Along the Highway

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Along the edge of Highway 93, going south in the Canadian Rockies from Jasper to Lake Louise, for miles and miles we saw large patches of “something.” Jim thought they were flowers but I knew they were seed heads. Know how, when you look at a ceiling fan a certain way, you can make the fan stop and see an individual blade for just a fraction of a second? As we were driving I could do this as they moved past my side window. I could see the feathery seeds waiting for the perfect moment to let loose.

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I didn’t see any blooms and I don’t have my wildflower guide so maybe one of you out there can tell me what they are. For now I’m enjoying the photos I took – I think they are quite lovely. Something like dandelion seeds. I would also like to know where else they grow.

Wildflowers – Jasper National Park

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Sometimes, when I am being awed by the grandeur of high peaks

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I need to take notice of the little pleasures of our earth – take a few photos of wild flowers.

I wish I had brought my wildflower guide but we are traveling light and you don’t need to be able to name them to enjoy them.

Not so Tidy

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We went down dirt roads this past week, Julie and I. I was hoping to see a barn that excited my senses but that didn’t happen – although we did comment on the barns we have photographed before. We’ve been down most of the dirt roads several times, in this bit of Michigan. And we will keep going down them because we never know what we will stumble across as we putter along at a very slow, relaxing speed.

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We stop frequently, usually when we see something in a particularly good light or just because we need to check it out. In the car we talk about this and that – we have built up a trust that allows us to bring up sensitive topics and share the mundane. When we stop, we become engrossed in settings and composition and light and things like that. We have an unspoken rule that we don’t speak when we are poking around dirt roads.

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Dark is closing in tonight and I’m glad to see this day ending – not something this aging self says very often as my days may be numbered. I’ve been in a black mood, no other way to describe it. I think I slept good last night, so my low energy perplexed me. I tried to nap this afternoon but couldn’t go to sleep. It wasn’t the bad-body day that I sometimes have. It was a sunny day, not particularly humid but hot enough (90 f) that we had to turn the air conditioner on late afternoon. I returned to piecing the summer quilt I’m making for our bed, but not with the joy I thought I would have after finishing my granddaughter’s pink quilt. I puttered with a few other household tasks but didn’t finish any of them. I’m into a good book but didn’t feel like reading. I even ruminated about how I would cope if one of my children died, a very unproductive exercise that I quickly ended.

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I have a really hard time converting color photographs to black and white. It is like a wound to the soul to take color out of nature. Maybe I need a black day every once in a while so I can “see” the world in black and white. Maybe a black (and white) day is good motivation to lighten up and move back into the laughter and smiles and color.

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Aaaah, that’s better. These poppies stopped us. They once had been planted and cultivated but have been left to go wild. They are growing among the grasses and weren’t in any mood to pose for us. We didn’t complain because this is what we were going down dirt roads for. When you go down dirt roads the car gets dirty and you find beauty in the messiness of nature.

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I was drawn to the simplicity and sublime order of this late spring day in Michigan. Everything I looked at was beautiful and I sought to capture the beauty with my lens. Maybe all those little scenes weren’t as beautiful as they seemed, or maybe my photography skills need some honing because when I uploaded the photos to my laptop I deleted a whole lot of them.

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The clock on the bookshelf is telling me it is 10:00 so I think I’ll start my bedtime routine. I might even fold the basket of clean clothes I didn’t get to earlier today – or maybe I’ll leave it for tomorrow. The black mood is now just a pressure on the back of my head so maybe one of my adagio CD’s will move it on out as I do what I need to do to lull myself into a happy sleep.

May we all have good sleep and a bright tomorrow.

Spring Wildflowers

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Toadshade (trillium sessile) 

We weren’t able to go out on our weekly photo shoot this week, but I still have a few post’s worth of images left from last week. A couple of weeks ago I included this photo and wondered what flower it is – still in bud form. Last week it was opening up and I still can’t identify it – maybe one of you knows. Edit: Arwyn Yarwood helped me identify this.

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A very handsome specimen for a woodland garden, and I suppose it will be gone by the time we get out when the weather clears late next week.

When Julie called to say she had a bad night and couldn’t make it out, I thought of it as some free time to work on the quilt I’m making and rest a bit after having my grandson and family for the better part of 7 days. Now I am missing it, feeling the loss of the quiet engrossment I experience as I and my camera communicate with nature. I also missed the time spent with Julie as we have a very comfortable routine of being in our own space then joining back together to share the wonder we are experiencing. We have both mentioned how it is a time of rejuvenation.

What a wondrous tool our memory is, even though we all have memories of rough times. With mental health therapy I found I could disarm the traumatic memories, I have learned to not dwell on memories of people who have been toxic in my life, and to fill my brain with memories of family, friends, and experiences that are healing. I smile as I think about the joy I experienced on our last trip to Hidden Lake Garden. I am experiencing being there as I choose the images that best express the wonder I was experiencing while composing my photographs.

The daffodils were blooming their little hearts out. This is one of my favorite ones that grow wild in the woods. It is so small and delicate, but packs a punch when viewed up close. It seems to have so much energy in such a small package.

But it is hard to have favorites when there are so many other beauties that bring joy to our hearts, especially for those who endured the long hard winter.

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What fun it was to find the small wildflower blossoms that are overlooked as we scanned the beauty of the emerging life in the hosta garden and the woodland floor.

As the beauty of our last outing continues to sooth and heal my soul, bringing a sense of joy and well-being, I am looking forward to new wonders of future outings.

Watching for More Spring

 

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Dateline: Hidden Lake Garden, M-50 in southern Michigan.

There was no mistaking that we were still in an early spring woods, but our spirits were full of anticipation, fueled by glimpses of the ethereal haze of pale green or red buds on the occasional tree in the distance. It was warmer this week – I was comfortable in crop pants and a short-sleeved tee.

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There were more daffodils out this week, especially in the woodland areas – but we saw large beds in the meadows that were still all green. Maybe they will be out in the next couple of weeks.

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Spring Beauty – Claytonia Virginica

Julie & I talked about how fragile the early spring wildflowers seem – but then realized that they are really tough to survive the unpredictable transition from winter to spring. In my early career as a mental health therapist and even as a professor and mentor to college students, I met so many people who seemed fragile, who came from less than nurturing environments but were making it. They had the same beauty and toughness as the early spring wildflowers. It was so rewarding for me to watch them as they bloomed – in all their glory.

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Yellow Trout Lily – Erythronium Americanum

Now, many years later, I was thoroughly enjoying my camera time, working from different heights and angles, with different setting, working to capture the delicate beauty of these early wildflowers. Our first stop is at the hosta garden that slopes down a steep hill to the Hidden Lake. A few hostas are just beginning to push through the ground. They are all marked with black tags as wildflowers and summer bulbs are allowed to grow and bloom before the hostas spread their leaves to cover the ground.

The garden also has a vast area of woodlands where the natural ecosystem is allowed to run its course, with hiking trails and a single lane drive. There isn’t much traffic during the week in early spring so we stop frequently to admire and photograph the flowers flourishing in the sun – before the trees leaf out making a shady canopy.

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Vinca/Myrtle

I was excited to see a few Vinca blossoms because the floor of this woods sloping up above these stone walls is covered with Vinca and in a couple of weeks should be covered in blue.

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We found large patches of wildflowers growing along the road where the trees thin out close to the upland meadow. These blue ones captivated me and I took several photos trying to capture how I experienced this patch through the integration of eye and heart.

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I couldn’t find them in my reference books, nor could I find a useful on-line flower identification site – but I’m sure one (or more) of my readers will be able to tell me their name(s).

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Here are two more wildflowers we found at stops along the drive through the wooded areas. They are very familiar, in fact the blue one has found its way into my front garden bringing a bit of early spring serendipity and color into a garden I am trying to keep under control. But I can’t recall ever knowing their names and my reference books haven’t been any help.

We received a couple days of rain and spring is really popping in our neighborhood so I’m looking forward to returning again to this woodland garden.