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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Of Fog & Frost

Winter Interest 1 - Fog&Frost 2
Hello everyone...I hope you're all faring well so far this winter! I have to apologize for my lack of posts these past few weeks. We've had a huge surge of projects all wrapping up at the same time...so the past few weeks (and the upcoming several weeks) are pretty hectic at work. As a result, I've been getting home late...and kind of just want to collapse into my bed and veg out a bit.

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Overall, it's been a very mild winter again here in Portland. The weekend before last, however, we got our first real frost (at least in my 'hood)! Not only did we get frost...but it was really foggy in the early morning hours. I was surprised how many people bemoaned the fog. While it's not exactly fun to drive in, I LOVE fog. There's nothing quite like that surreal quality that a dense fog imparts onto the world. Your own neighborhood suddenly feels mysterious...even a little foreboding...I love it!

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As soon as I realized we'd had frost, I dashed out in my PJs to get some pics. I love how quiet and still the neighborhood felt, as if the whole world was holding its breath for that moment.

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Scenes which just the day before had seemed drab were suddenly thrown into relief.

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The tiered spires of Agastache suddenly reminded me of a Pagoda.

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Allium seed heads seemed like earthbound snowflakes.

Anementhale
The multihued ribbons of Anementhale had gained lace trim.

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Even the wonderfully sinister-looking seed heads of Echinacea received their dollop of icing.

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I'm always mesmerized by the whimsical-looking spherical baubles that are the Anemone's seed heads.

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Again with Rudbeckia and Echinacea...I was glad the ravenous Finches had left a few seeds intact to catch the frost.

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I always imagine the recurved seed heads of Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' look somewhat like claws.

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As I snapped hundreds (ok, thousands) of photos in my pajamas, a neighborhood couple strolled by, on their way to the bus stop. I think they probably rolled their eyes as they approached, but as they approached the corner, I actually heard them gasp, "It's a winter wonderland!" They came back to tell me that I should make sure to take pictures of the front too ;-)

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How amazing is it...the way frost highlights the structure of things...making me see them in a new light!

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I'm enamored at its ability to edge such delicate structures into elegant traceries.

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On some plants, the layer of frost was almost a dusting of snow.

colorful sedum shot
I hadn't noticed until now how the red coloring in the stems of Sedum 'Matrona' was still so visible. They were a warm counterpoint to the cooler tones surrounding them.

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Spider webs, which had been invisible, are suddenly strung like garlands between branches.

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This Pennisetum was especially spectacular, each individual awn delineated with white.

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Believe it or not, this is just some weedy grass that escaped my watchful eye during the growing season. At this moment, however, I'm grateful I did...it's the perfect bit of filigree to contrast to the red stems of the variegated Willow.

panicum northwind
Another group of grasses that are particularly handsome after a frost are the Panicums. Truth be told, there isn't really a time when they aren't lovely...but after being drenched with rain for the past few months, the frost transformed them into gossamer.

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The structural, candelabra bloom stalks of Veronicastrum always seem wonderfully sombre to me...even when festooned with frosty banners.

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While it's a somewhat unpopular sentiment...over the years, I've really come to value winter.

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True...for us gardeners, it's not full of the non-stop excitement of spring, the lustiness of summer, or the abundance of fall. Still, there is a special value to the quietness of winter that I find appealing.

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After a busy year in the garden, I need a break...and, if nothing else, winter forces me to take a few months off. The break in activity isn't just physical, but mental. I appreciate the perspective it gives me. When I'm in the midst of planting, watering, moving things around, etc., it's harder to see the big picture at times.

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Truth be told, for me, part of the joy of gardening (a large part) is marking the season, and celebrating each of them in their turn. Without fail, I tire of them at some point, and feel the urge to move on to the next. I could never live somewhere without clearly-defined seasons...I think I'd go mad!

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Winter also gives me my first real moment to ENJOY my summer garden...as ludicrous as it sounds. During the growing season, I'm all to often distracted with the things that aren't working...the things that bother me. Looking back at photos of the summer garden now, I can't believe I was so worked up about things. While far from perfect (and what garden is ever perfect), the garden looked pretty good last year!

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As I grow older and older (not by choice, I guarantee you), I also find that I appreciate the winter garden for it's own charms. There is something visceral about winter...as we move inside to snuggle up in blankets to watch re-runs of The Wonder Years and pour over seed catalogs, outside my window the garden contracts. It withdraws too.

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We are not so different...and I feel a sort of kinship with the garden in winter. There's a sort of unspoken agreement that we'll wait this out...and meet up again in a few months.

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I always think of the gardening year as a symphony. Without tempo changes or crescendos and decrescendos, it wouldn't be nearly as dynamic or entertaining

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There is a truth in the withered forms and blackened seed heads in the winter garden...an honesty. This is life. It's a cycle, with beginnings and endings in continuous motion.

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I hope you're making the most of winter wherever you are...

70 comments:

  1. Beautiful shots!!!! I can see what prompted you to race out there and start shooting photos!!

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    1. Thanks, kacky...sometimes my neighbors must really wonder about me ;-)

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  2. It is great to appreciate the beauty of winter. You captured the fog and frost quite well. I like the photo of the folks walking to the bus, gives another dimension to the photo. I like fog pictures, you have some wonderful ones in this post.

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    1. Fog really adds something magical to photos, doesn't it!

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  3. OMG! Your pictures are so gorgeous! With each new one I kept thinkig, "That's my favorite!" I too enjoyed our recent fog/frost time but after a week of it, was ready for a change. The changes in our gardens are wonderful and they wouldn't be quite so interesting without the seasonal contrasts and anticipation. Winter is nice because we can do more simple enjoyment and less work.

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    1. So true...everything in moderation, right...that's what makes things interesting ;-)

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  4. Your photographs highlight something I miss about winter. Frosty fog; it is magic bringing the garden to life. It makes me think of England with its rime covered winter coating.

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    1. Thanks! It's sadly, pretty rare for us to get these conditions...it's the first time I can remember having such a frost in several years!

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  5. Oh, those few moments in the morning when everything looks frosted with sugar, before the sun burns it off and the fog lifts is truly magical. You have done an excellent job of capturing the feel and emotion in your pictures and text.

    Thank you for the winter garden tour!

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    1. i totally agree...it's so beautiful...and all the more special because it's so fleeting :-)

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  6. You got some really beautiful shots, but especially the Panicum. I found that was a hard one to get a good picture of in my own garden. Bravo to you for going out in your pjs to take pictures. We had fog for days on end, so it got pretty wearying after the fourth or fifth day, and when it froze on the roads at night, it got scary. Normally I love the fog too, but I like it to eventually go away. I love the frost though, it makes everything look so much better.

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    1. OMG...yes...driving on icy roads is terrifying, isn't it! I love fog and frost a lot, but anything can get wearing after too long :-)

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  7. It is amazing that out of the eery fog such beauty can be created. I love how it paints the leaves and textures of the plants. Beautiful shots Scott!

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    1. Isn't it fabulous...I love waking up to a world that seems to have been transformed overnight!

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  8. great shots..beauty that the others miss!

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  9. Beautiful images as usual and great catch of the couple strolling by. We're getting fog today. I also enjoy how it shrouds the landscape and lends a sense of mystery. Your winter garden reminds me of late fall here. Winter offers a break from all things garden but most years I wish it was just a bit shorter.

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    1. Hahaha...I think, by the end, we all wish it over, Sue ;-)

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  10. The spider webs are my favorite. I thought someone had dropped string in our Fatsia japonica, the frost was so thick on the webs. Beautiful shots!

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    1. Hahaha...I know...it's the only time I wish there were MORE spiders around ;-)

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  11. How well you captured the quiet moodiness and intimate coziness of a still morning. It's wonderful to see the intricate detail that only comes to life in a monochromatic, washed-out world, without all the blare of big flowers and brassy blooms. Fog is such an artist. These photos are as beautiful as any summer shots.

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    1. So true...there is something very special about the garden in winter, it's more introspective. It still holds beauty, sometimes we just have to look a little harder to find it :-)

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  12. Wow, so many outstanding pictures. The Panicums, the Pennisetums, the Agastache, the Sedum ... it would be very hard to say which was the greatest. We do get thick fog around here sometimes, but usually closer to the lake. It can make for some scenes that are lovely in a melancholy way.

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    1. Absolutely, Jason...I think I'm sort of melancholy at heart...so such weather speaks to me more personally than sunny weather does.

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  13. I love how structural and bold all the plants look. I see that many people chop down seed-heads, and bushy dry grass as soon as fall ends. They are missing a wonderful part of the beauty of plants. Beautiful photographs! I struggle with low lighting, but your pictures are near perfection.

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    1. It's so true, Anna, suddenly it's very easy to appreciate the amazing underlying structure of the plants...I love it!

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  14. You sure made up for your not posting and got some fantastic frosty photos. Hope things calm down a little for you, but if they're going to be hectic it's best in the Winter.
    Cher Sunray Gardens
    Goldenray Yorkies

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    1. Thanks, Cher...you and me both...although it'll be a few weeks before things quiet down much...ugh.

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  15. I think we were out of town for the frosty fog event...just as well as I like this version of seeing it in your garden much better.

    Great photo of the passers-by, and of course you realize somewhere out there on another blog is a photo of you out taking pictures in your pj's!

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    1. Hahahahaha...OMG...that's a scary thought, isn't it!

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  16. Scott

    Would you please consider adding the feedburner widget to your blog so I can register for email updates when you create a new posting.

    Please note RSS is not functional in a Safari browser. I use an iPad and am restricted to the Safari browser.

    Please let me know what you decide. Thanks

    ~ mdr

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    1. Hi Dale...I added it just the other day...let me know if it works ok for you :-)

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  17. Really pretty pics, Scott, and even better are your ruminations on winter. I agree about liking seasons, though I'm content with small changes (not jonesing for a foot of snow anytime soon). Like you, I find a lot of beauty in spent seedheads left to stand for a while.

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    1. Thanks, Pam! Yes...I have to admit, I felt a little dishonest, since our seasons are so mild too...it's a lot easier to enjoy winter when you don't have to dig through a drift of snow to get to your car!

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  18. Awesome shots Scott! It is truly a winter wonderland.

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    1. Thanks, Phillip...so glad you enjoyed the post!

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  19. Fantastic photos, i love the allium seed heads, they really do look like giant snowflakes, frost totally changes the look and feel of a garden.

    Claire Diligent Gardener

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    1. Alliums are such great plants for their long-term interest, aren't they, Claire!

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  20. Hi Scott,

    Lovely photos; so far we haven't had such a beautiful frost - you know the kind, similar to this where entire stems are coated. We have had snow though, but I would've still liked to see the type similar to this, or even a hoar frost.
    It's amazing how different things look; how much more beautiful they suddenly are!

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    1. Hey Gwirrel...I know exactly what you mean...I dream of getting a really thick hoar frost, like the ones you seen in gardening magazines, someday. So far, this is the closest we've gotten to one here in Portland.

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  21. Scott how can you make cold look so pretty! You are my photography idol my friend.

    Many blessings....Brooke
    creativecountrymom@gmail.com
    http://creativecountrymom.blogspot.com/

    This week I am starting a new link up party called "Sunday Open House". I hope you will link up this lovely post to share with my readers.

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    1. I guess it's what they say, right, beauty is pain ;-) Thanks for the Open House invite...I'll check it out!

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  22. Fabulous post...I've been crossing my fingers that you were able to get out and capture the freezing fog. You captured the moment with your photos and words. Simply beautiful. And I hope that you were out in your flannel pj's so you didn't get too cold!

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    1. Thanks so much, Laura...it was VERY lucky that it was on a weekend...otherwise I would have had to go to work and miss all the photo ops! Luckily, I'm a polar bear at heart...it has to be pretty darn cold for me to notice ;-)

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  23. Such a wonderful post, I love fog and mist and also I get sick of looking at my garden all year round, our winter season is a bit milder than yours perhaps, sometimes we don't get frost at all. It's good to sit back and look at photos of things you thought just didn't work or you didn't like only to find that yeh! they weren't so bad after all. I think this comes with looking at something too often, I find myself starting to become picky about things. Really great photos of your gardens.

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    1. I so agree, Karen...sometimes we just can't see what's right in front of us until we have that perspective that time and distance allow.

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  24. Beautiful images Scott ! There has been quite a bit of fog here too, and like you I love the photo opps that the mist affords, even though my LA genes often cause me to wimp out in cold temps. I started the spring cleanup this month and there is not much left but mud and stumps to look at in the garden.

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    1. Haha...well, if it makes you feel any better, most Portlanders don't like it much either, apparently...and I'm a bit of an aberration! I'm just about to start cutting things back this weekend or next...and my garden will be super-sad looking for a little while too.

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  25. No wonder you like winter, your garden looks great still! I wasn't able to garden much during the end of summer or fall because of an injury, so I'm really anxious to get on with spring. But you are right, winter is a good time to take a break from it both mentally and physically. We had that same frosty fog for about a week. Everyone complained they'd rather have rain, but I like the fog much more.

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    1. Glad to find another fog-lover, Catherine! I agree...the rain is great, don't get me wrong, but there is something special about fog...I love it. Glad to hear you'll be able to get out in your garden soon...spring is almost here ;-)

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  26. I totally agree that the changing seasons are inspiring, and the fog is all Sherlock Holmesey and eerie beautiful. I love the frost too (great images!) so long as I don't have to drive anywhere--I rolled a car once on a frosty road and I can't seem to get over it... The Western Oregon winter is overall just the best: plenty dark and cold to allow a break from gardening but begins to truly soften sometime in February so we don't despair.

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    1. You are so right..we have a pretty good deal out here in the PNW...and yes...such weather is really best enjoyed when you can stay home and enjoy it...not have to drive in it!

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  27. Scott, I've always loved your blog posts, but this morning, as I was finally making my rounds and catching up on the past weeks posts, your post has just touched me. You've nailed it. Bravo. And really, well done on jumping out in your pj's and capturing the freezing fog on your gardens! And thank you for writing such a heart felt post. Cheers, Jenni

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    1. Thanks, Jenni...so glad you enjoyed the post...the funny thing is, I started out with just the photos...but didn't even know what to say...so it's very stream-of-conscious...I guess things I've been mulling over in my head for a while :-)

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  28. Wow Scott you finally had your fog and frost, forming what you usually envy of my garden in winter. It's ironic since we had a rather mild winter here this year, so I didn't see frost very often. The pictures you posted are amazing and I smiled with the image of you taking pics on your PJs!
    Anyway let me tell you something about fog: it's magical and mysterious when you don't have to drive and when you see it a few times a year but you would rather hate it when you have it all the days by your door...

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    1. Hahaha...it is ironic, you're so right! I don't envy you one bit...I don't like driving at the best of times...and in inclement weather...not at all! I've driven home in far too many blizzards in my day...eek!

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  29. Beautiful pictures, GORGEOUS post! My favorite picture is the one with the couple walking hand in hand in the background, with the grass spilling over the sidewalk in the foreground. What a treat to come across this post on a winter morning.

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    1. Thanks...that was a lucky moment...they were in the exact right place and the exact right time!

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  30. I'm afraid I don't have quite your positive attitude, Scott. I think I would enjoy winter more if everything in my garden were all tidied up. I'm a neat nick at heart and yet don't have the time to get it all done so it sits and rots and waits for me. Then when I do get a chance to visit the garden, all I see are projects--depressing. But your photos and prose illustrate the beauty of the season. Thank you.

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    1. I totally understand, Grace...Norm is a neatnick and I think the garden drives him bonkers during winter! I enjoy the winter garden for what it is...but right about now I'm itching to get out there and cut it all back and start fresh again for the year!

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  31. This is a wonderful series of photographs, you are quite talented. I think my favorite is the couple on the sidewalk. I like the fog too, some of my best photographs have happened because of it.

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    1. Thank Les...glad to see I have other fog-lovers in my court!

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  32. Scott, I'm another vote for feedburner widget. I have more email subscribers than followers. I don't follow many blogs that way myself, but yours is one that I would so I actually pay attention to the updates!

    I love the matrona stems. It looks like you found a way to have them lit up for the shot without lighting anything else. GREAT photos as always.

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    1. Hey Nick...good to hear from you! I took your advice and installed the Feedburner widget...let me know if it works for you...fingers crossed!

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    1. Thanks, Tom...I do try to enjoy things for what they are, as much as possible :-)

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  34. Love your foggy frosty photos and your sentiments about the seasons.

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    1. Thanks, Michael...glad you enjoyed it :-)

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  35. Would you please consider adding the feedburner widget to your blog so I can register for email updates when you create a new posting.

    Please note RSS is not functional in a Safari browser. I use an iPad and am restricted to the Safari browser.

    Here is a link that explains what feedburner is:

    http://www.technologystation.net/2011/02/feedburner-very-helpful-tool-for.html

    See an example of feedburner in use at http://federaltwist.blogspot.ca/ under follow by email.

    Please let me know what you decide. Thanks

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    1. Hi Dale...I think I got it set up correctly...so give it a go and let me know if it works for you!

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