Stick Sculpture – Finished

When we returned to the Botanical Gardens in January, I immediately headed for the Stick Sculpture that I introduced during its construction (here). It looked much different than I had anticipated but I wasn’t disappointed. It was more open than I had visualized during construction and also had many more twists and turns. It pulled us in to explore each arch and window.

If I stood at just the right spot I could see clear through to the other end.

I was amazed at how the willow branches were woven into curves and arches, were turned to form windows.

We sat on a bench at the southern end, looking at the sculpture and as usual, Jim had a story to tell me. The stick sculpture reminds him of being a kid living on North Street. There were lots of boys his age living nearby and frequently a few of them would hop on their bikes and go to the nearby “woods.” There they would build a stick fort, a much smaller one than this but every bit as exciting. Of course other boys would tear it down, but that only provided an opportunity to build another, better one. With the story in our minds, we sat smiling and looking and feeling at peace.

I am finding, as I am aging, that many “interesting objects” attract my interest because they remind me of something from my past, but with a novel twist. This post is brought to you in response to Patti’s Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Interesting Objects.

A Blustery Day at the Beach

The wind was blowing hard, and the waves were rumbling.

A blow-your-hat-off blustery day at the beach.

On Thursday night a front went through that lowered the temperature and humidity here in southern Florida. I sat on the lanai watching the lightening and listening to the thunder exploding and rumbling around us and felt cool rain, misted through the screens, fall on my warm skin. Jim joined me so we ooh-ed and wow-ed together, then laughed out loud.

The next morning Jim saw on the local news that the waves were 11 feet high at the pier but I had physical therapy so I couldn’t think about checking it out. That evening we went for supper at Alice Sweetwater (isn’t that a wonderful name for a pub/restaurant) and split a wonderful baked cod with crab stuffing. Our supper was so very enjoyable but I was also thinking about our plan to go to the beach to see if the waves were still high. High waves are a treat for me because the Gulf is generally calmer than the Atlantic coast on the other side of Florida.

We were over an hour early for sunset but the sun was low, sending rays down through the clouds, and down the beach to the right were some wind surfers taking advantage of the wind and waves.

Is that an urban skyline reflected on the beach? Naples doesn’t have building more than three stories high.

The Naples beach is a long, public beach with every east/west street ending at the beach with parking. Where we parked the beach was narrower than at other places and it was close to high tide. I had to point one eye down to make sure the surf didn’t come up over my shoes as I was keeping my other eye looking through the viewfinder. We have had a super tide (when high tide, a full moon, and extreme change in atmospheric pressure converge) and high tides due to hurricanes but I have never been on the beach when it was this high.

What fun to watch the waves reach out long onto the beach and then retreat, only to return to stretch even further, leaving behind white foam that would blow further inward toward the high side of the beach.

Is that snow I see?

This sand structure touches my personal story somehow, but I’m not sure how. If and when I figure it out I can use this as the lead photo for, as Paul Harvey used to say, “and that’s the rest of the story.”

Thank you, Amy, for this wonderful Lens-Artist Challenge: A Day of my Week. Check out her post for her beautiful images, links to other’s posts, and to participate yourself.

Straight Lines?

Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

I love boardwalks for two reasons. First, they allow me to get deeper into nature’s beauty without the danger of falling due to uneven ground, tree roots, rocks, etc. Second, I love how they are made of pieces of lumber that form straight lines, but still their structure has lots of dips and zags and turns with surprises.

Corkscrew Swamp Boardwalk in Florida

The Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has a 2.25-mile boardwalk that meanders through pine flatwood, wet prairie, around a marsh, and finally into the largest old-growth bald cypress forest in North America. Can you follow these straight lines? Something like walking the straight center line while being falling-down-drunk.

Western Prince Edward Island, Canada

I love this type of boardwalk (above and below) that is a great alternative to walking on soft, shifting sands. From this perspective you can tell which alternative I actually chose.

Sleeping Bear Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan, Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

I love the pattern of straight lines that crisscross the “straight line” of the boardwalk path.

Along the Lower Santa Fe River at Blue Spring, central Florida

Central Florida is noted for its many springs bubbling up from the underground limestone aquafer. Many people, all of them young, were choosing to walk up the shallow river in the 72 degree (constant) water. They saw the wonders of the spring water up close but I chose the boardwalk even though it seemed a bit unstable, triggering my height anxiety occasionally. The straight boards shoring it up didn’t seem to increase my confidence in its safety, but my desire to explore the beauty of this unique landscape pushed me forward.

Thanks, Cee, for presenting this challenge of “Straight Lines” that gave me a chance to meander through my maze of files (in my brain and computer) looking for examples of boardwalks.

Sunset in Blue

Gulf of Mexico, Naples Beach, Florida

The month of “blue” is coming to a close and soon Jude will provide us with a new color for her Life in Color Photography Challenge. I happened across this photo in my files, taken with my previous Olympus point & shoot, a bit of time ago. I find it an interesting composition of typical sunset colors and blue.

Comfortable Being in Place & Time

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My visit to the Naples Botanical Garden on this recent morning had a different feel to it – I was in a strange state of mind that I am struggling to define. I very seldom head for the garden with an agenda, that I’m going to photograph landscapes or succulents or textures. The morning and the garden speak to me, and I listen. I allow areas or scenes to pull me in, to pique my imagination, to challenge my creative desires.

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I was feeling a lot of body fatigue that made me want to find a bench to sit and wait for  life to come to me, maybe even pass me by. Instead my mind was captivated by the unique colors and creative lighting at the lily pond.

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The light defined what was important to photograph. The flowers I have seen before appeared different, and the single water flower floating high above the water was impossible to ignore. I felt the earth stretching and yawning as the sun rose above the surrounding trees.

The color, texture and composition of these lily pads displayed an aging beauty in the soft morning light. The water surface laid still from lack of a breeze, not able to compete for textural attention.

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Maybe what I saw reflected the fatigue in my body, but the flowers seemed to be slow to reach out to the sun. There seemed to be no urgency. All the flowers and foliage appeared to be comfortable just being in time and place.

How silly of me to assign human thought and motive to plant material. We frequently see ourselves, project our own thoughts and emotions onto what we see. Maybe all that I am saying about the garden on this morning is really what I was experiencing in my mind and body.

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When I left the lily pond, I decided to walk along the path between the formal garden and the lake in the natural garden. My desired destination was the benches along this walk, I still felt the need to be still. My reward was watching an egret fishing for some morning morsels. When I moved on to another bench, I watched a tri-colored heron preening and warming in the morning sun.

I didn’t spend as much time in the garden as is usual, and I even passed by the cafe where I normally stop for a scone and ginger limeade. We were between house guests and I knew I better watch calories because our guests want to make the most of their vacations and Naples is a phenomenal place for eating out. After close to a month of visitors my waist and tummy have responded.

I have missed that special culinary treat in the garden cafe so next time I’m going to indulge. For this visit, what I treasure is being¬†comfortable just being in time and place as I photographed the garden.