Water flows over a poured concrete low-head dam, the pattern of pebbles and sand in the concrete and flowing white water a contrast to each other, yet it almost looks as if the water is magically formed on the top of the dam.
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.
At least one clump of daffodils has dared to act as if spring might be here.
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.
I had the wrong photo here earlier—here is the tiny spider.
As the spring unfolds with longer days and milder temperatures, we remember what has passed.
It was the tiny spider in the delicate, worn web that inspired this slideshow from 2009 and poem from 2011.
Each year I leave the plants in my garden standing for the birds, insects and other residents of my garden to use for winter accommodations. In spring of 2009 I began preparing the garden section by section and happened to see this spider and her delicate web outlined in the spring sunshine. She had died long before but continued to cling there all winter long, and her web held up against any number of storms.
Her eggs would have been laid on the stem adjacent to her web which would catch the first insects in spring, and when they hatched the little spiders could have their first meal of the insects caught in the web and use her web as a launching pad. I found it so moving that on that bright early March afternoon I went through my garden looking for other such images.
All the other native plants had left behind their skeletons, and the effect of these was haunting, like finding a ghost town or an unknown world.
I had to let them say their last goodbye. I photographed each desolate construction with attention to extreme details you might never notice to show the intrinsic, transient beauty of these empty shells. The sepia tones are the natural coloring of the plants in the stark spring sunlight, that interim color palette between the blues of winter and the greens of spring. Below is a link to a slideshow I composed and posted on my website; when you view it, you’ll see that many of the plats I’ve photographed are criss-crossed with tattered little webs.
To Come Again in Spring
In this sepia scene
of late-winter twigs and matted leaves
I found the small tattered orb she had built that lasted the winter,
this tiny creature no larger than a grain of sand
now curled in the center, her spirit long gone
from her desiccated body,
yet her tiny children,
awakened by a warming spring sun,
will emerge from all the crevices
in the plant she chose as their birthplace
and find that her final creation
helps provide their first meal,
delicate strands catching the earliest gnats,
though these too be
the children of other mothers;
and so the returning songbirds will catch
the tiny spiders as they leave their web of safety
and find sustenance to begin their families
all toiling through the year to grow and thrive
to prepare for the dark of winter
and to come, again, in spring.
Poem To Come Again in Spring © 2011 B.E. Kazmarski
I read this poem at my 2011 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, but did not set up a web page for that reading, and it is not included in my poetry book. Perhaps a reason to finally build the page from that reading, and get started on a new poetry book…
And click here to bring up the slideshow of the images I took this day.
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.
Tiny soft white kittens emerge from the hard brown shells that have been protecting them. Looks like spring to me.
The leaf buds on my silver maple trees are just ready to burst open, especially in the brief clear spot we had this morning.
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.
Good, now you can have that disco ditty by the BeeGees running through your head too.
I took this photo at just this angle. The chives lean in over my wooden steps, and at that time of the afternoon they cast these perfect shadows on the weathered, grained and scratched wood. It’s a simple repeating design with subtle colors I might use as a background somewhere, perhaps not the photo itself but a stylized version of it, as below, with a little more detail and finishing. Cool block print or screen print too.
My backyard is a sea of forget-me-nots right now. They’ve been blooming since the beginning of April, and will continue through most of May. Every year I look forward to this, to finding the first few, then watching the green of my grass turn to a field of blue stars, to 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 21 years ago.
This is but a small section of them all; I was finding myself out there every afternoon photographing with every lens and from every angle. I had to stop myself, and make myself just look at them and enjoy them.
One tiny sparrow decorates the picket fence, washed by angled morning sunlight.
Patterns, both natural and man made, work so well in black and white photography because you can avoid the distraction of color and just enjoy the shape and form, the play of light on an object and the abstract shapes created by the light and shadow. Running my eyes on the pattern of light and shadow on the picket fence for me is almost like walking along and dragging a stick on the pickets, hearing both the taps and the silences as they make their aural pattern, the companion to the visual pattern.
The waving habit of the fence adds interest to the pattern, creating a visual rhythm all its own.
The shadow on the ground, while not as strong, is also intriguing, broken up by grass and gravel.
And, of course, the common little house sparrow sits atop like a punctuation mark.
These ferns are not in my yard but in the woods along one of my favorite trails, Panhandle in Collier Township. They do look as if they are in the midst of a sincere discussion.
For more spring wildflowers and other wildflowers, enjoy the galleries in Nature Walks Around the Lower Chartiers Watershed.
Cardinals will do this as a courtship ritual, feed each other seeds. I thought it was past the time for courtship for cardinals, but perhaps they are on a little honeymoon.
I wish the lighting had been a little different on this. There is a little sunlight on the cardinals, but because my neighbor’s steps are in full sun the birds were nearly silhouetted. A flash was not an option because I shot this through my front window and would have had only a flashed out window. But I’m so glad I finally caught them in the act—I’ve seen cardinals do this for years in the spring but haven’t been able to catch them in time.
I simply pulled over on the street where I was, put the best lens on my camera and walked into someone’s yard to photograph these red tulips. That vibrant color was too much to let pass by. They look like balloons on strings. I love the yellow at the bottom.
A lovely focused light fell on the yard between rains today as the temperatures rise just before another cold front. The spotlight is on the forsythia, those lovely unique yellow flowers so welcome all through March. I try to stay with native plants in my yard, and forsythia is decidedly not native, but I would miss it, every spring.
Years ago if visited the site of an abandoned farm with friend who had discovered it, and the place was like a wonderland of leftovers and memories from decades of people loving their land and working very hard.
The farmland had been sold and was due to be cleared and “made ready” for development. The wooded hillsides, the partly-overgrown upper fields, the packed clay roads from one pasture to another, the locust posts still sound and straight would all disappear.
The barn still stood, though it was hardly sound. Barns carried tons of weight in livestock and stuff for livestock and are generally built the sturdiest of any building on the land and last a long time past nearly anything else. Off in the woods was an old chicken coop, still smelling just a bit like chickens, but obviously made from hand-hewn boards. We knew this would be either plowed under or sent to a landfill and we wanted to salvage as much wood as we could, but the three of us couldn’t easily carry even one of the 12-foot 2x10s and knew that cutting them would be impossible. Some of the artifacts we found in the barn, empty food tins and old tools, told us the farm had probably been there since the mid-nineteenth century.
But the most magical thing was the spot where the house had been. There was no trace of the building, but a rectangle of open green grass remained, surrounded by a riot of forsythia and lilacs and rhododendrons and roses ready to bloom and crocuses and stars of Bethlehem and so many other plants just sprouting, as if they were all waiting for the house and the people who had loved them so much to come back, and wouldn’t fill in the empty spot just in case they would reappear some day. I was moved to tears at the generations of people who worked hard on their traditional farm, but also loved their flowers and surrounded their house with color and scent.
And there were these daffodils, bright yellow and “doubled” as flowers are called when they sprout extra rows of petals. Doubled is an understatement—they have so many rows of petals I couldn’t count, and each flower takes several days to fully open. They were clustered around the house and barn, here and there in the dim under trees, but they most joyous display was all along the road that curved up from the barn to the upper pasture, a riot of daffodils that would have accompanied the person on the tractor or leading the cows, as winter led to spring and the hard work of farming began again in earnest, they would be cheered on by a long line of yellow flowers nodding and waving as if in applause. It must have taken decades for them to naturalize and fill in like that.
The daffodils were in full bloom when we were there on a sunny spring morning. Knowing it was all going to the backhoe, we decided to preserve this memory by taking as much as we could and filled our cars with buckets of daffodils, a few other plants, and my beloved dogwood, a native sapling the day I took it home, now proudly filled out and blooming with creamy flowers the size of dessert plates.
Every spring these daffodils still turn their faces to the sun and bloom enthusiastically, and I think of the people who loved and planted and nurtured these things and hope they know that someone found their little paradise and helped to salvage some of what they loved.
Here is the full moon from March 19, the “Supermoon”. It certainly did appear larger than most other moons I’ve photographed, though I didn’t have a way to show the scale so here it looks like any other moon.
Still, the full moon is a beautiful creature and I have always enjoyed studying her surface patterns. They’ve always looked like cities and roads, like what you see when you fly over the desert.
This full moon has been one of the most meaningful and exuberant in cultures throughout human history as evidenced by these full moon names from various traditions, regions and beliefs:
- Pink Moon, named for the wild phlox or “pinks” which are often the earliest showy flowers to bloom in the woods and fields;
- Sprouting Grass Moon, because grass will begin to sprout in most of the northern hemisphere except the most northern regions;
- Egg Moon, I’ve never heard a clear explanation of this one, but it may be that chickens in unheated coops will produce more eggs as the days lengthen and grow warmer;
- Fish Moon, fish begin migrating and spawning;
- Worm Moon, worms begin moving as the soil thaws, leaving castings for the garden and attracting robins;
- Crow Moon, crows begin to caw signaling the end of winter;
- Crust Moon, snowcover melts during the day and freezes over at night;
- Sap Moon, sap begins to flow in trees and shrubs, especially maple trees;
- Lenten Moon, this full moon always falls during Lent, no matter when Easter falls;
- Paschal Moon, only in some years, when the March full moon falls after the equinox marking both Easter and Passover—this year the April full moon will be the Paschal moon.
I love wildflowers, even leftover from last year and dried in warm soft shades of amber. These dried stems of pokeberry, wormwood, Queen Anne’s Lace and goldenrod have been stripped bare of seeds by winter birds and stand ready to fall in spring storms to fertilize the next generation of wildflowers in this little edge of a parking lot.
I can picture this pattern on fabric or wallpaper or a carpet, shapes and textures and colors.
Good, now you can have that disco ditty by the BeeGees running through your head too.
I took this photo at just this angle. The chives lean in over my wooden steps, and at that time of the afternoon they cast these perfect shadows on the weathered, grained and scratched wood. It’s a simple repeating design with subtle colors I might use as a background somewhere, perhaps not the photo itself but a stylized version of it, as below, with a little more detail and finishing.
A male cardinal pauses to decide exactly what to do next on this lovely sunny day—sing? fly? hop to another branch? check the bird feeders? find his lady?
Well, that was exactly what he did, in that order, during at least the next 20 minutes while I was observing.
And I was enjoying a gloriously colorful morning as well, awakening my color cues and design senses for a long day at the computer. Thank you, Mr. Cardinal, for helping me through the day! I do believe his is the one who periodically sings outside my office window.
I often think the cardinals are most stunning in winter when the bright flash of red burns against the white of snow, especially when cardinals group together as they do in winter. But against this brilliant spring green with the sun shining, that red, if possible, looks even more brilliant than in the winter.
A raindrop captured in the petal of a buttercup catches the evening sun amid the forget-me-nots.
I stopped to explore a conservation area, coincidentally right after a heavy rain which completely changes a natural area because everything that lives comes out after the storm is over and the place is very busy, even noisy, with all the activity.
I was photographing water droplets on the grass, nice enough, when a damselfly literally wandered into the picture, looking like a small model airplane in the lens.
This happens to be an Eastern Forktail damselfly. Part of the fun of the exploration is getting out the guidebooks and hitting the internet to learn about what you just discovered you didn’t know.
Here’s a close-up of the damselfly. The above photo is more attractive, but the photo below is a little more clear. I discovered this species hanging out at Wingfield Pines in Upper St. Clair, PA (near Pittsburgh), a property protected by the Allegheny Land Trust.