I’ve been getting up just as the sun is lighting the Eastern sky each morning – what an exciting time of year. Spring is finally coming to southern Michigan, our second Spring of the year, having experienced our first Spring in North Carolina during our stay in February. We endured a very dreary and nasty March in Michigan that has made our spring even more exciting. I did a lot of moaning and gripping throughout March that didn’t make the weather any better and weren’t my most “glowing moments.” I did feel a glow as I spent my indoor time making hats to share with the less fortunate next fall (using up yarn so I can buy more) and finishing up three more throw quilts for the project my Florida church friends have taken on of providing house-warming gift quilts to every family that moves into the new housing that is being built in Immokalee, the community where the farm workers live.
I dusted off my cameras this past week to capture the Spring that was erupting in my garden as the morning sun was providing the first of its gentle light. I was drawn out of my winter doldrums by the memories of previous Springs and the joy of watching nature come alive again. I felt the glow of anticipation that primed my senses to what was happening throughout my garden.
I said a welcome to these iris plants that are old friends in the garden, poking their pointed leaf-tips through the mulch (and sometimes a dusting of snow.) It appears that they would appreciate dividing later in the summer.
Old friends in the garden are great but I felt a special glow as I found the clumps of new irises that are starting their second year in the garden. We are just getting to know each other and they appear to be happy in their new environment. They are multiplying. I just barely remember their colors and I’ll have to look up their names as they bloom in a month or two.
The spring air was cool and I basked in the warmth of the morning sun, feeling my own internal glow grow. This was the time to find joy in each plant that was sprouting new growth after the winter hibernation. This was the time to take note of what needs to be pruned and what needs to be moved or divided. I also did some thinking about planting a slow-growing evergreen to fulfill my commitment to slowly transform my garden to a lower maintenance space. I’m a year older than I was last spring and it seems like there are changes that need to be made if I am going to continue to enjoy the glow of satisfied living.
Yes, I need to maintain a workstyle that allows me the luxury of sitting on my purple porch swing with a cup of hot coffee, listening to the birdsongs, and feeling the gentle sway of the swing as I warm myself in the glow of the morning sun. What a glorious right of passage into a new year of growth – for both myself and my garden.
It has been a rocky road to spring since we returned to Michigan from a month in North Carolina. We expected some cold while in North Carolina in February and I think it got down to the high 30s some nights – but we hardly noticed except for putting an extra blanket on our bed. After all, it was colder in Michigan. As the month progressed the daffodils started blooming, flowering trees exploded with color, and I had a pot of pansies by our entrance.
A grounds keeper in Old Salem was cleaning out leaves from around growing plants.
And flowers were beginning to bloom in Old Salem and the Salem College campus.
We visited the Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest University where beds were being prepared for summer plantings, seeded beds were labeled, and spring flowers were blooming. It made me eager to return to my garden in Michigan to start my spring “cleaning.”
The road that I (and my camera) take are not always well planned out and when I do plan, I don’t always end up with the images I had imagined. For the 78th year in a row, the road to spring in Michigan took me by surprise. Even though I suffered through another change to daylight savings time and the Vernal Equinox is just three days away, March is still acting more like winter than spring.
The Lens-Artist Photo Challenge this week is “The Road Most Often Taken,” in other words John is asking us about our favorite subject to photograph. I have a hard time resisting flowers, and I have suffered mightily during my winter of exile in Michigan (is that a bit over-dramatic?) so until the flowers are blooming here in the north, my camera is taking a loooooong-winter’s nap on the shelf.
Usually I would use characteristics such as composition, subject, clarity, or some other photographic technique to choose my favorite images of 2022. But 2022 was a most unusual year. The images that I chose for John’s challenge are from the Naples Botanical Garden – a favorite place of mine and a place I didn’t get to visit during the later months of this year like I usually do. I am surprised how much I am grieving the changes in our Florida plans so I chose these to sooth my troubled heart.
The first two photos are of the lily ponds (upper and lower) in the Brazilian Garden – taken from slightly different perspectives.
And of course I had to include a water lily taken at the upper pond…
and a water iris taken at one of the other lily ponds. I am drawn in by the colors of both images.
I took a lot of photographs of the many flowers that grow throughout the garden, most of which I’m not familiar with as they are tropical or subtropical. I grew up in the northern part of the U.S. where I struggled to keep houseplants alive that grow with abandon out doors where we stay in Florida. This next flower always draws me in and I have taken many photographs but none felt right until this one. I am intrigued by how hard it is to capture the personality of flowers.
This year I also spent a lot of time photographing the orchids. I have a lot of favorites but the coloring on this one is a winner for me.
We went to the beach one evening because there had been really big waves during the previous 24 hours. And every time I’m taking photos at the beach, I take one or two of the Naples Pier. This is a very popular place for fishing (don’t need a license) and for strolling to watch dolphins, people, and the people who are fishing.
This photo of the pier is special because just a few months later the huge waves and storm serge of Hurricane Ian destroyed the structure from the building on the left to the end. Even the cement piling are gone. It will probably be a couple of years before it is rebuilt.
Thanks to the Naples Botanical Garden, however, I think I can see some light at the end of our rebuild tunnel. As you can tell, these beautiful glasses don’t provide a clear vision but it is good enough for me to feel some hope that the rebuilding of our condo will start to progress more quickly so we will be able to live in it again come next October.
Oh my, what do I treasure. I spent some time looking around the house and there are lots of items purchased in foreign countries that could be treasures, but on the other hand they are just items. I really enjoy both of our residences; but are they treasures? I have gotten great pleasure from my garden and get lots of compliments on it, but once again it doesn’t feel like a treasure. When it gets to be too much work I will turn it into something else and I won’t grieve because it will be a relief. I love my family and friends and they bring me so much pleasure but when I think of them as a treasure, it almost sounds like they are objects I possess. I also get a lot of joy through using my sewing machine and my cameras, but they seem to be objects that somehow lead to a greater treasure. As you can see, I’ve put a lot of thought into this Lens-Artist Challenge: Treasures.
Then it occurred to me that all of these things were once treasures to me but I seem to be changing as I am aging. I believe my greatest treasure in life is my memory.
Our campers could be listed as treasures; we have had six or seven. This year Jim isn’t putting the tires on our current one because we decided we wouldn’t go on any trips because of the price of gas. Last night during supper we talked about all the beautiful, interesting places we have been with a camper in tow. We talk about experiences with our kids and the other kids that sometimes went along. In memory mode we can also laugh about all the “oh shit” moments that we got into and had to figure out how to get out of. These memories are our shared treasures that make our relationship a treasure.
I have found so much pleasure working in my flower garden this year – maybe because others have done the heavy work and I’ve done the planning and planting. Now that’s a collaboration to treasure. After ten years I seem to be reworking my garden design as it seems to be growing out of it’s previous plan. Did I hear someone say, “Wow, she had a garden plan all worked out.” My plan was not on paper nor based on a wealth of plant knowledge. I followed the trial and error plan – reading lots of books (that suggested I draw a layout) and relying on what I could find in local garden centers.
This year, however, I found a surprise treasure while working in my garden. I found a connection to my grandmother who also loved to garden. This is my Polish grandmother who I know loved me but the relationship was hard to maintain because we had a language barrier. I felt her spirit with me this summer as I gardened, thinking that she would approve of my work and would have loved to get her hands dirty along with me.
The only objects that I really treasure are my books. I learn best through reading so I have books on gardening/landscaping, photography, travel, quilting, faith development, and professional books. All of these books shaped who I am and will continue to guide me into new life experiences. I believe even the fiction I read impacts who I am. I continue to cull my books and of course buy new ones that indicates that I am a work in progress as I approach 80. As my dear colleague, Margret, used to say, “God isn’t finished with me yet.”
I also treasure relationships with family and friends but don’t do well with photographing people and feel uncomfortable posting the photos on public media. Besides that would require another whole post. They do, however, fit into the treasures that make me who I am, along with my nature and social environments. Maybe the big-picture treasure that interconnects all, is that I treasure who I am, who I am becoming, and the life I have been able to live, am currently living, and look forward to in the future – with all it’s ups and down.
Last winter I was thinking that I would start putting more evergreens in with less flowers. Somewhere, probably in one of local garden shops, I forgot about that decision. Or maybe it was when I was sitting on my purple porch swing on a cool spring morning surveying the plants coming up. I’ll blame it on the coffee I was drinking.