mid-winter moon

Soon the solstice moon will be full. I shall be in Johannesburg, not here to see it. More’s the pity. Somehow the solstice and equinox full moons have always meant more to me than the events themselves… perhaps literally it is the turning of the tides, even though I sit at 1400m (4500ft) and 300km from the closest sea, and over 1000 miles away from the sea I know and love…

In the above photo, taken from the arboretum at 5.30 this afternoon in the growing dusk, you can see the Big House and to its left Trailertrash Cottage.

winter's traceries I love winter. (Mostly. Last night it depressed me.) I particularly love this view in winter, the view from The House that Jack Built’s big window. (More or less – this was taken from the terrace under the Water Oak.) The traceries of trees are reflected in the water, some late colour coming from a swamp cypress, and for the rest the palette is reduced to dark greens and neutrals. The angles of the earth, overlaid all summer, support the vertical trunks of trees. Light and frost will now play on these surfaces, and I will only tire of them at the end of August, when all starts to change anyway.

Steps from the bridge

This afternoon the dogs and I went on a walk, our first real walk in 12 days. We took along my new camera to test especially its low light potential. We were not disappointed. Whilst on Samaria one of the plates connecting the batteries on the old camera was irretrievably lost in the dust. It will take weeks in Johannesburg to repair. I thought a cheap and compact  point-and-shoot was the solution – one which could take low-light snapshots in a way my bulky 12x zoom (and rather ancient) Canon S2 can not. I bought the entry level Canon A490 and took it on its first real outing…

This photo, taken in the gloom of the steps up from the bridge – always a difficult place to get enough light – proves that it was a worthwhile choice. Besides having a much shorter lens which lets through more light, the camera  can go up to ISO 1600, 4x as much as the old S2. This I think was taken on ISO 800, but strangely it is not indicated in the properties of the photo.

The House that Jack Built -rear view Here is The House that Jack Built in its meadow, and beyond Freddie’s Dam with the bridge visible over the left side of the cottage… a stone cottage in a meadow on a dam in a valley on a mountain…



This photo of Mateczka – now seven months old and a lovely animal – is clearly shot at high ISOs, and there is no detail to her fur. But it is the kind of snapshot I would never have got in the poor light with the S2, and a rather lovely snapshot it makes. I look forward to less self-conscious photography with the new camera!



View from the bridge Here is The House that Jack Built as seen from the bridge. With a little imagination you can see the moon reflected in the right hand gap between the trees. I could see it clearly, but you will have to accept my word on that one!

Wisteria seedpods Magnolia bud

Silver-grey fur can be both a memory of glories past and a promise of beauty to come… wisteria seedpods and magnolia buds.

Salvia leucantha And purple-grey is a highly fashionable colour, although my mother lovingly and simply referred to these flowers as ‘Old-fashioneds’ – aged Salvia leucantha finds a new subtlety after the frost…

On a walk We spend a happy hour or more in the garden; Mateczka dashing through fallen leaves with all the joyful indulgence of the young when making a noise, Taubie and Stompie – our two old ladies – plodding along contentedly, and Monty (who believes himself the alpha-male of the valley despite his six-inch legs) dashing off to investigate before running back and jumping up against me adoringly. Winter sunset

And thus, as the chill becomes more and more noticeable,  we reach home and heat…



  1. Pure poetry, Jack! I saw the moon’s reflection in the water. Your new camera is splendid in your able hands. It all looks idyllic, perfectly peaceful and serene. Just a joy to read and absorb. Thank you.

    • Thanks Frances – if nothing else it makes me realise that the technology on my old cmera is now several years old, and makes me wonder what I could achieve with a higher-end camera (sigh) 😉

  2. The reflection photo with the house is fantastic! I love the first picture for the huge sky you captured, and the second one for the colors… Sometimes, it’s not even the quality of the photo that matters, but the spirit, the atmosphere. Thank you Jack!

  3. Thank you, Tatyana! And you are right. I manage rather impressive photos on mediocre equipment because my material is so lovely. But as I’ve just commented to Frances – I’d love to explore my garden with a really good camera!

  4. Jack, I share your love of the solstice full moons. In winter, the moon rises through the trees behind my house, and I sometimes turn off all the lights in the house so that I can watch the moonrise (especially beautiful if there is snow on the ground and in the trees). In some years, my summer solstice camping trips have coincided with the full moon, and I will go for a walk along the path at the top of the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, my way lit just by the rising moon.

    • 🙂
      Some of my most exciting viewings have been of the SETTING full moon in mid-winter, seen through the oak on the edge of Freddie’s Dam after an all-night session of marking exam papers… talk of a change of scenary!

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