Weekend nature walk: The photo compilation

There are three things I can list as my favorite activities: creating art, reading good books and being in nature. It is best when I can combine two of the three. A few weekends ago I did just that. My husband and I were able get out early in the morning while our nearby walking trail was empty and the animals were most active. Or at least had not been scared away. The morning was crisp and the day was sure to heat up to around 80 degrees. We took advantage of the fantastic golden light and walked the paths.

Looking back, I’m glad we took so many photos because they are bringing me happiness given that Ohio’s current skies look like this:

Gray Skies with Ash tree by Cortney North

Not great! This is the Ash tree outside my studio window. Sadly the emerald ash borer has already begun its pillaging of the tree, but, for now, this limb appears healthy.


Dogwood tree blossoms by Cortney North

One of the first jewels of our walk was finding this flowering dogwood tree highlighted in the early morning sun. Flowering trees are among my ‘favorites’ of Spring. I think it is due to the cleanliness of the trees after the flowers are complete. I enjoy the bulb-based flowers, but their foliage dries up in an unattractive heap and I’ve never enjoyed that stage.


Dogwood tree blossoms up close by Cortney North

Trees such as this dogwood will drop their petals as though they are confetti. When tulips can have leaves that dry up like confetti I’ll plant them all over my yard! (Well, future yard since I live in an apartment.)


Domestic ducks in a pond by Cortney North

Across from the dogwood tree were the friendly domestic ducks who are always on the search for a hand out. They get a lot of food plus the natural, likely more nutritious, offerings nature provides around their pond. It seems they are getting older because originally there were five ducks swimming the pond until the population decreased to three ducks last summer. At some point during the winter the number dropped to two.

I have decided in my mind that a veterinarian has been peacefully helping the ducks move on to their next ‘adventure in the sky’ instead of the other option of predation. Some things are worth believing for the sake of happiness.


Willow tree by a pond by Cortney North

Willow trees have a fairy tale quality to me. I have no childhood memories of willow trees, so I must have read books and seen illustrations with their depictions. My husband is not a fan of the weeping willow, but they make me think of the English countryside, rolling hills and sitting under its shade while reading a book. There is a bench on the other side of this particular pond, which is close to a second willow tree. I might be able to make the fairy tale a reality. It would be my Ohio version with no rolling hills – close enough!

Green Grass with water droplets by Cortney North

Does this photo make you think of the movie “Honey, I shrunk the kids?” It was an annual tradition to watch it at my summer camp. We visited Busch Gardens in Tampa one year and I loved the play area designed with this in mind. This up-close photograph of the blades and dew drops turns into an abstracted scene for me. Bold colors, high contrast and great composition – lovely!


Wood ducks in a forest pond by Cortney North

Long ago I made a promise to myself: before I moved from the state of Ohio, I needed to see 3 specific birds. Wood ducks were at the top of my list and have been the longest to elude me. Can you spot all three males in the above photo?

They are shy birds. This photo was the best I took with the zoom at the highest level. As soon as they spotted us, they moved to the other side of the pond and scurried under low-hanging bushes. Wood ducks nest is hollowed out trees (in the woods next to water – not easy to find!) and this swampy pond has lots of trees available for that purpose. They are just stunning!

Oh, and the other two types of birds on my list were Indigo buntings and Cedar Waxwings. Days after creating my list, indigo buntings zoomed in front of me while riding my bike on a farm-dotted trail. The waxwings like to spend time in a maple tree outside our living room window so that one almost felt like cheating.


Fiddlehead Fern photo by Cortney North

Ferns are my favorite shrub because of their prehistoric appearance. I love the fiddleheads and the overall architecture of the plant. I’ve found they are one of the best plants to photograph – natural lines and repetition.


Manacured gardens and grass by Cortney North

Our path contains manicured, precise lawns and gardens on one side and natural forest on the other. I enjoy the contrast of wild vs organized.


Chive plant and flowers by Cortney North

Yum – the chives are growing and ready to be placed on a delicious baked potato! I took this photo for the colors. The chive plant set against the blue sky reminds me of the classic spring colors. I also greatly enjoy the flower balls that are likely fully open by now. They remind me of ball lamps from the ’60’s and ’70’s.

I just glanced outside the studio window and that poor ash tree is still in the foreground of a very gray sky. I think I’ll choose to look at these light-filled photos for a little longer!

Hint for the wood duck photo: The third bird is located near the bank on the right side of the photo. His eye is obscured by a twig.