#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 lean 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.

Finding Color with the Tiny One

“The Little Explorer”

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. –Oscar Wilde

The Southern magnolias are blooming and spring is breathing her last. Last week when we visited my cousin and her family, her daughter who is four, noticed me photographing the magnolias and the tiny purple flowers near the front door and made it her job to find all the remnants of color and flowers left in the garden.

So while the guys looked over a “fixer-upper” vintage Corvette, we searched for all the bits of color still hanging on in the garden. [Click images for a closer look].

We found pink in “once roses.”

 

Purple, always camera-ready.

 

Almost-missed yellow hiding out in all the green.

 

White hydrangeas hiding in the shade of trees in the front garden. And my favorite “unloved” flower, dandelions, in the back.

 

Green, of course–new holly berries and lettuce, one of the many leafy greens growing in their back garden.

 

Purplish/blue hydrangeas hiding against the back fence. [They look purplish here, but they really were more bluish “in real life.”]

And more purple from the lamb’s ears plant that I’m sure was some small animal’s feast.

We found a tiny green heart-shaped leaf.

And lots of colorful flowers on the little explorer’s skirt.

These photos aren’t so great. In our search for color, I simply followed directives. The tiny one was a taskmaster, so there was little time for composition and focus.

Just as we had exhausted color in the front yard, their neighbor’s dogs came charging at us full speed and barking ferociously. That was my favorite part of our adventure. Not! I stood shock-still in terror while the tiny one stood chatting away, oblivious to the danger the dogs posed.

It’s amazing how quickly things change. Just weeks ago their gardens–front and back–were exploding with color. I missed the hydrangeas and roses in full bloom, but I managed to capture the Japanese magnolias and apple blossoms.  I have yet to post the apple blossoms on the blog, but if you missed their gorgeous magnolia, click the link and take a look. They’re certainly a treat for the eyes and soul.

Wishing you a weekend full of color and light…

Sunflowers and Connection

I participated in the latest round of Love Notes and made a new penfriend!

Peggy L, my partner for Love Notes 27, is a retired nurse who’s finding her way to other “identities” and embracing the artist within. Her messages were sweet and cheerful and I looked forward to retrieving each from my post office box each week.

In response to the first prompt, “I invite you to…,” Peggy wrote:

I invite you to believe that we are all connected and that we can and will change the world together. I invite you to join me in a peace army, a joy tribe, a group of women who KNOW that we are the answer we have been waiting for!

Isn’t this beautiful? It fits perfectly with the woman-empowered inspiration of my Women’s History Month posts. Also, thanks to this note, I finally figured out what to do with the beautiful love notes and messages I receive. Instead of keeping them in a box or album, I’m making them a part of my journaling. Yay!

I’ll be sharing Peggy’s responses to the prompts this week along with images that feature a couple of favorites we have in common–sunflowers and purple!


About today’s image: I spotted surprise sunflowers dancing in the wind while returning from an errand on campus. They were part of a giant bouquet placed near the entry to one of the dormitories. It was a happy find!

The person who placed the bouquet happened by and chatted with me while I photographed the sunflowers. She was torn. She wanted to take the flowers to her room, but felt it would be selfish. I assured her that since the flowers were given to her (instead of being tossed at the end of an event), she was not being selfish. I invited her to enjoy the flowers for herself! 🙂 Besides, cut flowers last longer indoors than outdoors.

“i soak the flowers/until/they become words”

with
the water bowl balancing
on my thighs.


i soak the flowers.
until
they become words.
then i write.

–ritual

nayirrah waheed, salt

There was a blossom in every post this month–even the one with the dancing bunny and the one with Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the cross. So we end the month as we began–speaking in flowers.

I’ve had far too many words tangled inside my head and heart this year. The month-long meditation on flowers gave me permission to leave the [hard] words “unexpressed” and allow them to unravel and stretch naturally.

I have a summer of writing ahead of me, and having “soaked” for some time, the words are ready to flow.

Thanks to my friend Meli for allowing me a moment to “breathe” today and photograph the beautiful vase of flowers sitting on her desk. Hugs…

Children’s Art | Busy Being Roses

…as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.
Mary Oliver, “Roses,” from Felicity

Today was supposed to be easy–a “chill” day of finishing up a few projects and meeting with my students. It turned into a crazy-busy day, so I am all too happy to take a break and contemplate the pretty–and I have kid art to share!

Every spring, my son’s school hosts an amazing art fair, featuring the work of practically every student in the school. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably know that I absolutely lose my mind walking the halls and taking in the colorful spectacle. I have hundreds of pictures from each art fair. I wish I could share every piece on the blog, but there’s so much that I’d have to start a separate blog dedicated to children’s art–and it would take me at least three years to catch up! Of course, that is not a bad idea, but I’ll leave that task for others.

Since I am still “speaking in flowers,” I’m excited to share a sampling of the vases of roses on display at the art show held a couple of weeks ago.

There were several other vases full of flowers, but they were positioned low on the wall and I was not willing to contort my body to get the shots. 😀

The project is called “Primary Petals,” for which students created a vase full of flowers using water color, oil pastels, and markers. Through the activity, “the students learned about color families, explored new mediums, and focused on line quality by drawing spirals” [Description posted with artwork].

Based on the description of the project, I’m assuming the art is that of Mrs. Johnson’s students. [She was my son’s fourth grade teacher and her art projects are always sensational].

As I have been working through life’s challenges, I have been asking a lot of questions. The answers aren’t always immediate or acceptable, so it’s nice to put the challenges on hold and take a moment to enjoy the innocence and simplicity of children’s art. It’s good–every now and then–to just be, to learn from the roses.

“Roses” by Mary Oliver

Everyone now and again wonders about
those questions that have no ready
answer: first cause, God’s existence,
what happens when the curtain goes
down and nothing stops it, not kissing
not going to the mall, not the Super
Bowl.

“Wild roses,” I said to them one morning.
“Do you have the answers? And if you do,
would you tell me?”

The roses laughed softly. “Forgive us,”
they said. “But as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.”

Speaking in Flowers: In Front of a Window

“Wallwurz und kleine rosa Nelken vor Fenster,” 1935. Gabriele Münter [Wallroot and small pink carnations in front of window]

The postcard above, which features the work of German expressionist painter Gabriele Münter, was one of the first I received for International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month. It came from my Love Notes friend, Eileen V.

In honor of our sharing flowers with other women throughout the world, Eileen added another “flower.” She affixed to the message side of the postcard the story of the Greek goddess, Iris:

Since Iris is the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love, her sacred flower is considered the symbol of communication and messages. Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty it was to take the souls of women to the Elysian fields. — Hana No Monogatari, from The Story of Flowers

2019 has been brutal thus far, and I’ve lacked the intellectual energy to give words to my feelings and experiences. Flowers have been easier, so taking a cue from nayirrah waheed, I’ll be “speaking in flowers” for much of the next few weeks. I’ll mix things up a bit and try not to bore you. 😉


Speaking of Love Notes, the deadline to sign up for the next round is in a few days. If you love receiving snail mail and want to be part of a wonderful community of creative mail-loving souls, click the link.