Darth Vader and over a dozen other balloons take to the sky during Friday morning’s launch as seen from the balloon of Bill Whidden in Great Balls of Fire after taking off from Simard Payne Memorial Park at the Great Falls Balloon Festival.
It was a year of new highs and lows in my career as a photojournalist, or as some call us now, “visual journalists”. Somebody will figure a way to insert the word audio into it as that aspect of storytelling is uber important. I digress.
With the focus on the web using video, drones, 360-degree cameras and live streaming, I have been exposed to a new set of demands and decisions. With that comes responsibilities that often call for split-second decision making. “Back in the day” when we published once a day, our images were scrutinized and discussed with many voices having the luxury of time to decide what to publish and what not to publish. Even with that, we made judgment errors. I have certainly experienced hard lessons and growing pains.
I have always tried to be on the cutting edge of technology and pushed the envelope. The push to be first with breaking news can come with a price. I learned a sad and humble lesson recently when I decided to stream live from the scene of a fatal accident involving a young boy who lived around the corner from me. I chose to push the button to go live. While I tried to be discrete and respectful, the subject matter was just too traumatic and without compassion for not only the family of the victim but many of our loyal viewers who tuned in and saw and heard the drama unfold. To this day I am haunted by it as well as many others who have told me the same. Fortunately, I have many colleagues, family, and friends who empathize with me and know how I am struggling with it. I will take great care the next time I am confronted with such a decision,.
Although the focus of our industry is developing into web-based journalism, our bread and butter is still the print product. So while I embrace and lead the way down this avenue, I still have a passion for the still image. A moment captured in time. I think the decades of putting myself into position to be in the right place at the right time has helped me with shooting video. But I have so much more to learn, and still have the fire to learn and work hard.
While many journalists single out a half dozen or so of their favorite images from the past year to talk about, I, as usual, couldn’t make up my mind and decided to go hog wild. Each image will have their original caption, and I will comment on a few.
I look forward to what 2017 has in store. Please come along with me for a fun ride, but for now, enjoy some of my favorite still images from 2016.
A fresh blanket of snow covers Lewiston in this panoramic photo taken from the air above Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston Wednesday afternoon.
Streaking car lights cross the Longley Memorial Bridge between Lewiston and Auburn Sunday night.
An aerial view of the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston.
Kennedy Park decorated for Christmas 2016
Several hundred people raise their candels before blowing them out following 13 minutes of silence for 13 year old Jayden Cho-Sargent at Lewiston Middle School Thursday night after the LMS student was killed walking to school earlier in the day.
Bristol Alexander, 3 of Farmington, left, and her cousin Charloette Emery, 2 of Wayne, wave to Santa as he makes his way down Main Street Saturday morning during the annual Chester Greenwood Day Parade in Farmington.
Lewiston firefighters attack a garage fire behind Poirier’s Market at the corner of Walnut and Pierce Streets in Lewiston Monday night.
Lewiston police officers cross Ash Street in Lewiston as they walk down Howe Street late Friday morning searching for a man that shot at a vehicle at the corner of Sabattus Street and College. Witnesses said he fled up Howe Street. He is still at large at this time and the search continues.
The crowd cheers Donald Trump as he makes a campaign stop at the Open Door Bible Baptist Church’s Christian Academy during Friday’s rally in Lisbon.
Lillian Mercier,8 of Minot and her grandfather, Matthew Foster, both from Minot, patiently wait for Donald Trump to arrive at the Open Door Bible School in Lisbon Friday during a campaign rally. Mercier is a student at the school who likes Trump because her father does, while her grandfather said “He’s just what we need, kinda like another Ronald Reagan.”
Ashley Chopelas, a member of the Salem New Hampshire Blue Devil Color Guard, warms up prior to teaming up with the marching band to perform during Saturday night’s marching band competition at ELHS.
Sala Aden, left, and his son Masah, 4, of Lewiston, liesten to the new imam speak during the opening of the new mosque on Bartlett Street in Lewiston Saturday afternoon.
Amanda Dwelly waits for traffic to stop before crossing Cedar Street in Lewiston with her cats, Geronimo and Salvadore Tuesday afternoon. Originally from Bellingham, Massachussetts, Dwelly is staying with friends in the area and was heading to Hope Haven to get out of the rain and have something to eat.
Olivia DuBois, of Auburn, screams in terror as an alien jumps out of her stomach during Wednesday night’s dress rehersal for Lost Valley’s upcoming Mountain of Terror.
A tandem bike heads to the finish line along the Riverwalk in Lewiston during Sunday’s Dempsey Challenge.
Patrick Dempsey is mobbed by the crowd after he finished his ride during Sunday’s Dempsey Challenge
Fall colors are a blur in this slow motion photo of a cyclist on Lewiston Junction Road in Auburn during Sunday’s 8th Annual Dempsey Challenge Sunday morning.
Robert Neilson, 13, who lives in the neighborhood, stands at the top of a big hill on Danville Junction Road in Auburn Sunday morning to warn riders of the dangers of the big hill coming up. “I think they need an extra boost, so I came out to support them.”
Judea Willis of Lewiston does a backside boneless off the side of a bowl at the Lewiston Skatepark Wednesday afternoon.
Edward Little’s Lauren Berube clears launches over the bar during the pole vault event at Tuesday’s track and field meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.
Patricia Read removes family photos from the wall of her mother’s second floor apartment at 78 Oak Street in Lewiston Monday morning after a fire the night before destroyed the building that will be torn down in the next few days.
Lewiston firefighters and police officers pay tribute on the overpass on Old Lisbon Road in Lewiston early Wednesday afternoon. They were showing their support for a convoy of vehicles and motorcycles escorting a piece of metal from the World Trade Center in New York City that was being transported to Newfoundland. It will be included in a display at the Gander airport, where 38 planes were diverted and grounded during the 2001 terrorist attacks. The small town rallied together to care for the 6,000 people stranded there as airports in the US were closed.
Buzzy Metayer ties down a firefighters flag at the top of a 70′ pine tree along the side of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge in Lewiston Last Friday morning.
A turkey vulture purches on the cross at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish on High Street in Sabattus Wednesday afternoon.
Natalie Staples, left and her brother David, of Brunswick, patiently wait with their father, Dean, center, for Gray Johnson and Bill Weld to arrive at Lewiston’s Franco Center Friday night.
Jay Sawyer guides his f-bomb into position in front of University of Maine’s Emery Community Arts Center in Farmington Thursday afternoon. It was one of over 40 pieces from sculptor and metal artist Jay Sawyer of Warren. “Sculpture Soup” will run from Monday, Aug. 29, to Nov. 3. A reception for the Midcoast artist will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Mystery Photo for September 25, 2016
Santa gets a kiss from Lotus, an 11 month old cocker spaniel owned by the Ouellette family from Minot Sunday afternoon at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society annual Pet Photos with Santa in Lewiston. The photos were free, but as always, donations were greatly appreciarted.
Richard Burton Jr. of Maine Animal Damage Control, comforts a young Great Blue Heron in the front seat of his truck at the corner of Broad and Mill Streets in Auburn Wednesday afternoon. He captured it in an alley after it was flapping around the middle of the street with a broken wing. Because the break was old, there was no way it could be repaired and with little hope of recovery, he took it to be euthanized.
Kaelin Darlings, of Bath, is startled when an Emu from RMT Farms of Litchfield stuck it’s head out from the fence at their booth at the Topsham Fair Friday afternoon.
After getting pestered by her brother Will while she was washing her holsteins, Sydney Bullard, 10 of Turner, sprays him as Reeve Twitchell, 12, washes another. Twitchell, the Bullards neighbor, was helping prepare the cows from the Bullard’s farm, Brigeen Farms in Turner, for a showing at the Topsham Fair Saturday morning.
Ellieanne Marino, 2 of Greene can’t quite decide if she is frightended or not by a butterfly that was just released during Sunday morning’s 8th annual Butterfly Release Celebration put on by Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice at the Hospice House in Auburn. Several hundred people were at the event where butterflies were released in honor of loved ones who’s who are being cared for or have been cared for by AHCH and had their names read prior to the release. Her grandmother was cared for by the organization exactly a year ago before she passed away.
Allyana David, 5, of Greene, squeals with delight as her mother Kelly, releases dozens of butterflies from one of several baskets during Sunday morning’s 8th annual Butterfly Release Celebration put on by Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice at the Hospice House in Auburn. Several hundred people were at the event where butterflies were released in honor of loved ones who’s who are being cared for or have been cared for by AHCH and had their names read prior to the release.
Riley Barter-Levine, 11, of Auburn, holds a rat, while another person holds a Guinea Pig at the Mainley Rat Rescue in Auburn booth in Great Falls Plaza Saturday morning during Auburn’s first annual Summer Festival which continues through Sunday. They were holding the pets for people to hold and pet in order to get over their fear of the animals. Her mom is a “foster mother” for the local chapter who’s mission is to rehabilitate and find homes for surrendered or abandoned domestic rats, as well as spreading awareness, education and support for this often misunderstood animal.
Ricky MacDougall, of Monmouth, rides along Main Street in Monmouth in search of returnables Tuesday afternoon. “I do this most every day. It is awfully hot today, but I’ll be doing it else someplace else tomorrow.”
A butterfly feeds off a purple cone flower on the first hole at Augusta Country Club in Manchester during the opening round of Charlie’s Maine Open golf tournament.
Autumn Smith, 17, ducks under the water as she plays peek a boo with her 2 year old sister Evelina as they cool off Thursday night at Martin Point on Sabattus Pond.
Auburn police conduct interviews on Clover Lane in Auburn Tuesday night after a domestic dispute, including the son of one of the combatants.
A damselfly takes a break on a water lily flower on South Pond in Woodstock Tuesday afternoon.
Dickens, a 9 year old Arabian Stallion, peers over the fence at the former Hooper Farm in Bryant Pond Tuesday morning. He is one of the last horses that remain on the farm after the longtime owners sold the property to the Hallett family, who plan to continue breeding horses on the iconic property..
Camp North Woods campers jump off the dock Tuesday morning at the Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond.
Gabrielle Zlotkowski, right, a camper at Camp North Woods in Bryant Pond, intentionally flips her canoe with councelor Wendy Wegner in Bryant Pond Tuesday morning. They were working with Maine Game Wardens, learning how to stay calm and with the help from others, empty their canoe and get back in while still in the water at Camp North Woods at the University of Maine 4-H Camp.
The occupants of the SUV, foreground, look on as Lewiston Fire and United Ambulance personel tend to the elderly couple of another vehicle that collided with them at the corner of Sabattus Streets and Dow avenue in Lewiston Sunday afternoon. The two young girls refused medical treatment at the scene, but the elderly couple in the other vehicle were taken to the hospital with what appeared to be non life threatening injuries. According to a witness at the scene, the SUV pulled out of Dow Avenue and did not see the compact Chevrolet coming down Sabattus Street when they collied.
Ridwan Hussein, of Auburn, who came from Kenya, takes a selfie with friends in front of the Lewiston Armory after Wednesday mornings prayers that marked the conclusion of Ramadan for U.S. Muslims, otherwise known as Eid al-Fitr. Ramadan is a time that followers of the Islamic faith fast from sunrise to sunset each day as part of a fasting ritual. The period also means no drinking as well as no sexual interactions. The month long celebration takes place on different dates around the world so not all Ramadan celebrations are taking place at the same time. The lunar cycles mean that the dates for Eid can vary around 11 days every year. Muslims believe that Ramadan is the time their holy book, the Qu’ran, was revealed to mankind through their Prophet Muhammad.
Bonnie Paige, of Lewiston, holds her son Tenzing Sage, 1, up so he can get a close look at the bronze bobcat on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston Wednesday morning where she was taking her son for a walk between rain showers.
Valerie Doucette of Lisbon drives a golf cart to the next tee at Apple Valley Golf Course in Lewiston Friday morning during the first of a 9 week junior golf clinic. ”The goal of the Hopkins Junior Golf Clinic is “to teach kids first the basics of golf, but also the principles of golf that are important in everyday life: Respect, honesty, fairness and competitiveness.“ said lead instructo Chad Hopkins. Over 100 kids of all abilities showed up to the first clinic that included instruction a chance to play the course. For more information and to sign up for future classes, visit: applevalleyme.com
Olivia Tassinari, 6, of Minot takes a break from picking strawberries at Chipman Farms in Minot Saturday morning to sample one of the sweet berries while her mom, Stephanie offers one to her other daughter Harper, 2. Most pick your own strawberry businesses are now open as the warm weather has made them super sweet and juicy. To see more photos from Chipman’s and Gillespie Farms in New Gloucester visit sunjournal.com
A member of the Blake Street Community Garden carries a tomato plant to her plot to plant recently.
Michelle Richards, of Lewiston, gets some help from her daughter Hannah while planting in the Blake Street Community garden recently.
Lewiton Police Officer Larry Maillet takes notes on the side of 17 Jefferson Street in Lewiston Monday night after a fight on the second floor balcony caused three young men to crash through the balcony and fell onto the chain link fence below. A friend of one of those involved holds paper towels to the neck of one of the combatants until medical personel arrive. One was taken to the hospital on a stretcher with non life threatening. Another was being evaluated in an ambulance while the third refused medical attention. None were cooperative with the police and no charges were filed.
Leslie Walker comforts Elton Bosmus, 3, who she was babysitting, during a prayer at the First Universalist Church in Auburn Monday night during a vigil to celebrate strength of diversity in response to the weekend’s massacre in Orlando.
Cody Kidder, 11, of Wilton, splashes around in Wilson Lake in Wilton Monday afternoon while cooling off with friends.
Ricky Gaboury and Tena Trask embrace with other family and friends outside Feranklin County Superior Court following Monday’s plea agreement from Tommy Clark, who killed their daughter in a hit and run accident earlier this year.
Members of the Kora Temple Legion of Honor Color Guard, Highlanders and others look into the sky as a Civil Air Patrol plane flies over Saturday morning’s Memorial Day celebration at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston.
Larry Gilbert Sr., a Vietnam Veteran from Lewiston, places flags on the left side of veterans graves at Mt. Hope Cemetery Wednesday afternoon. About two dozen volunteers placed over 1,000 flags in the Lewiston cemetery. After a mass email to groups and organizations from Lewiston’s city clerk to help honor veterans, board members of the Liberty Festival organized and promoted it. Others have joined in to do the same at other local cemeteries. The city paid for the flags.
Franco American War Veteran honor guard member Bert Dutil presents arms during the singing of the National Anthem prior to the start of Tuesday’s ground breaking ceremony at Oxford Casino.
A Lewiston firefighter peers into the drivers window of a car a teenage driver and at least one pasenger climbed out and escaped serious injury Monday afternoon after the vehicle rolled into a field on Farwell Street in Lewiston between Charles and Goulet Streets. The driver told police that he swerved to avoid a cat.
Chris Hinkley uses a hose that he stretched across the street from his house on Jepson Avenue to help extinguish a fire that jumped from the house fire on Pettengill Street to the lawn and woods behind it in Lewiston Tuesday night.
Runners take off at the start of the 100 dash during Tuesday’s track meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.
Carlos Portillo, of Turner, kisses his 5 year old daughter Carly at the boat launch in Turner after being rescued from the Androscoggin River.
Brandon Bennett, left and his sister Madison, right, watch their mother Angel, of Sabattus, put the finishing touches on a new memorial at the gravesite of her mother, Rachel Turgeon, Sunday morning at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewiston. It was an emotional mother’s day for everyone there, including Angel’s sister Tammy Allen, background, of Monmouth, whose mother recently died unexpecidly just a few months ago.
A crow takes fllight from the top of a cupola at the Fortin Group/Auburn funeral home on Turner Street in Auburn Thursday afternoon.
Julia Sleeper, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tree Street Youth Center in Lewiston, is swarmed by staff and her “kiddos” at the center recently.
Taylor Pond Yacht Club Commodore Pat Garcia, second from right, greets Jim Murphy, who is towing a pair of kayaks he found floating on Taylor Pond Thursday morning as other volunteers, club members, prospective club members and others “conscripts” joind in helping corral 47 boats, canoes and kayaks that vandals dragged off racks and set afloat sometime overnight.
A nearly full moon rises behind Kents Hill Academy in Readfield Tuesday night. Friday it will be full.
Elephant trainer Anthony Friscia opens the door for Asian elephants, Viola and Isa, after a long drive from Connecticut. They were heading into the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn Monday afternoon in preperation for Tuesday’s Garden Bros Circus performances at 4:30 & 7:30 inside the Auburn hockey rink. For more information and a link to purchase tickets, visit: norwaysavingsbankarena.com
Donna Martin, of Auburn, looks at the damage to the front of her vehicle as she walks her dog Molly away from the accident she was involved in at the corner of Montello Street and Central Avenue Monday morning. “I was going to pick up my friend’s buddy and there is that shrub I couldn’t see past. I waited for one car to go past, but didn’t see him. The male driver of the vehicle she hit, background, was taken to the hospital with non life threatening injuries.
Lewiston police officers arrest a Alamine Mahamat, 20, of 119 Horton St. for violating conditions of release and refusal to submit to arrest at the corner of Howe and Ash Streets Thursday at 7:20 pm. According to a police officer on scene, when a patrolman tried to stop the Mahamat, he took off running. When searched, police found a bag of what appeared to be drugs, in his pocket.
Randy Burgess looks up at the damage to trees, including a prize black walnut, that were damaged when this pine came crashing down next to his house at the top of Goff Hill in Auburn Thursday. His mother Virgina planted the tree over 40 years ago. Burgess and his mom were watching TV when they heard the crack and crash. When they looked out, the noticed that it missed his new vehicle by inches as it came down parallel to the driveway at 467 Court Street.
Bates College baserunner Madison Fox, left, freezes in her tracks as USM shortstop Mary Caron snags a fast sinking line drive for the out and doubled up Fox as she could not get back to first base after Caron’s catch.
A beautiful smelling trash can full of marigolds, impatients, pansies , lantana and verbena sits in the corner of one of the greenhouses at Whiting Farm in Auburn Wednesday afternoon. The early flowers are picked off “deadheading”, so that the energy of the plant goes into getting bigger and producing more flowers when they open for the season on May 7th.
Aaron Mason checks the color of the latest batch of maple syrup that was being produced Sunday morning in the Sugar House at the family business, Greenwood Mountain Maple Products, during Sunday’s Maine Maple Sunday. “It was an early season, and with the weather forecast for the coming week, we might hit our target of 1,000 gallons.
Sarah Hammond is a blur as she tosses a softball during a drill on the first day of practice inside the EL gym Monday afternoon.
Lisbon Unified basketball team coach Jonah Sautter and the bench players react as a shot just misses going in during Thursday’s state championship game against Hampden Academy.
The bench and fans react as a Lisbon Unified Basketball team player scores a basket during Tuesday night’s Regional Championship game against Deering/Portland in Lisbon.
Deborah Riguette calls for her cat Sarah outside her burnt out home on Hackett Mills Road in Poland Monday afternoon. The indoor cat escaped, but a dog perished in the Sunday afternoon fire. The scared cat would come and allow Riguette to pick her up, but when she tried to take her away from the house, the cat would scratch and jump out of her hands. Riguette and her daughter Lisa Sotorer began to search for a box to try to put her in. “The cat carrier is in the house.” said Ringuette.
Despite being hauled down on the play, L/A Fighting Spirit’s Austin Davis makes a pass to a teammate during Sunday afternoon’s last regular season game against East Coast Minutemen.
Bernie Sanders supporters, Joe Berry, left, and Bob Burns, both Auburn residents, talk politics as they and the packed cafateria at Auburn Middle School wait for the caucus to start. It took longer than expected because of the high turnout as another 100 plus people in a long line waited to get into the Democratic Caucus Sunday afternoon long after it was scheduled to start.
Bill Nolin and his adopted dog Nikita are were out just “cruising around” Sunday morning as they skated down Judson Street in Mechanic Falls Sunday morning on their way to the skate park. “My other dog loves to pull me all over town.”
Atiya Haji’s works on a basket at the Somali Bantu Community Office, 145 Lisbon street Suite # 506, in the Professional Building, in Lewiston.
The Roak Block and Androscoggin River are reflected in the ball on top of the gazebo along the Riverwalk in Auburn.
Anna Bartlett, right, 2, patiently waits with her mother Lina, to pet a 2 month old pig that Joe Gray of Valley View Farm in Auburn is holding. It was the first pig Anna had ever seen and was getting up the courage to pet her like Nevaeh Howes, 3, of Lewiston, center. The petting farm was part of Friday night’s Farmers Market at the Auburn Public Library. For more photos from the farmers market, visit sunjournal.com
Natalie Garcia, 12, of Auburn, patiently waits for her mother to come check out a stack of books at the Auburn Public Library Wednesday afternoon. While many kids won’t crack a book this week during school vacation, Natalie has an insatiable appetite for reading. “I can’t bring books home anymore becasue she has read half of them.” said her mother before grabbing half the stack and headed out to bring Natalie to swim practice.
Elizabeth Brackett of Auburn looks out at the SUV that hit her while traveling up Lisbon Street in Lewiston Wednesday morning. “I guess he didn’t see me coming. He just came out of the credit union and crossed the street and ran right into me.” said Brackett as she rubbed her bruised ribs. The elderly male driver of the SUV was transported to the hospital with unknown injuries.
Mike Bailey and his son Luke, 4, of China, cheer for their daughter/sister, who plays for the Central Maine Youth Bantam team during a game Sunday at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn during the Lions Tournament.
When Jashana Anderson,10, right, of Lewiston, first started to go to the Root Cellar after school about 4 years ago, she gravitated to the sewing, knitting and fabric art program. Thursday afternoon, she was helping volunteer Sarah Minnich, left, of Durham, help Zahra Abo, center, 8, learn how to crochet. The mission statement of the Root Cellar is” The Root Cellar is a Christian Mission with the goal of uniting the local community in the common cause of satisfying the physical and spiritual needs of inner-city youth and their families.
Auburn Firefighter Sita West carries a young boy to a waiting rescue vehicle after he and his father were involved in a head-on collision at 1958 Riverside Drive Monday afternoon shortly after it began snowing.
Lewiston Police Office Ray Roberts signals to a driver wanting to go up Bartlett Hill in Lewiston Friday afternoon. Police closed the road for about a half hour when a truck became stuck at the top. The semi tractor did not have a trailer attached. “He didn’t have any weight on the back wheels. We are shutting down the road for about 15 minutes to let the salt do it’s thing and he should be able to drive away or back down.” After several trips up and down the hill from the sand truck, the “bobtail” pulled away and the hill was reopened.
Edward Little’s Grace Beaudet looks for an open player under the basket as Lewiston’s Kristina Blais applies pressure. Beaudet found Emily Jacques underneath for an easy layup.
Mark L’Italien follows the shoreline of Hooper Pond in Greene Wednesday afternoon in search of the snowmobile his son Drew was on when it went through the ice. After walking to the end where it turns into Hooper Brook, he broke through ice and turned back and drove to the hospital to check on his son. “He called me when he was walking out and I told him to call 911. He was coming back from getting gas and took the wrong trail and ended up on the brook that doesn’t freeze over until later in the year.” said L’Italien as he headed back to his truck. “And I just finished getting it fixed.”
The catheter containing the new valve is inserted into an incision on the patient’s hip and up through an artery toward his heart.
Wayne Martin Sr. is hooked up to a conglomeration of wires and tubes at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston recently during his transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR surgery.
Leavitt senior Chantel Eells, wins the opening tip during a recent game against Spruce Mountain. Ells has been the best player and leader for a young Leavitt team.
Adelia Morgan screams as her mother, Darcy and sister Meredith, check out a Vietnamese Walking Stick during a recent meeting of The Junior Naturalists, part of the Stanton Bird Club, at Sandcastle Clinical & Educational Services in Lewiston.
A cockroach crawls out of the mouth of Drew Desjardins, aka. Mr. Drew, as he shows off his insects during the meeting. He didn’t eat it, nor any of the other live bugs he brought, except the mealworms.
Elliott Hill, 8 and Bjorn Sandberg, 8, both of Auburn and students at Sherwood Heights Elementary School , scream as they fly down the hill next to the Auburn school Saturday afternoon. They have been waiting all vacation to go sledding, and with the cold weather hardening the recent snow, the conditions were finally perfect.