National Photography Month | May Flowers | The Iris Challenge

Iris-1 2022

I have had more than half a century of such happiness. A great deal of worry and sorrow, too, but never a worry or a sorrow that was not offset by a purple iris, a lark, a bluebird, or a dewy morning glory. –either Mary McLeod Bethune or The Adventures of The Woman Homesteader: The Life and Letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart

Kudos to those of you who manage to capture irises beautifully. They are a bit of a challenge for me. A few days ago, I shot some with my iPhone and my Canon. I love the rich colors of the Canon shots, the composition of the phone shots. Which do you prefer?

iPhone:

iPhone Irises

Canon:

Canon Irises


*For some reason everywhere I look on the “innerwebs,” the quote above is attributed to Mary McLeod-Bethune. However, no site pointed me to when or where she spoke or wrote these words. I did find the quote in The Adventures of The Woman Homesteader: The Life and Letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart in a letter dated May 16, 1933 to Josephine Harrison. Hopefully, I’ll have time to investigate soon.

National Photography Month | May Flowers | Petit Pink Roses

Petit Rose

It is now May . . . It is the month wherein Nature hath her fill of mirth, and the senses are filled with delights. I conclude, it is from the Heavens a grace, and to Earth a gladness. —Nicholas Breton

May is National Photography Month (NPM), so this month offers the perfect opportunity to unload the camera and share some of the shots that hide there. You’d be amazed how many photographs I manage to take in one week and how little of the beauty I encounter in my daily life makes it beyond the camera. 

Is there a magic tool that would allow the shot to go straight from camera to blog? No? Maybe, those of you who find the energy to post daily can show me your ways. For now, I’ll make life a easy for myself.

Since May is about the photograph, I’ll share a photo or two (or maybe, three) in wordless or nearly wordless posts. You’ll get a bit of eye candy, and I’ll get to focus all the wordy energy where I need to at the moment—in year-end reports, presentations, and scholarly writing. 

April showers certainly bring May flowers, so for the first few “blog days” of NPM, you’ll get some of the blooms that catch my eye this week. Today’s shot features “petit pink roses.” I snapped these yesterday in my friend Colleen’s garden, which explodes with color for more than half the year. I’ll be sure to posts more of her happy blooms soon!

Happy May!

Sunflowers and Poetry | Let April Be April

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Since I’ve been an academic all my adult life, I have no idea what the end of April feels like for people whose lives are not planned around two 15-week segments. For me, it brings stress and anxiety over the ever-increasing unfinished business of the semester and May “cleanup” work, not to mention all the end-of-the-school-year events and deadlines for my son. When my student France Régine sent me the poem below a few days ago–a day after I’d seen the post on Morgan Harper Nichols‘ Instagram feed–I decided to use the poem to close out the month. It is a beautiful reminder that it is okay to “just be” and not feel the need to solve the problems of the world in one go.

Morgan Harper Nichols
Let April be April,
and let May be May.
And let yourself
just be
even in
the uncertainty.
You don’t have to fix everything.
You don’t have to solve everything.
And you can still find peace
and grow
in the wild
of changing things.

About the Image: The Current card above came from Jamise L–another sunflower lover–I met through Jennifer Belthoff’s Write Together and Love Notes. Her encouraging note came just when I needed it. My friends have been awesome and have kept me well-supplied with sunflower goodies, so there are many more sunflowers to share. Even though this ends our (almost) week of Sunflowers and Poetry, stay tuned to Pics and Posts for more sunflower love!

Sunflowers and Poetry | Why I Wake Early

Sunflower Goat

Good Morning! I’m dropping in a little earlier than usual because I thought you might like to share your morning tea or coffee with this sunflower-bearing (umm…eating) goat. If it is not morning where you are, you should exit this post and return to it in the morning. Kidding, of course! You can read it now and return to it tomorrow morning, if you choose, because today’s poem by Mary Oliver is about celebrating the early morning and starting our days with happiness and kindness. 

Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver
 
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–
 
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.
 
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

About the Image: My pen friend, Kathi G, sent the delightful postcard above. The goat’s name is Rory. Isn’t he absolutely adorable as he munches on a sunflower with a field more of them behind him? This is the work of Dorian Charles of Tabby Hall Designs. Happy eating, Rory!

					

Sunflowers and Poetry | How We Fit

“Le prince solaire” by A. Kumurdjian

Today has been filled with too much talking, too much paper-shuffling, and not enough silence. Even as I type these few words, I hear the text messages [that I will ignore until morning] coming in. So, for now, a very short poem from Meister Eckhart’s Book of Heart: Meditations for the Restless Soul by Jon M. Sweeney and Mark S. Borrows. May we all find a bit of stillness in this moment. 

How We Fit
Meister Eckhart | Sweeney and Burrows

You made us for Yourself.
and we fit not as one part

to another but rather as
emptiness meets fullness.

as darkness seeks light,
as loneliness wants love,

as what is wounded
longs for healing.

About the Image: My Love Notes friend Sarah S sent the photo postcard above for International Women’s Day. She sent the postcards with “prayers for peace, strength, and women all over the world, especially women of the Ukraine.” The majestic sunflower was shot by A. Kumurdian. Don’t you just love the postal tattoos? 🙂

Sunflowers and Poetry | Who We Are Now

WHM-2 2022

I ran across a poem today that I didn’t know I needed till I read it. Isn’t that how poetry works?

We are two years into the pandemic that some think is over, and I find myself still trying to process all the lessons and losses. This poem–which is really a prayer–profoundly articulates the complexity of the moment–the conflicting emotions, the questions, the changes in us. It was written by Nadia Bolz Weber, a pastor who describes herself as “foul-mouthed for a preacher, grammatically challenged for a bestselling author, surprisingly hopeful for a cynic.” 

The poem was written after year one of the pandemic, but it is still relevant after year two.

Who We Are Now
By Nadia Bolz Weber

Dear God who made us all,
A year ago we did not know that we were about to learn:
what we could lose and somehow live anyway
where we would find comfort and where it would elude us
whose lives matter to whom
why we have kitchens in our homes.
In mid-March 2020 all I knew for sure is that
hoarding toilet paper doesn’t make you safe – it just makes you selfish.
But God, it feels like the world is about to open back up.
And I’m both thrilled and kind of scared about that.
Because I’m not who I was a year ago.
I want so badly
to hug my friends again
and laugh like hell again
and have amazing conversations again

and yet I am not sure how long I could do any of this before crying or just getting really quiet. My emotional protective gear has worn so thin, and grief just leaks out everywhere now.

I am so afraid that I will never be who I once was. And I am also afraid that I will be.

(Not to mention, I’m not entirely clear what size jeans I wear as the me I am now)

And yet, when I quiet my anxious thoughts, I start to suspect that I am now closer to the me you have always known and always loved. So help me trust that, Lord.

As things change, help us be gentle with ourselves and with each other. We are all wearing newborn skin right now.

Amen.


About the Image: I had plans to share a sunflower postcard from one of my pen friends today, but this is the image the poem required. It is an edit of a photo I shot last fall. I was trying to emulate van Gogh’s wilted sunflowers–with a camera instead of a paintbrush. See Allotment with Sunflowers in the post.

Purple | Women and Inspiration

“Women’s History Month.” Designed by SunsetGal55 on Zazzle. From Kathi G.

I’m back today with more purple!

Since purple is the color associated with women’s movements and social justice for women and since we are at the end of Women’s History Month, I am sharing the purple postcards and inspiration I received from pen friends this month in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

From Lori Ann W:

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Behind every great woman, I pray will be another great woman, whispering “you’ve got this” in her ear.

From Rae L:

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Stay smart!
Stay strong!
Stay beautiful!

From Christine B:

Fight for things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.  —Ruth Bader Ginsburg

From Suzette R:

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To tell a woman everything she cannot do is to tell her what she can.—Spanish Proverb

Finally, from Gerda H, a new friend from the Netherlands:

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When the power of love overcomes the lover of power, the world will know peace. —Jimi Hendrix

These beautiful souls filled my mailbox with purple love and flowers galore. Lori Ann and Rae even included seeds so I can sow my own purple flowers–columbines, morning glories, and wildflowers! Of course, they’ll find their way to the Pics and Posts when they bloom!

Until till next time…

Purple | “Bump Up the Color”

Purple 8

I read the few words [below] by poet Yrsa Daley-Ward a week ago, and they have been an answer to the chaos and noise of the world, noise I do not want to be a part of.

Life is beautiful. Live it. Bump up the colour of the moment. Bright things can be found everywhere – in the undergrowth, in the unexpected, in the calm following something significant, in the pure thought inside a meditation.

There are things that I will hold forever. I have to turn over the soil each day. There is beauty everywhere. Often, I miss it.  –Yrsa Daley-Ward, the utter

I’m convinced it was her words that led me to all the purple this weekend.

Blooms, Love, and Revolution

“You Love Me a Thousand Summers Ago,” Frank Moth

In honor of World Poetry Day (yesterday), the first day of spring (two days ago), and Black Women’s Appreciation Day (March 1), I am sharing a surrealistic floral postcard and three short poems. I intended to write a post for each special day, but…life.

Here you are,
Black and Woman
and in love with yourself.

You are terrifying.
They are terrified
(as they should be).   Upile Chisala

***

I want to think that God smiles
when a black woman
is brave enough to love herself. Upile Chisala

***

“i love myself.”
the
quietest.
simplest.
most
powerful.
revolution.
ever.

—ism, nayyirah waheed


About the Image: My literary twin, Gina B, sent the postcard for International Women’s Day. She included an Audre Lorde quote and a postage stamp that features a female German poet. I have decided each part of her woman-affirming gift deserves its own post. The art here is the work of digital collage artist, Frank Moth. I don’t know his reasons for creating this piece–or any of his “Bloom” pieces–but when I first saw this image I knew I had to pair it with these fierce Black woman-affirming poems! See Moth’s Instagram page for more of his “Bloom” artwork. See the links for more work by the poets.