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Poem for Sunday: Wild Apples

Late summer woods.
Late summer woods.

Late summer woods.

Seasons meld from one to another, not at the equinox and solstice but halfway between, in the quiet time when there are no other celebrations, but the sensitive person can feel the change, especially standing in the quiet relentless heat of a backwoods trail in August. I visited the trail on the traditional Celtic cross-quarter Lugnasadh and the Christian Feast of Lammas, when summer gently gives over to autumn, growth turns to ripening, the natural world begins to settle itself in for harvest and rest in the dark of winter, and later that day the sense of change, in the woods and in myself, was still strong with me, and I wrote this poem. It became a symbol and celebration of my own developing changes, my mother’s failing health and ultimate death, and reaching my own half-century mark shortly after, seeing that as my own Lugnasadh.

I also recorded it with a slideshow of images; this is embedded after the text of the poem.

Wild Apples

At a bend in the trail,
The scent of wild apples greets me.
A tree abandoned from an old orchard
Or sprung up on its own from old stock, wild and uncultivated,
Stands trailside,
Heavy with small round burnished apples.
The late summer heat releases their scent,
Sweet and tart, that the world may know they have reached their prime;
The wild perfume of the coming season.

From another tree one single leaf lets go
And falls, papery, dry and curled, slipping through branches
Clattering to the summer-hardened clay of the trail,
Loud in the silent heat of the August afternoon.
Months before,
Winter lost her grip, and, one by one,
The wildflowers of spring began to bloom,
Which, in their turn, faded into the shadows of the dense summer woods.
Now summer is losing her strength,
Autumn is thinning the woods
And bearing her own flowers and fruits,
Changing the palette of the landscape
With bright summer greens turning gold,
Deep rich shadows fading hazy blue.

Soon autumn will blaze along the trail,
And songbirds will move their chorus south.
Already winter has touched my hair,
And the smell of wild apples is in the air.

Poem “Wild Apples” by Bernadette E. Kazmarski © 2007, may not be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author. Links to this blog are fine.

We notice these changes in ourselves in the great cycle of our own lives. This was the topic of my 2009 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Change of Season. I have published the collections of poetry from each of the four poetry readings, 2007 through 2010, in a book entitled Paths I Have Walked, which you can purchase on my website. Also visit the writing section of my website to read more poetry and see more art and photos.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Thunder Moon

mist in moonlight
mist in moonlight

Moonrise

In 2006 I was still lugging around a few film cameras that could capture what my first little 2MP point-and-shoot digital could not. I’d been working with a number of local and larger land conservation groups for years and had a literal field day photographing and painting those beautiful areas as they recovered from industrial or other use, or were simply conserved as overgrown land that housed an ecosystem all their own.

mist in moonlight

Softened Layers

At the same time I was canoeing Chartiers Creek, sometimes for work but usually for fun, and from early morning until night I saw incredibly lovely scenes that I couldn’t catch in a moving canoe. I vowed to return some time to capture as many as I could in different areas.

mist in moonlight

Sentinels

I was familiar with Wingfield Pines as a large flood plain conservation area and also for its access to the creek, and I remembered at one evening event watching the moon rise over the ridge to the east, so when I got the idea to photograph the moon rising in summer using black and white film I chose that destination. Next full moon available was the Thunder Moon in July.

mist in moonlight

Mist in the Trees

Though it was a clear night, a mist rose with the moon. These were shot with film, and while I had my notes from a test session on a night with a partial moon, and from photographing the moon at other times, I knew the mist was a variable I couldn’t control, and I might possible end up with just a bunch of blur because the mist was moving across the open field, not hanging in the air like a fog.

mist in moonlight

Moonlight Through the Pines

When I got the photos back I was so disappointed at not being able to get the clarity I’d remembered in the moon and the surroundings that I put them away for a bit, then got them back out and decided I liked them for what they were. In fact, I find them quite magical. A few of them I like very much.

mist in moonlight

Path Across the Creek

And because a few of canoeing buddies didn’t want me wandering around on a full moon night in an isolated area alone, or walking in the creek with my camera gear and no one else around, they joined me.

mist in moonlight

Aliens

I truly need a better scanner, but since this is a “supermoon” month, I’ve decided to scan and share them anyway.

Moon-1000px

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Poem for Sunday: Feverfew

Patience
Patience

Patience

Do flowers make us happy? Especially those little smiling faces of daisies and daisy-like flowers? Used to represent a universal flower type, little white flowers with yellow centers and a circlet of white petals have always been recognized as symbols of innocence and childhood.

I’m a sucker for a little white flower, be it chamomile or a daisy or an aster or…feverfew, even the mounds of it that take over sections of my garden every summer. It’s a native wild plant in my area and once it gets a root in the soil nothing can stop it. Yet it looks as delicate and happy and innocent as a flutter of butterflies.

Through the years caring for my mother and brother, money woes and running my business, the coming in and sadly, leaving, of members of my feline family have tended to pull me deeper into myself until I can’t get past myself to my creative self that is totally unaware of all these daily things. Sometimes when I’m weighed down by everything around me, a trip to the garden and seeing little smiling flower faces dotted with dew can awaken my creative senses and lift the weight off my shoulders—and a good thing because I need all my strength and balance to run around with my camera and sketchbook. A trip to the garden in the morning pulls me out of that space for just enough time that I can reach that creative self in time for another day’s work in my studio, and my kitchen, and around my house as I smile back at all those little happy faces covered with dew and suddenly see photos and paintings and fabric designs and, for the moment, forget anything else.

Feverfew

Oh, I can’t stop looking at all the feverfew
in my garden,
I just keep running from one cluster to another
those tiny perfect daisies
in umbels as if floating without stems
on waves of bright green leaves
the dots of dew flashing, sparkling
in the day’s new sun
just arrived over the horizon
its color still warm and yellow
as if it’s a cookie just taken out of the oven
and I have to look at all the feverfew
from every angle
until I’m done looking
and I discover I’ve forgotten all the problems of yesterday
and all the ills of the world that I feel the need to carry
and I’m laughing
and dripping with dew myself
and visualizing stunning works of art
and amazing poetry and prose
most of which will ever be realized
nor do they need to be
the inspiration only needs to settle into my soul in this early morning in June
and its glow will warm heart
and keep me laughing with joy
through the day
and the next
and the next.

Poem “Feverfew” by Bernadette E. Kazmarski © 2008, may not be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author. Links to this blog are fine.

Feverfew

Feverfew

I read this poem at my 2008 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall which you can read in Paths I Have Walked, outlined below. Also visit the writing section of my website to read more poetry and see more art and photos.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

And also see a series of traditional black and white photos I’ve taken of my feverfew inspirations, for sale matted in my Etsy shop.


poetry book

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Poem for Saturday: Dogwoods

Dogwood Blossoms

Dogwood Blossoms

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.

Dogwood Blossom

Dogwood Blossom

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.

Dogwoods

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.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Earth Day

"You're my best frond."
"You're my best frond."

“You’re my best frond.”

A few years ago I used an online calculator to test my “carbon footprint”. I was off the scale—the bottom of the scale, lower than the test measured.

So give me some sort of sustainable laurel wreath, but I don’t really deserve one since I haven’t made much effort. Most of what gave me a good score has been through what others have sometimes considered strange habits that I’ve maintained all my adult life: piling up stuff—cardboard, batteries, construction materials—until I can make one trip to wherever I can recycle them; avoiding packaged foods by cooking most of what I eat from fresh materials, most of that from my organic garden complete with compost bin to mix vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, scrap paper and dryer lint to turn into fertilizer; salvaging older and used materials in maintaining my home and car; using age-old cleaning methods instead of packaged cleaners; walking or riding my bike instead of driving when I can, etc., etc.

But the creative burden…

Good for me. It’s not so difficult to maintain a daily lifestyle that doesn’t overburden the environment. More difficult, in fact sometimes impossible, is keeping my life as a creative person as green as possible. It’s been a constant frustration that I have very little control over the manufacture of the art materials I purchase, and in many cases those materials need to be made from chemicals I’d rather not think about in order to create the effect I envision. Oil-based block printing ink, for instance, is made from petroleum, and cleans up with turpentine—I cringe each time I use it and try to minimize the amount, but nothing else prints as well from a block or is as durable when printed on fabric. The pigments in my pastels, watercolors, acrylics, the fibers in my drawing papers, the cotton in the yarn I crochet…I can and do make decisions on the purchases to find the most sustainable products, but often there’s no alternative.

The chemical-free digital camera

Which is why I am grateful for the digital camera, considering the amount of chemicals that went into developing and printing all my film through the years. I gave up on my own darkroom years ago because I just didn’t want those chemicals in my home, but someone somewhere else had to use them if I didn’t.

I did not find the change to digital easy, and floundered my way through several little point and shoots and lots of research until I found the magic combination that produced photos much like my beloved Pentax K1000, the battered old fully-manual SLR I purchased just out of college, the one that taught me about photography and over the years became an extension of my eyes. My Pentax K10D has all the same manual controls available, I can use all the lenses and filters I collected for my K1000 and every day happily shoot more photos than I ever did before, knowing that I can simply download them to my computer with no use of chemicals whatsoever.

So on Earth Day I celebrate both the earth, in a few galleries of the photos I’ve taken, and this advance in photography that allows me to take thousands of photos and view them without anyone taking a bath in volatile chemicals, including the air, soil and waterways where everything ends up no matter what we do.

Enjoy the galleries in Nature Walks Around the Lower Chartiers Watershed.

Happy Earth Day!

. . . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


On Planting Peas

Pease Vine
Pease Vine

Pease Vine

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 might be the day though I have much cleanup out there and the soil is either too frozen or too soggy, yet very son 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, my “Early Sweetness” peas are at the ready for 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…

Click here to visit my professional and creative writing page to read the rest of On Planting Peas


Poem for Saturday: A Little Thaw

A Little Thaw.
A Little Thaw.

A Little Thaw.

Imagine the sound of water amid a world of ice.

The limestone cliffs of the quarry seep groundwater dripping down the rock face into the partially melted quarry pond in a constant patter. The gray of the limestone and pale yellow of the wan winter sun color this image into a burnished antique gold.

The trail can be so noisy on a bright afternoon with all the water dripping and the stream surging with icemelt, and the birds making the best of a clear day to stock up on food. Even tiny bits of fresh green showed in protected spots, ferns and mosses just waiting for a sunny day to store up some energy to make it through to warmer weather.

. . . . . . .

A Little Thaw

The silence of ice
hard-smooth glaringly mocking
a manufactured perfection
life, birth, spring
held captive in plain view
under a solid clear glaze
pale world strangely hushed
I tiptoe through
afraid to break the surface with my sound
but a snap, a crack, a drip, another
whispers return to life around me
once broken, the ice cannot hold its captives
dripping, pattering, babbling
life begins again
the stream torrent rushing
beneath the clear, fragile, broken cage of its captor.

poem (c) 2011 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Poem for Saturday: To Come Again in Spring

Tiny  Spider

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…

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

And click here to bring up the slideshow of the images I took this day.


poetry book cover paths i have walked

“Paths I Have Walked”, collected poems from poetry readings.

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Valentine’s Day, a Photo and Poem

two cardinals
two cardinals

Two cardinals on Valentine’s Day.

What bird matches the colors of Valentine’s Day more than the Northern Cardinal, especially that bright red male cardinal? The female is a browner shade and it might seem unfair that the male gets to be so showy while she is somewhat drab, but the female sits on the eggs while the male flies around as a distraction to predators, literally risking his life to make sure his lady and the next generation are safe.

On several occasions each spring I see a male cardinal run off to the feeder to get a sunflower seed and bring it back to his lady, offering it with a bow. One of these occasions happened to be Valentine’s Day a few years ago. Honestly, I’m not anthropomorphizing (interpreting animal activity by human traits), because I later read in an article about birds that this is a ritual that cardinal couples undertake during courting.

All birds are pairing off already, as these couples of cardinals demonstrate. This usually begins soon after February 2, that magic day when winter changes over to spring and all the creatures feel the stirring of the cycle, including the groundhog. The young cardinals have been showing off with spectacular aeronautics through the trees and all over the backyard, which is lower than my house so I get to see them flying right past the windows and from the top with the sun shining full on their feathers.

two cardinals

Valentine’s Day Breakfast for the Lovers

On the morning above the male cardinal let the female eat first after what seemed some courteous encouragement on his part, then before I could photograph all birds disappeared as the Cooper’s Hawk landed in the maple tree. So much for the annual Valentine’s Day cardinal photo. The photo above is from 2012; I let PhotoShop combine the two photos I had taken of the cardinals because I couldn’t fit them into one shot. I’m not sure what it did with the missing tree branches, but at least the cardinals are positioned as they were, the male carefully considering which seed he would pull from the seed block in the feeder, his Valentine’s Day date eagerly awaiting above.

Perhaps the two below are on a honeymoon since this was taken in summer.

two cardinals feeding each other

The Kissing Cardinals

I wrote a poem about it after reading the explanation. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day

He doesn’t have to give this gift to her
and she doesn’t have to receive it
as she could easily feed herself
but she perches on a branch
while he flies to the feeder
grasps a sunflower seed
and flies back to perch next to her;
they tilt their heads as if to kiss
as she accepts this seed of his love,
the bright red cardinal’s first act of courtship
to his dark red mate
on Valentine’s Day.

“Valentine’s Day” © 2008 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I read this poem as part of my 2008 annual poetry reading and art exhibit, “Winter Twilight”.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked, or read about it immediately below.

For more information about these wonderful birds, start here and here, and to read about their habit of “mate feeding” read here.

My Backyard Wildlife Habitat is filled with color in winter and summer and cardinals nest in my 70-foot spruce every summer—to see more photos of Northern Cardinals here on my photo blog Today, click here, and read about the annual Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend.


poetry book

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


What is the Goal?

photo of tree in winter field
photo of tree in winter field

What is the Goal?

Possibly just as much a question of my activities as my aesthetic intentions with my photographs of this one lone tree, at the top of a path at the top of a hill, clouds scudding across the sky on a dark winter afternoon, dark enough to dim the colors in the winter field. Something we should ask ourselves on a regular basis.

One conclusion was that I should get lost on country roads more often. I saw this from a distance, a ribbon of winding road before me and many hills and curves between me and the tree, and drove until I found it.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Another Take on the Christmas Story

christmas setting with skull
christmas setting with skull

Look Out Christmas Myths and Stories!

I couldn’t let the year pass without sharing this photo from a neighbor’s yard! The skull was leftover from Halloween…

Looks like the Three Wise Men and all the most popular Christmas characters made it to the manger before the glowing-eyed demon from the depths of the earth rose up to devour them! AND HE IS NOT HAPPY! Oh, and it wasn’t a star that guided the TWM, it was a snowman, that must be where Frosty comes in.

Perhaps Santa, Frosty, The Little Drummer Boy and the Holy Family and attendants don’t actually see the demon glowing-eyed skull raised from the depths of Hell to eat them all alive and disappear back down into the soil from whence it came, leaving only a few scorch marks and melted snow.

If I were Santa I’d toss them all into that cute little sleigh and be off like the down of a thistle!

Think Hades wasn’t happy about giving up Persephone this year and he’s come for some more captives?

And when I was in Catholic school, I don’t remember hearing that Santa made it to the Nativity…or was he one of the wise men?

The little Drummer Boy is another story, though his costume is somewhat anachronistic.

And Frosty? Did they have television specials back then?

I guess it’s Christmas á la carte!

See another amusing one from another street

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Bonfire Blue

bonfire
bonfire

Bonfire Blue

I liked this one too, just as it grew dark.

What is autumn without at least one bonfire? The crisp air nearly asks for the sharp scent of burning wood and the crackling of kindling in the cold night air, the sparks rushing upward to disappear just overhead. Perhaps with bonfires included in these autumn celebrations we are expressing that primordial fear of the coming darkness, the long nights growing longer, and the rituals of our ancestors that held the night at bay until it began growing longer again.

“Bonfire” is derived, in short, from “bone fire”, an annual ritual of Celtic peoples who burned animal bones at Samhain to ward off evil spirits, and of later European people who burned the oldest bones in crowded churchyards or cemeteries to allow space for new interrments and to ensure that those disinterred would not haunt them at All Hallow’s Eve, when uneasy spirits were known to come calling.

This particular bonfire burned only scrap lumber, wooden pallets and downed trees at the Nightwalk on the Panhandle Trail.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Warm

bonfire flames
bonfire flames

Heat

The bonfire at the weekend’s Halloween trail walk was built from wooden pallets which created a criss-cross pattern as they burned down, like little windows of warmth for the flames to escape.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Poem for Saturday: Feverfew

Feverfew
Feverfew

Feverfew

Do flowers make us happy? Especially those little smiling faces of daisies and daisy-like flowers? Used to represent a universal flower type, little white flowers with yellow centers and a circlet of white petals have always been recognized as symbols of innocence and childhood.

I’m a sucker for a little white flower, be it chamomile or a daisy or an aster or…feverfew, even the mounds of it that take over sections of my garden every summer. It’s a native wild plant in my area and once it gets a root in the soil nothing can stop it. Yet it looks as delicate and happy and innocent as a flutter of butterflies.

Through the years caring for my mother and brother, money woes and running my business, the coming in and sadly, leaving, of members of my feline family have tended to pull me deeper into myself until I can’t get past myself to my creative self that is totally unaware of all these daily things. Sometimes when I’m weighed down by everything around me, a trip to the garden and seeing little smiling flower faces dotted with dew can awaken my creative senses and lift the weight off my shoulders—and a good thing because I need all my strength and balance to run around with my camera and sketchbook. A trip to the garden in the morning pulls me out of that space for just enough time that I can reach that creative self in time for another day’s work in my studio, and my kitchen, and around my house as I smile back at all those little happy faces covered with dew and suddenly see photos and paintings and fabric designs and, for the moment, forget anything else.

Feverfew

Oh, I can’t stop looking at all the feverfew
in my garden,
I just keep running from one cluster to another
those tiny perfect daisies
in umbels as if floating without stems
on waves of bright green leaves
the dots of dew flashing, sparkling
in the day’s new sun
just arrived over the horizon
its color still warm and yellow
as if it’s a cookie just taken out of the oven
and I have to look at all the feverfew
from every angle
until I’m done looking
and I discover I’ve forgotten all the problems of yesterday
and all the ills of the world that I feel the need to carry
and I’m laughing
and dripping with dew myself
and visualizing stunning works of art
and amazing poetry and prose
most of which will ever be realized
nor do they need to be
the inspiration only needs to settle into my soul in this early morning in June
and its glow will warm heart
and keep me laughing with joy
through the day
and the next
and the next.

Poem “Feverfew” by Bernadette E. Kazmarski © 2008, may not be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author. Links to this blog are fine.

I read this poem at my 2008 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall which you can read in Paths I Have Walked, outlined below. Also visit the writing section of my website to read more poetry and see more art and photos.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Wildflowers of a Summer Evening

wildflowers
wildflowers

Wildflowers of a Summer Evening

Some flowers are spent, some are fully leafed and petalled and colorful. I posted a slide show to my “Wildflowers of the Lower Chartiers Watershed” collection, a hillside of wildflowers taken in warm evening sunlight at Kane’s Woods in Scott Township in early August a few years ago. The memory of these flowers warmed me in the cold snowy months of winter, and while I’ve used a few here and there in designing one thing or another I’ve never decided what to do with the collection.

Though I used my Pentax K10D, for the lens I used my favorite non-digital 35mm fixed-focus lens with the 1.5X converter which shortens the depth of field allowing me to focus on just one insect if I choose; this lens is probably 30 years old, but it never fails me. In this way, I can manage the foreground and background and simply focus on one object, and I can achieve those lovely random abstract effects with lighting and shapes.

A slide show, even without music, will have to do for now.

The flowers you see are echinacea or purple coneflower, and its rarer cousin yellow coneflower, wingstem, Virginia stickseed, fleabane, black-eyed susan, Queen Anne’s lace, catnip, goldenrod, ragweed, and curled dock. Some are in seed already, but they add their drama to the mix.

Please enjoy the show. You can click here to bring it up as a flash slideshow or visit “Wildflowers of the Lower Chartiers Watershed”, scroll down and choose Wildflowers for a Summer Evening, and be sure to take the time to enjoy a few others as well.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Poem for Saturday: Wild Apples

photo of grasses and sparkling water
photo of grasses and sparkling water

Late summer woods.

Seasons meld from one to another, not at the equinox and solstice but halfway between, in the quiet time when there are no other celebrations, but the sensitive person can feel the change, especially standing in the quiet relentless heat of a backwoods trail in August. I visited the trail on the traditional Celtic cross-quarter Lugnasadh and the Christian Feast of Lammas, when summer gently gives over to autumn, growth turns to ripening, the natural world begins to settle itself in for harvest and rest in the dark of winter, and later that day the sense of change, in the woods and in myself, was still strong with me, and I wrote this poem. It became a symbol and celebration of my own developing changes, my mother’s failing health and ultimate death, and reaching my own half-century mark shortly after, seeing that as my own Lugnasadh.

I also recorded it with a slideshow of images; this is embedded after the text of the poem.

Wild Apples

At a bend in the trail,
The scent of wild apples greets me.
A tree abandoned from an old orchard
Or sprung up on its own from old stock, wild and uncultivated,
Stands trailside,
Heavy with small round burnished apples.
The late summer heat releases their scent,
Sweet and tart, that the world may know they have reached their prime;
The wild perfume of the coming season.

From another tree one single leaf lets go
And falls, papery, dry and curled, slipping through branches
Clattering to the summer-hardened clay of the trail,
Loud in the silent heat of the August afternoon.
Months before,
Winter lost her grip, and, one by one,
The wildflowers of spring began to bloom,
Which, in their turn, faded into the shadows of the dense summer woods.
Now summer is losing her strength,
Autumn is thinning the woods
And bearing her own flowers and fruits,
Changing the palette of the landscape
With bright summer greens turning gold,
Deep rich shadows fading hazy blue.

Soon autumn will blaze along the trail,
And songbirds will move their chorus south.
Already winter has touched my hair,
And the smell of wild apples is in the air.

Poem “Wild Apples” by Bernadette E. Kazmarski © 2007, may not be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author. Links to this blog are fine.

We notice these changes in ourselves in the great cycle of our own lives. This was the topic of my 2009 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Change of Season. I have published the collections of poetry from each of the four poetry readings, 2007 through 2010, in a book entitled Paths I Have Walked, which you can purchase on my website. Also visit the writing section of my website to read more poetry and see more art and photos.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

 


poetry book

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Thunder Moon

mist in moonlight
mist in moonlight

Moonrise

In 2006 I was still lugging around a few film cameras that could capture what my first little 2MP point-and-shoot digital could not. I’d been working with a number of local and larger land conservation groups for years and had a literal field day photographing and painting those beautiful areas as they recovered from industrial or other use, or were simply conserved as overgrown land that housed an ecosystem all their own.

mist in moonlight

Softened Layers

At the same time I was canoeing Chartiers Creek, sometimes for work but usually for fun, and from early morning until night I saw incredibly lovely scenes that I couldn’t catch in a moving canoe. I vowed to return some time to capture as many as I could in different areas.

mist in moonlight

Sentinels

I was familiar with Wingfield Pines as a large flood plain conservation area and also for its access to the creek, and I remembered at one evening event watching the moon rise over the ridge to the east, so when I got the idea to photograph the moon rising in summer using black and white film I chose that destination. Next full moon available was the Thunder Moon in July.

mist in moonlight

Mist in the Trees

Though it was a clear night, a mist rose with the moon. These were shot with film, and while I had my notes from a test session on a night with a partial moon, and from photographing the moon at other times, I knew the mist was a variable I couldn’t control, and I might possible end up with just a bunch of blur because the mist was moving across the open field, not hanging in the air like a fog.

mist in moonlight

Moonlight Through the Pines

When I got the photos back I was so disappointed at not being able to get the clarity I’d remembered in the moon and the surroundings that I put them away for a bit, then got them back out and decided I liked them for what they were. In fact, I find them quite magical. A few of them I like very much.

mist in moonlight

Path Across the Creek

And because a few of canoeing buddies didn’t want me wandering around on a full moon night in an isolated area alone, or walking in the creek with my camera gear and no one else around, they joined me.

mist in moonlight

Aliens

I truly need a better scanner, but since this is a “supermoon” month, I’ve decided to scan and share them anyway.

Moon-1000px

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Butterfly Visit

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating
portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly lands on the top of the frame of the portrait.

A Hackberry Emperor butterfly explores the frame of one of my prints at an outdoor event; I got so many good photos but this one, where you can see both the butterfly’s shadow on the mat and reflection in the glass was extra special. It was what the butterfly did after this that was most interesting though.

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly investigates Sophie’s forehead.

I’ve had animals react to my portraits before but never butterflies, and I was captivated by this butterfly’s activities on Saturday morning as I organized my display at Tails for Trails. Butterflies aren’t unexpected in places like trails in the woods and I often see them landing on all sorts of unusual things like cars and human structures, so landing on the top edge of the frame of one of my paintings on display isn’t all that unusual. I was all over it with my special lens combination intended for extreme close-ups since I could get close to this butterfly without it thinking I was a loon and flying off, and I got a number of nice photos of it on the frame. I learned when I got home and identified it with the detail in my photos that this activity was typical for a male, hanging out atop a tall object to watch for girl butterflies, and resting upside down on tree trunks.

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly lands on a “branch” in the painting

He began walking down the glass of the portrait and exploring the faces of Sophie and Ellie in the portrait, or so it seemed. He walked over both of their faces and then thoroughly explored Sophie’s nose and mouth; it was feeling a little Silence of the Lambs-y when he was sitting over Sophie’s mouth, but then again it was just a print of a painting. But when he attempted to perch on the branches of the Japanese barberry in the painting and landed on the leaves at the bottom, which would be a natural camouflage in life, I thought my skills had reached new heights of affirmation.

The art was actually a giclée print of the portrait of Sophie and Ellie, so I’ll have to tell the folks who made the print how convincing it is.

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly lands on the leaves.

But most telling for me was the fact that I knew both Sophie and Ellie have passed, Sophie just within the past year. In the portrait you see the two on their porch, but their yard actually adjoins a local trail, and in the photos the two were “being very good”, intently watching the people, but not barking. Butterflies are thought to be the spirits of departed souls joining the mortals for a visit, and thi sbeing a benefit dog walk there were plenty of people and dogs to observe.

Below is an animated gif showing all the most interesting images of the butterfly in action. Slide shows have been a little bit of a problem on some devices, and creating an animated gif is actually quicker for me than setting up a slide show, but it means you don’t have any control over the images since it just keeps displaying over and over. It should be visible on all devices, though.

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly investigates Sophie’s forehead.

He spent the most time on that painting, but he also visited another—trying to get to the flowers, perhaps?

butterfly on painting

The butterfly also found another painting he liked

And read a little more about the Hackberry Emperor butterfly.

I also posted this story on The Creative Cat.


Colored Lights

buttercups and forget me nots
buttercups and forget me nots

Colored Lights

They are just about gone, but I couldn’t pass up one last photo of my favorite combination in my back yard each spring, the buttercups and forget-me-nots.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Poem for Sunday: Bridal Wreath

bridal wreath
bridal wreath

Bridal Wreath

The bridal wreath is blooming around so many of the older houses in town. Bridal wreath is an old-fashioned shrub, blooming briefly around Memorial Day in waves of snowy white blossoms, then to return to a nice, quiet dark green bush.

I read this poem initially at my 2009 poetry reading, “Change of Season”, soon after I’d written it. I read it again at “In This Valley”, my poetry reading to celebrate Carnegie’s 120th birthday, since I felt it was one of those poems that had described life in this town for many, both those mentioned in the poem, and especially my memories of the neighborhoods when I was little. Every house had bridal wreath spirea growing in front, and everyone was immensely proud of it when it bloomed. Cuttings and small shrubs for planting were given to young married couples who’d purchased a new house. As I read, I was surprised to see heads nodding in agreement and smiles. It was familiar to us all.

This poem was inspired by an actual home, more on that after the poem. Because the bridal wreath blooms at this time of year and because the lives of the couple I mention are deeply touched by wars, I keep this poem for Memorial Day.

Bridal Wreath

Blooming in drifts so dense and tall they hide the entire porch
The bridal wreath greets the May bride
Though she first crossed the threshold decades ago when the shrubs were new,
And placed a vase of the blossoms on her first dinner table,
Has since raised her children,
Lost her son in Viet Nam
And her husband to cancer,
Her daughters moved out
And she has held her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Through it all the bridal wreath unfailingly welcomed her in the morning every May
In the neighborhood lined with large, neat family homes.
Now the paint is peeling,
Drawn window shades hang in tatters
The bride herself is gone,
Her home the only one remaining on this dusty deserted block
Yet the bridal wreath blooms as fervently as ever this May
Remembering her.

Bridal Wreath ©2009 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Below is the actual home that inspired this poem. Nothing special about it except that it is the only family home left in what had been a block of these homes, and it’s fenced off because it was shortly thereafter bulldozed for the CVS that now stands there.

House with bridal wreath.

House with bridal wreath.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

 


poetry book

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Poem for Saturday: To Come Again in Spring

photo of spiderweb
photo of spiderweb

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…

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

And click here to bring up the slideshow of the images I took this day.


poetry book cover paths i have walked

“Paths I Have Walked”, collected poems from poetry readings.

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Poem for Sunday: To Come Again in Spring

photo of spiderweb
photo of spiderweb

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…

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

And click here to bring up the slideshow of the images I took this day.


poetry book cover paths i have walked

“Paths I Have Walked”, collected poems from poetry readings.

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).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

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.


Chihuly in the Alley

ice on dry plants

 

ice on dry plants

Chihuly in the Alley

Just the way the illuminated ice followed the natural forms of the dried morning glory made me think of the elements of Chihuly’s style with glass; the one element it’s missing is color, but the sun provided a few ultraviolet flares here and there.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


The Belted Kingfisher

belted kingfisher
kingfisher watching water

Fishing for dinner.

This bird has been teasing me for two years as I walk along this section of the creek on my way to and from Main Street. He blends in with just about any backdrop and waits until I just about stumble over him, makes his chittering little noise and flies off before I have a chance to even get my camera in position!

kingfisher

Closeup of kingfisher.

Of course, he’s protecting his territory, holding fast until the last moment, then leading me away. He’s still been impossible to photograph as I either haven’t had my good camera with me or changing lenses took too long, but in the process I’ve had a chance to observe more of his habits, which saplings he flies to, when he skims down to the water, and even dives in. And he is a male; the female has a band of copper on her chest below the gray band that both sexes wear.

belted kingfisher

View of the kingfisher from the side.

So today I followed this bird along one bank of the creek, then back, across a bridge and down the other bank for a ways, and across a second bridge. To explain, two bridges span the creek maybe 100 yards apart, and the creek itself is about 40 feet wide though the banks are high. The light can be tricky, but I finally got the photo I wanted along with a few extras, and two I didn’t expect to get!

kingfisher

Taking flight.

The temperature was about 20 degrees, about 4:30 pm, and this kingfisher was looking for a dinner of fresh fish, really remarkable for our creek which had once been so polluted algae wouldn’t even grow in it. I didn’t want to bother him too much, but I really couldn’t imagine voluntarily diving into that frigid water for my dinner, but this time he wasn’t concerned about me—and I think he got his dinner!

kingfisher lands in water

Splash!

Perhaps the kingfisher is a more accurate predictor than Phil the groundhog. Kingfishers symbolize sunshine, warmth, love and prosperity and presage new adventures.

belted kingfisher

Kingfisher on a branch watching the water for fish.

All this while two mallards were floating around on a date. More about the two of them and their shenanigans another time. Ah, spring.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.