i promised my sister i'd go with her to winchester fells today, or what she calls the western half of middlesex fells (bordering on the town of winchester). since my mobility is still an issue, i was looking forward to doing some early spring naturing.

i realized pretty quickly that there wasn't much going on in the fells just yet. nothing was flowering, and trees and shrubs were just beginning to open up their buds.

i photographed what i could, bringing only my panasonic ZS20, and shooting in mostly 3D, with some full resolution 2D and a few 60fps ACVHD videos.

the place was busy since it was the weekend, with the bulk of the people there either parents with small children or folks walking dogs. there were some solo mountain bikers and a few joggers. we followed the skyline trail, which kept the traffic to only the hardiest of hikers. i brought a map but my sister comes often enough (a few times a week) that she had the place memorized by this point. the dog seemed to know where she was going as well, walking ahead of us, stopping every so often to look back and check that we were still following.

with the foliage not yet out, i took the opportunity to admire the many variety of tree bark. maybe it would've made identification a bit easier if i could see the leaves, but even with deciduous trees sometimes from the leaf debris around the tree i can sort of figure out what it is. i'm not a tree guy but i'd love to be able to go into a forest and know what's what. maybe this is the season where i bulk up my tree knowledge.

i sort of know the difference between red pines and white pines, from the numbers of needles (reds have 2, whites have 5) to the shape of the pinecones (reds are short, whites are long). most of the forest we were in were a mix of white pines and oaks. at some point i did find a grove of red oaks. i can't really id them from their barks, but the red pines do have a distinctive reddish (pinkish) hue. the needles and cones are definitely their most distinguishing characteristics.

middlesex fells has a lot of rocky hilltops, where are good places to find pitch pines. i never knew too much about them, but i now know pitch pine needles come in 3's, rather big teardrop-shaped pinecones, and can grow needles direct from the trunk.

we were out for about 3 hours. even though i wasn't carrying my usual camera bag, by the end my left shoulder was aching badly simply from the weight of my jacket layers. i was warmed up by that point and ended up taking off my jackets.

back at home i was tired enough that i took an hour long nap. it was sort of a restless sleep because anytime i felt an itch on my body, i was afraid it might be a tick.

after dinner i helped my father assemble the $20 indoor green house stand he bought from ocean state job lot a few weeks ago. he wanted to give it to me but i don't get enough sunlight. he said i could mount my banks of fluorescent lights from the sides but i don't think plants like it very much when they're lit from any direction besides the top (it confused them as to which direction to grow).

i biked back home by 8:00. it gave me an hour to decompress, before the sunday night onslaught of television: game of thrones at 9:00, mad men at 10:00, and finally vikings at 11:00. spoilers: so they finally chopped off jaime's hand. i wonder how the general viewing audience took the news if they hadn't read the books already? will alison brie be leaving mad men now that it looks like she and husband pete campbell might be separating? i was kind of shocked she knew of pete's past indiscretions (totally knew he was using his manhattan apartment as a love shack), was even fine with it as long as he kept it discreet, which he didn't do with this current affair. finally, watching vikings is sort of weird because i'm rooting for them even though they're kind of the bad guys. i think this would've made a great show on premium cable. the battle scenes are pretty chaste, after having been weaned on ultraviolence of spartacus.