The descent

frost web

Yesterday morning, I found myself drawn to the abstract geometries of frost. It was time to stop spinning stories about what I was seeing and just shoot. The descent beckoned.

[Click on photos to view larger, jpeg versions.]

coyote tracks

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buried maple branch

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leaf tracks

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blackberry cane

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yinyang

Hundreds of spam comments come into Via Negativa every day, all but a tiny fraction going straight into the virtual trashcan (i.e. my Akismet spam blocker). Sometime last night, the 100,000th spam comment arrived. I awoke to snow, and the first red-winged blackbirds of spring.

red-winged blackbird in snowstorm

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

16 Comments


  1. I never saw the bird coming. What joy!

    (By the way, I love the next-to-last picture.)

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  2. Those birds always take my breath away. Makes me want to move to Ohio. Almost.

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  3. Peter – Glad you liked.
    I never saw the bird coming.
    I didn’t either. That was going to stay on the Plummer’s Hollow blog, and the post remain completely stark, until the last moment. (Some of my best editorial decisions here have been made in the last five minutes before posting, I believe.)

    Zhoen – Just moving out of the city would do it, you know. Any place with wetlands, you should be able to see them — and hear them (I love their songs).

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  4. Glad you found a bit of spring today. I love the last pic.

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  5. Wow. Your photos are really beautiful. And like the other comments, I was especially struck by the bird. The movement and splash of red was incredible.

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  6. I love all your photos; I usually do. But the bird is a breathtaking picture. Wow!

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  7. Thanks, y’all. Reading all your comments, I’m becoming more impressed with that last photo, too! Dumb luck, of course.

    Welcome, Clare!

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  8. That first photo in paricular intrigues me. Frosty rectilinear geometry… what is it?

    And of course the red-winged blackbird shot was wonderful, as others have commented. The sort of shot which is a gift and can’t easily be obtained by effort alone.

    I once surprised a group of fledgling red-winged blackbirds lurking in the high tussocky grass near a pond. They panicked, jumped into the water and swam away quickly into the cat-tails, using their wings as fins.

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  9. Frosty rectilinear geometry… what is it?
    Lines on my window. I have no notion of the physics behind it.

    They panicked, jumped into the water and swam away quickly into the cat-tails, using their wings as fins.
    Ha! That does sound like a classic fledgling maneuver.

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  10. That bird photo is gorgeous. It amazes me how beautiful some of these beasts are, and most people don’t notice.

    I sat at a traffic light recently and watched these little sparrows come out and splash their heads and shake themselves in a muddy puddle by the side of the road. They suddenly flew back into the bushes, which is the only reason I knew the light changed.

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  11. Thanks.

    House sparrows, maybe? They’re the most common ones you see in towns and cities. We don’t have them up here, so like the blackbirds, they’re a bit of a novelty for me. I like to watch them – they’re always either fighting or screwing. Amiable street punks.

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  12. Beauties. And that last flash of red accent. Nothing dumb about dumb luck.
    Shakespeare often used sparrows as symbols of lechery. They’re getting rarer in Europe now, mostly because we’ve tidied up our houses to much, fewer nooks and crannies.

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  13. Thanks. Yeah, I’ve heard that house sparrow populations are crashing throughout Europe, exact cause unknown. Here, of course, they are an invasive of sorts, though since they don’t venture far from town, I’m not sure how much of an ecological threat they are. Lord, what I tangled web we’ve woven!

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  14. That first one looks like a Goldsworthy bent-stem piece…

    Nice sequence–great placement of the last photo, after all the cold black-blue-white. That little bit of fire in snow is just right.

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  15. Thanks, marly. I’m glad the sequence worked for you.

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  16. Amiable street punks.

    Heh. Very chatty, too. They fill the shrubs around here and make a racket. I think they are house sparrows, by my field guide.

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