landscape

Posted by Ellen

We have a new dog in the family, Hank's shaggy pup Mabel. She's a cross between an Australian Shepherd–which is actually an American breed with no connection to Australia–and an Australian Cattle Dog–which is actually an Australian cattle dog. The two breeds are often crossed to produce a kind of sturdy, active, people-oriented working dog that's sometimes called a Texas Heeler.

Hank tells us that Mabel, who's seven months old, is the world's smartest dog. She's smart enough, obviously, to know when she's got a good thing going.

Posted by Ellen

A birdseye view of farmland on the volcanic slopes of the Canary Islands.

Posted by Ellen

Here in Philadelphia, the sun is smiling on us this week; it feels like spring, and it will look like spring very soon. We'll know it when we see it. Even in South Dakota's appropriately named Badlands, where life is tough and the weather is bad pretty much all seasons of the year, faint green hints of spring can be discerned in the landscape–not in March, however; the photo above was taken in mid-May 2014.

Posted by Ellen

Early March in Mongolia is horse-racing season.

Posted by Ellen

In the mid-eighteenth century, Ben Franklin's good friend John Bartram was a nurseryman, with a plant and seed business on a few acres across the Schuylkill River from Phladelphia. This is the view today from Bartram's estate, which is now owned by the city.

The oil tanks are part of the largest refinery complex in the northeast, recently acquired from Sunoco by an investment fund that operates it as Philadelphia Energy Solutions. This year's low oil prices don't seem to hurt the storage-and-refinery end of the oil business; PES says it has expanded its operation locally to employ more than 1,000 people and is trying to acquire a storage facility in North Dakota.

Bartram had an international reputation as a botanist, collecting seeds and plant specimens from all over the thirteen colonies and beyond, from Florida to Lake Ontario. Much of his traveling was by foot. He sent unique New World plants to London for the king's botanists there; they in turn sent him English plants that might or might not be suitable for American climes, including some trees and shrubs that survive today in Bartram's garden.

His son Bill continued the nursery business and also wrote a best-selling travelogue about plant-collecting adventures. Bill's niece Ann then took over the place and expanded it to include ten greenhouses and many acres of nursery gardens; in 1850, however, Ann and her husband Bob Carr ran out of money and had to sell the place.

Posted by Ellen

Night comes to NE 78th Street in Seattle.

A few stray power lines hint at the electrical substation down the hill but don't even come close to hiding the Olympic Mountains on the horizon.

Posted by Ellen

A couple of weeks ago, in the desert near Pinnacle Peak, outside of Phoenix, people who stepped out of their cars to savor the sunset felt the wind pick up suddenly, blowing hard and cold and carrying . . . raindrops? Really?

Careful examination of clouds in the distance revealed ragged curtains of rain showers swirling down just below the cloud line. Apparently, most of the rain evaporated long before moistening the dust, but we can vouch for several drops, perhaps even several dozens of drops, that fell all the way to earth.

After a few minutes, the wind died down, and the storm, such as it was, no longer was.

Posted by Ellen

A fisherman goes out at night with his cormorants on the River Li, amidst the karst spires of south China. The photo does not make clear how he monetizes his fishing in these postmodern times: by selling fish, or by entertaining tourists?

Posted by Ellen

Pacific Ocean beach near Kalaloch, in Olympic National Park.

Driftwood arrives naturally on beaches in the Pacific Northwest; storms, erosion, and ordinary old age can cause trees growing in thin soil on steep slopes to tumble down into inland creeks and rivers; when the rivers are running high and fast, entire forests can be floated right on out to the coast.