A Winter Wonderland

A Nor’easter visited us last Tuesday. And lasted for over 3 days.

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It stalled and dumped heavy snow that measured in feet. It downed trees and power lines. It closed schools and roads. It left a trail of destruction.

And then when the clouds finally cleared and sun shone…it also left a winter wonderland.

Words cannot describe the beauty and magic of the snow laden trees.

Their limbs bending down to kiss the earth.

Their icy branches glistening in the sun.

Birches bowing deeply over roads and trails.

Pines tall and straight coated in white frosting.

I was transported into an enchanted land. A forest of delight. A Robert Frost poem that left me in awe at the power and wonder of Mother Nature.

As I left, I said a prayer for those still without power. I raised my hand in thanks to the many utility trucks along the road. And I felt grateful for being able to experience this…

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A true winter wonderland.

Magical Places

Sometimes, as adults, we forget that the world is still magical. Just as it was when we were children. In our busy and hurried lives, we forget that magic can be found…in many places. We only have to open our eyes and hearts to it.

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Today I found magic.

There is a place. Deep in the Camels Hump State Forest.

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It’s known to the locals as the enchanted forest.

It is enchanted.

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It is quiet and peaceful.

The only sound is your breathing and the beating of your heart.

The path winds through the lush green woods.

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You marvel at the towering trees growing so straight and tall…reaching for the sun.

You can imagine there are fairies and elves living here…in the soft moss of the forest floor.

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Further on you find ancient maples. Some over 200 years old.

Still growing and thriving despite gnarled trunks and decades of harsh winters.

And then a clearing.

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A cottage. Here in the middle of nowhere. And you wonder about the people who built it. And the meaning behind the symbols on the door. And the rock arch.

A magical house in an enchanted forest.

You are captivated. Not wanting to leave.

But you do. And a little of the magic from this place leaves with you.

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My Tree

I think it’s no surprise how much I like trees. What you may not know is that every place I’ve lived I always find a tree. A special tree. A tree I visit…in all seasons…that I photograph and capture all the changes it goes through.

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A tree that provides me with something…peace or serenity. Or maybe it’s the idea of laying down roots. A metaphor for how I bond with the place I live.

When I moved here this fall it was important I find a new tree…and I did.

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It’s just a short hike up the hill behind our house. My tree is the first thing I see when I enter the meadow. It is a huge old tree…with deep roots.  It stands alone so it experiences all the harshness of the elements.  It’s a maple tree so it’s used the the changing seasons, the cold Vermont winters, and the providing…

For both people and animals.

I went to visit my tree today. We had a snowstorm yesterday. Our first real snow of the winter. A foot of fresh snow.

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There is a sense of calm I feel upon seeing it. And it’s beauty always surprises me. As well as the sheer size of it. A strong tree.

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I photograph it…trying to capture its essence…its simplicity…and its allure

I’m just getting to know my tree. But I think it’s going to develop into a lifelong relationship.

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Tree Love

I just can’t get enough of this incredible fall we are having.  My camera is working overtime. I am spending hours outside…walking, photographing, savoring…saying lots of “Ooohs and ahhhs” and “Wows”

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Words can no longer express or describe this spectacular show nature is giving us this year.

I’m not even sure my pictures do it true justice.  But the photographer in me can’t help sharing them…

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I have fallen in love again with trees. They truly are magnificent…in every season. But in the fall, they become almost magical in how they change. I am smitten!

I have witnessed numerous autumns…many just as beautiful. What makes this fall so different?

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Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps for the first time in a very long time, I am really seeing, feeling, and experiencing the world around me…

My eyes, my mind, and my heart more open…

To not just the seasons and the natural world…

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But life itself…

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The Science of Fall

This fall has been spectacular.  I truly have been in awe of the brilliance I see every day. And it makes me wonder…Why are the colors so incredibly vibrant this year?

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This year I changed my science units around. Normally I teach our life science unit in the spring when we can go to the local pond and observe life cycles up close. It’s the perfect time…

But this fall…it has been perfect for learning too.  For me and for my students.

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I love my students’ curiosity. I love their excitement about science. I love their questions and their explanations of why and how.  This is why I teach. They inspire me and I learn right alongside them. And we have fun!

This beauty of this fall has led us to want to know more. So we went in search of answers. Answers from the trees in front of our school.

We had so many questions!

Why do the leaves change color? How do they change? What’s happening?

Why do some trees change color sooner than others?  Do other trees besides maples change?

Why do the leaves die? How do they die? Why do they turn brown and crispy when they die?

Why are some leaves different colors? Why are some red, yellow, orange or a combination of colors?

So we observed the trees. And we collected leaves…lots of leaves.

We observed them…

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We made predictions about them…

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And we researched. We read. We found out about pigments. Pigments that are always there, but become uncovered as the green chlorophyll fades. Trees know that winter is coming. The shorter days, less sunshine…and they begin their process of dormancy. The leaves then fall…and without any food or water go through their own changes. Later, becoming nutrients for the new leaves in the spring.  The life cycle continues…

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This fall has been perfect. The warm sunshine during the day, the cool nights. Perfect conditions for producing this amazing display of color.

We learned so much. And we had fun!

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