The prairie plantings on campus are full of color. Earlier this summer, the campus staff mowed the plantings by the music center and the dorms, hoping to delay the blooming so that students -- most of whom aren't around in July -- would be able to enjoy the show when they return to campus. The plantings by the railroad are tall and exuberantly in full bloom; the mowed areas are shorter but still splashed with color, and catching the light in their own quiet way.
I needed some color today. A bouquet from the grocery store helped. So did the late afternoon sunshine. And the surprising similarity between my Heron metal sculpture and an Alstroemeria bloom gave me something to smile about.
Here's some color to store up for the gray winter days ahead -- yellow highlights spotted amidst the prairie plantings on campus this past week.
Lavender's blue, dilly, dilly,
Or so the song goes. To me, lavender looks, well, lavender -- a light purple, on gray green stems. A very soothing combination of colors, and one that is thriving in my garden at the moment. Several bouquets are drying on my porch as well, filling the air with soothing scents.
Sunflowers and daylilies cast bright golden notes, and play with sunshine and shadow. I'm taken with the mix of blooms and buds on my spikey purple plants, and with their fragrance -- lavender, sage, and mint in these photos. Mint and lavender are cool and elegant, but the sage is more fuzzy and amusing.
My Christmas cactus is suddenly full of more blooms than it had in December. There are buds still to open and a froth of blossoms, each a swirl of gauzy pink petal scarfs, and sudden touches of magenta. With February 14 just around the corner, perhaps it secretly longs to be a Valentine cactus. There is something fitting about that thought -- if I remember correctly, it came to us as a gift from our son-in-law's parents, given on the weekend of Beth and Jesse's wedding.
Winter days are short. Lately they have been alternating between being warm and dreary or sunny but way too cold to head out with a camera.
I've been needing to look elsewhere for sparks of light. Just after Christmas -- about the time we put the decorations away -- I diagnosed a shortage of cheerful color in my life and prescribed a series of jigsaw puzzles. This provides the satisfaction of making order out of chaos, as well as a burst of color to satisfy my soul.
Breathe deeply. The air is crisp and cool. Except for bird calls and an occasional small plane overhead, the only sound is the breeze stirring the golden poplar leaves. The mosquito hum of summer is gone. Drying leaves crackle underfoot. Mushrooms thrive and the rose hips are cherry red. Overhead is a symphony of blue sky, white clouds, golden leaves, white tree trunks, dark evergreens. Alberta woods in late September....
From the opening lines of Dewdrops on Spiderwebs, by Susan Classen:
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh
with the joy of life.
God speaks to Hildegard of Bingen, 11th century
The other day my eye was caught by the sunlight streaming through the leaves of one of my geraniums. These shots fit well with one of the meditations in Classen's book that tells of a child just back from a school class field trip in the fall.
"Look!" she exclaimed. "This leaf is orange. This one is orange and green. And look at this one," she added excitedly, "It's all green!" When a green leaf calls forth awe and wonder, then all life is budding with reasons to celebrate! p. 38
We'll soon be seeing orange and red leaves again, but in the meantime, let's celebrate all things green.
And things blue -- though if your downloaded image of this dragonfly is big enough, you'll see the green as well.
I've become enthralled by coneflowers this past month. The prairie plantings on campus are full of them. There is a certain amount of repetition, of course -- pink petals, strong center -- but there is also a great deal of variation, depending on the stage of the flower, the effects of passing insects, the angle of the sunlight or the effects of shadows. And the angle of the camera, of course.
I'm fascinated by the pattern of the centers, and the gradual shift in shape and color. What shape is the one above? A star spiral, perhaps? And over time the centers gradually become flaming torches.
A rose "candle" for Heidi. Today is her birthday -- and perhaps also the day of her birth into a new life. They have told us that the end of this life is imminent. Every time I check email, I wonder if there will be a message from the Assembly office.
The rose with raindrops comes from the first set of photos I took, back in September, soon after hearing that Heidi had stage IV cancer, when the light caught by raindrops on my rose leaves somehow also caught the mix of sorrow and hope our congregation was experiencing.
And below is a mix of the bright colors of early summer, for a rainbow in celebration of Heidi's birthday, and for the gift of beauty in the midst of sadness.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"