Hummingbird Time

Hummingbird Time

“Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.” –Papyrus   I love hummingbirds. It’s true. And every year I look forward to the hummingbirds’ return to my yard. I live in southwest Ohio, and here, they say to put out hummingbird feeders around April 15, tax day. But the dates hummingbirds return from their seasonal migration to warmer climates happens differently depending on where you live. I tend to think the hummingbirds follow the Redbud trees as they burst into bloom, so when your Redbuds bloom, set out your hummingbird feeder. Regardless of where you live, you can put a feeder out now, and with a little patience, they will come. Now is a great time to start. It’s Hummingbird Time To me, hummingbirds define summer. They’ve always fascinated me with their shimmering colors and incredible fluttering wings. They also symbolize joy and magic and wonder, and without them darting about, a backyard doesn’t feel complete.     It isn’t hard to attract hummingbirds, but 3 things are essential … 1) Find a perfect spot for your hummingbird feeder. Choose a location where you’ll be able to see the action. I mounted a simple wrought iron hook to the side of...
A Lasting Spring, in photos

A Lasting Spring, in photos

“Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses…” – Sir Alan Herbert This past weekend, I took advantage of the warm hours of sunshine, slipped on my gardening gloves, and headed out into the gardens with the pruners. The remnant of last fall’s foliage, weathered and grayed and lifeless, lay strewn in mounds. After a few hours of whacking and pulling, I could see the new green leaves working themselves up from the thawing ground. Though it’s a lot of work, there is nothing to me like getting down on the ground, working in the dirt. The smell of earth and soil is sharp, with the hint of something alive and growing. After many months of snow and freezing temperatures, I appreciate the hope of spring. Something new is coming. For some reason, I feel like this spring will last. Song: “Orpheus with his lute made trees” By William Shakespeare (from Henry VIII) Orpheus with his lute made trees, And the mountain tops that freeze, Bow themselves when he did sing: To his music plants and flowers Ever sprung; as sun and showers There had made a lasting spring. Every thing that heard him play, Even the billows of the sea, Hung their heads, and then lay by. In sweet music is such art, Killing care and grief of heart Fall asleep, or hearing, die.       Have a wonderful week, and join me in watching this spring come (post last week) with #100DaysofSpring! Related posts: 5 Favorite Spring Bouquet Photographs Awakening: Seeing Spring and Its Laughter Blooming Recklessly, Spring 100 Days of Spring Which Flowers to Plant this...
The Essence of Beauty

The Essence of Beauty

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude. – Friedrich Nietzsche     Some days it is the sunrise, color so rich it can’t possibly be real. Other times it is the power of words which bring meaning to a moment, Or it is a clash of color so pure I cannot look away, But always, the deepest beauty strikes me when I least expect it. That is when I stop and hold my breath, And if I have my camera, the images come quickly. This is what happens in the snow-saturated long months of winter. This beauty is what makes my soul sing.     It makes sense to me: the essence of beauty is gratitude. By recognizing something beautiful, we are saying thank you.   The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him.  – Auguste Rodin     Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers. – Madame Émilie du Châtelet     The earth laughs in flowers. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson     I must have flowers, always, and always. ― Claude Monet   What brings you deep joy? Related posts: Beauty Is … Snow, Charles Bridge, and the Beauty of Prague’s Spires in Winter Peonies and Beauty Autumn Beauty: a Photojournal The Beauty of Prague in...
Daffodils

Daffodils

After a long and arduous winter filled with snow and subzero temps, the prospect of spring coming soon seems impossible. It feels as if no green will ever grow through the heavy snow, no new life will ever thrive in this frozen tundra again … and yet it will, I have to remind myself. We know Spring will come. It always does. And in my mind, Spring never looks more glorious than after a long, hard winter. One of the reasons I began taking photographs fifteen years ago, with a film-fed, Target-bought SLR camera, was so that I could have photographs from the garden during the long winter. I love flowers — the brighter and more vibrant, the better. This year, as we await Spring’s arrival, we have daffodils here in photographs and William Wordsworth’s poetry — the best way I know to add color to an otherwise white landscape. Because Spring is, if we squint hard enough, just around the corner. Daffodils   I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund...
Autumn Beauty: a Photojournal

Autumn Beauty: a Photojournal

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.” ― Stanley Horowitz   This mosaic called autumn is a feast for the eyes. The leaves on the Ash trees along our street have turned slowly this year, from deep green to plum, then burgundy and golden. The statuesque Maple out our back windows still burns a vibrant orange and yellow, the perfect compliments to a pure blue sky. The leaves, spinning, twirling in the breeze have enough whimsy to be from a fairy tale, and yet they pile in our grass, waiting to be raked and leapt in. This autumn season is beautiful. Autumn Beauty: a Photojournal It’s as if autumn were the indicator to slow down and see what surrounds us as we careen into the end of another year. It’s nature’s way of showing us splendor and sunshine before it all fades away for a while. In 10 weeks, we will turn the calendar page to 2015 and it will be a new year. It is a chance to sit for a few moments. This Beauty Called Autumn … My Instagram photos from the past week or so. Can you tell I’m enamored with autumn? I’d love to hear what trees and colors and autumnal things you’re loving this year … thanks for sharing! Related posts: Autumn Views from the Austrian Alps: a Photojournal 7 Days in Tuscany: A Photojournal Destination Coastline: Sunsets, a Photojournal Beauty and Color in a Mediterranean Sunset Sky Snow, Charles Bridge, and the Beauty of Prague’s Spires in...
American Gothic by Grant Wood

American Gothic by Grant Wood

“Technique does not constitute art. Nor is it a vague, fuzzy romantic quality known as ‘beauty,’ remote from the realities of everyday life. It is the depth and intensity of an artist’s experience that are the first importance in art.” – Grant Wood [quoted in “Grant Wood Revisited,” Midwest Today, April/May 1996]   American Gothic by Grant Wood, the painting American artist Grant Wood painted his masterpiece American Gothic in 1930, the iconic image of a farmer and his wife with a pitchfork in front of a white house in Wood’s native Iowa. The artist had traveled Europe and studied art there throughout the 1920s, yet returned home to the US Midwest and said this (Chicago Tribune): “I spent 20 years wandering around the world hunting ‘arty’ subjects to paint. I came back … and the first thing I noticed was the cross-stitched embroidery of my mother’s kitchen apron.” When passing through a tiny town called Eldon, Iowa, not long after his return, Grant Wood noticed a house with an intriguing upper window, in the Carpenter Gothic style. He felt the need to paint it, to imagine the kind of people who lived in the house, and so he assembled a couple from people he knew. The wife in the painting was the artist’s sister, and the austere man was his dentist. The brooch pin was borrowed from his mother. He painted them and named the piece American Gothic, after the style of the window. It became an instant success and has become one of the most iconic paintings in recent times. The painting reminds me of the towns...
15 Favorite Quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt

15 Favorite Quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt

“Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, ‘It can’t be done.‘” -Eleanor Roosevelt   Who Is Eleanor Roosevelt? Best known as the wife of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt served the longest term as First Lady of the United States during her husband’s four terms in office, 1933 – 1945. But there was much more to Eleanor than being a wife in the public eye. She was a woman who helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, worked as a delegate at the United Nations, and served on the Kennedy Administration. She was a woman like no other. I have long admired her and read a biography years ago–I think my admiration for her started when I attended an elementary school named for her. I love her vision, her adventurousness, her values and fearlessness. About a month ago, I began reading her memoir, YOU LEARN BY LIVING: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life. Though a bit slow at the start, it’s been a book I’ve read with pen in hand, to underline and make notes. Eleanor Roosevelt’s wisdom is fresh and crisp, as if she were sitting beside me as I read, letting the years of her influence and learning seep through the decades which separate us. 15 Favorite Quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt We are the sum total of all the choices we have made.   On Books I remember when my husband always had money to buy a new and fascinating first edition of a book, but he would frequently answer a protest of...
The Amati Viola: a Cincinnati Art Museum Treasure

The Amati Viola: a Cincinnati Art Museum Treasure

“The violin family appeared in essentially its modern form in northern Italy, specifically in Brescia and Cremona, about 1550. Andrea Amati (ca. 1511–1580) of Cremona was among the first generation of makers to add a fourth string to the violin and to create the standard sizes of cello, viola, and violin in their classic modern shapes.” –Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City   Not many in the world know what a viola is, much less an Amati viola, but if it could be summed up in one word, to me it would be treasure. Last week, I found an opportunity to visit the Cincinnati Art Museum — a place I’d always wanted to visit, but hadn’t had the chance. Having visited many art museums around the world (Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican Museum in Rome, etc.), I wasn’t expecting what I found. The Cincinnati Art Museum is fantastic — a Met on a smaller scale , but no less grand in collection. The entry collection is outstanding, with two Degas dancer sculptures and a gorgeous Van Gogh (two of my favorite artists). But a few pieces further, I found a stunning Amati viola. What is a viola? A viola is a stringed instrument held like a violin, but with one string lower, which draws a fuller, deeper, and many times richer sound. Viola music is written in the Alto clef, which is rare, and difficult. The strings are the same as a cello (C G D A), but are one octave higher. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Dvorak played the viola....
The Lighthouse: Portland Head Light

The Lighthouse: Portland Head Light

“Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same, Year after year, through all the silent night Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame, Shine on that inextinguishable light!” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Lighthouse”   I have always loved lighthouses. I’ve photographed lighthouses lining Lake Michigan and Erie, the coast of Maine and the Eastern seaboard, the lights in California, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Greece, and on — I cannot stay away. There is something about the light, steady, sure, along a treacherous shore that I love. The Lighthouse: Portland Head Light When I was a teen, I bought my first D. Morgan print, and then later, a magnet, and now, I keep D. Morgan’s gorgeous gift book, A LIGHT FOR THE JOURNEY near to my writing chair. Her paintings are distinctive, and her poems, within her art, perfectly frame the subject of her work. My favorites of her work are her lighthouses series. Every time I travel a coast, I love to look for a lighthouse, but my favorite in all my travels thus far is the Portland Head Light in Portland, Maine. This year, my family and I stopped there as part of our summer roadtrip. It had been 10 years since I’d seen the Portland Head Light, and in 2004, I’d ventured out on the rocks to take a photograph. This month, in 2014, the path getting down to the rocks was nothing less than treacherous. But still I had to go. In a dress. My husband captured this photo of me out on the rocks: The Portland Head Light changes in the shifting light. I love it in high...
On Light, Darkness, and Garden Beauty

On Light, Darkness, and Garden Beauty

People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross   I haven’t always loved flowers, or maybe I have … but I remember vividly the day I fell in love with having a garden. Flowers and Gardens When my husband and I were first married, we moved from the Midwest to New Orleans. I also worked, not in a giant corporation like in the job I’d left in the Midwest, but for a small pipeline consulting firm. I was hired to engineer diameters and configurations of pipelines the firm would lay from offshore oil platforms to bring the oil on land to refineries. I didn’t love it, but I did it so that we could buy a house, some place to make our own. When we found one we could almost afford– 5 feet below sea level (in that area, it’s common), 900 square feet, which had been neglected for more than our lifetimes, I continued engineering pipelines long enough to buy the house. It required a whole house gutting before we could move in, but my favorite part was the back yard. It had two gigantic pine trees, a beautiful Magnolia, and one thorny rose bush. I read a book to learn how to prune the rose, which was old judging by its thick canes, but one piece I lobbed off of the bush looked green, alive. I shoved that piece into the ground. About a month later, that...