Sunday, September 8, 2019

Tall Sunflowers

An article in the newspaper described a new variety of sunflower that blooms more than once a season. It grows less than three feet high, more like bush. Ask any child to describe a sunflower and, along with the big brown and yellow blooms, the plant's height is the feature they remember. Stand there and marvel at the sturdy stems, the whorls of ripening seeds, the sunny heads nodding several feet above your head. Sunflowers are worth a detour for a late summer experience that will make you feel like a child.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Naranjilla Leaf

My camera’s lens has focused on the naranjilla before. It's an annual summer resident in the Smithsonian's Mary Livingston Ripley Garden. Native to Ecuador, Peru and Columbia, the big spiny leaves startle garden visitors, when they notice it growing happily among the more domesticated plants. I peeked underneath to see if there were any fruits setting and was met with an entirely different view. For a moment, I was under my own little green umbrella, with the last of the summer’s sun and heat filtered and dispersed all around me.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Grungy Old Lamp Post

There are whole worlds in the surface of an old lamp post. I see the textures of tree bark or the surface of a planet. In the rust are stories about the seasons, years of sun and wind and rain. There are lessons in color theory, illustrated in shades of blue-green vibrating where it meets orangey rust. That delicious pumpkin color makes a split triad. Irregular shapes and aqua paint, the exact shade of oceans on globes of the world brings to mind illustrations of continents. Yes, there really is a world there in a lamp post.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Morning Glories Climbing a Tree

My favorite flower is not universally loved. Although they are easy to grow, morning glories also tend to reseed themselves, and not always in the spot where they were planted. They are not particular about their friends, hobnobbing with english ivy or thriving in the same neglected spaces as poison ivy. To me, they are the essence of Art Nouveau--all curving stems and winding tendrils. They live up to their name, losing stamina and closing up by midday when the sun is out. Late risers may still find them in  shadier spots, like this old tree, where, as the day lengthens, their original sky blue blossoms deepen and take on a purple cast.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Rest Stop Porto-Potty

I am confused. Could someone please explain this to me? We are in the midst of vacation season. Families driving from here to there along the highways occasionally need to pull into a rest stop. Park yourself here. Stay as long as you need to, day or night.

Sunday, August 4, 2019


A fine border of smartweed edges a driveway in my neighborhood. I've been watching it grow all summer. The blooms, which look more like berries or unopened buds, are the same color as those of a nearby crape myrtle.  Who determines what is a weed? In earlier times, people used this bitter and acidic plant to treat  coughs, colds and kidney stones. Poultices of smartweed were recommended for hemorrhoids. Smartweed's  more ancient names indicate both its taste and its uses: water pepper, bitey tongue and smartass. It will dye cloth yellow. Unwelcome in our present-day lawns and gardens, perhaps smartweed is underappreciated these days.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Eye Contact

Every two years, Sacred Threads presents a group of beautiful and thought provoking quilts. This time, a special exhibit added another dimension. The call went out for small quilts in a specific size portraying eyes. Viewed together, they are a lesson in how a gathering of similar items emphasizes their differences. Like so many of us, I am acutely aware of the masses of humans around me looking at their phones. We are not engaging in those fleeting meetings of our eyes that were once the connecting fiber of daily life. As the exhibit's curator, Barbara Hollinger writes, "Lift up your head, gaze into someone’s eyes and make a connection."