My rhododendron is blooming. It’s blindingly pink when the sun shines on it. So welcome.
Yesterday they were all just slightly opened buds, like the first one, now they are popping open.
I’ve been running out of time to post, but not to photograph. I’ll have to double up some days to catch up on the photos.
I typically like to photograph light-colored flowers against a dark background, like the shadows in the woods, but the breeze was moving the shadows and sunlight around and a very light patch ended up behind these cranesbill geranium flowers. I love the shade of green, and I like the effect. They are in my back yard, and have naturalized in a nice row at the edge of my “woodland garden”. The are a native wild plant, and I brought home bits and pieces of plants from old homesteads about to be bulldozed for development. They are a geranium, and if you look at the shape of the flower you’ll see a similarity with the flowers that grow in clusters in the geraniums we find more familiar. The name “cranesbill” is derived from the shape of the seeds, which grow in clusters like the buds you see on the left, a small oblong shape but with a long pointed protuberance that is reminiscent of the beak of a crane.
Join us in Our World Tuesday blog hop.
We mean that literally! The beans were having a birthday party! They were born today! Don’t they look happy dancing there in the dirt?
What got me in trouble today when I should have gotten some work done inside was how cute my laundry looked with the lilac blooming about it. I have a thing for laundry in paintings, so I decided to take some time to do a little sketch. I use my limited set of pastels outdoors so I don’t lose or damage the “good ones”, so I need to touch it up with some other colors and finish off the edges.
The lilac has never bloomed this much—after about 15 years it’s finally come into its prime. The red specks in the back are the first roses on my red climber that swings over the gate, the pink flowers on the chair and on the ground are the first geraniums blooming after I’ve brought them out of their winter home in the basement. The short blue is forget-me-nots, the tall is a flowering bulb called Camassia given to me as a gift years ago, still blooming reliable each spring.
Here’s the uncropped version of the sketch.
And look—there must have been an artist in my yard!
The lilacs I planted “temporarily” by my gate and side window about 20 years ago have become rather permanent, and despite being damaged by heavy snow have gracefully curved over my gate and the path to my back yard like a dappled green tunnel full of heavenly scent. I’ve never seen it bloom like this, but it’s only just begun–in a few days there won’t be any green in this photo. But no matter, once they began to bloom I could smell lilacs even with the windows closed. Spring is here.
I’ve never seen another dogwood like this one except out in the woods here in western Pennsylvania, which is where I found it. With friends, I was exploring an old abandoned farm that had been sold for development. A long row of blooming daffodils lined the driveway, leading us to the spot where the house had been; only an open rectangle of grass was left, but it was surrounded by forsythia and roses and lilacs and Star of Bethlehem spilling around in the grass and many, many more plants which would have bloomed all through the growing season. Someone had loved growing things and so did we, so we took what we could to preserve their memory knowing they’d only be plowed under.
Off in the woods, irregular clouds of white blossoms lit the shadows along what had been roads or paths to outbuildings, and we found lovely native dogwoods with the largest flowers I’ve ever seen, at least four inches across with creamy ridged petals and the characteristic divot at the end of each. What had been but a twig growing on a hillside in the woods is now a full and fervent tree with white flowers in spring, dense green leaves all summer, bright red fruits in late summer and red-violet leaves in fall. Who could improve on that?
One year as it bloomed I saw it at night, a hazy glowing shape, the light of spring that could not be extinguished even by darkness. Hence, this poem.
The dogwoods are blooming up and down my street.
The breaking of the cold,
The unusually warm, brilliant spring day
Has brought my neighbors out to wash cars and cut grass.
Like the returning birds
Their conversations drift and circle from yard to yard
And cross the street on capricious breezes;
We have been put away all winter
Like articles of summer clothing
Our potential at rest,
Yet now, even at night,
Pale, airy clouds of blossoms
Hover in the darkness all over the neighborhood.
Dogwoods ©2005 Bernadette E. Kazmarski
I read this poem as part of my very first poetry reading and art exhibit at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, “Paths I Have Walked”.
In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar; Dogwoods and Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania were both chosen as two of the first entries and led to my annual poetry readings—more on that below.
Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.
I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry
Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski
FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA
People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.
Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.
Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.
All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.
Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.
$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).
About the books and the poetry readings
My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.
In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.
My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.
Nothing says “good morning” like yellow flowers in first light. These are a few of the turnip flowers I didn’t trim yesterday for a bouquet.
The forget-me-nots begin their first tentative blooms at the beginning of April, and continue through most of May. I permit—no, I encourage—the forget-me-nots, a native wildlflower, to naturalize all over my backyard, across the grass and into the flower beds, and each spring eagerly await their abundance. Every year I look for the first few rosettes of soft green leaves and check daily for the first flowers, then watch the green of my grass turn to a field of blue stars and carefully walk among them, watch the sun play across them as if on a cloud and reflect from the dewdrops in the morning or spring raindrops in the afternoon, humming with hungry insects, renewal, from one packet of seeds I tossed out there in the autumn of 1990, right after I moved in.
I don’t cut my grass until they are done blooming but let them finish their cycle, welcoming the bees to come and pollinate the flowers, offering migrating butterflies a meal of nectar, and the returning and nesting birds a hunting ground to feed themselves and their young. My back yard feels like a woodland meadow to look at from all angles and enjoy, a quiet and contemplative place to sit within, to listen to the insects and feel the life surging forth at the beginning of spring. It’s a place of renewal for me.
Life gives us, literally and figuratively, both light and darkness each day, each season, each era of our lives, from our own losses and joy to those of our family, friends, community and the world around us. Having this refuge for myself has been integral for me to weather these storms, of course a place to grieve the losses of my feline family and losses of friends and family, a place to wave my arms and spread my joy at good news or just a happy moment, as well as a place to let my sadness drop away to the soil, there to be worked into the fabric of life as only nature can do, to slowly break it down, use the best of what it has to offer, then discard the rest.
This has been a difficult week in particular, in what seems to be an increasing number of difficult years. It’s hard not to fall into despair at seeing innocent people killed and mutilated by an act of intentional violence and even grievous accidents, and harder, as we feel helpless at not being able to act, not to follow every fact and every image of the events, trying to resolve our own feelings, help resolve the sorrow and pain of the immediate victims, and still feel safe in our own homes and our own hearts. We are changed by each event in the world as the ripples of impact reach us from near or far, just as we are changed by personal events, but this is when I look at the broader example of nature and the earth itself, existent much longer than we individuals or even the human race, for the slow and careful process of healing. Even though the light may be dimmed, signs of life always appear even in the places of greatest devastation, and the earth folds herself around what is left and makes something fruitful and productive.
I don’t follow any individual religious belief but find wisdom in all I’ve read and learned. As a young girl in Catholic school trying to make my way through the King James version of the Holy Bible, one verse was remarkably clear to me then as it is today: One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. (Ecclesiastes 1:4)
I have taken hundreds of photos of my forget-me-nots through the years to find one that is, for me, the essence of that space that heals me. The photo of the forget-me-nots below is the closest I have managed to come to that feeling of life and peace I feel at being within them. I allowed the play of light and shadow intentionally, and if you look closely you’ll even see a small sulphur butterfly on the left and a honeybee on the right, but you’ll have to supply the humming and buzzing, the chickadees and goldfinches, blue jays and cardinals and sparrows who are singing, the smell of the earth and the soft spring breeze—and please, spend some time in your imaginings. You can download this image and use it as a wallpaper on your electronic device or keep it to look at whenever you need to. Click on the image above to bring up the full 2000px version, then right-click and download as you please.
Lots of sparrows visit my feeders right outside the windows, and while I’ve heard white-throated sparrows I’ve not seen one, at least not up close. I know they are ground feeders, and in winter I will often hear their little “tseeet tseeet” at dusk and see them deep in one of the dense bushes. But those stripes on his head, the yellow markings and especially that white spot really stood out—this one was right up in my lilac, not coming to the feeder just above it, but scouting the ground underneath before diving down for a prize seed.
Finally my pear tree is blooming. the blossoms are actually pure white, but I liked this creamy tone in dappled sun, early.
It’s just the lilac with leaves opening in bright green, but this cardinal looks as if she is in a tunnel of magic twigs, fading in and out of reality. I love to play with depth of field.
I was also a little concerned, though, on opening the photo on my computer and seeing that she apparently has something wrong with her beak, and she also appeared smaller than other female cardinals. Babies aren’t even hatched yet so she managed to survive the winter, and she had two very bright and enthusiastic males courting her, so the injury or malformation is apparently not life-threatening, and the boys don’t seem to mind.
We had a bit of sun this morning, and these daffodils were singing their song until the storm got to them.
A robin and sparrow indulge in a mid-afternoon plunge. If you look closely you can see lots of droplets above them. They made quite a splash!
Some very new potatoes dug up in the bed where I’d grown potatoes last year and from which I could swear I had dug up all the potatoes last fall. They are still covered with a little soil, best for keeping them moist, but the sun still shines into the white and yellow flesh as it seems to glow.
These are mostly Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold, and are the ones I missed last year which managed to live and grow in the soil below the frost line. The largest is about two inches at its largest dimension, and they make a wonderful side boiled with butter and olive oil, the first scallions or chives and parsley. Sometimes I have these and the first asparagus together, but this year the asparagus is late.
I was stunned by the volumes of bold texture in every element of this photo including the shadows, and the contrast of the warm weathered tones of the gourds, basket and woven rocker seat with the turquoise of the rocker itself. I look at this all the time, but not until the angled evening light came between the houses and washed over just a part of it, just the tops of everything, that these mysteries were revealed.
This rocker and a few other features starred in another photo from last fall, “Autumn Colors”.
Blue jays are always certain they are the center of the universe, and anything they have is the best thing ever. This blue jay has a seed, it’s just like any other seed from the feeder, but this one is his and it’s better than all the rest and he’s telling the world about it.
Looks like they’re an item! Both are nearly finished molting from their winter coats to their summer coats, the male bright yellow, the female more of a dull olive, all the better to blend in with the scenery when it’s egg-sitting time. They don’t actually nest until later in the summer, when the thistles are blooming, but that doesn’t mean they can’t stock up at the thistle feeder.
I couldn’t get my telephoto lens on my camera fast enough, so this was taken with the regular portrait lens, it’s a little grainy.
At least one clump of daffodils has dared to act as if spring might be here.
I turned the soil in my garden during a sunny afternoon yesterday. The first turn in the spring always assures a few root crops left behind the previous autumn, like the tiny carrots, above. I usually also find tiny potatoes, a turnip or parsnip or two, and a few things sprouting early with edible greens and even a few edible natives are sprouting and greening up. Often it’s enough to make a soup or stew or a side dish, but this year these carrots and a basket of turnip greens were all that were to be had.
It wasn’t so long ago when people gleaned the fields for such things, food stores were gone, and what they found was the only thing available to them to eat. I sometimes wonder how society advanced when simply not starving to death was a daily battle, and I wonder how many lives were lost because only a handful of baby carrots was available for food. I will not complain about how had life is—modern days have their travails, but I have a refrigerator with food, and a store just down the street. Many thanks to our ancestors who had the will to survive.
A stack of tomato cages sits in an unused portion of my garden after the weather finally permitted me to turn the soil. The sun was so bright and the sky so blue, and so much to do.
I added a diffuse glow filter, filling the lightest areas with glare, because the sun was so loud and bright that a regular old photo just didn’t get the point across. Happy spring.
The starlings made a mess of the bird feeder, but they were certainly entertaining while they were at it. Heavens, the drama!
I forgot to post yesterday’s snow photo! The catkins have finally begun to open, but the catkins do their thing even under the snow.