Tree, 154 Years Later

July 22, 2017

BW photograph of an old tree stump near Devil's Den in Gettysburg.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The remains of this tree are quite near Devil’s Den, which was the site of ferocious fighting during the Battle at Gettysburg.

I wonder what it looked like in June of 1863.  Perhaps it had not as yet taken root-I did not think to check the tree rings…

Take care.

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Sycamore Trees

July 20, 2017

BW photograph of a large piece of sycamore bark up close.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Sycamore trees have always been one of my favourites.  My childhood through young adult developmental stages were lived in houses graced with significantly sized sycamore trees and much time was spent playing with the bark.  I distinctly remember very carefully colouring on some larger pieces-taking great care not to break it into smaller pieces by applying too much pressure.  The bark is, after all, quite brittle.

BW photograph of fallen sycamore tree bark.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is surprising then, that I never really thought about the reasons why the sycamore so readily sheds its bark.  The photographs here were made yesterday, and there was an extraordinary amount of sycamore bark laying about. Enough so that it piqued my interest.

BW photogarph of pine bark up close.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It most certainly appeared that no other species of tree in the area displayed that characteristic.  However, having begun to read The Hidden Lives of Trees:  What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben, I did exactly as the author suggests early in the text-begin to ask questions about the trees encountered.  The one of most immediate interest?  For what reasons was there so much discarded sycamore bark?

Mr. Wohlleben does not directly discuss sycamores,  so I did a search and came up with this explanation.  As of that article’s publication in 2004, there were several theories (with the understanding that a theory is a plausible explanation for observed phenomena) but as yet no clear answer to the question.  Mr. Wohlleben does discuss the importance of photosynthesis in detail, with particular emphasis on the manner by which some trees develop a sense of community around that function.

It is highly recommended that Mr. Wohlleben’s book be given a read.  There was much previously unknown to me regarding the book’s sub-title.  More questions will certainly follow, and I am looking forward to finding some answers; and if not answers, then at least some theories.  Good stuff to have when practicing shinrin yoku.

Finally, on a day when the heat index is around 104-105, the shade provided by sycamores would be most welcome.

Take care.

Antietam

July 19, 2017

BW photograph of a Civil War era flag at Antietam.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Gettysburg may have been the apex of the Civil War, but the Battle at Antietam was the costliest with regard to the human toll suffered on both sides in a single day’s fighting.

BW photograph of a cannon on the Antietam Battlefield.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Some of this was due to the evolution of the weaponry and the lack of sophistication of the battle tactics employed-  writer Shelby Foote emphasizes this point in The Civil War.

BW photograph of the Cornfield at the Antietam Battlefield.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The topography of the battlefield also played a significant role.  The first part of the battle was fought across a cornfield…

BW photograph of the door to the Dunker Chapel, which was a centerpiece of the battle at Antietam.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

close to where the Confederates had camped, which was quite near the Dunker Church.  The Dunkers were pacifists-please use the link to read more.

BW photograph of Bloody Lane at the Anitetam Battlefield.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Above is a photograph of the sunken road that came to be known as Bloody Lane, which formed the second part of the battle.

BW photograph of Burnside Bridge at the Antietam Battlefield-this is from the Union side.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What is now named Burnside Bridge was the area of the third, and final, battle fought at Antietam.  This view looks across Antietam Creek toward the South’s lines.

BW photograph of Burnside Bridge at the Antietam Battlefield-the Union soldiers crossed in the direction heading toward the hill in the background.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The Union soldiers had to cross the bridge and attack up the hill, which is in the background.

BW photograph of the Confederate position at Burnside Bridge.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The Confederate soldiers held the high ground; therefore, they had the advantage of being able to fire down upon the attacking Union soldiers, who in turn had to cross the bridge and then fight uphill.  Burnside Bridge is in the background.  Weapons, topography, and tactics.  To which the internalized sense of duty of the soldiers on both sides must be added-that is what makes such a battle possible.

BW photograph of a grave at the Antietam National Cemetery-the soldier was from Wisconsin.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a grave at the Antietam National Cemetery-the soldier was from Maine.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a grave at the Antietam National Cemetery-the soldier was from Rhode Island.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Many of the soldiers who fought there, came from quite a distance.

BW photograph of a grave at the Antietam National Cemetery-the soldier was from West Virginia.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Others, from not as far.  These gravestones are from the Antietam National Cemetery.

Over 23,000 were killed, wounded, or went missing in that single day.

“All war is hell”, and variations on that theme, is a quote attributed to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Take care.

BW photograph of Devil's Den at Gettysburg.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This year marked the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, which was fought July 1-3, 1863.  Yesterday morning, I circumnavigated the area encompassed on the second day of the battle.  This walk included the Round Tops, Devil’s Den, the Wheat Field, and a view of the Peach Orchard.  It was still cool, yet the sun was warm and bright in the early morn (a bit before 7:00) when the trek began.   A century-and-a-half ago, it was quite hot on July 2nd when the fighting started around 4:00 in the afternoon.

BW photograph of a rail fence in the early morn at Gettysburg.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a rail fence near the Wheat Field in Gettysburg.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a boulder and some leaves near Little Round Top in Gettysburg.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Episode Five, “The Universe of Battle”, from Ken Burns’ The Civil War, discusses Gettysburg.  By the end of the day on July 3rd, the Union and Confederate armies together had sustained a total of 51,000 casualties:  23,000 for the North and 28,000 for the South.  That is around one-third of all the men who participated in the fighting.  Despite that amount of carnage, this battle, while pivotal, did not end the Civil War.  In fact, the battles worsened.

BW photograph overlooking the battlefield from Little Round Top at Gettysburg.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There is an aura of solemnity that envelopes when visiting Gettysburg.  When standing on the high ground, which was occupied by the Union soldiers, and looking out and down over the area crossed and climbed by the Confederate soldiers, it is possible to visualize the fighting as the battle raged-who did what, where, and when.  It is much more difficult to imagine what it was like to be fighting there.  One of the great values of Mr. Burns’ documentary is hearing the words of those who did.

Take care.

 

 

Heliophysics

July 5, 2017

BW photograph of buildings and a water tower.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

On August 21, 2017 there will be an approximately 70-mile-wide band of the U.S. that extends from Oregon across to South Carolina, which will experience a total solar eclipse.  This discussion from NPR’s 1A is definitely worth a listen as the guests discuss the particulars-including the important, specific, instructions for the viewing of this event.  One would really not like to literally fry one’s eyes, right?

BW photograph of palettes against a brick wall.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

“Heliophysics” is the term used for the study of the interaction between the sun and space, as described here.  Understanding and paying attention to the effect of light is the absolute essence of photography.  Without the direct light of the sun, the above two photographs would be much less interesting.  The strong highlights and deep shadows are what provide the sense of texture and depth to the images.  Were this an overcast day, or even a different time on the same day, these photographs would not have been able to be produced in this form without the use of artificial light.

BW photograph of a bulldog sunning itself in a window.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Such conditions also produce the perfect time for a nap.

Take care.

Road Trip

July 2, 2017

BW photograph of Big Four Mountain through a stand of trees.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

While it is a tired, clichéd, saying, it is nonetheless a truism:  Americans have a love affair with cars and road trips.  (July 4th is right around the corner, and there is perhaps no greater symbol of the American sense of independence than the automobile.  Just prior to her death at age 99+, I asked my grandmother to identify the single greatest achievement that occurred in her lifetime, and she said the invention of the car.  It is important to note that she was alive for the moon landing in 1969.)  Kerouac’s On the Road is a classic read, and Route 66 was a popular television show in the 60s.  Toward the end of June, I had the opportunity for a drive along the Mountain Highway in Washington state.  All told, we were on the road for about 10 hours and covered a bit more than 300 miles that day-most of it while looking at multiple-thousands-of-foot peaks.  The above photograph was made while approaching Big Four Mountain.

 

BW photograph looking downstream at water running next to the Mountain Highway.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

All along the Mountain Highway, the sound of running water could be heard.  It was just a simple matter of pulling off the road and taking a scramble among the rocks to get closer.

BW photograph looking across the running water at a debris pile next to the Mountain Highway.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is a more direct view of the debris field to the left in the previous photograph.  Given the amount of snow in the mountains the previous winter, there was quite a bit to melt and feed these waterways.

BW photograph of running water amid rocks next to the Mountain Highway.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The torrents were impressive-what a lovely sound they produced.

BW photograph of part of the North Cascades as seen through some trees.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Having taken the Mountain Highway into Darrington, WA, we then turned and headed for the North Cascades.  The photograph above is from a walk near the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center.

BW photograph of a run-off waterfall at Diablo Lake in the North Cascades.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This run-off waterfall created its own micro-climate, which was quite welcome as it was in the 90s that day.  A temperature like that seems to be very unusual for that part of the country in June.  As we drove past the various peaks, it was possible to see many waterfalls cascading from the remaining snow fields-those eventually would feed the waterways like those included here.  This particular waterfall, which extended to ground level near the road, was very cool-literally and figuratively.  This was made at Diablo Lake in the North Cascades.

BW photograph of a mares tail cloud at Diablo Lake in the North Cascades.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The above is one of the few clouds to be seen that day.  This was also made at Diablo Lake in the North Cascades.  The well-defined, deep shadow of the railing in the lower right corner is a testament to the direct sun that characterized the day.

Quite a trip.

Take care.