an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

spring

Poem for Today: Like a Tree

Cathedral of Trees
Cathedral of Trees

Cathedral of Trees

I think of the trees around me as I think of my friends, those constant presences that are more a part of us than we know. Perhaps they have no chance but to stand where they are, but they learn to bend and stretch and live as full a life as possible intermingled with all that lives around them.

“…stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,…bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,…” Years ago I was inspired by the simple existence of the trees around me to write a poem in honor of the way they grew and lived intermingled with all that grew around them because they had no choice. Perhaps that thought is what I have to add to today’s discussion about violence and fear and immigrants and learning to live in peace on this planet.

Like a Tree

To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
in spring.

poem © 2000 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Here in Western Pennsylvania with our miles and miles of tree-covered hills it’s as if someone is air brushing the landscape, and as the leaves spread and grow the hills, which had before seemed flat now take shape and dimension. Because I am compelled to photograph and paint these colors I run here and there when the morning sun catches the trees, or the purple clouds of an afternoon storm gather behind the brilliant lime of the tree tops, or the evening sun shines, angled, through a grove of trees.

Because I paint Western Pennsylvania, nearly every one of my landscape paintings contains a tree, usually more than one, and often the trees themselves are the subjects. I have gigabytes of photos of trees, just for the trees’ sake, not to mention ones where the trees are the supporting cast. The other day I ran an errand entirely on winding back roads so that I could drive 10 miles per hour and photograph the beauty unfolding at every turn, even if they weren’t particularly good photos; the change had come so quickly that I was completely distracted and it was either that or have someone drive me or I’d wreck my car.

pastel sketch of tree

“From the Ground Up”, pastel on multi-media paper, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I have looked at this tree every day I’ve lived in this house, but one morning last year I followed my little black cat Mimi into my neighbor’s yard, just across the fence line, no fence, from our yard, and looked up at the tall maple tree from a different angle. What a great view, all those colors and shapes and little bits of sky, I guess I’ll sketch it, I thought.

pastel painting of woods on back road

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Back in early June, on a lovely sunny day just about noon, I was leaving a morning event and on errands traveling the back roads just for fun, knowing this narrow back road had some wonderful spots. The trees had finally reached full cover in the woods and all along the trails and I simply could not get enough.

. . . . . . .

You can find the painting above and all my paintings of trees, originals or prints, on my website in Landscapes and My Home Town, and in my Etsy shop.

Read the rest of the poetry from my first ever poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, in 2007 entitled Paths I Have Walked.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

About Art of the Watershed and the Collected Poems

A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed

“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.

I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.

I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.

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 fi nd 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.

And visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

Visit my website to see the full set of paintings included in the “Art of the Watershed” series.

~~~~~

Shared on Inspire Me Monday

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Mulberry Time

Morning Mulberries
Morning Mulberries

Morning Mulberries

The mulberry tree is heavy with deep purple fruits, each day more ripen and are ready for harvest by me and the many birds and squirrels and chipmunks who can climb the tree and the possum and raccoons and other small creatures who wait for them to fall.

Mulberries

Mulberries

I have three mulberry trees in my yard, and leave the other two entirely for the birds and other animals. This one, however, greets me as I walk down the steps from my deck, inspiring in all seasons.

More berries

More berries

But when the harvest is ready, as the berries slowly ripen, the branches reach lower and lower until their tips touch the ground, the berries are where I can simply reach out to pick them. No other tree I know of does this. I feel as if this mulberry wants me to have its berries.

Ripe mulberries

Ripe mulberries

So I spread a cloth in the grass and shake the branches gently, gathering the ones ripe enough to fall into the cloth. Each day for a week or more I fill my cloth.

On the cloth

On the cloth

From here they go into the stainless steel bowl, and from this bowl to the largest one I have, in the refrigerator, and when the time is right they will become jelly or wine or vinegar or just plain purple juice, great for baking and flavoring things.

Mulberries in the bowl.

Mulberries in the bowl.

The tree also brings its friends, the silkworm caterpillar, which traditionally feeds on mulberry leaves and spins its coccoons near the trees.

Silkworm caterpillar

Silkworm caterpillar

So comforting to see every year. Some think the trees, which grow liberally from seeds the birds have dropped, are pests, but the birds and I are happy.

Mulberries

Mulberries

. . . . . . 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.


Showers

Showers
Showers

Showers

Showers of spring rain on the wild black cherry blossoms, and showers of tiny white petals all over the ground from the wild black cherry tree.

. . . . . .

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.


Poem for Saturday: 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.


Gilded Youth

Gilded Youth
Gilded Youth

Gilded Youth

Newly-unfurled pin oak leaves are edged with gold-turning-green and strung with gilt-beaded catkins.

. . . . . .

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.


When We Courted At Evening

Just being together.
He waits.

He waits.

I remember when we courted, when I would sneak down to the tracks by the creek right after dinner, just around the bend from where my parents were settling down for the night, and wait for you.

She arrives.

She arrives.

My heart would skip a beat when I saw you there, waiting for me, I almost flew to your side but thought I should be careful, not knowing you all that well, yet each time I saw your silhouette my love was stronger and I knew you were the one.

They meet.

They meet.

And what silly things did we do but talk about the weather, and what we’d done that day, and what our siblings were doing, and circle around each other and peck at the gravel as if the world hadn’t suddenly stopped turning because we were together.

Talking.

Talking.

Just a few minutes, we never wanted to draw attention, but when I saw the shadows creeping farther and farther across the tracks I knew I had to start back for home to be back by dusk.

Into infinity.

Into infinity.

Who would think, all these years and all these children, and I still carry these memories of you walking to see me in the warm evening light.

Just being together.

Just being together.

. . . . . . .

Five Sentence Fiction: Memories

I took this series of photos walking on Main Street one spring evening recently, where the tracks cross the street and run along the creek where I walk nearly every day, and yet at the right angle they look completely isolated from civilization. I saw the one goose, then a female came to meet him—at a distance I can only tell them from one another by size when male and female are side by side—and they looked and acted so much like a couple of awkward teenagers. I used my 70-300mm zoom lens so I could focus on them and give a little blur to the surroundings; unfortunately in the light it was difficult to see if I was focusing on the geese and in some photos I was focusing on the tracks just in front of them. No matter, I saw a story right away and knew I could even use those photos. The evening light gave the scene an antique look. Then I waited for the keyword that would work for them.

NewFSFBadge-1

. . . . . .

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.


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.


A Little Bit of Rain

Big round water droplets on the flowers.
Pear blossoms.

Pear blossoms.

The sun shone this morning but the rain clouds moved in, a nice intermittent rain that let the sun shine between the raindrops, so pretty on the pear blossoms, forsythia, forget-me-nots and green grass.

Big round water droplets on the flowers.

Big round water droplets on the flowers.

Pear blossoms.

Pear blossoms.

Crystals.

Crystals.

Pear blossoms.

Pear blossoms.

Forsythia.

Forsythia.

Pear blossoms.

Pear blossoms.

Forget me nots.

Forget me nots.

Pear blossoms.

Pear blossoms.

. . . . . . .

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.


Poem for Arbor Day: Like a Tree

pastel sketch of tree
pastel sketch of tree

“From the Ground Up”, pastel on multi-media paper, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I have looked at this tree every day I’ve lived in this house, bu tone morning last year I followed my little black cat Mimi into my neighbor’s yard, just across the fence line, no fence, from our yard, and looked up at the tall maple tree from a different angle. What a great view, all those colors and shapes and little bits of sky, I guess I’ll sketch it, I thought.

Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April in the United States, as trees have been celebrated all over the world in other festivals throughout human history, and we plant trees, care for trees and observe and honor the trees we live with. You can learn more about Arbor Day here.

The coming of green to the bare trees in spring is as exciting to me as the coming of wild reds and yellows in autumn. Tiny tentative sprays of green spread from one tree to the next, each day brings more green, more shades of green to all the trees around me. Even more than bird returning or daffodils and crocuses and forsythia blooming, the return of the leaves is a confirmation of the return of life to me.

Here in Western Pennsylvania with our miles and miles of tree-covered hills it’s as if someone is air brushing the landscape, and as the leaves spread and grow the hills, which had before seemed flat now take shape and dimension. Because I am compelled to photograph and paint these colors I run here and there when the morning sun catches the trees, or the purple clouds of an afternoon storm gather behind the brilliant lime of the tree tops, or the evening sun shines, angled, through a grove of trees.

Because I paint Western Pennsylvania, nearly every one of my landscape paintings contains a tree, usually more than one, and often the trees themselves are the subjects. I have gigabytes of photos of trees, just for the trees’ sake, not to mention ones where the trees are the supporting cast. The other day I ran an errand entirely on winding back roads so that I could drive 10 miles per hour and photograph the beauty unfolding at every turn, even if they weren’t particularly good photos; the change had come so quickly that I was completely distracted and it was either that or have someone drive me or I’d wreck my car.

I think of the trees around me as I think of my friends, those constant presences that are more a part of us than we know. They inspired this poem.

Like a Tree

To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
in spring.

poem © 2000 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

You can find the painting above and all my paintings of trees, originals or prints, on my website in Landscapes and My Home Town, and in my Etsy shop.

Read the rest of the poetry from my first ever poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, in 2007 entitled Paths I Have Walked.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

About Art of the Watershed and the Collected Poems

A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed

“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.

I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.

I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.

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 fi nd 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.

And visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

Visit my website to see the full set of paintings included in the “Art of the Watershed” series.

~~~~~

Shared on Inspire Me Monday

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A Message From Last Year

A Message From Last Year
A Message From Last Year

A Message From Last Year

Even as it seems everything is suddenly in bloom I gathered these stiff and worn parts left from the blooms of last year’s garden, both domestic flowers and the wilder sort who volunteer where they will. I love these dried bouquets with their rich earthy colors, especially as I prepare this year’s garden for the growing season, and honor them.

. . . . . . .

Five Sentence Fiction: Changes

Understanding is given from one generation to the next regardless of desire as the season changes in an endless cycle, and the cycle comes back again to its beginning. As you revel in the inspiration of the vibrant green life that fills your eyes, do not forget the roots from which this life springs. The remnants of that life have a beauty that youth has not the depth to express for it does not seek to profess beauty, only truth. Treat these remnants with care and respect, for someday your wisdom will speak in this form as well. The most weathered and resilient will be the ones to tell the stories.

 

NewFSFBadge-1

This week’s key word also makes me think of a song by singer/songwriter Phil Ochs…Changes. Do have a listen, and make sure you read the lyrics.

. . . . . .

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.


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!

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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.


Isolated

isolated
isolated

Isolated

“I watch the water thundering past, so loud it drowns my thoughts and memories. I can rest my head, my heart, for just a while. The floodwaters have carried away my mate, my home, my children, my world, all is gone, I am alone and isolated, and I don’t know what to do. Once these waters were nurturing, I felt complete floating on their surface, graceful and beautiful, awkward on my feet on land. I only wish it had taken me too.”

She watches the creek.

She watches the creek.

I really did notice this single female Canada goose standing on the top of the bank of the creek one early evening, standing completely still, and alone. Her stillness was strange, but not so much as her aloneness, geese are social animals, this is nesting and mating season, and wherever I see geese I never see only one. I know this flock, I walk through them all the time. Something was so forlorn at the way she stood so calm and still, and stared at the creek thundering by.

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A part of Five Sentence Fiction:Isolated.

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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.


Angelic Morning, poem in progress

Angel Wings

Angel Wings

Winter is finally is beginning to give over to spring, and I am finding flowers in my yard. We all walk through difficult times and feel as if spring will never come, but it does, and in fact is always there hidden by what we expect to see. Sometimes all we need to do is look around us, and there it is.

The words came to me inspired by the beauty in this humble spring morning. Below is a slideshow of other photos that inspired these words.

Angelic Morning

So much is wrong
So much is sad
So much cannot be fixed
The detritus of the past lies all about
But I find also diaphanous angel wings filled with eternal sunshine
Bright smiling eyes of faeries
Reflecting the tranquil blue of the sky’s protective arch
The old daffodil has stories to tell
And joy appears in the most common of things
Beauty, good, exist in every moment
Like the stars in daylight
Always shining
Seen best in the darkest hour.

poem “Angelic Morning” © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Read other poems and poems in progress.

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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.


Playing Hide and Seek

Natural Background With Two Deer.
Natural Background With Two Deer.

Natural Background With Two Deer.

The two does were piecing their way through the debris of winter in our back yards on a sunny morning. Many trees stand at the end of my yard and all the adjoining yards, and tiny twigs and early leaves act as foils and decorations to the photos of these two. I like to get nice clear everyday photos of wildlife, but I also like to treat them as other subjects too, as if floating in a different reality, for instance, among unknown natural forms. Below the two are making a decision on something.

Making decisions.

Making decisions.

Here is the older one, standing tall in her cut-through spot next to my neighbor’s shed. She likes to sun herself there in the afternoon.

The doe in her favorite afternoon spot.

The doe in her favorite afternoon spot.

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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.


Stand Out in a Crowd

Stand Out in a Crowd
Stand Out in a Crowd

Stand Out in a Crowd

Just one white crocus among all the purples in my neighbor’s little garden. It appeared on its own a few years ago—this clump of crocuses were all purple for years, and I have the photos to prove it because I’ve photographed them just about every year even though the photos look pretty much the same. Some people want to remove it because it breaks up the perfection of purple, plant it somewhere else on its own, but this is where it was meant to be. Some things are like that.

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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.


Make a Statement

Make a Statement
Make a Statement

Make a Statement

The first thing to bloom in my yard this year and just about every year, my tiny delicate crocus versicolor, purchased just after I moved here. It’s been blooming here and there ever since. It prefers much more sun than it gets here, and some years the greens come up but never flower, so I’m always glad to see one and know they’ve made it through another year.

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And here is my statement…

The days stolidly dark, the nights impenetrable, the monochromatic sameness seeped into my soul to harden it, slowly, without detection, as trees are petrified into stone replicas of themselves, unable to hide, fight, run and save themselves. Those last breaths, knowing the newness of life was just ahead, always it had been there as this process ran its course, but the disbelieving heart would not, could not let it in, smothering in the end of days. The last moment of consciousness is at hand. The taste of acceptance is on my tongue. Just at that moment a bit of light softens the gloom as if it was not a miracle but the ordinary everydayness of life to see from out of the sepia world a flower, a cup of purple filled with golden sunlight, the entrance to a new life, on the threshold of spring.

A part of Five Sentence Fiction.

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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.


Patterns Uncovered by Melting Snow

Patterns Uncovered by Melting Snow
Patterns Uncovered by Melting  Snow

Patterns Uncovered by Melting Snow

A very old brick street.

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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


Riding Into Spring

Whatever has wheels goes!
Whatever has wheels goes!

Whatever has wheels goes!

I can tell spring is here and it’s been a long winter. My neighbor’s son and his BFF are riding everything with wheels down the street past our houses—and we live at the bottom of a steep hill, so that’s especially exciting. Here he’s riding his rocking horse—with wheels! And below, I caught him texting while…well, his feet were on the ground so he wasn’t moving yet, but I think he tried to video one of the rides!

Texting while...

Texting while…

And this is all I caught of the second guy. He was brave enough to start farther up the hill and was going far to fast for me to track as he went by! It’s so good to see kids play—at their age I was doing the same thing on our hill, including roller skates that strapped onto my shoes! Happy Spring!

Just a blur.

Just a blur.

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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.


A Sigh of Relief

A Sigh of Relief
A Sigh of Relief

A Sigh of Relief

The first shreds of green, like delicate fingers poking up from the soil, pushing away the leaves to feel the sun and awaken. I often have blooming daffodils by now but these hardy old ones have just dared to begin their new year. I am so grateful for their courage.

And because it’s that day, and they are green, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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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.


Wishful Thinking

Violets in spring grass.
Violets in spring grass.

Violets in spring grass.

“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”

~Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada as translated by Eknath Easwaran

I’ve never been one to be dissatisfied with the season at hand. What’s the point? I’ll put my energies to more productive activities, or like Moses napping below, taken in March 2004, I’ll just enjoy what is for what it has to offer and learn from that.

Moses napping on the sun-warmed boards of the deck.

Moses napping on the sun-warmed boards of the deck.

But I will admit near the end of a season I am decidedly looking forward to the change to the next one. I have always enjoyed the changing of the seasons. I am intensely visual and even indoors I become visually bored with colors and patterns so I thank nature for providing me with a reason to wear different clothes, participate in different activities and see things in both a real and virtual different light. I also then have a marker for memories by the season, or the weather, or what I was wearing, and many other details gathered and stored by my senses. And just as I have a way to perceive the past, I have a way to shape the future with the same means.

Contact print from March 2004 photos.

Contact print from March 2004 photos.

I’ve been following the seasons in my ongoing quest to work through three decades of photos on film to determine which ones to add to my collections, and with no small amount of wishful thinking this particular year I am anticipating spring, and in my photo collections I’ve come around to the sudden burst of colors I’ll soon see blooming in my yard. On just about each roll of 36 exposures there is at least one study of one of my cats, maybe just one photo of a special moment that marks it in time for me.

Cookie at the top of the stairs in spring sun.

Cookie at the top of the stairs in spring sun.

No doubt I appreciate now more fully what I see, be it clear or blurry, artsy or simply functional, than I did when first saw the contact prints and sorted through the prints themselves. At that time I was looking for what I saw when I took the photo, and often the image didn’t look at all like what I’d “seen”, what I’d “envisioned” when I set all the settings and hit the shutter. I often met with disappointment but just as often surprise as I discovered something I hadn’t planned that I thought was far better than what I had planned. Sometimes I took field notes on the mechanics of each shot, but usually not and I had to guess how to recreate the effect based on what I remembered, but so I learned through the years, reading, studying, and experimenting with lots of photos.

Native wild columbines, trying to capture their buoyant blooming habit.

Native wild columbines, trying to capture their buoyant blooming habit.

But now I have more years of experience at both taking photos and looking at them. As I would expect, my assessment has changed, evolved, as I have learned, seen, experienced, sharpened my vision and softened my expectations, both in photography and in life. Now when I look at these photos I see more clearly what is actually there, and less what I then thought could, should or would be there.

Namir studying me through the lace curtain; look for the ear.

Namir studying me through the lace curtain; look for the ear.

It’s perfectly fine that I’ve gone through this process, that I saw things as I did when I was younger and less knowledgeable but see things as I do now through a lens more clearly focused by experience. We roll around and squall before we crawl and babble, and there to toddling and talking. Learning and change is part of life. In the same way I have learned more and yet more about caring for my cats, and myself, and my garden, and new skills and preferences that didn’t even exist when I first set out on this journey.

Contact print from April 2004 photos.

Contact print from April 2004 photos.

And as I can look through that lens filtered with my collected experiences and see what is there, I can relive the memories gathered therein, remember the heat of Moses’s fur after she’d been absorbing the sun on the deck and how deeply I loved her in that moment of trust for a formerly feral cat, or exactly what Cookie’s face looked like fearing I might actually forget, and how she always made me smile inside and out, and she knew it too, Namir studying me through the lace curtain metaphorically hiding his feelings, and those spring mornings in my yard with each of them, hearing birds whistle, finding new flowers each day, finding new ways to capture, interpret and express all of it. I can also look through it for what could be there with new ideals and aspirations modifying my view, anticipating changes to make to achieve new effects or conclusions, trying a new technique or further perfecting one I’ve been learning, determining what materials I need to achieve my goal.

Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”

Wishful thinking has never been a bad thing. I’m looking forward to a new spring of cats and flowers so that I can perceive and interpret these things with yet one more year of experience to filter my abilities and my creative endeavors.

A cardinal seen between the porch pillar and a tree.

A cardinal seen between the porch pillar and a tree.

I originally posted this essay on The Creative Cat.

For more feline photos, visit The Creative Cat.

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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.

 


New Painting: “Spring Woods Trail”

pastel painting of a trail in the woods
pastel painting of a trail in the woods

“Spring Woods”, pastel, 8″ x 12″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

The decision was: do I paint this steep section of the trail looking up from the bottom, over the tops of all the new plants sprouting from the leaves and debris and up into the tree tops, or down from near the top, with little bits of Robinson Run far down off of the edge?

In the end I liked the downhill view better for its perspective and the fact you could see the trail at your feet, plus, with many trees at eye level, you could see so much more of that wonderful spring green.

I’d considered this one so long that I’ve only just painted it, though I took the photos a few years ago. I’d actually planned it as an acrylic painting, seeing all the potential for gentle textures on the surface, but when it came down to it I returned to my old friend, pastels, and did a lot of finger painting.

You can see it along with others this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”. Also take a look at other paintings from this exhibit.

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If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


Dame’s Rocket

pink wildflower
pink wildflower

Dame’s Rocket

I’d always known this wildflower by this name but I might prefer a few others I’ve come to know: damask violet, dame’s violet, night-scented gilliflower and summer lilac, the first two for its typical shades of intense violet and the last two for its intense scent at evening. I’d also always confused it was tall phlox, also a wildflower that blooms a little later with a few weeks of overlap, until I realized the rocket has four petals on its cruciferous flowers and is a brassica, related to wild and cultivated mustards as well as broccoli and collard greens. Below is a close-up of flowers and stems, and possibly between the photo above and the photo below you can see the reason for calling it “rocket”, though I think that is more for its relation to eruca sativa or in Italian rucola, what we know today as rocket, or arugula.

pink wildflower

A closeup

I had also always thought of it as a native wildflower until I learned it was another passenger on European ships, whether intentionally or accidentally, coming over with crop seeds, yet often the migrants would bring the seeds of their favorite blooming plants so that the new world would seem more familiar, more like home.

And that scent; this is one thing we lose when we grow only hybrid cultivated flowers. Nothing smells like a wildflower, like “night-scented gilliflower” or like tall phlox that has to work so hard to bring pollinators into its flowers to ensure the next generation.

I’d been driving past this little detention pond at the intersection of two roads, and where normally it’s just an overgrown pattern of greens and textures, each spring at this time it literally bursts into bloom another possible use of the word “rocket”.

pink wildflower

A whole lot of it.

 

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


From the Ground Up

pastel sketch of tree
pastel sketch of tree

“From the Ground Up”, pastel on multi-media paper, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I followed my little black cat Mimi into my neighbor’s yard, just across the fence line, no fence, from our yard, and looked up at the tall maple tree that I see out my back windows all the time. What a great view, all those colors and shapes and little bits of sky, I guess I’ll sketch it. So here it is.

This is sketched in mixed soft pastels on multi-media paper, just enough tooth to hold pastel but no real finish.

Click any image to find out more about it or visit my Landscapes and Still Lifes Gallery. If you’d like to sign up to receive this e-newsletter, which I usually deliver seasonally, click here to add your e-mail address.

See other original art and landscapes on “Today”

Click here to see an archive of original art.

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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.