Sunday, October 21, 2018

Bicycling In Amsterdam

We relish the spectacular sunny days of autumn, when the trees are dressed in bright colors, but let’s face it, autumn has its share of gloomy, chilly, damp days. Residents of Amsterdam are used to this. A sunny day can suddenly turn into a torrential rainstorm. Bicyclists find themselves pedaling through sleet, as clouds sweep in off the North Sea. Being a less hardy soul, I clutch my umbrella and stand on the bridge admiring the shining bricks, the more saturated colors of the trees and the texture of raindrops in the canal. They pedal on, intent on their destinations.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tardis Little Library

Our neighborhood is home to several "Little Libraries" where people can choose or leave books My favorite is in the shape of a Tardis, Doctor Who's vehicle that takes the Time Lord through time and space. The thirteenth Doctor has just debuted and this time (finally!) we have a woman, Jodie Whittaker, playing the part. The perennial joke about the Tardis is that it's much, much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. The books in this little Tardis share that same quality. They are little packages that can take you on big adventures or lead to big thoughts, big plans, big dreams.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Saint Michel Metro, Paris

Last week we enjoyed hearing about a friend's wonderful trip to Paris. I thought about our visit there some years ago. The weather was almost too fine to spend indoors. We searched out spectacular art nouveau landmarks and enjoyed everyday life out on the streets and plazas. A very kind man who worked in a camera shop near our hotel told me that I "must experience Paris in black and white." He was right. This is a lesson I have taken to heart in big cities everywhere. Distracting colors disappear, Lines and shapes take precedence. Sepia, instead of black and white can imply a sense of age. That is how I captured the Place Saint Michel one morning as the light transformed the Metro entrance into something magical.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Milkweed Bugs

Every day there are signs that we are stepping into autumn. As seed pods form, leaves begin to wither. About a week ago, I noticed what looked like a few orange beads on a milkweed plant down the street. Soon it was a moving mass of safety-orange-colored insects. They are creatively called Milkweed Bugs. While this this particular plant has a pretty extreme infestation, they tend to be expected on milkweed. You can see a pair of adults on the far left leaf tip: long handsome insects with snazzy black markings on their wings. Hopefully they will leave enough milkweed for the monarch butterflies.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Tree Cutter

In recent seasons, the tree in our neighbor's yard had fewer and fewer leaves. For a couple of years, it stood bare among its green neighbors. We worried every time there was a storm. This week, the tree cutters came with their chain saws and chippers. The boss called up directions to the brave soul dangling in the branches. They worked all day, deconstructing the lacy pattern that had spread itself across the sky. Goodbye tree. I know you had to go, but I will miss you.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Birdbath In the Ripley Garden

This week, the skies are gray, the news is all about hurricanes and the ground is sodden from weeks of rain. As an antidote, I share a sunny moment in my favorite of the Smithsonian gardens. Each curve of the walkway leads to a different little scene. Season to season, year to year, the flowers come and go as do the accouterments. There could be glass gazing balls, birdhouses or, in this case, a bird bath. Imagine yourself sitting on a bench in the dappled sunlight. Enjoy the leafy calmness.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Unfriendly Fence

Fences always get my attention. My eyes are drawn to the regimented repetition of pickets, boards or chain links. There are textures to explore; paint fresh or worn, perhaps rust. Sometimes a fence casts interesting shadows or tantalizes with broken glimpses of what lies beyond. Sometimes whatever is inside the fence (barking dogs, riotous blooms) tries to escape. The neglected paint and random holes of this fence are enough to establish an aura of sadness and defeat, but the sign's determined red letters and scolding words make this fence downright unfriendly.