One entrance to Allegheny Cemetery is just up the street from where Beth and Jesse live in Pittsburgh. The cemetery has 300 acres surrounded by city, with about a third of it still undeveloped and the rest rolling hills scattered with crypts, tombstones and memorials. And wild life. We encountered geese, deer, and squirrels as we wandered on a recent visit.
A sunny fall day, just before our first frosts in the middle of October, and there was activity everywhere I looked. The little white or yellow or gold butterflies (or perhaps moths) were too restless to record, but some of the other insects dallied long enough to have their portrait taken. So three photos of bugs, three of seedheads, and one broader view of billowing plants and clouds.
It was a foggy morning for the Day Away at Pathways Retreat a week ago. I headed out to the labyrinth in the walnut grove and on the way saw a small spider web in a dried plant, very visible thanks to the fog drops that filled it. I recorded it from several angles and then, as I stepped back, saw a second, sparser web outlined in drops, suspended more or less vertically beside it. And it was only when I zoomed in with the computer back home that I saw a whole constellation of silk strands and scattered drops above the first web -- and the spider at its base.
Elsewhere small yellow leaves covered the ground, falling on the dewy green leaves of a sapling and serving as bright backdrop for a large drop on the tip of a blade of grass. By the time I returned to the retreat house, the sun was starting to break through, lighting a drop on another stem as I passed.
Our leaves are just starting to change color here in northern Indiana, but some are falling. On a recent wet morning, I enjoyed finding nature-arranged leafscapes.
I go for long stretches of time barely noticing the purple coneflowers in the prairie plantings on campus, mildly enjoying the color but feeling rather ho-hum-ish about them. Then one morning I"ll start noticing the variations in color and pattern as they go from small green bud to pink bloom to fiery conehead. And I end up with dozens of photos, making it hard to decide what to share.
These photos are from earlier in the summer. There are still a few blooms to be found on campus, but most of these coneflowers are now spiky black seedheads and the plantings are full of feasting finches.
One of the delights of the Saturday Farmers' Market is buying flowers from White Yarrow Farm. For the past several weeks, I've enjoyed putting together a bouquet with the theme and variation of colors and shapes that these zinnias offer -- a multitude of combinations of yellow, orange, pink, green, and petals, stars, curlicues, feathers, and scrolls.
More caterpillars, this time five swallowtails, at different stages, feasting on my parsley. I left them there, checking on them a couple times a day. They kept chomping and apparently thriving. I found one in the oregano, leaning into its silk sling just before entering the chrysalis stage, and then again just afterwards. Chances are it will stay in the chrysalis all winter. Right now it is well camouflaged -- even though I know exactly where it is, it still takes me a couple minutes of looking before I pick it out, so I am not surprised that I haven't found the other chrysalis. See if you can find this one in the last photo.
This spring we planted two morning glory starts, hoping for early blooms. Sure enough, the vines went twining up our trellis and soon we had two or three blooms. Then the local baby bunnies nipped each vine near the root. Sigh. But now, months later, they have sprung to life again. Or perhaps these are from seeds sown last year. In any case, each morning there are luminous blooms trumpeting a welcome to the day.
Then on a recent morning walk near the dam, we spotted a heron perched on a branch, watching the water. A different kind of morning glory! He was still there a half-hour later when we returned. While I was taking the second set of photos, a kingfisher flew in, perched on the other end of that cement wall, and peered down. He was too small to record well, but I enjoyed watching the two watchers.
A few days ago we had a gray, foggy morning -- but there was color if you took the time to look. And foggy water droplets revealed the invisible, like the spider web near my morning glories, or the one appearing to float in mid-air below the crabapple tree. (There is a video of this spiderweb at the end of the blog, but it is easy to miss -- look for the triangle/arrow to start it. You may need to come to the site itself to see it.)
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
Tesserae: small cube-shaped tiles of ceramic, glass or precious stone used to make a mosaic, or in this case, brief essays on some element of lectio divina with Luke 10:38-42.