The Snap

Autumn creek, Center Ossipee, NH (from 2013).

Autumn creek, Center Ossipee, NH (from 2013).

Things are still about 80 percent green here. That’s changing in a hurry, though. I took this photo when we flew out here last October, which means we’re about due for the leaves to turn. Color will sweep across the mountains—then God only knows what’ll happen in the months that follow. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts little snow in New England but bitter cold. Forecasters say El Nino will bring relative warmth but several feet of snow. Either way, I haven’t seen real winter since about 1978 in Kentucky, when ice closed school all January and we had to spend the rest of the year going to class on Saturdays to make up for it. As for 2014-15 in New Hampshire, I do not know what to expect.

The cold hangs like a spectre over everything here. Last winter’s sand collects in asphalt cracks and it dusts the sidewalks. Take a shortcut behind a cafe on your way to work, and you’ll come across three snowplow blades, stacked against each other in the shadows. When the locals tell you about the wind and the ice, they always smile and shake their heads. You feel the cold when they do that, even on the hottest, muggiest day of the year.

It was 25 °F this morning. I’m told that when the leaves get that first “snap,” they turn in a hurry. The trees are changing color in the hills behind the school—a yellow sapling here, a red branch there. Next week, they say, everything turns at once.

Red Ribbon

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Second place winner, Plants and Flowers category, Lancaster Fair, Lancaster, NH.

We went to the fair today in Lancaster. I suspect that fairs used to be a bigger deal when more people were tied to the land, even if they weren’t farming.

Still, the land is life. It was nice seeing kids leading cows around the barns, and pies winning blue ribbons.

Revolution

Ferris wheel, New Hampshire State Fair, Lancaster, NH.

Ferris wheel, New Hampshire State Fair, Lancaster, NH.

 Ferris wheels used to be much more fun. When did I get a fear of heights (and aging carnival equipment)? I’ll enjoy it from the ground.

Whirlybird

Helicopter rides ($60), New Hampshire State Fair, Lancaster, NH.

Tourist helicopter, Lancaster Fair, Lancaster, NH.

We parked fifty yards away from a helipad, where fairgoers could pay $60 for a trip above Lancaster in this chopper. It seemed airworthy enough, but helicopters above crowds make me nervous. Just as we were getting out to walk into the fair, it took off and came our way. I fumbled with my iPhone and somehow managed to get two frames as the helicopter flew over my head. I like how a tiny camera thinner than a couple of credit cards can freeze two helicopter rotors.

Open Shutter

Milky Way, ISO 3200, 18mm, f/3.5, 62"

Milky Way and Cygnus the Swan (left of center), ISO 3200, 18mm, f/3.5, 62″

Tonight was perfect—70 degrees and clear. The skies here are the darkest I’ve ever seen. Many of my images contained a satellite trail or two, including this one. If it weren’t for the streetlights across the highway, I’d be in heaven.

Andromeda and the Queen

Constellation Cassiopeia and the Andromeda Galaxy, ISO 3200, 18MM, F/3.5, 30"

Constellation Cassiopeia and the Andromeda Galaxy, ISO 3200, 18MM, F/3.5, 30″

My first image of the Andromeda Galaxy (right and below center), 2.5 million light years away. To the center left is the “W” shape of the constellation Cassiopeia.

I like this photo because it has depth. We have the house, then, the stars in Cassiopeia, dozens of light years away, then the background stars of the Milky Way thousands of light years behind them. Then, farthest of all, Andromeda.

Rails

Railroad tracks and Dublin Street, Gorham, NH.

Railroad tracks and Dublin Street, Gorham, NH.

These tracks aren’t that close to our house. Maybe a quarter mile, maybe a little less. The train that uses it still manages to shake the house when it passes by, usually around 2 a.m.

Questions:

1) Where is this train coming from?

2) Where is it going in such a damn hurry?

3) What is it carrying?

4) Why does the dude need to lay on the horn as he’s going through town? Does no one already hear the thundering death train approaching? Does no one notice their house swaying already?

Les Fleurs

IMG_0004IMG_0003This is a pretty marginal photo, as photos go, but it’s the first one taken with my new Canon DSLR, which I’ll be using for astrophotography.

I could go on and on about the stars being the flowers of the sky, or something, but that would be stupid.