Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cool Beans

First Harvest
My Garden
November 29, 2009

"Plants cry their gratitude for the sun in green joy."
~Astrid Alauda

There has been so much to give thanks for this season: health, prosperity, loved ones, the sun above my head...and this weekend, the fruits of my garden.

My vegetable garden is perched on the edge of my canal. It knows no chemicals, and is doused often with love, worm castings and Alaska Fish Fertilizer (ACE really is the is the only store that carries my favorite plant food). I returned from my second trip of the autumn to the mountains and found the peas and 3 tomatoes chewed to nubbins by fat, black caterpillar creatures. I dutifully picked them all off and fed them to snook and catfish in the canal. I've replanted with spinach, lettuce and dill. Lots of dill. Apparently hungry pests don't like dill much. Pity them. These guys are equally diligent in devouring every green thing they can crawl to; they even ate the leaves off the marigolds I planted to repel them. Not much of a first line of defense, it seems.

Tending the garden is a good bit of work, as most labors of love are. In 1871, Charles Dudley Warner wrote that gardeners need a cast-iron back with a really good hinge in it. There's always a learning curve for every climate zone. And gardening without harsh chemicals is not for the faint of heart or faith. A garden teaches persistence, patience and unconditional love. Are there more important lessons to learn in life?

I'll enjoy these beans, all dressed up in their pre-holiday red and green. Though just an early handful, I'll savor each bite as I share them with friends coming to a delayed Thanksgving meal tonight. I spent Thanksgiving day helping prepare food for eighty folks at my neighborhood association's annual dinner. Those without families or places to go gathered and devoured nearly all the 35 pounds of potatoes I hand-peeled and mashed, the huge trays of stuffing and enormous pots of gravy I made, and the five turkeys roasted and carved by five generous seniors. I was grateful for the opportunity to lend my hands and help prepare a meal that joined together so many people who live near me. For most, this day is a day of thanks and gratitude, which was shared equally with food. I walked home when everyone was fed and full, smiling and thankful that I'd spent the day practicing the other half of Thanksgiving - giving.

Nikon D2x - Nikkor 18-200 VR, my favorite red plate, a little spot of pretty light that caught my eye in the kitchen

Monday, November 16, 2009

Robes of Azure Blue

Clingman's Dome Sunset
Great Smoky National Park
November 13, 2009

“'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, and robes the mountain in its azure hue”
--Thomas Campbell

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 18-200VR, GND, a bit of uphill huffin' and a deep chill

After The Leaves Have Fallen

After The Leaves Have Fallen
Somewhere Near Courthouse Valley Overlook

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
November 13, 2009

"Nature is, above all, profligate. Don't believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn't it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place?"
-- Annie Dillard

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 18-200 VR, flying down the Parkway, kayaks on top of the car

Friday, November 6, 2009

The River's Verge

Late Autumn in the Smokies
October 29, 2009

"Here, on the river's verge, I could be busy for months without changing my place, simply leaning a little more to right or left."
--Paul Cezanne

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 18-200 VR, sturdy tripod on a slippery rock

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Obstacle Illusions

Outdoor Living
Sunset, South Carolina
October 27, 2009

"Life is full of obstacle illusions."
--Grant Frazier

I drove from Florida to South Carolina to photograph a new home for a client last month. From the Florida border north, the rain was relentless and I fretted about photo ops and weather for much of the way. I arrived in a late afternoon steady rain, and in what I thought was pretty good time, which, in the end wound up being the perfect time. I took a quick tour around this magnificent home, finding good light, and exploring the best architectural angles, then set up and fired off a few test frames.

Usually, some of the best light for these kinds of shoots is twilight, when that perfect blue balances so sweetly with the ambient interior light. On this night, soft cyan twilight showed up on my camera's chimp LCD a full hour before sunset. It surprised me, really, and made me lace up my skates (wool socks on the hardwood floors) and fly around the house, trying to get a full round of shots in before it disappeared.

Magic hour. Even in the rain. Maybe...even because of the rain.

The best part (aside from just BEING there)?? Getting to start a fire in one of the many fireplaces. I haven't lost my pyro-touch.

Like so much in life, even the most stubborn obstacles eventually play out as the illusions they actually are.

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 12-24