A dry cold

_MG_1315.JPGIt’s the middle of winter and we’re in a drought, so much of the visible life around here is dry and dormant. Beaver Lake’s down enough to expose black swirls and patches of leafy lake bed. I went to its Lost Bridge Trail a couple weekends ago to find some life that hasn’t hidden away for the season. Some of it was unexpectedly and lusciously green, no matter how many times we’ve dipped below freezing. Then there’s the life of the water itself. You know by now that I love a lot of things about water; one of them is how it can be such a perfect canvas for color and gradient and energy.






Sorry for the long wait; I got bad food poisoning a few hours after this hike, and even after that I felt a little nauseous looking at these pictures. Stay healthy out there, and keep an eye out for the color that’s still around.



_C1_9921.JPGThe past few days have been a battle between air, water and light. The recent cold snap that broke today kept northwest Arkansas below 20 or so degrees, freezing over creeks and ponds pretty easily. But even that kind of cold yields to the warmth of daylight. Water, meanwhile, is good at retaining its heat and can stay liquid in lakes and stronger streams for days of subfreezing temperatures. But the sun sets and the cold air can triumph over some of those waters, at least for a few hours. Back and forth the energy goes.

The constant exchange of heat molds the area’s water into all sorts of ice. I think it helped grow the frost flowers.




These ghostly ribbons grow from the stems of certain plants. I never expected to see them on a morning hike around Lake Wedington, but whichever plant grew these is apparently all over that area, especially on its dam.

The water in the plants’ stems freezes and expands, splitting their sides. Water from the roots keeps coming out and freezing, slowly pushing through the cracks like icy noodles. The process leaves delicate bundles that seemed to glow in the early light. Though they’re made of ice, these flowers can only bloom if water in the plants and the ground under them is still warm enough to be liquid. Without all of that warm sunlight, in other words, they might not have formed.

I probably have that warmth to thank for my other discovery this morning: singing ice. Turn up your volume for this one:


The layer of ice along just one corner of the lake trilled, like dozens of frogs singing to each other, as liquid water jostled it from beneath. I suspect the cause for the trilling is the same as the one behind the strange noise that sounds when you throw a pebble or stick onto a frozen lake. A smack or a cracking sound contains higher and lower pitches that travel at different speeds through the ice layer, so they reach the ear at different times. The result is a chirp. (The same principle is behind the sound of “Star Wars” blasters and the rainbow created by light through a prism.)

This all goes to show how much the characteristics of ice depend on where the water is and what it’s doing when it freezes. Flowing water, for example, might freeze clear and smooth but often becomes opaque white from bubbles if it’s tumbling down a fall. Peaceful water freezes into sheets that sometimes overlap in abstract patterns or fit together like angular puzzle pieces. Wedington and Lake Fayetteville provided examples of them all.




_C1_9939.JPG(Lake Fayetteville shots begin here:)




_C1_9754.JPGIce’s variety and beauty will forever mesmerize me. Thanks for looking.



_C1_9629.JPGIt’s just about time to close out the year. 2017 has taken me across more than 3,000 miles to an solar eclipse, two national parks, five hikes at Devil’s Den and other sights new and old. I hope I always remember daylight falling behind the moon as my manic excitement reached ever higher in the middle of Nebraska back in August. Not a bad year for photos.


_C1_3399.JPG(From Through the Wall, taken Aug. 23)

_C1_3223.JPG(The center of the world, Aug. 22)


(The eclipse, Aug. 21)

IMG_2613.JPG(Nebraska, Aug. 19)

The year was eventful in other ways simply as a guy who takes pictures and wants to share them. I made a Facebook page, went to one of Fayetteville’s First Thursdays and took a shot at doing some family portraits this fall. I dream about doing what I do on this blog for a career and creating photo books and traveling the world, and I agonize with insecurities about whether I’m actually any good. Maybe I’ll get a little further with all of those things next year, too.

IMG_2872.JPG(In the wind, Sept. 16)

IMG_8448.jpg(Devil’s Den in white, Jan. 7)

IMG_9563.JPG(The forest floor, June 19)


(Mushrooming III, May 29)

As it happens, this post is #200 since I officially made this WordPress into a photo blog a little more than four years ago. This place been a lot of things for me: a photo diary for friends, family and exploring my home; a travel blog; an extension of work; an experiment in storytelling and new ways to shoot. Basically all of my fear and joy in photography goes here. I’ve tried to learn and deliver at least a touch of art. Some of my shots, especially early on, are embarrassing, really, and I needed to learn a lot about editing down to the best images. Other early pictures aren’t bad. I’ll probably feel the same about my recent shots in another four years.

If there’s anyone from the earliest days who still visits, bless you. For everyone else, thanks for joining me. I look forward to another year.

_C1_9583.JPG(The Hawksbill, Dec. 3)


IMG_2742.JPG(Twin Cities, Aug. 26)

_C1_0567.JPG(Fools’ parade, Feb. 25)

_C1_9794.JPG(One day, two cities, June 24)

_C1_9849.JPG(June in February, Feb. 11)

_C1_4813.JPG(Fall’s first days, Sept. 24)

_C1_1718.JPG(Belly of the beast, March 9)

If you’d like to see my past year-in-review posts, they’re just a click away: 2014, 2015 and 2016.