Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Past the Garden Gate…a few smalls I encountered today.   Leave a comment

I figured today might be a good day for spotting some details, or smalls as I call them, out in the natural world. We had had a bit of rain and things were moist and refreshed.  A light breeze carried the fragrance of the green grass and the dark earth of the nearby woods.  The boughs of the old trees danced occasionally with the leaping and scurrying of the squirrels who make their homes high above my head.

My first stop was over to a grouping of daylilies to see who might be inhabiting them. This is who I found. A very young, very small spider who had set up shop between two of the lily plants. He…or maybe she…was no  more than a quarter inch in body length, and a mere half inch in length if you added in her legs.  I am thinking that perhaps she is a Garden spider, although I have not researched it yet.  Garden spiders are brightly colored and can grow fairly large. They are extremely beneficial, ridding the garden or flower beds of all kinds of pests.  I’m glad to see her, and will take note of her progress and growth.  Here she is. I’ve decided that she will be a she.  After all, Charlotte was a she….right?

Next up were the blossoms of some flowers lining a walk. Looks like someone has been chewing on them a bit.

Water droplets suspended in a small web!

A Hosta leaf holds a  miniature pool of water, and a smaller leaf within.

A wildflower’s delicately slim petals..

A beautiful velvety capped mushroom, reclining in the grass. I wonder who knocked it over? A passing squirrel, deer or raccoon no doubt. It’s fairly large, about four inches in length.

I wanted so badly to touch it, but decided in the end to leave it undisturbed.

It can rest there quietly until it becomes food for animal or insect, and thus returns to the soil.

I hope you will enjoy spotting some “smalls” in your own world today.  They are always there if you take the time to look.

June Means Roses   Leave a comment

If you go out early on a June morning, take a moment to notice the quiet beauty of your natural surroundings. This time of year is so uplifting and full of promise as the blooming  flowers and the natural world in general provide a soothing balm for the soul . It will start your day off on a much more positive note, and if it becomes habit to give thanks for each new morning and the marvelous design of things that were created by means other than human hands, so much the better.

This morning I’m looking at roses in my flower beds before I start a busy day.

Heavenly, fruit filled fragrance and a whorl of delicate paper-thin petals form an abstract world in miniature.

It is truly amazing to me …

That even with all of mankind’s foibles and sometimes careless disrespect for the magnificent work of the Creator..

We are still provided, year after year…without fail….

…the promise of beautiful flowers…incredible design….and the realization that each day is an opportunity to start fresh.

Enjoy this day and delight in something you see today that is a part of the natural world around you.

Each day is indeed the opportunity for a fresh start.

Posted June 4, 2010 by freshairfour in Flowers, Garden Flowers, Nature, Summer

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Just a Few Woodland Smalls   Leave a comment

Today was just one of those lazy Sunday afternoons.  You know…..the kind of day where you don’t want to do what you’re supposed to do…you just want to do what you want to do.  Some would call it lack of motivation.  I call it the way a Sunday should be spent!

A light breeze and the rustle of the young leaf canopy above beckoned me to get outdoors to see what was happening in the flower beds and along the edge of the woods.  First, I checked on a couple of the shady flower beds that lie at the base of some of the larger trees in the yard.  Formerly, about a month ago, they were playing host to a menagerie of daffodils….now a prolific crop of Lily of the Valley, Trillium and a few white violets are happily taking the place of the spent daffodil stalks.

Lily of the Valley was one of my mother’s favorite flowers and whenever I see these, I think of her and how she watched for these to come up each year.

Delicate white bells hide behind curtains of lush green foliage.

And of course the scent is enchanting!

Next up, was a grouping of wild May Apples along the edge of the property.  Their large umbrella shaped leaves protect a flower about 2 inches in diameter.

Later in the month, the flower will produce a round yellow fruit, hence the “apple” part of its name.  But for now, we see only the flower.

One woodland flower that has fascinated me since childhood is the Jack-in-the-Pulpit. I’m sure I caused the demise of more than a few of these on my childhood walks in the woods, merely due to the number of times I lifted the pulpit’s “flap” in order to inspect Jack!  But they are an eternally interesting plant, and one that I see less seldom these days. Perhaps their natural habitat has been reduced.  I’m glad they still seem to be happy on my property.

Did you know that there are both male and female Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants?  Yes indeed!  And did you know that the “Jack” and his “pulpit” is not actually the flower?  The actual flower is hidden inside the base of the pulpit, and is extremely small…small enough that you would need a hand lens in order to view it well.

Here’s a view of the pulpit from above.  This would have been w-a-a-ay too much temptation for me when I was a child!  Today, however, I just photographed it, and Jack was safe!

And guess who I found living among another bed of Lily of the Valley plants!

To round out my tour, was what I think is a form of Spring Beauty, another wildflower.

And last, but not least, a sweet wild white violet, beloved by both my mother and her mother.  Small and low-growing, they are easy to miss if you are not looking.

But they are definitely worth looking for.  In the language of flowers, a white violet is associated with candor and innocence, but also with the desire to take a chance on happiness.

Taking a chance on happiness….I like that!

We all need to be reminded to do that every so often.  Don’t we?

Of course if you are Tabby, our beloved but slightly spoiled 16 year old Himalayan cat, all this talk about walking in the woods leaves her rather nonplussed.  She takes her chances on happiness from the comfort of a soft pillow.

She hopes you are enjoying your day as much as she is enjoying hers!

A Chance Meeting with a Treasure…Chicago’s Former Public Library   Leave a comment

Sometimes you just luck out.  Sometimes the Force is with you and the universe aligns along with the path your footsteps are treading at that moment. Such was the case on the last afternoon of my visit to the Windy City, when I “stepped out” on Mr. FreshAir for a quick date with my camera and the spectacular architecture of the city.  Architectural elements hold such an attraction for me, I don’t know why exactly, but they do.  And I tend to get caught up in the looking and examining, which makes me a rather poor partner for a general stroll around the block….while everyone else is 50 paces around the next corner, there I am stopping to check out the intricacies of a delicate wrought iron gate or a particularly lovely carved acanthus leaf on a pilaster.  I suspect I’m somewhat of a pain to the normal walking partner.  But  my camera never complains….which is why he always gets to accompany me on these sorts of forays.  Besides, Mr. FreshAir had already done his share of saving my life several times over the past two days when he correctly assumed that I was looking up at an archway or perhaps a gargoyle, and  grabbed my arm to help project me through traffic before the lights changed.

So off I went, with Mr. FreshAir’s blessing, and with only about an hour to do my deeds before we had to grab some early dinner and then head over to the train to the airport.  My target this time was the Chicago Tribune Building, which I had scoped out on a walk (not my kind of walk, but everyone else’s kind of walk) the previous night when we trekked the mile and a half from our hotel down to Watertower Center.  As I made my way down Michigan Avenue, I spied a multitude of interesting candidates for future photo opportunities and of course I had a to record at least one or two of the beautiful blossoms I found along the way…

Well, OK…yeah, one more!

As I continued along my way, I stopped at an intersection to get my bearings and also to wait for the little white pedestrian guy on the crosswalk sign to light up, thereby signalling safety in crossing….as long as one is actually looking at said crosswalk sign of course. As for me, my attention was grabbed by the building across the street. Perhaps you can see why…

I crossed the street and immediately began to investigate.

A kind woman who was sitting on the steps saw my obvious delight and urged me to go inside, assuring me I would not be accosted by the law.  So I did. I think at that point it would have been worth a brush with the law in order to satisfy my curiosity about what was inside, but then again, I’m no fool.  Here’s what I saw upon making my entrance

Spectacular marble and mosaic work at every turn.  Through research, I have found that this is Carrera marble and the mosaics were executed by Tiffany studios.

Detail of mosaic work on the stairs.  Mother-of-pearl, colored stones, gold leaf and Favrile glass  (“Favrile glass is distinguished by brilliant or deeply toned colors, usually iridescent like the wings of certain American butterflies, the necks of pigeons and peacocks, the wing covers of various beetles.”) are some of the elements used in the mosaics.

I continued up the elaborate staircase to the second floor.  I was in la-la land with all of the decorative detail on the coffered ceilings and the shimmer of the sunlight as it hit the glass and shell in the mosaic work.

Imagine!  This was once the Chicago Public Library!

And then, at the top of the stairs I saw this…..

A chamber orchestra warming up under the largest Tiffany Glass dome I had ever seen, and later found out it is the largest Tiffany dome in the world. I certainly felt as if I were in a sacred area.

When the music of Mozart’s Symphony No. 26 (Eb major) began to lilt throughout the building I thought I was indeed in heaven.  It turns out that I had just happened in when the Chicago Chamber Orchestra was presenting a free concert, part of their Mostly Mozart in May series.  Oh how I wish Mr. FreshAir had been with me to hear it. He loves classical music.

I stayed to listen for as long as time would permit.

Originally built in 1897, can you believe that this magnificent building was almost demolished in the name of progress?  Yes, in the 1970’s when we lost so many architectural gems to the wrecking ball, this too came very close but was saved at the last moment.  With a new library building built elsewhere and dedicated in 1991, the old public library no longer held books but continued in its service to the public by becoming a showcase for the arts.  This concert was just one of the many free cultural activities that take place in this wonderful treasure of a building….now known as the Chicago Cultural Center.

I quietly took a few more shots as I parted ways with this gem….

The new …shot from within the old.

Sunlight streaming through the arch..

The fine detail on a bronze wall sconce. The sconces and chandeliers were made by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York..

The play of sunlight on the stair landing..

I silently slipped out of the building and hightailed it back to the hotel to tell Mr. FreshAir what I had seen.  The Chicago Tribune building would have to wait until next time.

I hope you will have a chance meeting with something that inspires you this week!

For the Last Day of April   Leave a comment

A poem seems to be in order.

The first for Mr. FreshAir, whose birthday it is, the second to express the fleeting time as April’s breath gives life to May.

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

To an Early Daffodil

Thou yellow trumpeter of laggard Spring!
Thou herald of rich Summer’s myriad flowers!
The climbing sun with new recovered powers
Does warm thee into being, through the ring
Of rich, brown earth he woos thee, makes thee fling
Thy green shoots up, inheriting the dowers

Of bending sky and sudden, sweeping showers,
Till ripe and blossoming thou art a thing
To make all nature glad, thou art so gay;

To fill the lonely with a joy untold;
Nodding at every gust of wind to-day,
To-morrow jewelled with raindrops. Always bold

To stand erect, full in the dazzling play
Of April’s sun, for thou hast caught his gold.

-Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy a beautiful weekend.

I’ll be in Chicago, visiting the big Matisse exhibit.   I’ll let you know what I’ve seen upon my return.

Visitor to a Daffodil   Leave a comment

Well, I don’t believe it’s any kind of bee……

And I don’t know what he’s doing in there…..

But I guess if I were small enough to fit  in a daffodil, I’d be tempted to spend a little time in there too!   Not a bad way to wile away a few hours on a Friday….in your daffodil hammock!

Let the weekend begin!

Posted April 23, 2010 by freshairfour in Flowers, Nature, Spring

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