Hope Comes with Onesies

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Two days ago I did my weekly walk-about at the Naples Botanical Garden, but when I arrived the garden was blanketed under low cloud cover. An unusual occurrence. I felt edgy, reminding myself to take deep breaths and urging myself to find beauty. OMG, did I just say I had to work to find beauty in a botanical garden?

The impeachment trial of donald trump is stressing me. It is plummeting my sacred belief that if facts are presented in a clear and logical manner, people will understand. Adam Schiff has been outstanding in arguing the evidence presented by creditable witnesses during the hearing in the House of Representatives that led to the impeachment the president. The president’s defenders in both houses of congress have not produced a single piece of evidence to argue against the facts to impeach and remove him from office. I’ve watched most of the hearings in the House of Representatives and the “trial” in the Senate. What I have heard are a continuous stream of lies and irrelevant arguments from the Republicans. It has grated on my nerves and I’m not in a good spot this week. And my brain keeps screaming, “I must be able to do something.”

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This is the shroud I carried into the cloudy garden on Tuesday. I was trying to find a glimmer of beauty, of goodness, of hope. I watched as the light would become a little brighter as the sun shone through a thinner (very small) patch of clouds. I had my camera on the tripod, all the settings were where I wanted them, and I watched – ready to push the shutter. And I looked from where the clouds were coming, and to surrounding sky and didn’t see many areas of thinning clouds. When I looked through the viewfinder, I saw the grey reflection of clouds on the water and the dulled colors of the lilies. Yes, what I chose to look at reflected the shroud of clouds within my brain and soul.

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The sun did come out but my mood didn’t brighten much. I thought that a scone and ginger limeade would help but it didn’t. The limeade refreshed my dehydration and the scone was a little warm and full of berries but joy was lacking.

When I downloaded my photos these stood out. The water lilies seemed to be gentle instead of muted grey, they seemed to tell me that there is hope and beauty even if I am feeling betrayed and threatened. I liked them, drew pleasure from them but had a hard time starting a blog about them. I had to live with them as my brain and soul searched for a way to live in the political turmoil as I watch more of the trial yesterday.

Last night Jim spoke through my turmoil and asked what was the best part of the day. We laughed because he knew. There is a kitchen worker at our favorite restaurant who is pregnant. We only notice her because we sit at the counter across from the beverage station and she brings clean cups and glasses out. I had bought some long-sleeved onesies to take to her but realized her baby is due in March, and the weather will be hot by then. Jim came home from breakfast with his ROMEO buddies (Retired Old Men Eating Out) all excited that there is a children shop next to the restaurant he went to that has lots of short-sleeve onesies for $1 each. We went there on our way to exercise and I got lost in onesies heaven. I bought a whole pile of them for her. When I think about that experience, my life is full of joy, beauty, and hope.

Maybe God didn’t call me to fix the Republicans or the president or scumbag lawyers who lie and tell distorted truths. God did call me to seek and support truth and justice. Most of all God called me to touch those who are in need. Maybe I can be satisfied with being one of the millions of rays of light in the darkness.

Just do it!

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My last weekly trip to the botanical gardens triggered memories of two of my pasts; my long-ago working life and and more recent going down dirt roads in Michigan with friend Julie to photograph whatever was present.

My fibromyalgia had gotten worse because of an increased exercise routine so I was experiencing that weird pain that comes from nowhere and relates to nothing I’m doing. And this causes fatigue. It brought back memories of working, having work responsibilities that I was eager to meet but didn’t have any energy left after showering and dressing. I made a commitment to myself that I would go to work every morning, even if I felt like crap. I had a job with flexible hours so I could almost always grab some computer work that I could do at home between naps. I gave myself permission to return home after 15 minutes if I needed to, but that seldom happened. I found I was thinking about this last trip to my beloved botanical garden before heading north like I approached my beloved work of 10 years ago. I decided to go even though I felt like crap – my parting words to Jim were that I would probably be back within the hour.

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When I reached my favorite starting point, the lower water lily pond, I didn’t see much going on with the lilies. It was a cool morning even though the sun was above the surrounding trees. It seemed like the lilies were having as much difficulty opening up to the day as I was. But I didn’t move on – I lingered, starting to notice all that was happening.

Cannas were growing along the edge of the boardwalk. Two things surprised me; they were growing in water and the variety of colors. The garden book I consulted confirmed that they will grow in water and that there are a broad spectrum of colors of both flowers and foliage. I’ll have to keep an eye out for other colors. If you have other colors growing, maybe you can do a post and provide us a link in the comment section.

There is a coconut palm across the pond from where I was. I frequently wander over there and had tried photographing it but didn’t like any of the results. As I slowed down and really looked I found what I had been looking for reflected on the surface of the pond.

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A couple joined me and after a few minutes the wife moved on. Her husband and I struck up a conversation. He is an artist, currently taking a course on painting from a photograph so he was taking some photos. We talked about photography and painting, color and composition, and post-processing software. I really enjoy poking my head out of my introvert shell every now and then.

And I didn’t feel like going home, so I moved to the other ponds that have lilies, stopping to explore a bird of paradise.

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It was such a beautiful morning that I forgot what was going on with my body – and I didn’t push my body hard. Instead I took lots of photos of how the garden is growing. There were lots of lilies growing in the other ponds so I had the joy of finding new ways of photographing them. I took a lot of my favorite macro shots…

but am finding joy is trying to capture the beauty of flowers within their environment. The garden is maturing and in this part of the garden there is a lot of planning by very talented professional gardeners.

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I will continue to experiment with expanding my view to capture the magic that has captured my heart. Stay tuned.

Welcome to the Garden

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As I turn into the Naples Botanical Garden, there is a small pond to my left that catches the early morning light. It has always drawn me in – sometimes calling to me, wanting me to pull in the parking lot to the right, used by employees and volunteers, and walk over with my camera. I would take some photos, but most of them didn’t last through the winnowing processes.

When I returned this fall, it had been landscaped, or more accurately, “waterscaped.” Three large pillars had been added, with small waterfalls so the sound of water made music with the morning sun dancing across the surface of the water. Grasses and lilies had been added or maybe some of them had been there all along but the stone pillars gave them more importance in their supporting roles.

I lingered, even though I felt the pull of the garden. And I think I will have stop again on my next visit.

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Water Lilies With an Address

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I was thinking of my disappointment when I left the tanks containing the water lily competition entries that weren’t blooming (A Steamy Visit – But Where are the Lilies?). I was also feeling the oppressive heat and humidity even though it was only 8:30 in the morning – but all that was quickly forgotten when I reached the pavilion overlooking the ponds in the Asian Garden. Here a beautiful lily was beginning to open, one of many, many that have the Naples Botanical Garden as their address, but one I hadn’t seen before.

I became engrossed with capturing the beauty of the above lily, another lily blooming there and some seed pods.

After a stop at the cafe for a ginger limeade, I was revitalized and the humidity had dropped so I went in search of more water lilies. I know there is a finite number of lilies that have made this garden their home, but I never tire of finding a new camera angle or slant of light to take a few more photos of old friends.