More flooding in Vermont

I was in Washington D.C. early this week and was supposed to travel home to Vermont during the thunderstorms Tuesday evening. The flight was delayed and eventually cancelled which meant I flew up over Lake Champlain at around noon on Wednesday. I was greeted with sights that I’ve only seen in photos from other flooded areas. Silt and debris flowed out of every river and stream into Lake Champlain creating plumes of muddy water. The photo below is of the mouth of the Winooski river with the silt streaming north past Colchester point and towards the mouth of Malletts Bay. Usually I travel with a decent camera, but this was a quick trip and all I had on me was my iPhone.

Silt and debris floods into Lake Champlain from the Winooski River

After dinner, Tawny and I decided to walk over to the farmer’s field near our house to see what the flooding had done. Earlier in the day Route 128 was closed right here, but the waters had receded enough to re-open by early evening. The flood waters had eroded large parts of the shoulder but the traveled lanes still looked structurally sound.

Erosion undercut many roads in the Burlington area. Route 128 in Essex is open as of this evening, but it's a little more narrow than it used to be.

I can’t imagine this truck is going to move for a few days. Earlier this morning, Tawny informed me, there was a tractor in the middle of the field across the road. The tractor made its way out, but there were some serious ruts that indicated where it had been.

We walked around for a few more minutes as the sun set, enjoying the near 80 degree weather.   It’s hard to believe that this is a farmer’s field. Usually photos like this are down at the lake shore looking over at the Adirondack mountains.

It’s been an exciting year for weather in Burlington. What’s mother nature got in store for us next?

Winter releases her grip on Vermont’s fields

This time of year is special in Vermont. Most of the country is talking about how nice it is to have spring; farmers are planting crops and flowers are in bloom.  Here in Vermont, we might have snow on the ground or we might have 60 degree days.  This week, we had both.

On my drive home yesterday, I had to pull over to the side of the road to photograph Mt. Mansfield basking in the late afternoon sun with the golden, just barely uncovered, fields in the foreground.

It reminded me of the trip that Tawny and I took to Iceland a few years back. It was April 29th, and the landscape looked very similar. Snow in the hills, golden grasses and fields clinging to the volcanic earth. It was all very beautiful; I’d love to see it in both full summer and winter.

I love living in a northern climate. Sure. Sometimes it’s hard that the days are shorter than most of the country, that we have feet more snow to shovel, that you sometimes don’t see your neighbors for weeks at at time because it’s too cold to venture across the street. I think it makes you appreciate the change of seasons. I’d get bored if it was always perfect weather all the time. Plus, it’s hard to ski when it’s 70 and sunny (though I’m told that Vermont’s headed for 60 this weekend and there’s still plenty of snow in the mountains!)

A Perfect Fall Season in Vermont

Some years, Vermont throws curve balls all year long.  Spring is muddy, summer is rainy, and fall foliage gets annihilated by strong wind and early snows.  This year wasn’t one of those years.  Summer was comprised of mostly beautiful days. Fall rolled in and we had cool nights, sunny days, and a long, gradual change of color as fall foliage rolled down from the peaks of the Green Mountains into the Champlain Valley.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to walk around both in my back yard and along some local recreation paths and document some of the sights in Essex.

I posted a few of these on my Flickr stream over the weekend.  Someone commented that it almost looked like the foliage was blooming like flowers. I hadn’t considered it while I was shooting, but a common theme across many of the photos I took was the contrast between the vibrant color leaves and the rest of the forest. Either growing up out out of the grass, as below, or lying peacefully on a passing fern. As a photographer, I struggle with what to expose about the photographic process. Some of the photos I took this weekend required some intervention on my behalf while others were a pure documentation of a scene in the woods. Can you tell which ones were “staged” and which ones were 100% natural? Does it matter to you?

While walking with my wife and dog, I had an idea for a photograph in my head. Below are the results of the first frame, 100% out of the camera except for a quick contrast adjustment.

I have to say, it matched what I had in my head.  I love the combination of colors. It almost feels like a painter’s palette to me, blending the dark greens of the leaves yet to turn against the yellows and oranges contrasted with the hints of blue from the sky above.  I tried it again in a few other locations, but wasn’t 100% happy with the result. It’s a technique I would like to continue to experiment with.

Near the end of our walk, Tawny & I noticed that the ground just ahead of us was shimmering as the sun played hide’n’seek with the clouds. Upon further inspection, there was a long swath of ground covered in crushed glass. An odd thing to experience outside of a recycling plant, but beautiful in its own way. Similar, but different to the Vermont foliage that surrounded us.

Turning around, we were greeted by one of my favorite sights; sun illuminating the trees with dark storm clouds still in the sky. Sometimes people ask me why we choose to live in Vermont…there are so many reasons, but the scene below is certainly one of them! Having a landscape like this within miles of my house is priceless.

Before and After: Flooding on Vermont’s Winooski River

A few weeks ago, I walked down to the Winooski River on the boarder between Williston and Essex. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to walk around, but somehow I had never stopped until that day. I was surprised to see that you can walk all the way down onto the rocks and “in” to the river. I walked down pretty far and scrambled over the rocks, looking for the shot I had in my head. I’m not sure I found it, but it was a fun experience.

Yesterday, after two days of heavy rain all across Vermont, my commute was redirected because of flooding and I passed by the same spot.  I had to stop. The contrast to just two weeks ago was astounding. It looked like we had been transported back to April or May with the spring runoff raging down the river.

You see those rocks straight across the river? That’s where I was standing for the above picture.  For the photograph below, I was standing just to the right of the building in the photo above.

I’ll finish off the post with a panoramic photo snapped on that day a few weeks ago. The river almost looks like a pleasant place to hop in with an innertube and float towards Lake Champlain (well — except for the knowledge that there are a few dams and waterfalls along the way…)

Lake Champlain or Icelandic hot spring?

The Burlington Free Press recently posted an article about algae growth in Lake Champlain triggered by the recent heat wave and lack of winds.  As soon as I saw their photos of milky-blue water, I was transported back more than 4 years to a quick trip we took to Iceland.  On the day we arrived (on the red eye from Kennedy airport) we booked an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon to relax in the hot springs and try to recuperate for the next three days. When we arrived at the spa, the water rendered us speechless.

The next day we toured around and saw some of the other natural hot springs that are close to Reykjavík. Amazingly, many of these other pools of water had similarly mystical colors. The second shot below doesn’t really capture the vibrancy of the water – it almost glowed when contrasted to the yellow/gray rocks surrounding it.

Incidentally, if you’re headed to Iceland I recommend taking a half day or so at the Blue Lagoon to adjust.  Heck, if you’ve got a layover in Keflavik, I believe they run shuttle busses for those folks that want a quick dip or massage.  If you’re staying a few hours, though, why not just extend your trip and stay the weekend or longer.  Iceland was wonderful to us and we’d go back again in a heartbeat.

Quiet Morning in Vermont

I woke up this morning with a laundry list of tasks to finish.  Paint some trim, prep some doorways, patch some drywall, mow the lawn.  It’s humid here in Vermont; the gentle rains last night and the morning dew meant that I couldn’t yet mow the lawn.  Those same rains left some treasures on the irises that line my driveway, so after doing a little sanding, I took some time to appreciate the little things in life. I have photographed these plants and droplets in the past, but somehow they never get old to me.

Drop of water on an iris leaf

Vermont mornings provide beautiful droplets after a night of gentle showers.

I remain perpetually fascinated at how perfectly round the water droplets are some mornings, and how on other mornings they cling with all their might, flattening down to hug the leaves.

If you like these, please take a look at some of my other macro & floral photography, or look at my general gallery of artistic photos.