Spiders are cool!
Along came a spider …
Well fed …
Even though I’m not a wildlife photographer, every now and then, a hapless animal cross in front of my lens. If I’m lucky, I manage to snap the shutter at the right moment to capture a halfway decent image. That always makes me happy, until I remember that humanity’s completely unsustainable approach to life is putting many other species at serious risk of extinction. Pesticides threaten many insects, especially pollinators that are so critical to ensuring a sustainable food supply. Reptiles like turtles are also threatened by impacts to water quality and wetlands, and many other species are being lost because of habitat fragmentation and, of course, climate change. If we can’t find ways to sustain the web of life that sustains us, we’re likely to become an endangered species ourselves. Some people would argue that we already are. Visit the online Summit Voice gallery to purchase landscape and nature prints — a great way to support independent journalism.
A winter sunset over Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, Colorado.
A mountain wave cloud heralds changing weather along the Continental Divide in Summit County, Colorado.
Sunrise over the Rocky Mountains.
Sunrise along the Blue River in Summit County, Colorado.
You can think of this handful of mountain shots from the Summit Voice archives as bowl of eyecandy on this Saturday. From winter wave clouds at sunrise to summer rainbows, the brilliance of mountain light is always something special. Visit our online gallery for more images from the Colorado high country.
Dried grass glows under afternoon sunlight against the backdrop of a dark forest in Thayatal National Park, Lower Austria.
Late afternoon light shimmers on budding trees in Thayatal National Park, Lower Austria.
A fallen beech in Thayatal National Park, Austria.
Green tinged fields in Lower Austria under an evening sky.
A spring rainstorm builds above the agricultural plains north of Vienna, Austria.
The Lower Austrian landscape encompasses everything from wild beech forests and deep river canyons to manicured fields — not to mention acres and acres of vineyard, but that’s another story! Austrians are still getting used to the concept of national parks. Thayatal was founded in 2002, so some local visitors still don’t quite understand why the park managers simply leave downed trees on the ground. It’s considered a waste by some, and the park features signs explaining how it’s a deliberate effort to recreate landscapes where natural processes are left to function without much interference. In this small country, nearly every acre of land is spoken for, most of it outside towns and cities dedicated to agriculture, but slowly, resource managers are making some headway in restoring natural ecosystems in a few areas, to the benefit of native species.
Downtown Wien …
Near the Flakturm in Vienna’s 7th district, a couple of locals try an early ping pong game at a public table.
Downtown dog-walking at the corner of Lindengasse and Neubaugasse in Wien’s 7th district.
Bubble blower, Mariahilferstrasse, Vienna.
Rainy day pinks at the Siebensternplatz in Wien.
Early spring in the Mondscheingasse, Wien.
It doesn’t take long for Vienna to wake from its winter sleep. Just as soon as temperatures get into the 50s and 60s and the sun peaks out a little, cafes set up their outside tables where people huddle around even if they still have to wear a winter coat. In the parks and town squares, flowering trees add splashes of color to the neighborhood scene, and ping pong enthusiasts can strike up a friendly game in the park near the Flakturm. But keep your umbrella handy because April showers are not uncommon in the Danube metropolis.
Spring in the Wachau world heritage region
Apricot trees blooming the world heritage Wachau region along the Danube between Krems and Melk.
A wild fruit tree blooms along the Danube River near Dürnstein the world heritage Wachau region of Austria.
Delicate fruit blossoms promise a bountiful harvest in the Wachau world heritage region, along the Danube River near Vienna.
A riot of spring color as the fruit trees bloom in the Wachau.
A fruit orchard along the Danube bursts into full bloom in the Wachau world heritage region of Austria.
Spring greens dominate the steep hillsides of the Danube River Valley near Spitz, Austria.
Nothing says spring like blooming fruit trees, and one of the most beautiful places to view this annual spring spectacle is in the Wachau region of Austria, along the Danube River between Krems and Melk. Perhaps best known for producing stellar crops of apricots — not to mention wine grapes, the Wachau is designated as a world heritage region for the values of its cultural landscape, including agriculture, ancient castles and villages and terraced vineyards that have been cultivated for centuries.
The area’s natural forests were cleared during the Stone Age, from which date famed relics like the Venus of Willendorf, a fertility figure shaped some 25,000 years ago. Around 800 AD, bishops from Salzburg and Bavaria started cultivating the hillsides for wine grapes, creating the present-day landscape pattern of vine terraces. Learn more about the region at UNESCO’s world heritage website.
Picking petals in the Stadtpark, Wien.
Near the Vienna University and the Votivkirche, ornamental fruit trees are in full bloom in late March.
Got cherry blossoms?
In densely packed Vienna, open green spaces are cherished by residents and the city’s many parks and gardens are starting to come alive with spring blossoms. It’s easy to take trees for granted during the green days of summer, or in winter, when the branches are bare. But in spring, when they burst into their most colorful display, it’s time to stop and give thanks for the plants that help us survive on this planet. The city recognizes the environmental value of green spaces and actively works to encourage the creation of new gardens by offering subsidies for community gardens, green roofs and other activities that promote more plant life. You can find the best of Vienna’s gardens, and many other interesting tidbits of information about the city, with this online resource.
Hepatica blooming in Thayatal National Park.
Forsythia and ornamental trees flowering near the Votivkirche in downtown Vienna.
Hepatica, one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom in the spring, pushing up through the fallen leaves of fall and winter.
Crocus in the Vienna botanical garden.
A warm winter (second-warmest on record for Austria) led to an unusually early bloom of wildflowers, a sure sign that global warming is displacing the seasons. For me, that means greeting the first wildflowers of spring with mixed feelings. On one hand, long-term concerns about climate change are intensifying. Just this week, leading climate researchers published yet another doomsday study, projecting that, in a worst-case scenario, Planet Earth could see real trouble by the end of this century, with enough sea level rise to swamp major cities and potential superstorms in the Atlantic Ocean that would dwarf hurricanes like Irene and Katrina. On the other hand, it’s hard not to feel a little pang of joy when those first splotches of color start to appear in city gardens or country forests.