As I walked to the back of the house to get a wheelbarrow today I heard a familiar yank-yank call from one of three birdhouses attached to the east wall. A tiny Red-breasted Nuthatch was examining the little house made from a small tree trunk. I went back into the house for my point & shoot and it flew to another birdhouse on the side of the garage.
My Olympus FE-20 is conveniently small and flat, fits neatly in a pocket. But it has no view finder. It’s nearly impossible to see the image on the screen so I maximized the telephoto and pointed and shot, hoping for the best.
The Nuthatch checked out each of the 5 bird houses on the garage wall but I wasn’t able to get pictures of it at each one. See the towering Ponderosa Pine on the north side behind our home? That’s where the Nuthatch spends most of its time. It’s been pecking all around our house to get at bugs for more than a month.
Three more bird houses are attached beneath the balcony at the back of our house, facing north. Maybe the Nuthatch pecked at the opening to get at insects inside, or maybe to get a better entrance for caching its food supply within. Maybe it was another animal, though. Red-breasted Nuthatches would rather burrow up to 8 inches into a dead tree than inhabit a birdhouse. We’ll see about this one.
The bird flitted to the big Elderberry bush east of the garage ocassionally. It kept calling its yank-yank and another echoed its call from the woods at the creek. I slipped my little camera into the chest pocket of my overalls and went about my business in the sunny garden on the south of the house, spreading a bale of damp decaying straw over strawberries, grapes, herbs, and bare ground to prevent early growth and inhibit weeds.
More about the bird
You can find out more about the Red-breasted Nuthatch from http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/red-breasted_nuthatch/lifehistory.
About the bird houses
The birdhouses were made by a man who lives on the Sol Duc River near Forks, Washington on the North Olympic Peninsula. He builds them, his sister paints them, and they set them in an unattended kiosk by the highway with a lock box to drop in your $5. I’ve collected them and given many as gifts over the years.
An exercise in photographing things in doubles.
Come sit with me in the garden, in the field, under a pine, at the boundary markers. I like to place chairs and hammocks at different places on my property, inviting conversations for two.
The Jamestown S’Klallam tribe built several new totem poles in recent years. This one is double sided. The top hat structure indicates wealth in giving potlatches. Thuderbird faces north and south, the bay and the mountains. You can barely see the edge of it’s wing facing the camera. Beneath Thunderbird is Beaver, holding its tail. The Jamestown people bought their land on Washington’s North Olympic Peninsuala instead of letting it become a reservation. They have a village, casino, fire station, seafood store, gas station with deli and convenience store, medical facility, and cultural center. This totem pole is at the fire station.
Interior design, landscaping, or fiber arts, the color of warm speaks for itself. You can plan warm hues to pop against contrast or gently blend its expression in a gradient like the sun set. Primary colors red and yellow evoke the feeling of warmth. Blue feels cold. Gradients of the warm hues say, “Feel warm! Feel warm!”
Interior design and landscaping
Before it was the trend I painted my west wall terracotta, a warm deep orange-red of America’s Southwest canyon lands. I wanted to feel warm in my coastal cottage like the sun setting at my Idaho home in the Rocky Mountains. I lived and worked on Washington’s North Olympic Peninsula in winter. The Strait of Juan de Fuca mirrors the season’s forever heavy grey sky. Evergreen foliage reflects monotonous daylight all day, the dull feeling of bleak, so I couldn’t feel time passing with the moving sunlight. The daylight just didn’t change through the day in winter.
Yet bunches of tiny crimson berries on my huge ancient holly tree screamed “Feel warm!” through my east window. People walking by in the mist would stop and stare at the red globes contrasting with spiky two toned leaves, entranced by the warm winter message. On cool holidays I clipped branches and left them by the side walk for people to take home. In a few January days, hundreds of buff breasted robins wiped out every bright fruit on the tree and sang a long crisp cheery chorus. The red berries and birds warmed the foggy landscape with their hues. “Feel warm!”
Fiber Arts, Knitting
While I knit a scarf for a child I am thinking of her favorite color, PINK, lots of PINK. Not my favorite color but I realized that I am knitting warmth not just with the warming power of wool but with the color of warmth. While knitting, I am warmed from the wool in my lap and the action in my hands but, on an intuitive level, I feel warmth from the gradients of red and yellow, orange, pink, and fuchsia. I like to play with contrasts so the colors pop, looking even more intense. Sometimes I put the contrast in the design, other times I show it with what I wear with the knitted garment. In some recent designs, I see that I have selected color ways from the warm hues for hats, socks, ear warmers, and i-pod cozies, too.
I photograph almost everything I knit before I give it away and some local shops have asked for my portfolio. Today, I considered the knitted items as subjects for a photo series on warmth, the color of warmth and I paid attention to a color pop already in the knitting design of a baby hat. How can I make my knitting portfolio more engaging? Let me get started with the first step. Most of these photos were taken indoors with natural daylight shining through a window. I used my Olympus E-10 DSLR, on manual at 125, F 2.7. I could have bracketed the shots but I wanted to see what comes from that setting. It was 4 degrees Fahrenheit last night and 18 degrees when I went outdoors to catch the sunlight and the contrasting blue sky for the scarf. The camera slowed down after several minutes in the outdoor cold while I was in the artist mode. Time and temperature were not affecting me until the tool told me to go indoors where it would feel warm.
Art is about observation, looking, listening, and feeling. And some skill and practice.