Sunday, September 25, 2022

Back Yard

 It's such an inviting yard, sheltered by a tree with branches that curve out over the sidewalk. What child would not want to explore that little house? The swings drift slightly in the breeze, waiting. The chairs glow like jewels. All is quiet. For families with small children, it's dinner time. Playtime will have to wait.

Sunday, September 18, 2022


 You may have heard that France is having a mustard crisis. There is little or none to be had in stores all across the country. Canada grows most of the seeds used in French mustards. A hot, dry summer devastated the yield last year. Farms in Ukraine have been another traditional source. Looking at the shelves of a typical US grocery store, there is no shortage of mustard. But the bright yellow stuff we squeeze onto a hot dog is not at all what French families whisk into a good vinaigrette. I don't think our traditional yellow goo would...well, cut the mustard for most culinary purposes in France. Luckily, the current crop of mustard seeds are about to be harvested. Soon, families will once again be well-stocked with that essential condiment.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Striped Leaves

 Last week I shared the whimsy of polka dotted begonias. This time, let's think about stripes. The high contrast of these leaves imbues them with more than a little drama. Stripes, by nature, grab a viewer’s attention. Can anyone NOT look at a zebra? Stripes invite our attention. The pattern sets up a rhythm. The stripes on the leaves are not even in width, length or spacing but our brain wants to see them as such. So we keep on looking. This is why stripes are such an arresting pattern, whether on clothing, wallpaper or leaves.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Polka Dot Begonias

 It took a moment for my eyes to sort out and focus on individual leaves amongst the cacophony of dots. Why did this type of begonia develop all these dots?  Perhaps to confuse predators? Polka dots have more light-hearted associations for humans. We tend to think of clown costumes, Minnie Mouse or a novelty song about a bikini. The rippling edges of these begonias hint at another surprise. In addition to sporting a slightly different set of dots on every leaf, the underside of each one is a shiny watermelon pink. This is not a boring plant.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Subway Tiles

 Most subway stations in New York still have at least some of their original tiles. Craftsmen carefully laid out letters, numbers and, in some stations, fancy medallions. Dark backgrounds are a mix of two or three colors that also vary in texture. Edging bands read as one color but are actually composed of several. Even after years of pollution and wear, the tiles have a painterly quality. Waiting on the platform is my opportunity to really look at and enjoy the colors and patterns, until a whoosh of underground wind announces the arrival of the next train.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

The Land of Fair Food

 It's been a while since I've been to the county fair. The faded and shabby concession stands that used to share space with the games and rides have now been replaced with shiny new ones offering cotton candy and funnel cakes. My favorite is this one, a veritable temple to fair food, a Corn Dog Castle. The banners flap in the fried-food-scented breeze. Children shriek as the kiddie rides go round and round. Go ahead, have a corn dog. And maybe a lemonade.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

In Among the Teasels

 A fire hydrant is a necessary and therefore immoveable object. This homeowner has chosen to grow her garden around it. Sometimes it's almost invisible, just a splash of yellow among the teasels that glow in the morning light. The hydrant is accessible, but partly camouflaged. In high summer, it seems to be doing its best impression of  Birnam Wood and is, possibly, dreaming of Shakespeare.