Sunday, May 31, 2015

Red Poppies

This week, orange poppies are blooming in my front yard. They nod, backlit by the sun, looking like orange jewels on stems.  But even as I enjoy them, a trio of red poppies lingers in the back of my mind. They live in the English countryside at Snowshill. I feel a bit like a faithless lover, lusting after such perfect, graceful flowers.  Is it the red that attracts me or the setting, with its aged lichen-covered walls edging one of the most beautiful gardens in the Cotswolds? I'm not sure. But it's good to have this photo, a remembrance of a perfect day in a perfect garden.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Still Life With Paint Cups

Walking through an empty classroom, the cups of paint sat, spoons akimbo, temporarily abandoned during the lunchtime break. I leaned over and looked down at the unintentional composition, given complexity by the marks of gesso on the plastic covering the table. Then, in the midst of my looking, the cups of paint morphed into fat bright birds with spoon tails. Like clouds in the sky or veins in a rock, we humans tend to organize lines and shapes in our minds, relating them to something recognizable. We just can't help ourselves. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Group Photo

The young man did his best to take a good photo of his friends who were leaning against the wall. Then the friends hopped up to sit on the wall. With one easy leap, the photographer was standing up there too. You could see the little light bulb go off in his head as he realized that he might be able to include himself in the photo. I am no fan of the usual obsessively ubiquitous "selfie" but this one is more of an "ussie." Thank goodness that lamp post was there, or we might have been fishing the photographer out of the river.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Pillar Garden, Hidcote

We have Lawrence Johnston to thank for Hidcote Manor Garden in the English Cotswolds. Every visitor probably favors a different section depending on the weather and the time of year. Hidcote was designed as a series of "garden rooms." For sheer drama, the Pillar Garden in mid-May gets my vote. Stepping from a smooth green lawn, through an arch in a hedge, one enters a Candyland fantasy of raspberry peonies, lollipop-stemmed alliums and gumdrop topiaries. I remember being almost dumbstruck by the colors and shapes and wondering if this could possibly be real. It was and it is. We can thank Lawrence Johnston and the British National Trust for its continuing existence.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


A cold winter and plenty of precipitation have made the lilacs very happy. On our daily walks, my friend and I have watched them transform themselves from tight buds hidden among green leaves to glorious clusters, spiky crowds of four-petaled blossoms. The scent greets us before we see them. We revel in the cool end of the spectrum: white, pale lavender-blue, pinky-lavender, deep red-purple. We stand with our noses buried in the blooms and take in that old-fashioned scent. The prize goes to an elderly shrub that has survived right on the edge near the street. So far, the lilacs have been the stars of the spring show.