Time to Say Goodbye

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We are once again planning to leave Southwest Florida for our migration north to Michigan. Our daughter visited for a long weekend, so I knew my visit to the Naples Botanical Garden last Tuesday would be my last. I approached this visit very differently, even beginning my walk by going counter-clockwise.

It was a beautiful morning; temperature about 65 degrees, slight breeze and low humidity. I stopped in the shade by this lake in the preservation part of the garden. I wanted to hear the birds and absorb the foliage that is so different from the Michigan countryside. I remember how foreign it used to feel and now it is a part of who I am – almost as much as the Michigan landscape.

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My next stop was the water lily gardens – before the sun was too high. There were some beautiful specimens but this is the only one I’m showing today. I am saving one for my next Silent Sunday post – and maybe use some more later. It is funny, though. I have a hard time using photographs from Florida when I return to Michigan. The same is true when I return in the Fall. When I put this problem in print it sounds pretty illogical.

 

I wandered over to the Florida garden where they are growing vegetables this time of year, to be used by the chef at the cafe. It is always fun to see what is grown here.  The tomato is growing in a raised bed in the Children’s Garden. In the Asian Garden they are growing rice along with other crops that haven’t started to produce.

This last visit for the season seemed to change my brain circuitry in a way that gave me a very different perspective. Someone was watching me take photos in the Florida Garden and when I looked up, she said she was watching me to see what I was seeing. This started me thinking about what draws me into a scene – into a potential photograph.

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I have been repeatedly drawn into the succulent garden and have taken many macro shots of various plants that I find interesting because of color and texture. This time I stepped back and just stood there, observing and thinking about what I was seeing that would pull me in. I am drawn to the blues of the thick-leaved plants that store water. I also love the graceful, sensual curves of the plants. Yes, I will look forward to being drawn into this part of the garden over and over again – and will always feel like it is the first time.

In my last botanical garden post, I mentioned that there was an image involving multiple textures in the orchid garden that I wanted to retake. Of course it is impossible to walk through an orchid garden without taking at least a few photos, but I accomplished my main mission of improving the composition .

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When I left the orchid garden, a left turn positions me to see the cafe – where I could see my table waiting for me. On my last visit I was naughty and didn’t share me scone – so this week I broke it in half so you can pick the half you want. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (everything is better when it is shared).

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Walk in the Park

You are cordially invited today to walk with me on my almost weekly trip to the Naples Botanical Gardens. Because I go so frequently it is my place to experiment and practice. I don’t have to worry about getting that perfect shot because I know if I get home and don’t like what I captured, I can try again tomorrow or next week. On the other hand, plants change so quickly here in subtropical Florida that there is always something new to see all over again for the very first time. I am almost always surprised by something.

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On this Tuesday morning I decided to equip my camera with my 50mm lens. As I am aging and because fibromyalgia causes fatigue, I find that I am happier when my camera is lighter. I also decided to take my tripod, something I don’t usually do because of the added weight – kind of a balancing act (sorry). I had great fun and am pleased with what I brought home.

I headed for the wetland area to see if I could get some good landscapes (and to get some additional exercise on the trails) but was pulled into the succulent garden. These plants didn’t impress me much when I first started visiting but now I think I am in love. Besides, when I got them loaded in my computer I was pleased with the clarity. I really do need that tripod!

With a big smile on my face and a gentle peace filling my soul, I headed to the wetlands – but the roses were prettier than I have ever seen them so I had to duck into the Florida Garden.

There are always dedicated volunteers weeding in all the areas, so this photo is for all the wonderful people who make the garden look like it naturally grows without weeds. I’m trying to get volunteers to help me with my northern garden, but without success. Maybe if I named my yard the Bailey Botanical Garden? Nice ring, don’t you think.

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I was intrigued with the texture of this plant and discovered it is white rhubarb. Edible plants are grown in different places in the gardens and used by the cafe. I wonder if this will end up as a rhubarb muffin?

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By this time I decided the sun was too high and too hot for my originally intended walk so I took a right across one of the bridges spanning the sea of grass and found this beauty growing as a volunteer in the wild plants and grass right up close to the boardwalk,

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then spent a few minutes watching an artist work on a painting. I have always had a desire to take up painting but on this day realized the process is just plain too slow for me. I have found my speed in the click of a camera shutter.

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I was almost lulled into a rest,

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but the pull of the water lilies was stronger. By this time the sun was harsh so I wasn’t pleased with most of my captures. But this image was cropped drastically from a broader pondscape demonstrating the power of the 50mm lens. I purchased this lens after reading a critique that the increased sharpness of this dedicated lens makes it possible to crop so a telephoto lens isn’t always necessary.

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There were a few shaded areas where I was able to explore texture, color, reflection, and light. I keep lingering on this one, even though I’m not convinced it is that good. Time will tell or maybe I’ll do some different cropping or try again next week. This is the type of art I enjoy working with.

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I couldn’t leave without a walk through the orchid garden where there is always a new challenge to capture. I was drawn to the different textures of wood, orchid, fern and water but will try next time to better capture why this scene touched my soul. I was getting tired, and when this happens I quickly click without enough thought. Next time I’ll start here.

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Nothing rejuvenates a tired body and mind like a little refreshment. Today it was a scone (my usual choice) and a ginger limeade while I sat beside a pond, pondering life.

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You have been such a great traveling companion that I’ll share my drink (but not the scone, sorry) and invite you along next time.

Good-bye to the Sea

20150417-beach goodbye 037We went to the gulf beach last night to watch the sunset because we are leaving tomorrow for Michigan. I went to say good-bye until next fall. It wasn’t much of a sunset because of clouds on the horizon, but it was a perfect evening.

We are leaving a week earlier than I had planned because of the unusually warm spring. That is an understatement because the temperature has been in the high 80’s (Fahrenheit) with high humidity every day for the past month or so. I find these high temperatures as difficult as the winter cold up north, and I get tired of living under air. But the heat made for a perfect evening on the beach.20150417-beach goodbye 038

As we walked towards the beach I could feel the calm. There were less people as most of the tourists have left along with a lot of the seasonal renters – and everyone was moving to a slower, quieter beat. I could feel myself walking into the calm, every nerve in my body relaxing. The water was sheeting the shore, inviting me to walk in it’s shallows.

20150417-beach goodbye 024At 8:00 the temp was still 81, and the water temperature was 83. It is such a strange experience to feel warm water coming to shore from such depths. I spent a lifetime in the Great Lakes, and that water is always cold, unless it is colder. I don’t expect an ocean to be warm.

20150417-beach goodbye 027I didn’t want to focus on the intensity of a setting sun, and I didn’t want the distraction of being with people on the pier. This evening the gentle surface of the water is what fed my soul. It is moments like these that I am filled with awe and wonder of the world. It is moments like this that confirm my belief in a God who knows how to create great mysteries, mysteries I experience beyond my understanding in these calming walks at water’s edge in the still of a warm evening.

Now I am ready to move on to the great mysteries of the Great Lakes.

Sunday Post – Plains

A few hours ago I posted a Virtual Walk on the Beach because I am so happy to have my body in the warmth of Southwest Florida. I noticed, however, that the past few days I have been longing for the fields and farms of southern Michigan. What I am longing for is the sight of newly plowed fields, green winter wheat, and new crop shoots poking out the soil.

Winter Wheat

Winter Wheat

Local farmers in Michigan provide us with a wide variety of meat, fruits and vegetables and we know when the season for each is approaching. We know when to begin to look for them at the farm markets. We plan our lives around when we can freeze blueberries and strawberries, when tomatoes are ready for canning. We long for that first picking of fresh sweet corn.

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Because we haven’t lived in Florida through a full year, we haven’t internalized that knowledge of seasonal change. I feel a little disoriented because of it. I know there are local fields because I buy the produce at my favorite farm market – I just don’t know where the fields are. In Michigan I know the farmers and know which grows the best sweet corn and peaches and blueberries.

Blueberry Farm - Ken & Janet

Blueberry Farm – Ken & Janet

I’m not in Michigan and even if I was it isn’t the time of year to take pics of productive fields. They are lying dormant right now – frozen solid. I can meet my craving for the Michigan plains’ (I think) agriculture by visiting my photo files.

Corn Field

Corn Field in the Fall

To read and see more about the rich plains of the world and to add your two cents, visit Jake at:

http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/sunday-post-plains/