Some “firsts”

After our wedding shoot Dianne and I headed for New Jersey to spend some time with Sheila and family.  We laughed, ate, and took some photos… thanks Beth. We had our first “water ice”…. I’d never heard of such a thing.  Sounds pretty redundant really.   We gathered up sister Sheila and visited brother Vince in Rushville, New York .  Our first morning with Vince was spent touring the country to see his world and meet some people he hangs out with.  We quickly learned that life can be pretty darn nice in upstate NY and that the people there are good, hard working folk.  Vince is a bee keeper and clearly puts a lot of his energy into understanding and working with the bees.  He must have 20 books on bees… all worn… in the bookcases or laying around his house.  The garage is packed with bee stuff… hives, suits, smokes, empty honey jars and a variety of other tools and gadgets that honey guys own.  His honey extractor sits proudly in the front room near the dinner table.  There’s a conspicuous “stick” to some of the bathroom flooring where honey found its way free.  You can’t be with Vince long before you understand that the bees in the Finger Lakes area have a friend.  He teaches kids about bees, puts out hives and tends to the critters as needed.  He and his mentor, Sam, do what they can to raise awareness about bees and their role in agriculture whenever they can.  Sam calls bees the “achilles heel of agriculture”.  Screw ’em up and the crops are going to suffer.  Crops suffer and humans suffer… or at least pay a higher price.  Yup, bees are interesting, complex social creatures that make much of our lives possible.  That pollen has to move around you know.  

We got a good look at some of Sam’s hives on our first outing in the area.  Notice the black tar paper around the hives.  It was cold and the paper helps absorb the sun and store some heat for the bees.

We took a short trip to the organic farm at which Vince works… as a beekeeper, compost producer and general nice guy who’ll do most anything needed, it seems.  This farm is pretty young and just getting going.  The Wegmans have a series of nice grocery stores in the area and decided to turn a large plot of land into an organic garden.  My impression is that much of the garden’s use will be educational but it will produce a wide array of crops for local restaurants and the stores.  Mary Ann keeps the hired help busy and never seems to land for long herself.  Tilling, raking, pulling stuff, sorting, watering, directing… busy gal that Mary Ann.  Vince pays attention when she talks to him… smart boy that Vince.  Part of the farm is bees.  Now, the Wegmans appear to be setting the farm up with a goal of “doing it right”.  That’s to say that they appear to have given Mary Ann and Steve a budget to do it well.  Case in point are the hives.  While they aren’t overly fancy as woodwork the hives at the Wegman farm look just a bit better off than others I saw in NY and elsewhere.  You don’t see too many hives with copper roofs.  I wonder if the bees appreciate their high class housing.

As we were touring Sam’s place and looking at the bee’s one of  us, Sheila I think, pointed to the sky and said “look at that”.  All of us adjusted our views upward and saw a remarkable “sun dog” surrounding the sun.  I’d read about and seen pictures of this phenomenon before but don’t remember seeing one personally.  One of several firsts on this trip east.  Also known as “parhelion” a sun dog is (according to Wickipedia) “It is an atmospheric optical phenomenon primarily associated with the reflection orrefraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds“.    There you have it.  I’d never purposefully pointed my camera at the sun to take a picture (see what I mean about firsts?).  Kneeling behind Sam’s willow tree to give some context I dialed in aperture priority and let it go.  I bracketed a few shots and was amazed to see the sun dog on the camera’s LCD.  Cool.

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