Is a picture worth a 1000 words? I could probably write at least a 1000 words on any photo that I’ve posted here: about the circumstances of the photo, or about something that it reminds me of, or a piece of fiction prompted by the photo, or about how I set up the shot & set the camera (and all of the mis-steps) to get the “perfect” photo, or a description of the photo, or …. any number of things. But sometimes, a picture can tell a story without a single word:
Tag Archives: Trees
When we bought our house, we knew that we’d have some work to do with leaves in the fall, but we thought it would be wonderful to not have a lawn to mow. People often say to me that we are lucky that we don’t have to spend a few hours each week doing yard work. I just smile. I know better now. Trees give you something to pick up most of the year — including downed limbs after winter storms.
Right now, it is time for the poplars, tulips and hickories to drop catkins. The word catkins supposedly comes from the Dutch word for kitten. As far as I can see, the commonality is that both catkins and kittens make me sneeze! The fuzzy little things — catkins, not kittens — have been falling along my drive and being tracked into my house for a few weeks. They form a soft green carpet along the driveway, with a fine yellow-green dust that is stirred up by brooms and blowers.
Which is not to say that they don’t make a fine subject for the macro lens:
And by the sea…
This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Today’s letter is E. Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous ~ Aristotle
When the warm weather hits, those of us who live in colder climates suddenly think that 60 degrees is a heatwave. Over the cold, snowy months, our skins have forgotten that we felt a chill in the air in late September when the mercury dipped to 60. Usually we know that it is only for a few, carefree days and that we cannot put away our scarfs and coats and boots.
Sometimes, though, we are lulled by continuous days of warmth. Even the trees this year may end up being fooled. Typically, I see the yellows of the daffodils beginning in mid to late March. April brings the purple hyacinths, followed by the white budding trees — fruit trees that have been hybridized so that all their energy goes into a lush bloom, with nothing left for a fruit; dogwoods, ash and elders. The magnolias and red buds soon follow, creating horizons of pink, purple and white. And then, just as the magnificent rainbow of colors is ending, all shades of green pop as the leaves unfurl.
It has been so warm that this year, everything is bursting into bloom at the same time. The viburnum’s pink buds will be here before the jonquils have faded. The blue bells will add to an Easter basket look across the yards. The tulips in all their glory will be fighting for attention with the other colorful flowers that are usually here and gone by May. The tulips don’t look like they will wait that long though.
Everybody, after a winter cooped up inside — even a mild winter — can’t wait to be outside. Kids from a basketball team gathered at an ice cream shop yesterday. How odd to see them come from their game in their uniforms in the middle of March. flip-flops, short shorts, and tank tops were the uniform of the day in the parks. Nobody is going to want to go back to heavy coats now. While we can go back, even if reluctantly, what will the plants do if there is yet another freeze?
I love this time of year because of the incremental changes in nature that happen so quickly. It seems simple: brown, to buds, to colorful blooms, to green. It all happens within a few weeks for any individual plant or tree. When it gets so warm — into the 70’s and even the 80’s already this month — everything seems to happen at the same time. There is hardly time to notice how marvelously each stanza of the Spring song is played.
Just as easy to overlook is the mass of white on a tree. What makes up that white cloud? What looks so beautiful in its simplicity is really a marvel of complexity. Einstein said that everything should be made as simply as possible, but not simpler. There is nothing simple about a bloom or a tree or Spring. Take a moment. Look. Marvel.
The extraordinarily warm weather has continued this week, with temperatures more common to the middle of May than to the middle of March. In just two days, the ubiquitous honeysuckle, the invasive species that is part of most wild areas in my neck of the woods, has gone from small buds to unfurling leaves, adding a green tint everywhere. More wildflowers have popped out; I think I even saw a Spring Beauty, the pink carpet flower of the late April/early May forest. It has been so warm that the butterflies have crawled out of their cocoons, though I don’t know if there is enough pollen for them yet, nor if they can survive the cool nights. Even the trees are being coaxed out of hibernation, with more species budding. The dogwoods and ornamental pears have begun blooming, adding their pretty white hues to the landscape, and the redbuds and wild plums are beginning to show their purples and pinks.
Last night, on a short, sauntering walk after dinner, I spotted an intriguing looking tree bud. Today, I revisited the same tree to see that the buds are beginning to open. I think that this is a variety of a Buckeye tree, and that the green tower of tight berries will open into yellow-white flowers soon.
When I was a teenager, kids joked about the cover of the Indianapolis phone book which displayed a stylized drawing of these leaves. While some adults might have objected to the state tree of our neighboring state Ohio being on our phone books, the kids just winked and laughed, thinking that the drawing looked more like something that one might want to smoke. From the last picture above, you might see how a slight alteration in the leaf arrangement in a drawing, without any reference to a tree, could lead to such a conclusion.
One of the scariest moments for me as a child was watching the fighting trees in The Wizard of Oz. Trees with evil faces! Trees that talked! Trees that would scold you for picking parts of them off their trunks!
That such a forest existed seemed entirely plausible to me because I believed that the trees in our neighborhood, though not mean, grouchy trees like those Dorothy encountered, had personalities. Especially on windy days when the branches would bend and groan, I would be careful not to get too close.
For the last few years, while driving through the different neighborhoods in the city, I have seen tress that bear resin pieces that resemble faces on their trunks. Although they remind me of the Free Apples scene in The Wizard of Oz, I think they’re a bit stupid and I have never understood why a property owner would want to place these on their trees. I’ve often wondered if the faces came to life and spoke for the tree, if the tree might not object for having a piece of weather-resistant plastic nailed to its trunk.
The other day, when walking along the greenway, I realized that one of the house that borders the trail — the trail is little more than a sidewalk at that point, running adjacent to their property– had several trees with these resin faces. Along with the security cameras and the “NO Trespassing” signs, these faces may have been placed as a modern-day equivalent to the sign that warned Dorothy and her friends to “Turn Back While You Still Can”.
While they may have been put there to serve as a warning, they just make me smile. There are about 20 trees in the parkway that have these decorations attached. I wouldn’t think of harming any of them. After all, those branches may just spring to life and grab me.
Curious, I searched for a site online that might have information on these resin faces. “It’s easy to add character and personality to your trees” one site claimed. No, thank you! I think I’ll stick with the real thing. My trees already have personalities. Some of them even seem to have faces. I found this natural version further down the greenway, on a trail section that is a bit more wild.
Note: Don’t get upset with me over the You-Tube video title. I didn’t title it and wouldn’t slap a vegan any more than I would slap a tree.
Today was a beautiful, Spring-like day. Typically, February in Indiana is bitterly cold, grey and often snowy. If there is a teasingly Spring day, it usually doesn’t occur until March. I went out for a long walk wearing a sweatshirt and heavy winter coat, scarf and hat. Luckily, I had big pockets in my coat, because by the time I had walked a 1/2 mile, I was too hot for either the scarf or the hat. It was a perfect day for a leisurely, blissful walk.
A few scenes from my walk:
Just before I walked out the door, a bright red cardinal perched on a tree outside my dining room window. The cardinal was not the only bird I saw, of course. Along the way, I saw flickers, robins, ducks, and geese. There were a few leftover nests from last year, visible on the barren trees.
I walked along the creek for 2.5 miles, stopping often to look and listen to the flowing water. Because we’ve had so little snow this year, the creek is much lower than normal. The sandy islands that form in the middle, usually only accessible in late summer, were reachable in a few spots. It isn’t a view I usually get to enjoy. I crawled out on one dead tree and sat for a while and listened to the rapidly flowing water and the birds.
As always, there are lots of interesting things along the side of the trail. Today’s surprise was that on the small island, there were many clam shells. I knew that clams populated inland waterways, but I had no idea that I could find some along this creek. Many were pearly and several were as large as my hands.
Of course, not everything to be found is natural. Looks like someone left in a hurry, leaving an unopened bottle.
A few days ago, Terry at Mobius Faith (Click on that link! His photos are fantastic!) posted some photos of concrete. I know it sounds a bit odd — concrete? — but his post inspired me to look at concrete differently. I’ll post more later — there are some that I want to experiment with in post-processing — but look at the interesting shapes and color from lichen and rust from the bridge materials. In places where graffiti artists have been, the parks department has tried to cover it up. The paint, as it ages, creates an interesting pentimento. Even the shapes of the concrete bridges are interesting.
Of course, there was plenty of nature to photography as well: empty milkweed pods, hanging from a limb; fungus on fallen trees; stark trees pressed up against the gorgeous, cloudless sky; snowdrops, those early signs of spring, pushing their way up from the winter ground.
As I returned home, walking up the drive, I noticed the tulip trees in the front ravine. They are over 100 feet tall, so it’s difficult to tell, but I think they may be starting to bud. As nice as it was today, early blooming is not good for the trees.
And then, it snowed! (Not much, but enough to make me happy!)
Mostly out of habit, or perhaps in recognition that it is a core part of my being — even if only in theory and not in practice — I say that I am not a morning person. I’ve always disliked that call to leave the shadows of slumber and venture into the dawning world. There is nothing more jarring than an alarm clock; yet I cannot awake without one when there are schedules to keep. And so, reluctantly, I inhabit the mornings, although frequently the better spirits of my nature take a few more hours to awake to the world.
But, some days, despite my reluctance to stretch before the sun has legs, I am in tune with the slow waking of morning. It is on days like this, when the night shadows of the trees have yet to go to their day retreats, and the warm glow of the sun hits upon the tops of the leaves, that I am glad to have been awake as the night flees and the day comes on.
The streams of lights, and the columns of shadows are my favorite at this time of day.
Even inside, for a few minutes, the morning light casts interesting shadows.
The morning light fades quickly, leaving full light, remarkable in its own self, though not as quiet.