Helene Grogan

Nature Writing and Photography

Blog Archive: February 2019

A Moment of Stillness

Oddly enough, I took this on a day in which the pond was very busy; two pairs of mallards were here at the same time, the males chasing each other back and forth across the water while the females ignored one another in uneasy coexistence. But there was a moment when I looked down at the water -- and this beaver-felled tree hanging over it -- and saw only stillness.

Tags : photography

Spring Fever

Suddenly, the land is teeming with frogs. This one was sitting very quietly in the shallows, but the air has been filled with the riotous sounds of spring peepers taking the high octaves and wood frogs filling in below with their rough quacking. The surface of the pond is alive with tiny wakes, amphibious heads held just above the water.

Populations of amphibians have been declining worldwide, for a variety of reasons. But here in our little pond (and out in the surrounding woods) many species have been thriving. So when I comment on the volume of their springtime mating calls, it is always in a spirit of amazement, not complaint. In all honesty I couldn't be happier to hear such a din outside my windows.

Tags : photography

The Place Where I Live

An essay I wrote (and a photo to go with it) is now up on the web as part of Orion Magazine's "The Place Where You Live" feature. I wrote partly about the town where I live, and partly about my particular piece of it, hidden in the woods away from the village center. I very much enjoyed writing it, so I hope you will go and read it!

Tags : writing

The New and the Old

The first green shoots of daffodils are starting to make their way out of the ground (though yes, that is the whiteness of snow behind them). Sunny, warm spring days like this make everything feel more alive, but I was drawn as well to the remnants of last year's blossoms. There is beauty in both the new and the old, in the smooth green silk of delicate new leaves and the sharp-edged brittleness of dried flower heads. Life and death are always entwined, especially in spring, when new growth rises from soil nurtured and protected by the fallen stems and leaves of their forebears.

Tags : photography

A New Visitor

At first I thought it was a baby beaver, crouched near the pond and nibbling on twigs. Then it heard me moving about and took off at high speed, half swimming, half running for the safety of deeper water. When it paused, looking back, I could see the long, hairless tail curled beside it; that, together with its speed, tipped me off: this was a muskrat, a new visitor to our little pond.

I don't know how long it will stay, or if it will bring friends; we've had fishers in the area recently, as well as river otters and mink. A fisher actually killed one of the local beavers last month, and the rest of the family seems to have moved off and grown much more wary. But it's always nice to see even more diversity of wildlife in the area, and I look forward to seeing what happens as spring truly settles in!

Tags : photography

March Reader Photo Gallery Entries

I'm pleased to say that I have three photos included in the March 2015 Reader Photo Gallery over at Northern Woodlands magazine! The beaver, the fisher, and the otter pictures were my submissions for the month, and while all of them do have a lot of snow in the background, spring was evident in the sudden profusion of wildlife around our house. :)

I hope you'll go check the gallery out; there are lots of other great pictures in it. (And it's a great magazine, too, especially if you like the woods!)

Tags : photography

A Meltwater Toast to Spring

It'll be weeks before the snow's all gone, at least out among the trees. There's still quite a bit of it out in the open, and most of the pond is still iced over. But rivers are running through the yard now, and some of the wind gusts that reach my chair are warm, promising a thaw. (Others, coming through the snow-packed woods, make me shiver.) The snowdrops are thick now along the south wall of the house, and unseen geese have started honking their way north again. It may be two weeks past the equinox, but today felt like the first day of spring.

Tags : photography