Archive for the ‘Nature’ 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!

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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Yeah. It Was Worth a Purple Finger.   Leave a comment

Every so often I have a David Byrne moment.  David Byrne as in the Talking Heads.  Specifically David Byrne singing Once in a Lifetime.  You may know the lyrics and even have the vision from the video etched into memory as most people do who listened to radio in the 80’s…….”And you may ask yourself..how did I get here?…..And you may say to yourself…my god what have I done!?!………same as it ever was…..same as it ever was…..”

Well the story starts like this….Mr. FreshAir decided yesterday afternoon that he was tired and in need of a nap. Not being in the napping mood myself, I decided that an inspirational Sunday Spring drive was in order.  You know…..fresh air, pretty farmland, all of God’s creatures frolicking…that sort of thing.  And if all went well, my car’s autopilot would be set to the same antiques store that I subjected Mr. FreshAir to last weekend….except now he wouldn’t have to be subjected to it…..he would be in dreamland!  And I might have a second look at some vintage Better Homes & Gardens magazines which had called out plaintively to me last weekend but had to be left behind in the name of “smart money management”.

All was going well as I cruised along the country roads, the smell of Spring blowing in through my half opened window and the sight of the new dark earth where fields had begun to be plowed filling me with joy.  I flew past old clapboard farmhouses constructed in the early 1800’s, their ancient apple orchards still standing and in the first stages of bloom, fulfilling the same promise of fruit year after year.  Barns of all ages and sizes appeared at every turn and I delighted when a flock of birds took flight from an only partially harvested corn field left over from last Fall.  Around another bend, a beautiful herd of Guernsey cows had been turned out into a pasture that offered fresh new greens for their enjoyment and consumption, and it was plain to see they were doing both….enjoying and consuming!

After about a half hour of Spring scenery I reached the shop that held the objects of my desire.  I got out of my car, stretched my legs and headed for the large heavy double door of what had obviously at one time been some kind of a fairly good- sized warehouse.  Now it held thousands of treasures!  As I opened the weighty door and started to step through, a sign caught my attention.  It said “15% off Sale!”.  Like metal to a magnet, I was staring hard to see what exactly it was that was discounted by 15% . This was one time where being an artist and a very visual person backfired terribly.  I was still glued to the idea of saving 15%, but my hand was still glued to the outer edge of the door as my closing motion, helped along by a sudden gust of wind, closed the door….. with my fingers failing to come inside.  My right middle finger caught the brunt of it and when I was able to regain my senses and pull it to safety, I saw that it had a rather nice dent in it just above the second knuckle.  My eyes were smarting from the pain, but of course I had to look as if nothing had happened in order to save face….so I walked on in and tried to focus my thoughts on the wonders of the shop, while praying that I hadn’t broken anything too terribly important.

One thing that strikes fear into the heart of any artist or craftsperson is the thought of losing either your eyesight or your hands.  As I walked around the shop trying to hone in on those elusive vintage magazines, I watched my middle finger turn ever more purple as the bruising made its way toward my big knuckle.  I was too afraid to try to move the finger….I didn’t want to know the truth just then as to what damage had been done, so I carried on one-handedly in my search.  I looked high and low. I peered in nooks and crannies. I went round and round until I was convinced that they…now by this point they had ceased to be  just magazines they were my magazines… had been whisked off to some other home in my absence.  And then I spotted them.  Back behind a bookcase which I had passed at least twice, they were lying in their little wooden crate….waiting for me.

Now, I believe in the healing power of a lot of things, but I never knew that antiques have this mysterious ability as well. But I swear that the pain in my finger was markedly less the more I rifled through those Better Homes & Gardens.  I decided to try to move the finger.  It moved.  I moved it again. It didn’t fall off.  I said at least 25 “Thank you God!”s  People passed by and probably wondered what in the world I was doing crouched in a corner, kneeling on the ground looking so exulted at finding a pile of old magazines.  But that’s OK.  I had my treasures and my finger, however purple.

I was only able to take home four of my new BH&G buddies (yes, in the name of smart money management), but I promised the others I would come get them as soon as I could.  And the next time I’ll keep my eyes away from any sales signs.  My fingers will thank me.

Due to my throbbing finger, my photo taking was distinctly hampered, but I managed to get one shot of one of the big barns I passed on the way home. It’s not too far from my house and it may end up as a reference photo for a painting…

……after the purple finger disappears!  And yeah.  It was indeed worth it!

Enjoy your day.

A Good Day to Stay Inside and View Some Vintage Nests!   Leave a comment

Wow!  As nice and warm as it has been over the last week, Mother Nature has suddenly changed her mind and given us a dose of chilly and very damp weather. On such a rainy day it’s such a temptation just to sit curled in a toasty blanket all day, sipping a hot beverage of some sort and gazing out the window.  Alas, for me that was not to be.  With my birthday fast approaching and my Pennsylvania drivers license about to give up the ghost, I was doomed to go a few rounds with the weather in order to change my motorist’s allegiance over to the great state of Ohio.  Knowing that I would have to go to two different locations in the county, one to take the written test and one to get my actual photo license, I prepared by putting on a little extra makeup and donning my winter coat with its hood in an attempt to keep what hairdo I had from going completely downhill.

I learned this scientific equation when I was still a young girl, and no scientist has yet proven me wrong :

Straight hair + rain = even flatter, straighter, droopier hair.

Well, to make a long story short, after 3 hours of running from location to location (Ohio doesn’t make it easy on you like Pa. did!) taking the test, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was indeed now living in Ohio and did not intend to leave, and finally posing for a photo that I can only describe as one that will only see the light of day when a.) I am pulled over by a policeman, which will hopefully never occur, or b.) I am forced to surrender my ID at the airport before going through security.  Yes, it’s that bad.  I’ll spare you the gory details.

Sooo…..On to more pleasant thoughts.  Such as a warm cup of green tea with jasmine.  I need some brain food right about now, and according to most reports green tea helps the brain cells.  If it helps my brain cells not to think of that ghastly license photo, that’ll be good enough for me!  You can’t see how wet and dreary it is out there today by this picture, but you can see some of our daffodils braving the day out in the back yard.  And you can see the cup of tea that is saving my brain cells as we speak!

I have many rooster/chicken mugs and items, but I’ll touch upon those on a different day.  They bring a whole different kind of inspiration!   Today, however seems more like a nesting day.  So I have a few vintage images of nests to share with you.  As you can probably tell, I am a sucker for old illustrations, scrap and all vintage things in general.  Many of the older illustrations, particularly done for the benefit of children’s books, have a softer, quieter quality about them that I really enjoy. I find them very comforting as well as visually beautiful.  Here are a couple of vintage scrap nests…

Love the fact that these little guys below are nested in a lilac bush!  The Victorians loved their lilacs!

Here’s a nest from one of my favorite girlhood books, The Golden Treasury of Natural History.  How I studied that book!  The pages are dog-eared, but the old illustrations still hold magic for me.  Published by Golden Press, it was and still is a treasure trove of mid-century science education illustration.  Here’s the nest…

And here’s the bird….a robin.

Here are a few Victorian postcard images of nests from my own collection, appropriately Spring themed. Love the dainty speckled eggs and the tiny feather that rests on the outside edge of the nest…a great detail.  Also, you can’t go wrong with pussywillows, in my opinion either!  A wonderful, intriguing plant.

And although Easter has passed, this little nest provides a cheery shot of color on this decidedly non-Springlike day….

The sweet illustration below is one by Eloise Wilkin from my own childhood book, A Giant Little Golden Book of Birds. Again, very well loved. I’ll show more of her work as time goes on. Her children were always quite distinctive and express the innocence and wonder of early childhood.  See the image below….

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed these nest images as much as I do.  Here’s a nest shot of my own…just for fun.

Have a great day and remember that sometimes the small things in life…

bring the most joy to living.