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.
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?
I love to see these pollinators out in force, here visiting both bugle weed and forget-me-nots.
I like tulips of any sort, but most of mine have been eaten by small burrowing creatures or the bunnies who come to visit in spring. I quit replanting them in my yard, but this one single tulip continues to sprout and bloom each spring. Its leaves are smaller and shorter than the others, and the flower itself is as well, so perhaps it’s camouflaged by the ivy for long enough to actually make a showing. It’s just a tiny little thing too, just like a small cordial glass. Studying the red veins fading out into the petal never ceases to amaze me.
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.
We had a bit of sun this morning, and these daffodils were singing their song until the storm got to them.
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”.
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.
These two crocuses finally bloomed today, but the sun only came out for a few minutes and it was then dark and overcast and they closed again, as they do on dark days. I was waiting for the sun again, but it didn’t happen. Still, I want to commemorate the first day for these two, some of the oldest plants in my yard.
The first things to bloom in the yard this spring (2010), these two crocuses go forth together. These crocuses are especially tiny with flowers just about a half-inch across. I’ve never seen another like them, as tiny with narrow, grassy foliage. They bloom days before any of the other crocuses in my yard and many yards as well.
I’m not sure after all these years, but I think an older neighbor shared them with me along with several other bulbs. I treasure the plants I’ve been given by older gardening friends, many of whom had no one else to share with. Now they are gone, but what they shared with me, both the living plants and the living memories, remain.
Tiny soft white kittens emerge from the hard brown shells that have been protecting them. Looks like spring to me.
It’s my annual paean to gardening and the cycles of life.
Every year in the month of March I awaken one morning with the knowledge it’s time to plant the peas, another step in the flow of the seasons. Though I have plants growing indoors, this is truly the beginning of the gardening season for me. Whether it’s the sun, moon, weather, schedule or simple urge to get out there and get my hands dirty I don’t know, but I enjoy the simple manual labor without assistance from any electronic device, ears open to the birds, face feeling the breeze, hands and feet feeling the earth. Many a photo, poem, essay and painting has been inspired by the simple acts of growing things.
Today is not the day, yet later this week, I feel, it will be, and then I will be far too busy, and nowhere near my computer, to post this essay, so I want to share it now, and share my excitement for the coming season of growing. I first read this essay for the first New Year Poetry and Prose Reading of the erstwhile Carnegie Writer’s Group which I’d led from 2003 to 2006. In the meantime, I’m soaking my “Early Sweetness” peas so I’m ready when the day comes.
On Planting Peas
It is early March and I am planting peas. The wan spring sun is finding its heat and lays like a warm hand upon my back as I work. Signs of approaching spring fill my senses in the mild air on my skin, the scent of damp soil and the shrieks of children as they run in frenzied circles of freedom, much like the birds swooping and circling above whistling their mix of songs.
We have passed the first intoxicating days of air that does not bite, endless sun warm enough to melt the last snowfall into a composition of dripping and trickling, soften the soil and make one’s blood run with the abandon of a stream overflowing with spring thaw. The dawns have come noticeably earlier and the muted indigo dusks have lost the sharp quickness of winter and softened to a moist lingering evening.
Perhaps it is the phase of the sun or the moon, the proximity to the vernal equinox or some eternal voice that speaks to those who will listen about the time and season of things, or my own impatience to join in with the cycle that has been going on without me for a few months. Whether it is any of these reasons or all of them or none of them, I awaken one day in March every year with the knowledge that this is the day to plant the peas. It is as clear a yearly anniversary for me as any holiday, and can…
The daffodils sprouted—today! I saw the leaf litter was lifted a bit yesterday, but no trace of green. Today, the sun touched the tips; the crocused, squills and tulips had also pushed aside the leaves but none looked so much like fingers reaching for the light as the new daffodils.
The burning bush continues to flare, even as its leaves are gone for the season. These berries had been there all along, but not nearly as brilliant in the landscape as on a snowy morning, as the snowfall slowed and the sun struggled through the cloud cover to touch each berry, each accented with a little tuft of fresh fluffy white snow, a perfect touch for the holiday season no matter which holiday it happens to be.
I offer this image in a set of holiday cards entitled “Unexpected Berries”. I also sell prints upon request.
Lunaria for the full moon.
Honesty for its pure white color.
Money plant because we can all use a little extra now and then, and if we can grow it in the backyard, so much the better.
This plant has self-seeded since the first year I was here and planted some seeds in a flower bed. Now it comes up wherever it pleases and most of the time I let it because it’s so beautiful with spring’s pink or white phlox-like blossoms, and in the autumn when the seed pods dry and I peel them away to reveal the transparent pearly white membrane that once held the seeds apart in the pod.
At other times it really looks like an undesirable, its first-year floret of leaves resembling a thistle without the thorns, and in the time between blossom and seed looking like a struggling half-hybrid.
It is officially called Lunaria because of its color and shape resemblance to the moon, but every popular plant picks up familiar names.
So I have harvested this year’s money from the back yard and placed some for display and shared more this friends. That can’t be too bad either.
A few last flowers unfold on a slightly warmer, sunny November afternoon.
Known for blooming in May and June along with the forget-me-nots and buttercups, clematis likes cooler weather and each fall, after the burning heat of late summer has browned most of the vine’s leaves, the rains of September and cooler nights of October revive the new growth and a few buds form and bloom, bringing a touch of spring color, albeit a bit faded, to the autumn garden.
Better late than never. Take the risk.
A ripe tomato surrounded by seed heads of grass , dried asters and goldenrod and her own shriveled foliage, doesn’t last in the November garden; her color is faded, and the warming sun has forced the frozen juices from her skin to form one hesitating, reflecting drop.
Cold rain fell on the peppers but didn’t dull their colors, a warming sight for a cold day. I applied the “fresco” filter in Photoshop to this photo; the original is below. The red chiles were so intense in the cool light that I couldn’t get the color under control.
Another black and white from the autumn garden, a large head of dill with sparkles of dew catching the morning sun that filters through the trees. This was taken with black and white film with my Pentax K-1000 SLR with a 1.5X converter. The film grain is partly in the shot, partly from the print. I ended up liking the print though discovered it was grainier than I had intended when I studied the negative.