Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

The hummingbird, a delicate mosaic of muted hues, is perched thoughtfully on a slender branch.

On a balmy mid-August day, I hiked with Bhavna in the Mount Rose Preserve. We've enjoyed walking the preserve trail many times, but not today. It was clear that the trail had yet to be maintained. The trail was overgrown, and bushwhacking our way in the heat and humidity was exhausting. I had my XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR lens with me, and carrying it through the dense vegetation was a chore.

Bhavna was not enjoying the hike this time and wanted to turn back. But then I reminded her that large trees cover the second half of the loop trail and the understory is sparse. We agreed it would be less effort to complete that end of the loop.

While completing this second half of the loop trail, I heard the very energetic chee-dit calls I have learned to associate with the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I asked Bhavna to stop while I looked around. Once we stopped walking, I could hear the quiet humming sound somewhere between the branches of a fallen tree.

I pulled the viewfinder to my eye and panned the XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR slowly around. Then I saw it. The delicate mosaic of muted hues of a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird perched on a slender dead branch of a fallen tree. The labyrinth of branches criss-crossing behind her made composition challenging. These branches, stripped of their leaves, outline a web of lines.

The female Ruby-throated Hummingbird feathers, though not as flamboyantly vivid as her male counterparts, shimmered under the August sunlight. Her watchful eyes, sharp and alert, seemed to scan the surroundings in the vigilance demanded by the wild.

Natural freshwater stream?

The fallen leaves, twigs, and dead vegetation suggest the season could be either late fall.

This image captures a small, natural freshwater stream meandering through a forested area. The stream's flow is characterised by its clarity and how the water cascades over and around moss-covered rocks and stones, forming a rugged mini-waterfall.

Except, none of that is true. This is just a creative framing of the roots under one of the maple trees on Blue Spring Road. While doing my early morning walk, I noticed how the frozen water, gnarled tree roots, pebbles and moss reminded me of something much bigger. I intentionally framed the photograph to make it seem that way.

The fallen leaves, twigs, and dead vegetation suggest add to the feeling of late fall or early spring when the woods have not fully recovered their lushness and the streams are just beginning to thaw.

23 December 2023 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2

I think the focus and lighting draw the viewer's attention to the centre, where the "water" flows brightest and the rocks are most prominent. The slightly blurred background, with its earthy tones, contrasts with the sharpness of the foreground, creating a sense of depth.

The photograph evokes a peaceful meditative environment, where the only sound one might imagine is the gentle sounds of the "stream".

Sunday Paper

What is the American Dream?

I would argue that democracy in the US, if it can be said to still exist, is weakened by decades corruption. It has been eroded to a thin veneer with little substance because the substance of democracy is the people. And the majority of people of the US stopped caring decades ago. Any sense of civic responsibility, of active citizenship has been eroded by decades of apathy. The truth is, America traded that responsibility for something shiny, something convenient: The American Dream. - The substance of democracy is us. To keep it we need to work for it everyday by @Denny

One developer's well meaning effort to bridge two communities has led to condemnation from both.

Bluesky is on the verge of federating its AT Protocol, meaning that anyone will be able to set up a server and make their own social network using the open source software; each individual server will be able to communicate with the others, requiring a user to have just one account across all the different social networks on the protocol. But Mastodon uses a different protocol called ActivityPub, meaning that Bluesky and Mastodon users cannot natively interact.

Turns out, some Mastodon users like it that way. - Bluesky and Mastodon users are having a fight that could shape the next generation of social media

I believe there might be some resistance. I didn't get my bike for the daily commute. The reason was my bad knees. And really, how would they even enforce such a thing? Picture this: police officers on bikes, stopping folks out for a ride? It's hard to imagine.

Serious crashes involving those modes are so relatively rare, though — the National Transportation Safety Board recorded just 119 e-bike-involved fatalities between 2017 and 2021 vs. the 192,709 caused by drivers — that advocates say the legislation would do little more than increase already-steep barriers to human-scaled mobility posed by traffic violence, while undermining the climate, equity, and safety goals that low-speed modes can help communities reach. - Why Every E-Biker Should Be Worried About NJ's Proposed Micromobility Insurance Law