Morning Weather Report – Light Fog and Sunny

Lily Pond and River of Grass – Naples Botanical Garden

I have spent so many hours standing on the boardwalk going across the lily pond, taking photos of water lilies, lily pads, cannas and irises, rice plants, reflections, and ripples. What intrigues me in this area is the River of Grass that you see beyond the lily pond. This was planted to educate visitors about the river of grass that makes up the Everglades. The next photo was taken along the Tamiami Trail (going from Tampa to Miami) as the sun was rising across the grasslands of the Everglades.

It as been a while since I went to the Everglades in the early morning – I’m thinking it would be a safe excursion I would like to take sometime in the next couple of weeks. The longer I wait, the earlier I will have to get up to make the drive in the dark to meet the rising sun.

Up Close from Florida

We drove to Florida last week-end, staying out one night and eating all our meals from our stash of food in our car. I was nervous about the drive but felt safe except when we had to purchase gasoline. We are taking the same safety precautions we took while in Michigan – except we can go outdoors and see friends from a distance.

Tuesday morning I was off to the Naples Botanical Garden – with a reservation for 8:00 am member early entry for me and my son & daughter-in-law. The humidity was really high with some light fog so there were beads of water along the edges of the flowers, along spider webs and large drops of water falling off trees. There were only a few members walking their dogs so my tripod didn’t get in anyone’s way as I focused on some of the flowers. This camellia caught my eye early in my walk, and I was excited to see a lot of buds so there will be more flowers on future visits.

I think I use up-close photography more often to show the beauty and personality of plants and critters than showcasing the minute details. But both are important to me and I am beginning to think about when it works better to take a few steps back for a more inclusive image.

I’m not a big bug lover (neither big on liking them nor liking big bugs) but close-ups sometimes gives me a greater appreciation for their complexity. I’m not sure the little critter below is a moth staying out late (9 in the morning) or a butterfly that looks a lot like a moth. Maybe one of you will educated me.

This last close-up is of rice, taken a year ago. The Botanical Garden grows rice in small paddies in the Asian Garden but also in big, round planters on the boardwalk through the lily garden. I have been trying for several years to capture their beauty and personality and this is the best so far. I will try some more this year. It is so nice to have such a photogenic place to go week after week, year after year. It definitely keeps my spirits up!

I am connecting this post with Becky’s “square-up” month that is just about to end. Kind of like a “last call-up.”

Patterns in Nature

When I saw that Cee was calling for photos showing “Patterns in Nature,” I was pulled in. My last visit to the Naples Botanical Garden was last March and some of my photos were focused on patterns. I was waiting for this opportunity to have some fun using photos from my last trips to the garden and from older files.

Looking Up

Last week-end we had a heavy snow – not very deep but wet and heavy with some ice under it. As I was walking up a long lane I made sure to look up every time I stopped to take some photos. Every few minutes I would hear a loud crack, somewhat like a gun shot, in the woods. When I looked in that direction, I would sometimes see a big limb falling and hitting the ground – sending up a big cloud of snow. I didn’t want to be under one of those limbs when the weight of the snow and ice caused them to crack and fall.

Thanks, Becky, for January Squares with the theme of “up”. Just think of a photograph depicting something relating very broadly to “up” and square it “up” before linking it to Becky’s post.

Lens-Artist Challenge #119 -My Hideaway

I have been missing my weekly early morning outings out in the country with no destination and no agenda. Just photography gear in the back seat and friend Julie along for companionship. Two women, both very comfortable with silence, communing together with whatever we saw on the horizon or along the road. Long lengths of quite time just being with the sounds, smells and sights that are experienced away from the human world.

I knew what I enjoyed about it but I don’t think I totally understood the significance that this solitary time in nature had for my very being. I seemed to know it was important but not just how important until I no longer thought it possible to find after some changes and losses. The pandemic continued, social issues peaked in importance, politics became crazier and my craving became more intense. Jim and I went out several times but I wasn’t able to get in touch with what I needed because overshadowing the outings was someone waiting for me, maybe getting impatient, maybe thinking I had spent enough time. He would deny it but these thoughts were still impacting my focus on what I was (or wasn’t) seeing.

On a sunny day last week I decided to go to the Hidden Lake Gardens by myself. This garden has lots of walking trails through woods and meadows and around kettle lakes but there is also a driving trail with lots of pull-offs through the acres of hills and woodlands. This trip felt much safer for a women who is alone than going down dirt roads. I wish it weren’t so but I believe I need to be ever vigilant about where I am and the potential threats. I learned this very young with no actual conversation taking place.

I started this outing with a plan taking into consideration my safety and time needed and side trip for a piece of fabric for a quilt. As I drove I felt the tension of getting to where I wanted to be, thinking about what I wanted to capture on my memory card for future posts. I thought about how I could use my trip to this garden as a post for the current Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #119: Hideaway. I thought about how I wanted to stop at the Liberty Mill Pond along the road south from our home because it looked so interesting the last few times we had driven past. And I felt the tension in my neck and the pressure around my temples. I felt the sadness in the back of my eyes. This isn’t what I needed nor wanted.

Liberty Mill Pond

Then I reached the pond just as the sun was coming over the trees that edged the pond. People fish this pond so there is a little pull-off created by people stopping, not county officials making it. The air was still really cool but there was no wind. Heavy frost covered the swamp grasses on the near edge where the sun hadn’t hit and there was a mist rising from the warmer waters. The water was perfectly smooth except for the lily pads and mist that broke the reflections of the surrounding trees in full fall color. The sun made diamonds of the melting frost on all the grasses and leaves.

See the guardrail and the rainbow? See the mist?

I would never think a hideaway could be somewhere in plain sight. I wasn’t hiding from the drivers who slowed their cars for my car parked on the edge and the old woman taking pictures. But they weren’t a worry for me and neither was the coronavirus, or the election in three weeks. I was focused on the world of nature in the very process of creation and recreation. I seemed to be in an effortless, easy being in the presence of my Creator to whom I belong, as much as the natural world belongs to the one who created the blueprints. I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is just what I need.

How wonderful to find my hideaway in a place that I can take with me, can recreate anywhere I am. How wonderful to have a platform for sharing my experience and having an archive for future visits when my brain gets foggy and I forget where I need to be and why. Thank you for being with me and I look forward to reading about the ways you find distance between yourself and those things that seem a bit toxic.

Please stay safe, and wear your mask in public places so others stay safe. Please don’t shoot yourself in the foot by making mask wearing a matter of style, masculinity, or personal freedom. See it as a responsibility we are all willing to take on for the greater good of society.