Bergamot in shadow and in light, yellow coneflowers near and far, pink coneflowers with friend and on fire -- the wonders of a summer day.
Two weeks ago on Sunday, I had a day to chew on all that I had been learning and receiving in the first week of EMS' Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation. I was up early enough to watch the sun rise. During the morning I sat out on my cousin's patio, watching the play of sunshine and shadow over the rolling hills, while my heart mourned with the community of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and the devastations of generations of racism.
(To get a taste of the sunshine and shadows, watch the slideshow immediately below. These were recorded at 30-60 second intervals. If you're viewing this on a mobile device, you may need to go to the actual website in order to see the series.)
After time with relatives in the afternoon, I returned to the patio at sunset, watching the slow unfurling of clouds on the mountains, and the glow of the setting sun on them. In retrospect, it seems a highly appropriate way to have spent the longest day of the year -- even if I didn't realize it was the summer solstice until I looked at online news late that night.
After a series of gray, cloudy days, the sunshine on Wednesday came at a good time. I had some free time and headed over to Witmer Woods, near the dam. I visited these woods regularly last spring, watching the green emerge. It was well hidden this time and I found myself focusing on patterns and shapes instead.
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.
We visited the Defries Calendar Garden in the bright sunlight of a June midday. Here's a glowing desert flower, and an echo in two glowing pond flowers. And the golden eye of a tiny amphibian half hidden by a water lily leaf, sitting in a puddle and reflecting sparks of light. (It looks as big as the water lilies in these photos, but was about half the size of one of the petals). Then there's the sunlight glow of arched clematis leaves and the peculiar squiggles of an allium head.
I had a retreat day at the cottage at Pathways Retreat this week and had the good fortune to be there on a breezy, sun-soaked spring day. I was surrounded by green woods, leaves dancing between light and shadow, the rustle of the breeze in the trees, bright bursts of pine scent, and a few white blossoms.
For the past few weeks I have been busy with the final stages of helping edit a collection of essays on Assembly Mennonite's history, too busy to get to my blog. With a warmer week, our snow is melting fast, so it is time to post these before they are completely out of date. Snow and shadows and such.
Check out the avian snow angel on the lower right in the photo above. A telephoto lens would have been handy, but I did what I could before the shadow covered it entirely.
And below, the date on the paper is January 25. I found it this past Saturday, March 15, on the front lawn, after the massive pile up of snow it had been in for the past several weeks melted -- still in its plastic bag and quite readable. I thought it was an appropriate headline. We broke the previous record of 100 inches of snow back before the most recent six inch snow dump.
Here's a mystery. Most of the tracks in our yard are easy to figure out -- the patterns of bird feet under the feeder, the rabbit crossing from here to there, the squirrel bounding from the maple to the feeder and back again, the cat that prowls the edges. But what is the story behind the photo above? Apparently one night a rabbit hopped out to the middle of the yard, danced crazily for a few moments and then lopped away to the protective cover of the privet.
And then there's sunshine and shadow on snow, and the light-catching crystals of hoarfrost on dried plants.
Today rain fell mistily all day, and the skies stayed gray. Earlier in the week, though, there was a mix of sun and rain, resulting in more light-filled raindrops to be found. Our leaves are just starting to turn colorful, but on the dry days, other colorful things held the light.
This weekend was Assembly Mennonite's annual retreat at Camp Friedenswald. John and I went up early, enjoying the drive through the countryside at sunrise, and getting to the fen before the sun had risen over the hill. Neither words nor photos can communicate the wonder of watching the play of light and mist over the wetlands, with trees and grasses slowly coming into view and then lit into fall colors, reflected in the water.
Other leaves caught the sunlight later in the day -- by the lake shore, sumac with tamarac, and a fiery fern. I sat on a pier and watched the nearly transparent minnows drifting in the lake, and then realized what I was mostly seeing was their shadows on the sandy lake bottom.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"