#ThursdayTreeLove | The Dance of the Magnolia

There is something arresting and unearthly about a magnolia tree in flower. Something that dances between divinity and dementia.  —Pavithra K. Mehta, Magnolia Tree

Louisiana girl that I am, the Southern Magnolia is [naturally] one of my favorite trees. I’ve been trying to “perfectly” capture the magnolia blossom for years. I remember stopping to photograph the blossoms whenever I could before our move from New Orleans because I wanted the perfect magnolia from New Orleans to deck one of our walls.

I managed to capture a few satisfactory shots before we left. They’re far less than perfect, but the expertly composed shots of the flower by my brother [on display in my parents’ home]  and other photographers encourage me to keep working on it.

“Inside the Magnolia”

So, here are my meager magnolia offerings for #ThursdayTreeLove. I shot some on campus a week ago just after a rain shower and some at my cousin’s house a couple of weeks ago before my grand color exploration with the tiny one.

I felt the photos needed texture, so I added just a little [hopefully] without compromising the natural beauty of the flowers and tree.

The magnolia leaf, so elegantly formed, remains strong and glossy even after its fall.

Some of the blossoms deserved the stroke of Impressionism, so I “painted” some.  I’ve come a long way with my art skills since I made a mess last week–thanks to the Impresso app. 😉

These are in various stages of bloom. My photo of a tightly closed bloom is “meh” at best, so I’ll spare you that one.

“And the time came…”

The tricky thing about photographing magnolias is finding ways around the height of the tree. The campus trees are really tall, but I was able to get nice “beneath the blossoms” shots.

“Twinsies”

“The Underside of Perfection”

The gorgeous “end” of the flower.

“Bald and Beautiful”

And finally, here’s a quick video I made of one of the magnolias on campus enjoying the company of the other trees. Thanks to Amanda, one of my photographer friends, for the tip about Pixaloop, which gave me the moving clouds and birds.

I quote Pavithra M at the beginning of this post. Her short piece, “Magnolia Tree” powerfully communicates the essence of the magnolia and our attraction to it. Be sure to click over and give it a read. But should you neglect doing so, I leave you with her closing words:

I think about this outlandish tree that races back to Time’s cradle, and its flowers that open alarmingly wide as if to swallow the sun, the way it gives itself madly to the moment. With radical generosity and no reservation. And what would be possible–if we could learn to live like that.


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Love and Trees

Love
is the only
thing that
makes sense
to me
when I consider
the complexity
of the
human
experience.  

–48 Laws of Love–

Since #ThursdayTreeLove falls on Valentine’s Day this year, I get to express my love for trees and love in one photo. How sweet!

The edited photo above features a couple taking a romantic gondola ride in City Park of New Orleans. The couple is framed by some of the gorgeous sprawling, mossy oaks of the park. Don’t you just love love and oaks?

The poem was written by a writer I found on Instagram. I’d change it just a little–Love and trees are the only things that make sense to me…

Happy Valentine’s Day!


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

12 Days of Christmas Postcards | Day 12

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

–Howard Thurman, “Christmas Is Waiting to be Born” in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations 

Our final “12 Days of Christmas” post features a card Michael Lomax, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and former President of Dillard University (DU) in New Orleans (1997-2004), sent to University employees in 2002.

Of course, this card wasn’t just lying around waiting for this moment. I found it a couple of weeks ago during my latest “I’m going to purge for real” session.

The cover, entitled “A Tribute to Peace,” features the work of Damion Hunter, who was then a sophomore at DU. A native of New Orleans and DU alumnus, Damion now resides in Houston, Texas. Like this piece, much of his work reflects New Orleans themes.

“A Tribute to Peace” pairs well with Theologian Howard Thurman’s “Christmas Is Waiting to Be Born,” and both work well to end our 12 Days of Christmas.

Hoping you will join me as we begin the real work of Christmas…


If you’re in the Houston area, you can see more of Damion’s work up close and personal on January 11 downtown at Kulture Restaurant. If Houston’s too far to travel, see below for links to some of my favorites from his Instagram profile.


#ThursdayTreeLove | The Oak and a Lesson in Self-Healing

Oak Tree in City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 2017

This was not a good week. I was ready to throw in the towel by Wednesday morning, but I got up, dressed, pushed through the rest of the week, and kept Philippians 4:13 on repeat.

I’m taking a mental health day tomorrow.

In the last couple of days, I was told twice–in so many words–that I was being negative. Me? The person who always finds the rainbow and gives [almost] everyone the benefit of the doubt? The individuals who commented were right. The heaviness of unexpressed grief, of holding it together, and of having to navigate all of life despite my feelings was seeping out in unpleasant ways.

Each time, I went back to my office and asked God for forgiveness and a little more of His grace. He didn’t give the scolding I deserved. Instead, He gave empathy, reminded me of my humanness, and affirmed my decision to take some time away from the usual maddening routine.

Normally, when I’m in an icky place internally, my camera and a slow walk with the trees work together to adjust my mood. Not so this week. I walked almost daily, spent time with the trees, looked for unique perspectives to photograph and…nothing. My mood was unchanged. I realized, sadly, considering the trees isn’t always an effective panacea.

Today is #ThursdayTreeLove and I was so sure I’d write a post about the lovely trees I’d considered all week. I’m not fond of the idea of sharing this week’s photos, so I decided to share some from a happier moment–photos from a walk through City Park in New Orleans with my mom, one of my older brothers, and my baby sister.

We captured loads of photos on that walk, but today, we’ll take a look at one of the gorgeous Oak Trees in the park:

My photos aren’t great, but I’m sharing them anyway because I love the structure of the tree, the network of branches, and the way the tree seems to reach across the park toward the other trees.

You can somewhat see the massive size of the tree if you note my “tiny” brother in the lower right corner of the photo.

Trees and buildings in the background are puny by comparison.

The 1300-acre City Park of New Orleans is home to 30,000 trees, and proudly boasts “the oldest grove of mature live oaks in the world, including the magnificent Anseman Oak and McDonogh Oak, which are between 750 and 900 years old” [See Trees in City Park].

My guys and I spent so much time in the Park when we lived in New Orleans that we captured hundreds of tree photos. We were (and still are) especially fond of the Oak Trees. The trees are simply breathtaking. One day, I’ll go through my collection and select a few to share on the blog. For now, enjoy a little extra #ThursdayTreeLove with a few more City Park Oak photos on my hubby’s blog. I think you’ll enjoy “The Root of It All.”

I read somewhere that trees are self-healing. I don’t remember all the details of the process, and I certainly don’t expect to do the healing work alone, but there’s wisdom in turning inward, taking care, and doing my part. I coped a bit better last week because I was intentional about spending some time daily, allowing myself to feel and write and think. I did none of that this week and it showed.

Moving forward, I’ll put into practice the lesson of the trees.


I am joining Parul Thakur every second and fourth Thursday for #ThursdayTreeLove. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Fallen Beauty

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  –John Keats, “The Grasshopper and the Cricket”

The sight of this beautiful fallen tree in Brechtel Park in New Orleans used to sadden me. I saw it as another victim of Hurricane Katrina. Then, one day, I discovered that fallen trees offer many benefits to the forest and to creatures–seen and unseen. It’s heartening to know that there is still some usefulness in the fallen.


I am joining Parul Thakur every second and fourth Thursday for #ThursdayTreeLove. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to this post.

About the image: I shot the photo above at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans). According to the information available on the image, it was shot in 2011. For some reason, I thought it was earlier.

Musings from My Younger Self: New Orleans Mornings

“Crossing the River”

I just returned from New Orleans (NOLA), so I thought my first official “Musings from My Younger Self” should be a short description I wrote about NOLA mornings when I was 16:

The street fills with activity as the city rouses itself from sleep. Cars speed from every direction. Vehicles flood the highways and bridges, making it almost impossible to get to work on time. People line up at street corners, waiting to fill buses. Doors are opened and people “swim” into department stores, toward their various occupations. Dogs howl, whimper, and scratch at the back door. It is morning in New Orleans.  –Age 16

I grew up in Algiers, the part of the City of New Orleans that is on the Westbank (of the Mississippi River), and being a Westbank girl, I was (and am) always aware of the River. It was what we crossed over to visit practically all of our relatives. What we ferried across for music and excitement. What we walked to. What we were mesmerized by as we stood on the levee. We knew its power. Should it spill over, as stories of Hurricane Betsy taught us. Should we fall in, having been warned about the unforgiving currents that pull people under.

As with just about all my “younger” writings, I cringed when I first (re)read this paragraph. Oh my gosh, I thought! Did I have no other verbs? But use of the words filling, swimming, and flooding suggest just how deeply the River flowed through me. That is what wrote this paragraph.


Note: I appreciate  your input and suggestions regarding how to handle my earlier writings and musings on my blog. One way or the other does not feel right, so I’ll just do what the individual posts call for–with “mature” commentary or without “mature” commentary.

Breathe: Water and Abstract Photography

Life is too busy! I’ve shortened my to-do list, turned down invitations, postponed some of my activities, extended deadlines–still there are not enough hours in the day. The weekend seems far too short to make an impact on “all that must be done,” and I find myself moving from one task to another and unable to relax.

As I was looking through my “yet to be blogged” tower of mail, I ran across two of my penfriend Rebecca’s (Beckra’s) photos. Something about the photos urged me to take some time to wind down and relax.

“Cow Parsley,” Photo by Rebecca R.

Beckra shot the photo above in Pennsylvania while visiting her mother. Although the weather was rainy, she managed to capture some cow parsley reflected in the lake of her hometown.

“Kayaking Under the Trees,” photo by Rebecca R.

She shot this one on a Sunday morning while kayaking under the trees, giving herself “a chance to breathe.”

I always enjoy Beckra’s abstract photos. She has a talent for capturing water in the most intriguing ways. You can see more of her abstract water photos in earlier blog posts: Water, Light, and Fairies and Getting Through the CraZieS, part i.

Water has a calming effect on me. When we lived in New Orleans, the Mississippi River was always right there, its muddy waves available to wash away the strain and stress. Since I no longer live “right down the street” from a river, Beckra’s photos suffice, inviting me to take a moment to enjoy the water and breathe.