FOUR WEEKS in FEBRUARY

February flashed by – isn’t it nice that the shortest month comes in winter? It helps us believe we’re making progress toward spring. In my region, February was cold and wet. Of course, to us cold means near or below freezing, which might feel pretty comfortable to a Minnesotan. Toward the end of the month, there was a week when temperatures plunged way below freezing at night and only rallied to freezing during the day – brr! I was glad I brought my long down coat when we moved here from the east coast. I used to wear it a lot to keep warm on winter days when icy winds whipped across the harbor and funneled down New York City street canyons. I hardly ever wear it here but I did last month. The longjohns were put to use, too.

As if to defy the weather, I went looking for one of our earliest wildflowers on February 10th and was thrilled to find several lovely blooms. I was beaming out there, all by myself, communing with the little purple bells, the wind-swept Douglas firs, and the azure water rippling in the channel below. The tender little Grass widow, or Satinflower, seems far too delicate to be blooming at this time of year. When it snowed later, I hoped the rest of them would delay opening.

Another source of delight last month was lichens of all kinds – plump, pale green mounds of Reindeer lichen (Cladonia sp.), elegant strands of Beard lichen (Usnea longissima), colorful colonies of Frog-pelt lichens (Peltigera sp.), wrinkled skins of lung lichens (Lobaria sp.), and many more. Lichens come alive in winter, having absorbed enough moisture to expand, soften, and show themselves to good advantage. Mosses are a highlight of winter here, too, adding bright green caps to rocks and stumps or intermingling with lichens on tree branches to form intricate mosaics. Buds are swelling on deciduous trees and bushes, lending the hills a soft look when seen from a distance. Longer days give us a little more time to get outside.

It’ll only get better now.

1. Foggy day in a wetland in the forest.

2. Usnea longissima lichens just after a light rain. Gone from much of its original range, its abundance here reassures me that our air is clean. It’s a good thing the land where the photo was made is protected.
3. Have you ever thought about how plants and lichens slow the rain’s passage to the ground?
4. This wetland is just steps away from Bowman Bay, which is fed by the Salish Sea and ultimately, the Pacific Ocean. Winter storms slosh salt water into the wetland, which means different plants grow here. In summer, the yellow flowers of Silverweed (Potentilla anserina) will bloom on the edge of this wetland but I don’t expect to find them in the forested wetland below.
5. This wetland is in a forested part of the interior of the island. Swamp lanterns (Lysichiton americanus) love it here. Their leaves already peek out of the water.
6. Madrones (Arbutus menziesii) shed bark in the late summer months. These pieces are soft from winter rain but if you pick up a piece in September it may crumble in your hand.
7. This green lichen is sometimes called Frog pelt lichen or Dog lichen in Britain. Peltigera brittanica grows on rocky outcrops and along roads and trails, typically in moist, coastal habitats. I believe the dark spots are cephalodia, structures that contain nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria. So three kingdoms of life are working together here: fungi, algae, and bacteria. Once again I thank Richard Droker for opening a window to the fascinating world of lichens.*

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9. Here’s a quick slideshow of Grass widow flowers. I like the name Satinflower better.

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10. The sun has set and the owls are hooting.

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11. Here’s a slideshow of lichens and mosses observed in February around Fidalgo Island.

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12. I didn’t spend a lot of time at Bowman Bay in February but one day during a very low tide, I explored rocks that are normally under water and found this collection of barnacles and snails.
13. I (and many others) have made this picture before. It’s hard to resist doing it again when you walk under the Deception Pass Bridge.
14. February offered pretty days, too. This is Mt. Erie, the highest point on the island and a favorite place for rock climbing.

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15. Here’s a short slideshow of plants from Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver, where we spent a few days mid-month.

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16. A waterfall at Lynn Canyon in British Columbia, where we hiked during our visit to Vancouver.
17. Another waterfall at Lynn Canyon, viewed from a suspension bridge. Taking in the breathtaking view while standing on a narrow, swaying suspension hanging 50m (160 ft) over the creek below was a high point of the month!
18. Winter sky, just before sunset.

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73 comments

    • Yes, it’s been generally cold up and down and I’m really glad parts of CA are no longer in such severe drought. Can’t resist photographing Usnea when it’s soft and moist, besides, I like the sound of that name. πŸ˜‰ Joe and I love your dozing coyote photo. Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

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    • Tropical leaves are wonderful to work with and I can’t resist photographing Usnea when it’s nice and wet like that. I’m glad those photos pleased you! And actually. except for #14 (Mt. Erie – made with an iPhone) and the last three, which were made with the Oly 12mm f2.0, all of these photos were made with the 60mm macro. I don’t even think of it as a macro; it’s become my main lens. Lately, I’ve tried to get out of that rut by bringing the 12mm along every time I go out. It’s a valuable mental exercise to switch from 60mm to 12mm. I want to get better at wider landscapes and using the 12mm is helping. Have a good weekend!

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  1. it’s been so long since I took pictures under the deception pass bridge I didn’t realize they’d painted it, we were there not so long ago but I didn’t notice that. it used to be green, which I like better than white, I think. I LOVE frames #2 and #3. those are exquisitely seen and the carefulness of your technique adds to the breathtaking weightlessness

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    • So you do know how irresistible it is to photograph that bridge, no matter what the color scheme is. πŸ˜‰ Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment about the Usnea lichen photos. There’s a lot of it in certain places here and I do love seeing it when it’s softened from the rains. Sometimes I touch it, just for the pleasure of feeling that weightlessness. πŸ™‚

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  2. I love all the closeups here. The different kinds of lichen are awesome, so nice, and the frozen drops are beautiful. The Satinflower is such a nice sign of spring. It reminds me a bit of Crocus, maybe because of the colors. Your photos from the Conservatory are wonderful. I love the structures, the little details! 12 and 13 seem to correspond in a way. The barnacles look like the screws in the bridge πŸ˜‰ Well chosen! I understand very well that you often take pictures of the bridge. It is such an attraction! I have motifs I must take pictures too and I often ask myself why I have to do it again and again πŸ˜‰ I think we want to enjoy it every time anew. The mount already looks very colorful in your photo for the month of February! The colors of your other photos are a nice palette of soft and strong tones. A nice mixture in your rather dark surroundings. The Lynn canyon (named after you πŸ˜‰ looks amazing and the vegetation so fresh and lively. What a colorful winter you have!

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    • It’s such a pleasure to share posts with you because you take such obvious delight in many of the same things that please me. And you pay such close attention! Crocus & Olsynium are both in the Iridaceae family so of course, you’re right. Stainflowers aren’t as stiff as crocus and the flower usually faces more to the side. Barnacles/screws – cool. I did notice similarities between those photos, which is why I have them together, but I didn’t think of that. I like it. As Laura pointed out below, the bridge also relates to the conservatory plants. Structure, structure, structure! πŸ™‚
      Regarding Mt. Erie, there’s quite a lot of color here all winter because there are so many conifers and there aren’t many below-freezing days so some plants start growing very early. The moss adds color and so do Licorice ferns (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) which come back to life with the rain. Also, the large, evergreen Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is abundant.
      How did you know that canyon is named after me?? πŸ˜‰ That spot qualifies as temperate rainforest. It’s wetter than we are on the island so it’s very lush all year long. Thank you…don’t work too hard today (OK, by now you’re done) and enjoy the weekend!

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      • I didn’t notice the relation between the bridge and the plants, but of course, it fits! Yes, structures are wonderful!!!
        Rainforest, that fits too! It really looks very lush. I like this opulent nature. It shows, how lively it can be, when there is enough water. We both know that there is a lot of life without water, but with water, it is magical πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you so much, Geoff. I try to balance the images and text and be mindful of the patience and interests of different readers. With that in mind, it’s especially nice to read your comment. I hope all’s well with you!

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  3. ‘It’ll only get better now.’.. πŸ™‚ That’s good to read, Lynn! Fine set! Nr3: No I never had.. but I’ll never forget now; thanks. Ditto for ‘Madrone’.. great colors. Wonderful shapes and jewellery in Nr8. Slideshow11 is today’s winner! A world of it’s own; love the colors and the shapes. Slideshow15 also wonderful; especially the well composed first shot. Thanks for this post; with your eyes you’ll never get poor… πŸ™‚

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    • Yes, I promise it’ll only get better now. πŸ˜‰ Now I’m really glad I thought of the caption for #3. πŸ™‚ The Madrone bark color is so nice in winter, especially when it’s wet. #8 as jewelry, good idea! I could have gone on and on with the lichen slideshow. Maybe I’ll do one again at some point. This really is lichenland. πŸ™‚ And I’m likin’ it. Oh god, I have to stop! It’s your fault!!
      I appreciate your thoughts, Harrie, especially the last one. Enjoy the weekend!

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  4. You always end on a high- love that sunset! There are some places you return to and can’t help taking the same photo. For me the fortress and beach at Cacela Velha is one of those. We were there again this week. Love the delicacy of the Satinflower. We saw some tiny pale bluebells on a clifftop yesterday. A day of extraordinary wild orchids and miniature narcissi. A privilege to be there.

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    • The odd thing is that those little flowers are very delicate – of course, that’s the beauty of seeing them in February. I need to go back to that spot to see how they’re doing after that snow and ice. I imagine new ones are coming up. You changed your profile pic – I wasn’t sure it was the “real Mark” but it is! πŸ˜‰

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    • Honestly, the last two months of the year get me down but as soon as January rolls around, things slowly turn around. By February there’s been a sea change. Spring evolves very, very slowly here, which is wonderful. The weather may be dreary but the light (when there is some!) can be gorgeous and the rain livens things up. Thanks for being here, Don, enjoy the weekend.

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  5. #2- a Bluebrightly specialty… and it gets me every single time!#9- such delicacy and sweetness and a favorite shade of purple… the 3rd one seemed the best in this series (can’t quite explain why!) but going back through all 3, it looks as though you draw me in with each step.
    I see that your slideshow works beautifully at the desktop, but is more of a collage on the iPad. I’ll have to check out to see if the same happens with mine. #11 – 6/6 a show stopper…
    #13 – made me smile… like playing with tinkertoys#17 – a namesake Canyon – how lovely. I can almost hear the sound of that waterfall, but the swaying suspension bridge would have definitely spooked me.#18 – oh thank you for yet another finish with a soothing sigh..There’s just something magical about sunsets over water. πŸ™πŸ’ž

    Today we have sun. E had a chance to float down the creek yesterday. Then again more bits of rain. I’m loving the variety of moods.

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    • Joe calls #2-type photos “Lynniepictures.” And Satinflowers are such beauties, aren’t they? The earliest ones, like these, grow on Pass Island, which is where the Deception Pass Bridge is. Finding those delicate purple beauties amidst all the metal of the bridge, the steep cliffs, the rushing water, and the traffic – it’s just amazing. That’s interesting about the iPad – I’ll have to check that, thanks for mentioning it. We can never have too many sunsets over the water, can we? They are enchanting. We’re loving the “disturbia” weather, too. Sun, a bit of rain, wild clouds, what’s next?
      Glad you enjoyed the post, Gunta, now go rest those eyes! πŸ™‚

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  6. Marvellous. Highlights for me have to be the delicate loveliness of #2, the unexpected and delightful juxtaposition of the steelwork of #13, and the wonderful pointiness of the first slide in the Bloedel Conservatory collection.

    βœ¨πŸ¦‹πŸπŸ•ŠπŸ‰πŸ—βš–πŸ•―πŸ€βš›πŸŽπŸŽ‹πŸ™βœ¨

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    • I was wondering if there was an attempt to build a nest in those leaves…plenty of little birds were flying all over the place. I just love observing the shapes of tropical leaves – or any leaves. OK, and a few other things. πŸ˜‰
      The bridge connects our island to a larger one to the south. Before it was built, only ferry service connected that island to anything else so it was an important step for regional transportation. It was completed in 1935 and was quite an engineering feat in its time. There’s a parking lot next to the south end of it. It’s popular to walk across the bridge, especially at sunset because it runs N – S. There are trails leading down that cross under it, making that photo easy to do. Another, much smaller island lies between Fidalgo & Whidbey so the bridge passes over it as well. That little island is where I found the Satinflowers. It’s altogether a really dramatic place. πŸ™‚
      Thanks, Graham, enjoy your weekend!

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      • “The shapes of leaves” sounds like a nice idea for one of your lovely thematic studies…

        Handy that you can park close to the bridge. I always find the views looking up from underneath a bridge fascinating – all that hidden structure you can so easily be oblivious of when driving over the top.

        Thank you, and I hope you have a lovely weekend too.

        πŸ˜ŒπŸ™βœ¨

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  7. Beautiful set! The lichens up here were one of the pleasant surprises to me – they get so profuse and spectacular, even east of the Cascades and in the Palouse and northern Idaho. They’re one of the things that makes the Inland Northwest feel different to me from the true Rockies. I keep trying to photograph them, but have yet to feel like I’ve done them justice.

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    • I didn’t know that about lichens in your area – they’re really wonderful, aren’t they? Check out Richard Droker’s Flickr page when you have a minute – he has many, many lichen photos and knows the science inside and out. I, too, have had a lot of difficulties photographing them. Thanks for commenting, Jackson, have a great weekend.

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  8. Hi! Wonderful nature studies and a peaceful post. I am fascinated by those ice blobs and the beauty of the lichens and moss. I noticed a perfect pairing in your amazing bridge image and the second monochrome palm close-up! πŸ˜‰

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    • I noticed that, too, and there are a few other things the bridge works with – hmm, I should have ordered this a little differently. πŸ™‚ I think what was happening with the ice was that drops were hitting things, then landing on the moss and slowly building up to form those globs, blobs, whatever. Runoff creates a narrow waterfall as it comes down off Mt. Erie. In summer it vanishes. But I don’t have to tell you about interesting weather phenomena – I think you’ve been knee-deep in them! πŸ˜‰

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  9. Ah, another collection to delight the eye. I especially love the first three images, so delicate. And also the first three images of the lichen/moss slideshow – captivating colour. You do know how to find the beauty Lynn. I’m about to go out for a little hike in the rain – will be on the lookout for periwinkle. Usually about now the flowers start to come. We too have new leaf buds.
    Alison

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    • Lichens are amazing – there’s so much to see in that small world. I hope you found Periwinkle blooming or if not, you will soon. That color! There’s nothing quite like it. Enjoy the day – sunny down here and I think it’s sunny in Van, too. πŸ™‚

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  10. Such a nice collection of images to celebrate the end of the longest month of the year! I was quite taken by the soft colors of the first image. Also, the visual similarity between the structure under the bridge and the monochrome overlapping fronds at the conservatory…one of those things with little practical value other than the pure joy of noticing it. 😊

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    • The longest month, yes, it used to feel that way to me. Now November-December feels that way. And my favorite month used to be May because that was when spring was in full flower but as I became more sensitive to smaller changes AND as the climate warms, that moved up to April. It’s only a matter of time before March is my favorite.
      A few people have noticed the correspondence between the bridge and two other photos…I think that shows how brilliant everyone is here.
      Joy is practical, too, isn’t it? πŸ˜‰ Thanks for being here, Mic, I enjoy your comments.

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  11. Yes, “it will only get better now”!
    And spring will bring a different beauty, with warmer and more intense colors.
    But that beauty is really present in all seasons, as this extremely graphic post shows, full of excellent details in winter tones, rain and humidity. Beautiful photos 2 and 8!
    I wish you a good Sunday!

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    • Warmer and more intense colors, yes…and I’ve come to really appreciate winter colors. They’re easier to work with sometimes. I’m always interested to read your thoughts, Dulce, thanks for commenting, and have a lovely evening.

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  12. You open our eyes to the tiniest details of lichens etc., finding beauty even on a dull cold day πŸ™‚ And I love the Grass widow flowers and the waterfalls in Lynn Canyon, also that wintery coastal view. You’re right, ‘It will only get better now’, but through your lens even February looks good!

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    • The cold is not my favorite thing but there’s a lot of beauty at this time of year, especially around here. The little Grass widow flowers are impossibly tender in the face of the weather and the environment around them – it’s almost heartbreaking. Thank you for stopping by, Sarah, stay warm! πŸ˜‰

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  13. Love at first sight with your opening shot! I love the feeling of atmosphere in this and the second. I’m also drawn to #10, also atmospheric. I love the pale sunset giving us the feeling of what was a cloudy day. Wonderful February collection!

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    • It’s nice to hear the first photo appealed to you, even with the slightly blurry quality. And the evening wetland scene, which I hesitated to include. Now we’re firmly into March but you’d barely know it by the temperatures – still below normal. Creeping up there, though!

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  14. Hard not to see some sort of mechanical chopper system in #15 – – a sickle bar cutter, that’s what it’s called, at home the county does the road shoulders with them, and the Amish use them to cut hay. The lichen closeups in #11 are very interesting and a bit alien planet-looking.

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    • That’s a funny idea about the leaves in that first slide show photo. And I think lots of liches have an alien look to use, simply because we haven’t had the opportunity to look closely at them often enough. The more I see, the stranger they get. Thanks for commenting, Robert. πŸ™‚

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      • It’s good to see the lichens obviously happy in a climate and time of year when somebody lifeforms are dormant or at least hunkered down, conserving energy and waiting for warmer days, just mostly surviving while the lichens are thriving. You feel a similar pleasure looking at the sea creatures who are happily living near underwater volcanic vents in what seems like a pretty hellish situation, hot and acidic, but they’re happy as a… clam at high tide I guess πŸ™‚

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  15. A lovely tour of the month. It’s certainly been chilly this winter. I’m looking forward to warmer days soon and longer light. We just achieved nicely growing dawn light when I drop my husband off to the bus stop in town in the morning, and this weekend DLST will take it away again. I guess it will be back soon. I’m greatly anticipating the longer evening light. It gives me so many more opportunities to get outdoors since I can go for walks after work. Have a wonderful March!

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    • Well, waiting in the dark for a bus can’t be fun. At least it’s getting a LITTLE bit warmer, right? I’m glad for both of you that the days are getting longer and I hope you have a good month, too. πŸ™‚

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