Lens to Riches

Jamie Dedes posted a quote from Henri Nouwen about writing from our sacred space. I have long understood the importance of  writing – especially as an exercise for thinking. I became excited about Nouwen’s idea of writing as a way to discover what is at our core, who we are, what matters to us as we make our way down the road of life. For me writing is about telling my story, especially about my connection to humans and nature.20160520-DSC_0017

Julie and I went on one of our photography excursions a couple of days ago and I was thinking about why I get so much pleasure out of photography. We went to the Hidden Lake Garden in southern Michigan, owned and maintained by our land-grant college, Michigan State University. This is a large garden, wonderfully accessible by both foot and car, through woods and landscaped fields. It is mature and continually maintained, both natural and nurtured. It is a photographer’s paradise – well at least mine. 20160520-DSC_0056

We stopped at the hosta garden, on a steeply sloping hill down to the hidden lake. Among the wide variety of hostas, that are close to fully unfurling their leaves, are a wide variety of wild flowers, blooming their little hearts out in the dappled shade. As I was squatting and bending and planting my fanny on the gravel path to find what I hoped was the perfect angle, I was thinking about what motivated me to put my body through these painful and awkward maneuvers. I think it is the love of beauty. I think it is the challenge of finding a way to capture those images that portray what I find intriguing within the big picture that my eyes and brain are continually scanning.

I don’t remember whether I read Jamie’s post before or after I went on that photo shoot – it doesn’t matter. Sometimes there is a confluence of events that seem to be spiritual in that they come together to make me a more complete person, one who understands her purpose in the greater scheme of things. Could it be that God is speaking to me, giving me answers to problems in living that I haven’t clearly formulated in my brain?20160520-DSC_0067

Could it be that God wants me to be a happier, more passionate person, doing simple things that bring me pleasure and brings joy to others? Sometimes I discount this confluence that leads to my gaining greater understanding of who I am and what matters to me. After all, it didn’t lead to my engaging in a “big-event-that-changes-world-events” (or changes the direction of our U.S. political scene). I would love to be that kind of person, but I’m not. I have had grand ideas (illusions?) all my life of doing great things for the great good of society. If I view my life from the perspective of a little distance and maybe from the height of that hill over there, I think I have made a difference in a great many people’s lives even though I have never been in the public spotlight. 20160520-DSC_0101

But when I sit atop that hill and reflect on life and the wild-flowers blooming around me, I recognize that I am so very happy with my simple life of capturing beauty through my photography and writing about the internal landscape of my thinking. And you were right, Henri Nouwen, as I wrote this post, my writing took me to a final destination I knew nothing about when I started. I have come in contact with some of my hidden riches and hope that sharing them with all of you, who have so graciously read this post, will start you on a similar journey, so you can increased your riches.

Beauty Thru my Lens: Blue Flower

These photographs were taken at Hidden Lake Gardens and I don’t know what flower it is. What was striking was that one plant had three different phases of the flowering process. It also offered fun opportunities for post processing.

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Tree with a Secret Escape

Weeping European Beech

Weeping European Beech

This is a tree with a surprise. It doesn’t look like anything special, and the first tree we saw wasn’t as nicely shaped as this one so we almost didn’t notice it when we were photographing blossoming fruit trees at Hidden Lake Gardens. Julie happened to look at it as she was passing and noticed the inside of the tree.

Peek inside.

Peek inside.

Inside was a secret room with branches spreading out and a tent of green letting dappled light filter in. It is the type of space where we create secret clubhouses. It is the type of space where we escape from the world because no one can see us or hear us when we enter. It is a place for pretending.

The Secret Room

The Secret Room

When we grow up we can take our new love there to steal a kiss within the protection of our secret place. But don’t tell anyone.

Love Proclaimed

Love Proclaimed

Frizz is up to Tagged T and this tree with a secret meets this challenge to a “T”. You can find more interpretations and submit your own “T” without trepidation at:

http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/tagged-t/

I got a little behind this past week because I escaped to the Upper Pennisula of Michigan with a friend. I think this post also is a good interpretation for “escape”.  If you feel like escaping, you can find more about this Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge at:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/photo-challenge-escape/

Hidden Lake Gardens – Spring

Hidden Lake Gardens is a 755 acre botanical garden and arboretum owned by Michigan State University. MSU is the Michigan land grant college and they truly do fulfill their mission of preserving and developing landscapes that exhibit plant collections for education and enjoyment of the public. They do an outstanding job of arranging the many wonders that God created for us to behold – not their words because they are a state-supported university.

My friend Julie and I spent 4 hours there last week enjoying (and photographing) the solitude and beauty of Michigan spring. My goal was to practice landscape photography because I haven’t been especially excited with many of my previous sweeping vistas. What I came away with are images of not-so-sweeping vistas because of the nature of the steeply rolling hills and woods. This is the type of landscape photography I could get excited about. Come along with me.

The Hidden Lake

The Hidden Lake

Hidden Lakes Garden is located in the Irish Hills section of southern Michigan. This is where the glacier stopped as the ice age started warming and the glacier started to recede. This is where the glacier shoved and dumped huge piles of dirt and rocks resulting in beautiful hills and lots of small to medium lakes. And lots of rocks.

Hilly hosta rock garden.

Hilly hosta rock garden.

Our first stop was the Hosta Hillside. The hosta leaves are a few inches high and haven’t unfurled yet but there are lots of other flowers in bloom. I have already posted some of these here and here and Julie has a post here, – we will be posting more. What was so striking about the landscape was how it was planted to maintain a natural feel but better.

One of many places to sit and view the lake.

One of many places to sit and view the lake.

Evergreens, flowering shrubs and trees form a backdrop for hostas, daffodils, bluebells, and tulips. The horticulturalists also seem to encourage nature to establish it’s own naturally occurring plants around their plantings.

We lingered, and wandered off, and beckoned each other to see new beauty. Our attention was constantly pulled from the garden close by, to the vistas across the lake, and back again. We circled back and forth, up and down, two, three times and where-ever we walked again we saw new beauty, new wonders.

Bright yellow-green of the weeping willow across the lake.

Bright yellow-green of the weeping willow across the lake.

Eventually the road ahead beckoned us.

Road around the lake.

Road along the lake.

There are over 6 miles of paved roads for cars and bikes. There are also 5 miles of marked hiking trails of various lengths. We took the Woodland Drive that winds through an oak and hickory forest. There weren’t many people in the park so we were able to stop often on the road to enjoy the woods.

Naturalized daffodils along winding roads.

Naturalized daffodils along winding roads.

Stone retaining wall along road we had climbed.

Stone retaining wall along road we had climbed.

The allure of a forbidden path.

The allure of a forbidden path.

Leaving the forest, we entered the open, sunny part of the garden. We stopped in the parking area where the walking trail begins to the Glacial Kettlehole – but didn’t do the hike. Our goal was to capture the flowering fruit trees, but we became engrossed within the canopy of an amazing tree that deserves a post all its own (see link at end of this post). Then we moved on to the conifers.

Collection on conifers on Juniper Hill.

Collection of conifers on Juniper Hill.

The educational mission of the gardens is evident in the mature displays of conifers, over 500 specimens that are enjoyed year around. There is also a display of Dwarf and Rare Conifers.

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We were getting hungry and could see the conservatory and visitor center from this overlook.

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Overlooking raised beds that will be planted with summer annuals.

Overlooking raised beds that will be planted with summer annuals.

As we passed the picnic area we bemoaned the fact that we didn’t pack a picnic. There wasn’t food at the conservatory or visitor center, but we were soon distracted from our hunger by the plants in the conservatory and the grounds surrounding these buildings.

Can you hear the low, gentle tones of the wind chime?

Can you hear the low, gentle tones of the wind chime?

It was here, as we were each wandering in our own worlds of wonder, that we laughed about how we have different ways of approaching our subjects. We haven’t photographed together before so it will be fun to see how each of us captured the Hidden Lake Gardens with our lens. Julie just (this week) retired from university teaching and we have a date next Tuesday to return to see the lilacs in bloom. I hope we will also visit the places we missed because of hunger – I think I’ll pack a picnic lunch.

On this trip we had a great lunch at Jus’ Bad Food in the nearby village of Brooklyn and then stopped off for wine tasting at a small vineyard close by. A perfect ending to a perfect morning.

You can join our secret club at Hidden Lake by viewing my post of the “Tree with a Secret Escape.” The secret password is:

https://imissmetoo.me/2013/05/20/tree-with-a-secret-escape/

Beauty thru my Lens: Spring Flowers

I’m intoxicated with Spring and yesterday my friend Julie and I went to Hidden Lake Gardens to try to capture the beauty of Spring as it is unfolding. We talked about how difficult it is to capture the beauty that we see with our eyes and soul. What we end up with on the computer screen frequently doesn’t have that “wow” we felt at the time. I think I will forever be searching for better ways to capture the beauty of God’s creation through my lens. Here are three little beauties.

Wildflower - Trilium

Wildflower – Trilium

 

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My favorite daffodil of the day. My favorite daffodil of the day.