Where the Wild Flowers Are

I am fully engaged in my Michigan environment as I’m watching spring unfold. How perfect that Tina has given us the Lens-Artist Challenge of Environment. The daffodils and naturalized grape hyacinths in my garden have me eager to get out in a couple of weeks to find and photograph some nice specimens of wild flowers. My favorite spots to photograph are in the spring-time woods where gentle light is filtered through newly emerging leaves.

These photos are from my files, taken at Hidden Lake Garden in the Irish Hills of southern Michigan on visits in May of previous years. I think maybe a couple were taken in other wooded areas that are so plentiful in my Michigan environment. We have some warm sunny days predicted for next week so my agenda includes a trip to Hidden Lake Garden and then on to Tecumseh where there is a fabulous quilt fabric store.

The part of my environment that is really exciting my soul is the green haze of the undergrowth in wooded areas along roads that we frequent. This morning on our way to breakfast and exercising we talked about how much the leaves have opened in the tall branches of the many hardwoods – just in the past two days. And I smiled when I looked out my kitchen window and saw dandelions blooming under our neighbor’s burning bush.

If you would like to share a piece of the environment you live in or those you have visiting you can click here to join in.

In the Glow of the Early Morning Sun

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.

This post was created in response to the Lens-Artist Challenge: Glowing Moments.

Just a Little Time Outside

Haven’t been out for many walks lately as I have been consumed by choosing products for our Florida rebuild after the storm surge. I also made the decision (in one of my less sane moments) to make quilted Christmas gifts for all family members that will gather at our house this year. I did however walk down our short drive to take some photos of the gorgeous Maple tree in the side yard when it was at its most colorful.

The leaves have since fallen and we have what seems like an early snow on the ground. It was challenging for Jim to get the leaves raked and I stopped myself from helping because the raking and bending would have inflamed the arthritis in my lower back. Our son came to help with the second raking but there were still leaves that hadn’t fallen. Then we got the best help of all – we had a couple of days of very strong winds – like rattle the rafters strong – and we looked out and all the rest of the leaves were gone. We smiled big. It seems like one of the greatest challenges of reaching old age is to recognize that we can no longer do many of the things we used to do and to (gasp) let someone help us when we can do it perfectly well ourselves.

This post was inspired by Becky’s November Squares theme Walking Squares. It’s a nice theme, Becky.

Lens-Artist Challenge: Following the Sun

When I arrived at the Dahlem Center the sun was peeking through the trees.

This morning I went to buy fruit from Ken & Janet who once a week have their Blueberry Hill fruit stand in front of my favorite meat market – about 3 miles from our home. This week they had blueberries but were sold out by the time I got there, peaches, nectarines, plums, and a couple of early apples. As I was leaving to go home, I decided to go to the Dahlem Nature Center as it was almost on my way home, I had my camera, and the sun was shining so I was pretty sure I could get some good photographs for this week’s Lens-Artist Challenge: Here Comes the Sun.

I have taken a few photos of sunrises and sunsets but what I really enjoy about early morning photography is catching the moment when the rising sun shines through the trees to illuminate a subject. In those moments the ordinary is transformed into extraordinary. On my walk through the wooded area of the conservatory my mission was to find these moments.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. Rachel Carson

When I take photographs of nature in these circumstances, I think about the definition of beauty. When I do the post processing I become concerned that what I saw as beauty out in a wild field or along a dirt road won’t be perceived by others as beautiful. I wonder what a professional photographer would say about my images and whether anyone would want them matted, framed and hanging on the wall.

These questions and worries don’t discourage me from moving forward with posting them on my blog, however. I think it is because my photography is driven by a desire to share emotions, whereas my life’s work was driven by thought and skill. It seems like those posts of bloggers I follow that focus their photography on the natural world are the most enjoyable. And for me the most exciting, the most gentle, the most evocative are the ones that are gently bathed in early morning sun.

It had been years since I walked the trails of Dahlem Center and I have changed in body and soul. I am thinking that Jim and I need to take regular walks here. I was wandering along an easy path, taking a few photographs and enjoying the bird calls when something caught my eye. If you look closely you will see the doe and spotted fawn on the path ahead watching me. As I slowly walked closer, they ran away.

Here is a gallery of nature’s late-summer offerings, at least they are the ones that the sun wanted me to aim my lens toward and put into focus.

It seems to me that Mr. Wright needed to add, ‘take care of nature.’ Maybe he thought that loving nature would cover it but I’m not sure. If we don’t respect and protect nature it will destroy us instead of being there for us; if we fail nature, it will fail us.

A special thank you to Amy for choosing a topic that motivated me to grab my camera and hit the trails. It has been a long time since I have felt the joy of searching for beauty with my lens.