very rare visitor to our garden. It sat on the plum tree for a while, assessing the situation and then…

song thrush

….returned to try out the feeder.

song thrush

Sadly it couldn’t get organised to grip the perch in such a way as to get its beak into the seed opening so it perched on the feeder pole for a while…

song thrush

…and then went off sulking.

All through the day there was always a small crowd of chaffinches under the feeder…

chaffinches in snow

…as well as a flock in the plum tree…

plum tree with chaffinches

…and a usually a whirlwind round the feeders themselves.

busy feeder

We could count thirty or forty birds at a time.  The odd goldfinch turned up too…

goldfinch

…but it was mostly a chaffinch day.

On the ground what looked like a dropped glove….

blackbird in snow

turned out to be a blackbird which was digging for buried food.

And a small black blob turned out to be a robin, perfectly spherical to beat the chill.

robin

A dunnock shrugged its shoulders against the wind.

dunnock

And the blackbird found a better placed food block on the chimney pot.

blackbird

Sometimes birds seem to be a stupid as people and in spite of there being several empty perches, this chaffinch thought it best to gratuitously stamp on another one.

battling chaffinches

I hope it gave itself a sore toe.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal decided that a walk down to the Co-op would be a good excuse for taking a little exercise and as it had actually stopped snowing, we got well covered up and went off.

I took a camera of course.

Langholm bridge and trees

When we had done a little shopping, Mrs Tootlepedal headed for home and I walked on to Skippers Bridge in the hope of some winter wonderland pics.

I was quite glad of the exercise, which was strenuous not least because when they plough the roads to get the snow off, they just push it onto the footpath and this makes for smooth running for vehicles and heavy going for elderly pedestrians.

A7 in snow

As I walked, the snow got heavier and heavier and this put paid to any picturesque shots of Skippers Bridge…

skippers bridge in snow

…so I settled for a close up of catkins among the snow as I walked back on the other bank of the river.

snow and catkins

The snow eased off and I followed these two walkers up to the Stubholm…

Stubholm track

…and then went back home by way of a diversion along Gaskell’s Walk from which I got this view of a snowy Eskdaill  Street.

Eskdaill Street in snow

I had to be careful not to knock the bushes beside the path…

snow

…but I enjoyed looking across at the snowy trees at Pool Corner.

Pool Corner with snow

On my way along the road from the Auld Stane Bridge, I passed a scientific snow depth measuring device….

snow on fence post

…and an ice covered pool at Pool Corner.

Pool Corner iced over

The temperature stayed around 1 degree all day today and it is to be colder tomorrow so with a bit of luck, we will have avoided the icy conditions that come with thaw and freeze.  Still, if need be, I have an old pair of Yaktrax which can be called into service.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hoping to go to the Buccleuch Centre in the evening to watch a ballet performance of The Winter’s Tale but sadly and with dramatic irony, the Winter’s Tale was cancelled by real winter conditions and the Buccleuch Centre was forced to stay shut.

There are warnings of more snow tomorrow so we will just have to wait and see.  If there is more snow, I hope it comes with some sunny spells to keep a snapper happy.

Today’s flying bird is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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The last of my current set of guest pictures  (hint, hint) is a rather unorthodox setting for a Monteverdi concert that my sister Susan attended.

concert venue

Well, part of my wishes came true today and we had a day of almost uninterrupted sunshine.  Sadly, but predictably, the sunshine came with early frost and it was quite chilly all day.

On the plus side, after breakfast, I saw a man shinning up a telephone pole outside our house and before we knew it, our phone was back working.  Since it turned out that it was one of his fellow workers who had left a wire unconnected (“easily done,” the man said) when working up the pole while we were away, I felt that he could have been a bit more apologetic about the whole affair but as far as he was concerned, it was job done and off to the next one.

Still, our phone works so we are happy.  Now we can get back to receiving calls from crooks who want to sell us PPI deals or interfere with our computer’s operating system.  It has been hard to go without offers of a ‘green deal’ for so many days.

As well as our phone, there was a welcome return of some birds to the feeder.

busy feeder

There was even some queuing going on.

_DSC0883

I was pleased to see siskins back as well as goldfinches…

siskins

…and I liked the rather lordly air with which this one was waiting for someone to get out of his way.

stately siskin

Pigeons approached on foot, looking very serious….

pigeon

…while a goldfinch regarded an empty perch with suspicion….

flying goldfinch

…and a blackbird didn’t take to being photographed at all kindly.

blackbird

By noon, the temperature had crept up to 4°C and all danger of icy patches on the road had receded so I wrapped up warmly, got the fairly speedy bike out, lubricated the chain and set off to see what use I could make of a fine day.

As long as I didn’t try to go too fast, things went well and I pedalled over the top of Callister and down into the flat country beyond.

Quite often, you can see blue sky and be under cloud but today for a change, I could see plenty of clouds….

between the waters

…but I spent three hours under blue skies.

It was grand day for cycling….

tree between the waters

….with interesting trees and quiet roads.

Springkell

The camera club theme for the next meeting is ‘selfies’.  This might be my effort.

cycle selfie

As I passed the relatively new wind farm at Gretna, where the turbines were only just turning …

Longtown windmills

…I could see the even newer wind farm at Longtown in the background.

I stopped to eat a banana near Springfield and fell into conversation with an old chap who was touring on his electric bike.  He told me that he had done five and half thousand miles in the last eighteen months and was very grateful to be able to keep going in spite of having diabetes.

I am keeping the possibility of an electric bike very much in the forefront of my mind for when the time comes that I will need one.

I was hoping that I might be able to do 40 miles on such a fine day but my legs and chest had other opinions and I found myself crossing the bridge in Langholm…

meeting of the waters

…after 35 miles.  That was still a good deal better than I have managed lately so I was grateful for the very light wind which made it a pleasure to be out.

In the garden, the snowdrops are beginning to show….

snowdrop

… early daffodils are looking promising…

daff

…and there were signs that Mrs Tootlepedal had done some gardening while I was out.  The lawn re-shaping is part of her 2018 garden scheme.

lawn imptovements

When I got in, I had a shower and then I added another Parish Magazine which Sandy had scanned and edited to the Archive Group website.  Now the two of us are working on the project, we should get a lot done.

After another portion of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pork chop with parsnips, apples and cider for tea, I left her to watch an interesting gardening programme and went along to the Buccleuch Centre to listen to The Outside Track.

The Outside Track are three Scots, an Irish girl and a Canadian from Cape Breton. They were described in the brochure as a stunning synthesis of virtuosity and energy with a love of traditional music and commitment to creating new music on its foundations.

That all seemed pretty fair when I listened to them.

I enjoyed the evening thoroughly, particularly the work of Ailie Robertson from Edinburgh on the Clarsach.  Anyone interested can hear them here  but they were a lot more punchy live.

Considering that there was a disappointingly small audience, they played with plenty of zest and were polite enough to give us encore too.

I did find a flying bird today, a female chaffinch intent on some seed.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture from Irving, taken earlier on,  shows the Black Esk reservoir, the source of our drinking water these days.

Black esk

After yesterday’s crisp and sunny weather, we could hardly have had a more different day today.  It was soggy, grey, cloudy and cold…

…but there were compensations.

snowy garden 2017

The view from an upstairs window in the morning

snowy garden 2017

Untrodden snow on the drive

It was a winter wonderland.  Or at least, it would have been a winter wonderland if there hadn’t been a persistent damp drizzle and if the clouds had lifted to reveal the hills.  As it was, it was somewhat of a damp squib of a day.

The birds really appreciated the feeder and there were dozens on the ground, on the feeder, on the plum tree and even more waiting off stage on the walnut tree.

snowy birds

Some birds seemed quite happy as more snow fell…

chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin

…but some just couldn’t contain their impatience.

chaffinches

I got out a shovel and cleared a path along the drive and some of the pavement outside the house and then after a look around…

snowy garden 2017

…went back in.

The day took a turn for the better when Dropscone came round with some traditional Friday treacle scones and my coffee blend worked out well.

We caught up on Dropscone’s golfing adventures and his family news and then he walked off through the snow again.

It had stopped snowing by this time so I thought that I ought to take a bit of exercise.  I strapped the Yaktrax to my wellies and set out to see where my fancy would take me.

It took me past the church…..

parish church snow

…with its details neatly picked out by the snow.

Then I passed the Meeting of the Waters, presenting a marked contrast to the sunny scene when we were here feeding ducks with Matilda a couple of days ago.

meeting of the waters snow

There was no golden winter light today and a rather ghostly scene appeared when I looked at the trees across the Castleholm.

snowy trees

Individual trees had been picked out by the falling snowflakes.

snowy trees

I met a jogger on the Lodge Walks.  She was running rather gingerly on the icy surface but remarked as she passed that the conditions on the track to Potholm further back had been more comfortable.

My fancy turned to the track to Potholm.

It would mean a five and a half mile walk in total but the lure of snowy scenes and good conditions underfoot led me on and I pushed ahead, ringing Mrs Tootlepedal first to stop her worrying about a longer absence than was expected.

The decision turned out to be a good one.

There were plenty of snowy scenes.

View of Potholm from Langfauld

And excellent walking on the track through the Langfauld wood.

Langfauld

The bridge at Potholm marked the furthest point of my walk.

Potholm Bridge

I met a second jogger coming towards me on the road from Potholm.

jogger on Potholm road in snow

The scene was white enough to make a sheep look quite grey by comparison.

sheep in snow

The snow and the grey sky made a good backdrop for this tree at the Breckonwrae.

tree in snow

And I finished up taking the same shot a the end of my walk as I had taken at the start of our walk yesterday.

Today:

langholm in snow

Yesterday:

View from Scott's Knowe

Both walks had been really enjoyable.

I got back in time to have a very late lunch and enjoy a robin in the snow….

robin in snow

…and a couple of the many blackbirds scavenging under the feeder.

blackbirds

Because the weather was expected to be rather inhospitable later in the evening, Mike and Alison came round for the usual Friday evening visit in the afternoon.  Alison and I enjoyed playing pieces by Rameau, Loeillet and Woodcock and then we sat down with Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal to a cup of tea, some excellent home made (by Alison) mince pies and a few ginger biscuits to dunk in the tea.  It was a good way to round off the Christmas holidays.

Now we are preparing for the New Year.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch once again.  They are very reliable birds if you don’t have a lot of time to look out of the window..

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is an owl spotted by Dropscone on his recent visit to Kent.  It was keeping an eye on things near a graveyard.

owl

We had another cold, grey and wet morning today with added icy patches so I was very happy to find things to do in the house.  The  ground is still rock solid and the rain was producing fine puddles on the lawn.

lawn puddle

Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and our neighbour Liz dropped in to recover with another cup of coffee from the shock of finding her drains blocked with water all over the kitchen floor.  Luckily, a plumber soon arrived and unblocked the pipe.

What with the visitors and the crossword (done to an accompaniment of Miff Mole and his Molers), the morning passed more pleasantly than it deserved.

It was soggy outside…..

goldfinch and siskin

…and the light was absolutely rotten so flying birds were out of the question.  The blackbirds were very much in evidence again…

blackbirds

…with the apples continuing to attract customers. I rarely looked out of the window and saw less than four blackbirds round the feeder and often as many as seven or eight.

Other birds dropped in too.

pigeon and dove

Finally, the weather took a turn for the better and the rain stopped.

chaffinch and goldfinch

I had to wait for the bread machine to deliver the dough for a batch of rolls before I could get out for a walk though and by that time, the light had begun to fade.

There was a hint of blue sky….

blue sky

…but the low and misty cloud that you can see in the picture above, persisted and it made sure that no sun came out to warm me on my way.

A glimpse of Mr Grumpy cheered me up…

heron

…and I enjoyed the duck in the foreground pretending to swim but sensibly keeping himself just out of the water by standing on a rock.

mallard

A goosander was quite happy to swim away as I came past.

goosander

It was still pretty chilly out but all traces of frost and snow had gone…

Meeting of the Waters

…and the morning’s ice had gone too, leaving me with a remarkably pleasant walk for a dull, cold day.

I passed the disused church on the Lodge Walks, reflecting that in its early life as a church for visitor’s to the Duke’s summer lodge, the ministers must have been chosen for their ability to play cricket as the first two appeared regularly on the pitch for Langholm Cricket Club matches.

Tin church

A flock of sheep found me interesting as I walked past them…

sheep and tree

The ram had his harness on.  It carries a block of paint which marks the ewes so that the shepherd knows which ones have had the benefit of his attention.

sheep and ram

As they were all facing me, I couldn’t tell if he had been doing his duty.

I was interested to see several protective cages with canes marked in red in them.

P1060033

These are an indication that replacements for the felled trees along the Lodge walks will soon be in place.

As always, there was lichen to look at.

lichen

And fungus too.

P1060035

Both of those were on the felled trees that are going to be replaced.

The light was fading fast so I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

P1060037

…and made my way home.

I met Mrs Tootlepedal, out on an errand, just as I reached Mike and Alison’s house and we dropped in to see if they would like to come round for scones and music tomorrow afternoon as we are busy in the evening.

This was agreed and while we there, we were entertained with nice cup of tea and several topless tarts.  (These were mince pies, which owing to a miscalculation of the available pastry, had been made without lids.  They were still delicious.)

As we left, I took a picture of this beautiful orchid on their kitchen windowsill.

P1060041

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we had a most enjoyable time.   The icing on the cake was seeing a shooting star flashing across the sky as we drove home.  A little research told me that this was one of the Geminids.

When I got back into the house, I went upstairs for a look out of the window. The sky was brilliantly clear thanks to the lack of any moon and Mrs Tootlepedal and I could see the Milky Way behind the usual constellations with the naked eye, a very rare thing for us.  Although we waited for a while, we didn’t see a shooting star.  The internet tells me that 2am will be the best time. That may be a bit late for me.

Owing to the poor light, no flying bird of the day today and owing to laziness, no inferior substitute either.

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Today’s guest picture is another antidote to gloom and comes from my sister Mary’s visit to Bath last month.

Bath October 2017 011

After breakfast, I took it easy in an attempt to recover from all the jollifications of my birthday while Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to Longtown to get her eyes tested.

She was very fortunate to get back to Langholm just before the main road was completely closed to allow the recovery of a large vehicle which had slid off the road just to the south of Skippers Bridge last night in the heavy rain.

I watched a few birds while she was out.  The feeder was busy….

busy feeder

…but the gloomy morning made it easier to catch birds when they were standing still.

chaffinch

A chaffinch samples the sunflower seed…

 

blue tit

…while a blue tit examines the mixed seed.

greenfinch

The elegant back of a greenfinch..

pigeon

…and a pigeon shows off its pink feet.

robin

A robin obligingly gave me the full range of poses.

The early rained eased off so I took the opportunity to go for a short walk.

In spite of continuing rain, the river had dropped a bit more and the turtle was back on dry land.

TURTLE

As I looked down on the upstream side of the town bridge, I could see why the spot is called the meeting of the waters.

Meeting of the waters

The Ewes and the Esk were flowing with very different colours.

Meeting of the waters

It always surprises me that the rivers don’t mix more quickly when they meet.   Some knowledgeable reader may be able to tell me if the temperature of the water or the speed of the flow has anything to do with it.  At first sight I would expect the rivers to intermingle as soon as they collide.

I crossed the Ewes by the sawmill Bridge and walked up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge walks

Although the scene is pretty wintery now, there are touches of colour about.

beech tree in November

And plenty of moments of reflection too.

puddle

I was pleased to see a scrap of blue sky above the hills.

Timpen

I crossed the Duchess Bridge on my way home and passed a dripping catkin and another little bunch of leaves hanging on.

catkin and leaves

When i got home, I looked over the hedge from the road into the garden.  Although all the flowers have gone, the neat hedges and box balls still give the garden an ordered look which is pleasing to the eye.

garden in November

After lunch, we took our courage in our hands and set off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  There had been talk of floods and/or snow but in the end, we had quite a pleasant drive over to Lockerbie and the train arrived only a little late due to speed restrictions because the the bad weather further south.

We arrived safely in Edinburgh and had a very good time playing with Matilda.  She, with a little help from her parents, had prepared me and Mrs Tootlepedal, whose birthday is very soon, a fine chocolate birthday cake….

P1050564

…which tasted even better than it looked.

The cake rounded off an excellent evening meal so we arrived back at Waverley Station in a very cheerful frame of mind.  Our good cheer was slightly moderated by finding that our train was running late due to floods in the south and that we would be sharing it with the passengers of an earlier train which had been cancelled.

There seemed to be huge numbers waiting on the platform for our train to arrive but in the end, we all fitted in very comfortably and since the train made up a little time on its way, we arrived at Lockerbie not long after our scheduled time.

After the satisfactory journey, our cheer factor had once again been raised but it fell back with a thud as we arrived at the car to find snow on the windscreen and the thermometer registering -1C.  It fell even more when we met fog soon after leaving Lockerbie.

However, the fog soon cleared, the roads were free of ice and the only snow we passed was politely sitting by the sides of the road as we went over Callister so the drive home was far less alarming than we had feared.

Once again, we have been lucky with bad weather. Others to the north and the south of us have fared worse.  And of course, Matilda’s smile would brighten any day up.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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In the absence of a genuine guest picture of the day, Mrs Tootlepedal’s current sampler modestly takes the stage to head up today’s post.

embroidery

We had the best day for what seems like months for cycling today.  Temperatures were safely above freezing, winds were light and several rays of sunshine were to be seen.  What was to stop me getting out on the bike and having fun?  Quite a lot, as it happened.

The morning was spent in the Information Hub not giving information to anyone because no one came into to ask for it, the afternoon was spent playing trios with Mike and Isabel and I might have got out after that but I had to wait in for a call from the Archive Group power provider.  It never came.

There have been so few good days that it was really unfortunate that one should come along when my diary was full.  Still, Dropscone dropped in to help while away the time while I was not giving tourists information, the afternoon playing was really enjoyable and I managed to sneak out for a walk after the phone call didn’t come so I had  a good day in spite of everything.

I had time to look out of the window before I went up to the High Street after breakfast.  I was rewarded by two less familiar birds popping in.  A brambling perched in the plum tree…

brambling

…and a dunnock looked at the coconut on the bench.

dunnock

When I got back at lunchtime, the sun was out and so was Mrs Tootlepeda.  She was busy in the garden so  I picked up a fork and shifted a lot of the compost from Bin A into Bin B.  This was just in time, because Mrs Tootlepedal’s tidying up is producing a great deal of material to go into Bin A the moment it is emptied.

I did take a moment to enjoy one of the early crocuses which had opened up as soon as the sun hit it.

crocuses

As you can see, the crocuses are carrying the memory of yesterday’s rain and the snowdrops are looking rather battered too when you get close to them.

snowdrops

The sun was shining brightly and at this time of year and at this time of day, bright sunshine is a mixed blessing for the flying bird fancier.

flying chaffinches

The heads of the birds always seemed to find a bit of shadow and the wings always caught the brightest sunshine and burned out…

flying chaffinches

…no matter how often I tried.  Perching birds were easier.

siskin

After lunch, I went off to play trios and we interspersed the playing with a little political discussion to give me a chance to get a breather every now and again. Music and politics…  what could be more fun?

When I got home, I pitched a little more compost about and I should be able to finish the job tomorrow, weather permitting.

More crocuses had come out in the sun…

crocuses

…and a solitary winter aconite had appeared as well.

winter aconite

As well as new growth, I enjoyed this skeleton from last year.

poppy head

Once I was certain that the power company wasn’t going to honour their commitment to get back to me within a certain time, I went out for a short walk. The sun was going to rest after a days hard work.

I walked along the river….

George Street

..which was already in shadow.  Two oyster catchers were standing on the stony shore beside the flowing waters.

oyster catchers

I walked over the Town Bridge and along to the Meeting of the Waters…

meeting of the waters

…happy enough to be strolling along without the need for hat and gloves for once.

Mr Grumpy was supervising the ducks on the Kilngreen.

heron

A duck and an oyster catcher flew past me….

duck amd oyster catcher

…but Mr Grumpy was unmoved.

heron

I walked on round the new path on the Castleholm and across the Jubilee Bridge.  There was a schools football match going on as I went round the artificial pitch on the Scholars’ Field, a good sign that the days are getting long enough now for normal life to resume after the winter.

My flute pupil Luke came in the evening and we enjoyed a thorough work out.  He continues to improve every week. This very satisfactory.

The flying bird of the day is the one chaffinch that just kept its head out of the shadows.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her mother, shows Maisie enjoying a healthy breakfast.

maisie at breakfast

I am posting this early in the day to avoid the evening internet slowdown.   While Maisie has just enjoyed mid summer day in New Zealand, we have had another miserable, wet and windy day here.  As far as cycling goes, I have lost the will to live in this weather.  As Dropscone said when he came round for coffee this morning, perhaps it is better just to wipe December from the mind and look forward to a sparkling new year in January.  We can always dream.

Once again, it was too gloomy to get the camera out….

wet feeder

…though I did try a shot or two.  The birds seemed quite cheerful.

busy feeder in rain

Mrs Tootlepedal’s grouting is finished….

bathroom tiles

…and regular readers will notice that she has made good use of five left over tiles from the cooker tiling.  I count myself very lucky to live with someone to whom DIY is second nature.

It stopped raining after lunch and I strolled up to the High Street to do a little Christmas shopping.   The river was rising steadily but it was not as high as I thought it might be considering how much it has rained recently.

The meeting of the waters

The meeting of the Esk and the Ewes

The rivers look surprisingly calm in this view from the town bridge and this is because the bridge itself acts as a dam….

Langholm Bridge

…with the water level a lot higher upstream than down.

Two of my sisters and my stepmother are coming to visit us tomorrow and we are keeping our fingers crossed that their train will be able to run on schedule in spite of dire warnings of travel disruption owing to gales and floods.

I realised on looking over my pictures that I had missed a fine fungus shot from my sunny walk yesterday so in the absence of anything bright today, here it is.

tree stump with fungus

A fine collection of moss, fungus and lichen

The counterpoint to that was this picture which was a true reflection of the weather.

puddle

The attempt at a flying bird was pointless.

flying birds

 

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