Monday, August 30, 2010

The Ant In The Bloom

The Ant In The Bloom
(Common Purslane)
July 2010

"If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?"
--Marie Dressler

Weed, super fuel vegetable, medicinal plant, soil enhancer or pretty bloom? Purslane (also called pigweed or little hogweed) is a succulent in the Portulaca family that wears many hats.

It's history dates back to the 7th Century BC. Pliny the Elder, a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian, considered it to have such healing powers that he advised wearing it to ward off all evils.

Though often considered an invasive weed in North America, purslane is an edible plant and has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other vegetable. It's also rich in antioxidants. As a spreading ground cover, it provides moisture and nutrition for soil. Factor in that it's very easy to grow and its blooms are lushly beautiful, and I can't imagine why I don't see it grown more in my area.

In my yard, my purslane is in large pots that line the patio. Dripping magentas, oranges, and yellows, it cascades down over the sides of the pots in waterfalls of saturated and succulent color. On this morning, I couldn't resist visiting the microcosm of life tucked in the petals of its blooms.

Macro photography is often filled with unexpected treasures. It really requires only a few elements, so if you are inclined, grab your camera and try - even with a little compact camera will do it (all of which have macro settings!). Just be sure you mount your camera on a tripod. Getting in close means you have to hold very still and that means a tripod is essential.

Before you start snapping, take some time to explore your landscape. Look for little creatures climbing the valleys and ridges of blooms, watch how the light reflects off the lips of petals and lose yourself in the anatomy of a plant.

And don't forget to let the creative side of your brain lead the way. Imagine. Play. Think less about the camera and more about what you "see". Just "be".

After all, and as they say, it's probably why we're called human-beings rather than human-doings.

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 60mm micro lens, a lazy morning

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