Flora and Fauna

September 18, 2018

BW photograph of the Hog Rock Trail heading toward Cunningham Falls on a foggy morning.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

One of the other real advantages to being up and out before the sunrise is that you get to experience the waking up of the world around you.  Yes, in some situations this means more people, and more cars, and more mechanical noise.  Out in the woods, though, this changes.  For example, the various species of birds begin to sing their songs.  The aroma of the air and the texture of the ground underfoot change.  Various plants open and/or reorient themselves.  It is quite a sensory experience.

BW photograph of the split end of a tree limb laying on the ground.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Speaking of such, I am currently reading A Year in the Maine Woods by Dr. Bernd Heinrich.  The author is able to provide ample details as to which species makes which sounds and when or which tree is in which stage of development.  He is quite learned and has put extraordinary effort into being so.  Early in my photographic career, I spent quite a bit of time attempting to develop such knowledge.  Arguably, as per photographer John Shaw, being a well-informed naturalist would be as asset in the pursuit of photography.  This is most certainly true for one making specific photographs of particular species-you can learn when to be where for the desired image.  On the other hand, I have gotten to a point where I do not need to know which species are making what sounds as I am not interested in that degree of selectivity in my photography.  I prefer a greater degree of serendipity to my process-I wander and photograph what catches my eye.  However, I absolutely need to know that the species are.

This latter point is quite important, because we are in an age, the Anthropocene, which may very well mean they aren’t.

Please be sure to read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural HistoryThis is Ms. Kolbert’s The New Yorker article addressing the same topic.

Take care.

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45 Miles

September 16, 2018

BW photograph of a foggy sunrise looking out from Hog Rock.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Driving forty-five miles in one direction gets me to work.  (The photograph above is definitely not about work…)

BW photograph of the sunrise looking out from the Thurmont Vista.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Driving forty-five miles in the opposite direction gets me to the mountains.  Both are important…both are necessary.

In the years, decades really, that I have driven these routes, today is the first time noticing the symmetry.

BW photograph of the Hog Rock Trail steps on a foggy morning.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Once thinking about this, there are other similarities as well:  Leaving for work early in the morning is necessary to avoid traffic-leaving for the mountains early in the morn is necessary to await the sunrise.  Leaving early for both also reduces the number of people encountered along the way.  Finally, doing so is a means of achieving/maintaining a degree of serenity.

That brings some balance to the ‘verse.

Take care.

Rain (Continued)

September 13, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run after Gordon's floods but before the arrival of Florence.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The title is both literal and figurative.

Rain has been the main subject over the past few posts.  Even though “Rocks” documents a hike that took place on an 80+ degree humid morning, the main emphasis was the impact of the rain in this region.  Over the past few days, the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon has dumped a copious amount of rain.  The above photograph is of Morgan Run from this past Tuesday morning, and depicts a vastly lower water level than existed this past Sunday morning-it was still raining hard then.  Mostly cloudy and misty conditions have prevailed since, with smaller periods of heavy rain.

Given that the water level had fallen, what was left to document was the result of the flooding.

BW photograph of the erosion debris onthe walkway at Morgan Run after a recent deluge.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is the debris that had either been washed down the walkway from the parking lot or had been deposited by the current during the most recent flooding at Morgan Run.  For a bit of perspective, the fishing platform in the background was under water on Sunday.

BW photograph of a leaning Sycamore tree's roots that have been exposed due to flooding.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a row of Sycamore roots exposed by flood waters.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The photographs above show the exposed roots of several large Sycamore trees.

BW photograph of a pine tree's roots exposed by flooding at Morgan Run.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

These belong to a pine tree nearby.

The high water mark from the weekend was well above the location of these trees-in other words, they were partially under water over the weekend.  Morgan Run has over-topped its banks several times this year, which has resulted in the soil being washed away.  It goes without saying that this is a cumulative effect-Morgan Run has flooded many times in the years that I have been visiting the area.

BW photograph of broken logs wedged against Sycamore roots after a flood.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

When the water does rise, Morgan Run can flow at a pretty good clip, so the degree of erosion is not surprising.  Logs banging into the tree trunks are an additional stress.

BW photograph of rocks amid some exposed roots after a flood.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In many areas, the soil has been replaced by loose rocks and stones.  As such, there is a lesser amount of firm ground to hold the trees in place.

BW photograph of a maple leaf in mud marked by the water's current.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The Mid-Atlantic has been inundated by rain and the ground is saturated.  Hurricane Florence is now forecast to make landfall late Friday into early Saturday.  This area is on the outer reach of the current trajectory (the Carolinas), but she will certainly drop more rain here as the storm progresses.  In fact, while Florence has lost some wind speed, the main concern is the historic amount of rain and subsequent flooding that is expected.  Indeed, the adjective “biblical” has been used to characterize that aspect of the storm.  Florence is expected to stall over the Carolinas in much the same manner as Hurricane Harvey did over Houston just over a year ago.  Harvey’s rainfall set a record-will Florence top that?  It does bear repeating that we continue to see the escalating impact of climate change on the formation and impact of such storms.

Meanwhile, Olivia is battering Hawaii and out in the Atlantic, Isaac, Helene, and Joyce are spinning.

Across the Atlantic, parts of Europe are experiencing the opposite effects of climate change.

Climate change is clearly a global issue that manifest itself in a variety of ways-most of which are extremely detrimental to flora, fauna, and the built environ.  It really is a problem that many in power and those who vote for such perspectives fail to recognize this.

Take care.

Quietude

August 15, 2018

BW photograph of wrought iron chairs and tables.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is fun to play with language as a means of describing and/or representing a feeling or experience.  In this particular case, the circumstances were a cup (or two) of excellent coffee, a relatively cool morning, and the time to enjoy both.

Here’s to that.

Take care.

Relativity

August 15, 2018

BW photograph of the early morning sunrise just outside of Graceham, MD.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Everything is relative.  For example, someone asks “How are you doing?”  The answer depends on several factors:  is the person asking the question a stranger or your therapist?  Someone you do not know or someone you know implicitly? Is it a reference to that particular moment, that day, week, year?  One of my psychology professors in college said the best answer to any question was “It depends.”  That is relativity.

BW photograph of Cat Rock looking down into the fog and trees.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Saturday August 4, was Summit Day as per Backpacker magazine.

BW photograph of the base of Cat Rock.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In honour of that, a hike/climb to the top of Cat Rock seemed to be in order.  At 1562 feet above sea level, it is not quite 20x lower than Mt. Everest in the Himalaya.  It is about half as high as El Capitan in Yosemite.  Getting to the top is nowhere near as technical a challenge as either of those monumental climbs.  (For the record, I have climbed neither Everest or El Cap.)  So, no real big deal…unless you consider relativity.

BW photograph of the joints between the cracked blocks that make up Cat Rock

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This had previously been one of my most favourite hikes, and I had been there countless times over the past decades in all seasons.  However, Cat Rock was out of consideration for the better part of the past two years due to a variety of issues.  Taking on such a hike was just not in the plan as it is about 1.25 miles up the side of the mountain to a rock scramble, which then has to be reversed for the way down.   Psychologically, that 1562 feet loomed large in my thinking-it may just as well have been Everest or El Cap (which is, of course, an exaggeration).  Therefore, being able to do the out-and-back successfully was an achievement of sorts when properly scaled (pun intended).

BW photograph of a large rock on the trail from the descent of Cat Rock.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As an absolute standard, this hike is not such a big deal.  However, absolutes often fail to take mitigating factors into consideration.

Take care.

Climate Change

August 9, 2018

BW photograph of the Nisqually Glacier path with the low flow of the Nisqually River.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The cover headline of this issue of The Economist reads “In the line of fire: Losing the war against climate change”-inside are several articles that amplify the concern.  It is worth a read.

Take care.

 

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

PHOTOGRAPHER NOTE:  The above photograph is from Bethany Beach following a tropical storm.

Yesterday, NPR’s 1A had a discussion about Tangier Island and it is worth a listen.

Climate change does indeed present an unpleasant reality for many.  The notion that a way of life lived for generations may no longer be possible is very difficult to contemplate, let alone actually face.  Years ago, I learned a definition of denial that I came to appreciate:  “Denial provides a sense of security or buffer against an unacceptable reality.”  (Unfortunately, I do not recall the source of the definition.) In that sense, denial is a coping mechanism-an ineffective one in the longer term, but it does take the sting out of the short-term.  However, to continue to deny the existence of climate change and its human basis in the face of scientific evidence, or worse, to support politicians, ideas (which include the questioning of the fundamental scientific processes resulting in the data), and policies that will exacerbate the problem, is a willful refusal to accept things as they are and are becoming.  Meanwhile, fires burn, floods inundate, and droughts bake in the time of now.

It is important that one caller advised Mr. Johnson about his mischaracterization of Tangier Island as the initial population to be relocated.  Here is an article regarding Isle de Jean Charles from two years ago-please also give this a read.

Climate change and the need for mitigation and adaptation cannot rationally be denied regardless of how uncomfortable that may be.

Take care.