Lesson in Perspective

_DSC0069

This is my last post for Becky’s Square Perspective challenge and I’m a little late but it is still July 31 in the Eastern Time Zone of the U.S., so I can still post my most intriguing exploration of perspective. And think about what I learned through my camera.

The above square is a photo of the flower of a hens & chicks plant. I have some growing along the sidewalk in a really dry area leading to the front door. I’m not happy when they bloom because I’ve never found the flowers attractive.

_DSC0077

I bought this single “hen” at the garden center in the spring but realized when I got home that I already had some of these with reddish leaves. I set it down in the garden thinking I would get to it later, and much later (like weeks later) I found it on the ground still not planted. My compassion for all things living compelled me to dig a hole and stuff it in. There. End of guilt.

To my surprise it bloomed just a few weeks later. No spreading, no chicks, and no attention from me. Just this one little plant with a big ugly bloom coming out of it. And I heard it begging me to take its picture as I was recording what was blooming in my late July garden. It had been a while since I worked at this type of macro photography so I decided to take a stab at using my camera to get a closer look. My aging body doesn’t do well getting down low to peer at little things close to the ground.

_DSC0079

What a surprise when I edited photos to find how beautiful the small flowers are. There has to be a lesson here, don’t you think. If I hadn’t gotten close and intimate with this flower I didn’t like, didn’t see any beauty in, didn’t even respect or appreciate it enough to give it a proper planting – if I hadn’t taken the time to care and really look at it I wouldn’t have ever known how beautifully unique it is.

Morning Perspective

_DSC0026

This is one of my favorite new flowers, especially when the first rays of sun peak through the trees to the east in a way that lights it’s golden petals. I love the loose blooming style and the red stems. They also have a long blooming season and are easy to dead-head. I wish I knew it’s name as I don’t think I got an information tag with it and don’t even remember where I purchased it. Can anyone out there help me?

This is in response to Becky’s Square Perspective challenge.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Autumn

 

Parkway 100 010-2

I have lived in Michigan all my life so I have seen a lot of Autumn’s glory, wonderful childhood memories that now bring me smiles of joy. This would be a very long post if I listed them all, but my fondest are of raking leaves into piles for jumping into, using leaves to outline a home’s rooms with the goal of playing house only to find raking the leaves was the real fun. I remember how special the smell of burning leaves seemed on a cool October evening. And I remember the fun turning to drudgery of raking tons of leaves that fell from the six big maple trees in the yard of our previous home, dragging them across the road in tarps to dump in the woods for future mulch. What joy came from watching for the first branches of changing leaves, then finding whole trees that were blazing red or yellow or orange. Then the leaves would begin to fall and I would collect the most beautiful ones to press between wax paper. And then they dropped in mass, dancing in the wind and fluttering down around us as we walked to school, shuffling our feet in leaves so deep they came over our shoes and would make wonderful rustling sounds.

My most memorable experience in recent years of autumn was driving the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway in 2014 on our annual drive from Michigan to Florida. We began the drive at the northern end in West Virginia on a rainy, foggy morning. I didn’t mind the light rain because wet newly-fallen leaves give off a scent that is powerful and unique to Autumn. On a wet autumn morning a person can’t resist taking deep breaths.

They say the speed limit is 35 mph but there aren’t many stretches straight enough that we could go that fast. Every curve opened up beautiful colors and frequent stops allowed me to find the perfect tree.

Parkway 100 127-2

We walked in woods, shuffling our feet in the fallen leaves just as we did when walking to school as small children.

Parkway 100 081-2

We explored hidden treasures along the parkway, as if they were there for us alone, decorated by Autumn for our pleasure.

As we were beginning to wonder where we could eat our picnic lunch from the cooler packed with healthy food (the less-than-healthy food is in a box on the seat where we can reach it when a craving hits), we went around a curve to a break in the clouds. We were ready to enjoy autumn’s glory in some sunshine.

Parkway 100 141-2

For the past 10 years we have missed most of autumn in Michigan because we leave the middle of October and the leaves are just beginning to turn. The one Maple tree we have in our yard usually hasn’t begun to turn and when we return the end of November the wind has carried most of the leaves away (awe darn!). I’m sure that people who live in southern Florida notice the change in seasons from summer to autumn but this change still eludes me. Its a subtle change that takes place over several weeks – not the big bang of a change that the northern states experience.

We still haven’t decided if we will be able to go to Florida for this coming winter, but right now I’m thinking we will stay in Michigan until after Christmas. That will eliminate flying back for the holidays and will hopefully be enough time for Florida to get the corona-virus spread under control. I’m looking forward to experiencing, for the first time once again, all the joys that autumn brings.

Here is the link to this challenge if you want to join us.

Laughing Orchids

 

_DSC0063-2

Have you noticed that people find comments or jokes funny depending on their perspective? If we are the butt of the joke, it can be hard to laugh. I keep people close who have a kind and gentle sense of humor – those able to find humor in the things that we do that don’t make sense. I love finding humor in the way words are put together or used in ways that have unintended meaning.

 

This is a response to BeckyB’s July Challenge of Squares – Perspective.

Thanks for the Words

Thanks for the Words

A smudge was reveled in front of two indentations when
I moved my reading chair to the opposite corner of my room.
My husband was the first to notice
Saying he had carpet cleaner that would erase it.

I didn’t respond – but knew this smudge couldn’t be erased,
one of countless smudges, where feet have rested over centuries.
Where I humbled myself as reader, writer, thinker… learner
longing for words to express novel ideas, ancient yearnings.

What flourished here disturbed previous certainties and riled emotions;
upon this smudge I vacillated between elation and exhaustion.
Your hard work nurtured my thinking, inspired and healed me.
Your words powered my words.

You are a part of me, I took your words in, chewed them up,
integrated those that enlarged my brain weave of previous
learning and values; and swallowed the rest for later
expulsion with other unneeded wastes.

I marveled at your effective use of words, well-crafted sentences,
plots and arguments that were well constructed.
I absorbed new ways of thinking and experimented with your skills.
And sometimes I laughed out loud as I read you.

Every time I placed my feet on the smudge on the carpet
and lowered myself into my reading chair,
I entered an exceptional place, occupied by your words.
The outcome can’t be erased. Thank you.

Patricia Bailey, 2020

 

I started re-reading Ted Kooser’s “The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets” at the same time I was contemplating the smudge on the carpet of my reading room, exposed as I was arranging the room for my daughter to use as a home office. Two pieces of advice in Kooser’s first two chapters resonated with me, (a) use everyday observations as subject matter (like a smudge on the carpet?) and (b) to think about who you are writing for (all the writers I have read – fiction, poetry, professional, journalistic) and make sure your writing gives them what they need. These two principles guided my previous professional and personal writing, but I needed to transfer these skills to poetry writing. I flexed my fingers and started the writing process.