Tag Archives: photography

A palace in the cosmos.

These narrowleaf milkweed flowers were the inspiration for the first draft of this blog post, which I thought to title “Wonders of the Universe.” Their intricacy and delicacy wowed me!

I had been thinking for some time about the gentle bombardment of the senses I experience in my garden, including how on warm days the space hums with the sound of busy insects. Just to sit out there is to listen to Life, and is a privilege. It’s also a sweet gift that God gave me, that I could have a tiny part in creating this environment, doing a little bit of planting and watering and seeing God give disproportionately generous increase.

I knew I wanted a Pollinator Garden, because I like the idea of helping the bees. But it was theoretical, and I didn’t begin to imagine what the physical reality would feel like when these fellow creatures buzzed their flight patterns in a rich tapestry of sight and sound throughout the garden. It fills my senses which in turn communicate with my soul.

“God is the Creator of the world. The world as cosmos, i.e. a created order with its own integrity, is a positive reality. It is the good work of the good God (Gen. 1), made by God for the blessed existence of humanity. The Cappadocian Fathers teach that God first creates the world and beautifies it like a palace, and then leads humanity into it. The genesis of the cosmos, being in becoming, is a mystery (mysterion) for the human mind, a genesis produced by the Word of God. As such, the world is a revelation of God (Rom. 1:19-20). Thus, when its intelligent inhabitants see it as cosmos, they come to learn about the Divine wisdom and the Divine energies. The cosmos is a coherent whole, a created synthesis, because all its elements are united and interrelated in time and space.” (From this site)

Now I often think of the book, My Family and Other Animals, which Gerald Durrell wrote about the Greek island of Corfu where he lived for a time as a boy. The one concrete image I’ve retained from my reading many years ago is of Durrell on a baking dirt road stooping to examine and collect whatever fascinating insects and other animals he could find. This quote I found I think is representative:

“…the incessant shimmering cries of the cicadas. If the curious, blurring heat haze produced a sound, it would be exactly the strange, chiming cries of these insects.”

I do not have cicadas at present. I have quieter bees and flies, and nearly silent butterflies, and cries and songs from the bird kingdom as well, adorning my garden. A day or two after I took the picture at the top, I saw a Monarch butterfly near the narrowleaf milkweed. I watched out the window for a few minutes and then… yes! She had landed on the plant. So out I went with my camera, and crouched nearby.

She fluttered away, and circled the garden to come back and light again, but only for a few seconds, mostly hidden by leaves, and then off she flew, nearly grazing my head as she made the same circuit, repeating this behavior many times! My knees got a little tired, so I lay on the ground waiting with my camera at the ready. But that didn’t give me enough flexibility, and I moved to the plum tree nearby and leaned my back against it.

Was she laying eggs each time she landed on those narrow leaves? I gave up trying to get close enough, or to catch her at rest, and began to take shots as she was flying. And this is the best one I have to show, proof to myself that she was there. 🙂

A couple of weeks later, back from the mountains, I found the minutest caterpillar on one of those narrowleaf milkweeds. Quickly I went indoors to attach my new clip-on macro lens to my phone, such as son-in-law Tom showed me how to use months ago but which I hadn’t taken out of its box. I hope my one-and-lonesome caterpillar does not get eaten by a bird, and survives to grow large enough to use my camera alone on, because this is the best I could do:

It seems this little lens is best for completely still shots, not flowers or creatures on long stems waving in the breeze. Here is a sharper image I captured using it:

Can you guess what it is?
Clue: It is a closeup of a flower I showed you in a recent post…
You’re right! It’s the center of a hydrangea bloom!

It’s another decoration of this palace into which we have been led by God….

But bees have preferences, and I’ve never seen them interested in hydrangeas.
What they love is the echium! Remember when it looked like this?

Its flowers just kept opening on the ends of what I don’t think would be called a stem… so that those parts got longer and longer, with always new flowers that the bees never tired of.

Until the Autumn Joy opened. Now the echium is deserted.

It has been two days since I wrote all of the above, and I’m sorry to say that my infant caterpillar has disappeared. If I’m around next August maybe I will bring some Monarch eggs into the house to safeguard the latter stages of this project of assisting the butterfly population. This year I will have to be content with having seen progress beyond the planting of the milkweed, my only direct contribution. I saw the milkweed thrive in its second season, I saw the Monarch laying eggs, I saw a caterpillar… and then, I fed a bird!

Her head in the nest.

My latest bee study was this morning, and this busy girl won the contest after I sorted and cropped and compared my many photos. It’s the first picture I have taken of a bee on a blackberry flower. When I realized that, it made me curious as to what all bee-flower interactions I’ve captured before, and I started hunting through my files to create a list of bee pictures. Right next to this one, more bees were drinking at the privet flowers. Soon I will show you one of them, too! But now it’s past my bedtime, and I’m sure the bees turned in a while ago.

Annie and I walk and shoot.

trillium so OR trail
trillium

My granddaughter whom I call Annie had recently taken a photography class with a few other homeschooling girls. The first day of my visit with her family we would go to the exhibit and reception in the evening, but we had a whole day to do “whatever” before that, and in addition to sitting around chatting and eating some meals that her mother graciously prepared, we took several walks.

var lilac revert so OR 5-15

 

The first one suggested by Annie was to a nature trail on the other side of the small town they live in, and as the trailhead as it might be called was easily within walking distance, we set off on foot. It’s so scenic there in southern Oregon that we both found things to catch our attention within a block or two of their house.

For example, a lilac whose every petal is bi-colored, but seems to have reverted to all white on one branch. I looked it up online when I got home and think it might be called “Sensation.”

Yellow Rose close OR backyard
Rose in Annie’s back yard

The sun was high in the sky, as it was mid-morning, so Annie showed me how to adjust the exposure on my camera to compensate. We talked about how it often happens that we take a picture of a beautiful flower and then when we get it home and see the enlargement on our computer screen, there is an ugly insect or a chewed-off flower petal spoiling the perfection. Occasionally I have found the bug to be cute, but only if he hasn’t already defaced the blossom or leaf.

 

 

P1130437

 

The woodsy path was just shady enough to make our flower photography easy. We took care to avoid the poison oak just off to the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

false Solomon's seal so OR 5-15
false Solomon’s seal

Annie will turn thirteen this month, and she had embarked on a project to take several photos of flowers each day to fill up an album for her birthday month. Her skill at composing her pictures was admirable, developed over six weekly sessions of three hours each, covering the techniques of portraiture, landscape, photo-journalism, macro, and animals. You can learn a lot in 18 solid hours.

bleeding heart so OR trail
bleeding heart

Later in the day we took three more walks, twice to the library to return books, and once to the post office. How many people can live such a life? For years the family also walked to church every Sunday. I often think that this kind of town life conducive to and convenient for walking would be really nice when I get 15 or 20 years older; I will need the walking and will likely be a more dangerous driver than I am now.

The photography exhibit was enjoyable; the girls were all country-bred-sweet and I loved seeing their unique collections showing their skill and perspective on the world. I’m looking forward to more outings with Annie; it’s always great to explore with someone who thinks dawdling along the trail to frame pictures is the most normal thing.

mock orange so OR
mock orange

 

Owls, Lepers, and More Around the Net

In just two days’ tootling around some of my favorite places on the Internet I have found items worth sharing in several categories: humor, animal photos, Bible study, a recipe and a quilt — just a sampling of this week’s surprises in that wide world.

Gumbo Lily shows photos of the darling owls in her own back yard. She often encounters wildlife to capture with her camera, illustrating the ranch life she captures with her pen (um…keyboard).

Angie got me laughing again, this time about Internet spam, of all things. Spam with a Scottish twist.

M.K.’s recent post To Touch a Leper, got me thinking on the wonderful and mysterious fact of Christ’s life and how it is health and cleanness.

A quilter-blogger Who Loves Baby Quilts and doesn’t own a sewing machine made a sweet mini quilt she refers to as a mug rug. Now I know what to call my own treasured little rug given to me some time ago. I’m showing both sides, which I have tried to keep pretty by not using it when my mug contains cocoa.

Last, a simple and simply yummy-sounding Greek dessert that requires not much more than opening a container of good yogurt.