Artist Reflecting on a Lily Pond

I was taking photos of water lilies from the boardwalk across the lily pond as two women were painting on the lawn to the south of where I was. The pond is perfect for taking photos of reflections, especially mornings before the breeze comes up. I moved around a lot trying to find the best perspective for a good reflection without too many lily pad or lilies to obscure the reflection. I also look for reflections that are bright enough to be distinguishable and not too busy.

Mostly I take lots of photos of reflections in differing conditions, learn from some, like some a lot, and delete some. As we are moving through our second year of the pandemic, it feels like this has been and continues to be my strategy. As we are making plans on moving to our northern home, we heard the news that Michigan is being hit with a large increase of new cases and hospitalizations, with our small home town being the epicenter – in fact for one or two weeks that small town was the epicenter of the country. That made me very uncomfortable, even as I was receiving my second vaccine dose.

I’ve been collecting information from social media and epidemiologists, learn from some, accept some for the basis of my decision making, and disregard some. In the bar graphs I studied in the New York Times this morning, I learned that Michigan isn’t much worst than Florida and that upward movement of infections seem to be caused by variant of the virus. We had already considered that in determining behaviors that we believe are safe post-vaccine.

I’m comfortable with the decision we have made. We are going home as planned and will continue to protect ourselves in the same way we have here in Florida. We have gone out to eat when we could eat outdoors or taken food home to eat. We have avoided shopping during high traffic times and if people aren’t wearing masks in the store. We spend time indoors with very small groups of friends and family who have also been vaccinated and we continue to practice safe behaviors when we go places. When we stop to visit with neighbors while walking around the block we will still stand apart, we won’t shake hands or give hugs except with our kids and grandkids (unless the virus spread continues to get worst – then no hugs).

I continue to find the virus exhausting and stressful – but in a slightly different way now that we know more about how the virus is transmitted and we are vaccinated. I’m no longer afraid of getting covid from my mail or groceries, nor am I as afraid to go out in public if safety measures (distancing and masks) are taken. I have a little more freedom to eat out and socialize but that still takes a lot of prior thought and being vigilant as to whether we feel safe or not. The virus is still impacting on how I think about my life and my relationships – I’m just not sure how I have changed and if the changes will be permanent.

How are you doing?

Glow Bright

Except for the photo that was over-exposed, this was the brightest one I took as I wandered around the Naples Botanical Garden on Monday. I spent quite a bit of time with my 50mm lens in the water lily garden. Love that lens.

I also love the April Squares theme of bright. Hope you follow and join in with Becky by clicking here.

Lens-Artist Challenge: Geometry

I took plane geometry in high school close to 60 years ago and remember it as one of my favorite classes – I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment as I learned the rules and worked my way through the exercises. Maybe I need to take a refresher course on-line or buy a book about plane geometry. I still love learning through reading.

When I saw that this week’s photography challenge was “Geometry” I got all excited but then thought, “What am I looking for when I want to photograph “geometry?” Well, maybe squares and triangles and trapezoids and a few circles.

Summer Night Tree (1978) by Louise Nevelson

This sculpture by Louise Nevelson was paid for ($152,000 in 1978 – appraised in 2013 at $2,000,000) and donated by some good person in the city but not everyone appreciates it. Jackson has long been a blue-color community of people working in the auto-industry supply chain. People working hard at good paying jobs that provide a decent lifestyle, people who don’t have much of an appreciation for abstract art. The sculpture has had a hard time finding a home where it is appreciated. First it was in front of the brand new downtown hotel and conference center that never did very well and has since been torn down. People laughed about the sculpture, made bad jokes about it, and someone even accidentally ran into it with their car – scratching the paint on the sculpture.

It was moved to a small park in the center of town, a short but expensive move. People complained about the cost of moving it (weighs 10 tons and is 30 feet high) and more jokes were made. Then it was moved out to the edge of town to a new home at the community college, probably with the hope that aspiring college students would appreciate the modern lines of this aging beauty. Either before or after having the college as its home, it was on the grounds of the Sharp Park museum complex. Then it was moved to its present location – back to downtown Jackson a block from where it first rested. I have always liked it and believe it is a perfect specimen of geometry.

It looks like a lot of geometry is used in designing hot air balloons. Does accurate geometric calculations help keep the balloon in the sky?

The labyrinth below is in the Naples Botanical Garden. The meditative walk through it begins here, but…

I would guess building it began here at the center fountain. It has a very interesting pattern that had me thinking that I couldn’t get there from where I was standing, and especially if I turned the way the path went. I wish I could show you the layout but it is impossible to photograph without a drone.

If you would enjoy some fun with geometry, you can learn more by following this link: Lens-Artist Photography Challenge #141

A Tree Full of Surprises

Jim and I were strolling along the service path by the Deep Lake on a Tuesday early morning visit to the Naples Botanical Garden. I was watching for the sun and clouds to do their dance so an interesting illumination would fall on the palms across the lake or the grasses along the edge on our side.

Then I remembered to look up, toward the other side of the path where the more formal gardens are. Looking up means looking up into trees, but also looking up the side of a hill. Southern Florida is flat, so flat that the only hills are the Interstate overpasses – and a couple of hills in the Botanical Garden. They aren’t natural hills, however. A master plan for the Naples Botanical Garden was drawn up by a very talented team and construction on the first phase of the 170 acres future garden began in 2008 with the digging of Deep Lake and Lake Tupke. This resulted in 250,000 yards of fill for the sculpting of the site creating hills for water falls and raising the “formal” part out of the swampy Everglades landscape. That seems like a whole lot of fill, and I know that a couple of places are higher but not high enough to get my heart pumping as I walk to the highest elevations.

But that was a little (up-hill) digression. When I looked away from the lake I saw these orchids perfectly spotlighted by the morning sun. They are in a fairly large tree.

The tree is a Bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.) and obviously older than the garden, growing quite tall and sprawling along the incline of the hill that forms the Florida Garden. Trees in Florida are usually home to lots of plants – If you look closely you will see Resurrection Fern (looking quite dead) by the orchid and there is Spanish Moss hanging. I recently learned that Spanish Moss isn’t actually a moss, but is a bromeliad with tiny, yellow-green flowers in summer.

We were headed for the Florida Garden and when we reached the walk up onto the hill, I saw more of the orchids and realized that this was the end of Bottlebrush tree – you can see the red bloom. Probably the orchids were propagated in the orchid nursery and attached to the tree because I read that pollination of orchids in the wild is tricky if they aren’t native. We went about half way up the hill (not a high hill by hilly standards, maybe only considered a hill in really flat environments) and when I looked over at the tree I saw orchids planted all along a long horizontal trunk.

Even more surprising is that the trunk is supported by a very large rock. This is a landscape that doesn’t have an abundance of large rocks for landscapes so I would guess that this one was trucked in for this purpose. One of the missions of the Garden is conservation and preservation. I feel fortunate that this tree is growing and being preserved. Many of the old trees were lost in 2017 when Hurricane Erma hit Naples with wind gusts of up to 140 mph.

We are starting to think about going back to Michigan for the summer. This year I’m especially excited about going back because I will get to see and hug kids and grandkids for the first time in over a year. And I am really looking forward to having vaccinated friends over for supper and maybe cards and game playing. As I am thinking about these things, I am also thinking about all the things we will want to do a few more times before leaving Florida. I probably have three more visits to the Botanical Garden so I better make the most of my visit tomorrow morning.

Thanks for joining me.