How the Tea Garden Got More Sun

Sometimes even dramatic events don’t change things much. There were some local wind bursts in the area, the kind that can down trees. I was home working in my upstairs office when I heard a loud cracking sound. Large branches passed by my window on their way down followed by a thump. Going out to investigate, I found that the tops of two large trees had come down landing plunk in my small tea garden, fortunately missing both the house and the tea hut only a few feet away.

The tree company that came out early the next morning used a large red “spider” machine to get up safety to where they could saw off heavy sections of hanging trunk and branches. These were secured with ropes and lowered to the ground after which they were taken to a chipper and the chips loaded into a truck to be hauled away. There was not much space to maneuver and the spider with its small feet seemed perfectly designed to do minimal damage to the ground where it stood.

After all of the noise and drama, and removal of misplaced greenery, there was surprisingly little damage – both the tea hut and my house were spared other than an easily fixed bent corner gutter. The crushed ground cover would recover nicely I knew. So would the moss if I watered it more frequently for a while so it could adjust to receiving more sun. After that, the fall colors were brighter in my garden. In fact, two plants, in particular, put on a spectacular show as if to say, it’s about time someone noticed that we like more sun.



Fall Colors in the Rain

Many appreciate how sunlight can light up the colorful leaves in New England at this time of year. But wise photographers know that wonderful things can happen in all kinds of weather conditions.

A cloudy sky can make the colors pop. Rain can highlight the patterns in a single leaf, or add jeweled beads. Dreamy scenes enveloped by fog can provide a moment of respite in this troubled world. Mystery can catch us by surprise.



















Chicken of the Woods: A Remarkable Mushroom

I am told that besides tasting rather like lemony chicken with a great deal of protein, chicken of the woods also has many health and medicinal benefits. Although it is both hard to miss and relatively easy to identify, as with all mushrooms growing in the wild, it is best to seek expert guidance and to prepare them carefully.

With so little rain this past summer, I did not expect to find the amazing mushrooms that sprung up in Menotomy Rocks Park last fall. But my timing was good to capture a number of images of these colorful mushrooms before they were taken by eager foragers.










The series below follows the central protrusion as it evolved before someone cut parts of it and what remained deteriorated.







Fall Leaf Patterns

It has been dry where I live. That means there may be a particularly colorful fall. But these days it seems impossible to predict what will happen. After all the rain last summer, colorful mushrooms sprang up everywhere.

In 2010, bright leaf colors sometimes created stained glass patterns where the light shown through overlapping leaves. We can be thankful such glory is still here to marvel at even as things become more unpredictable.






Communing with Surfaces

I first met Ken Matsuzaki on a trip to Japan. The first photo is of his pottery on display when I visited in 1997. After I returned, I was delighted to see Ken again, as well as examples of his latest work in Boston at the Pucker Gallery, which continues their long-term relationship with the master potter.

Entranced by the exuberant surfaces of the works on display in 2010, I asked and was granted permission to take closeups. I hope the photos below convey some sense for the joyful adventure of looking closely at their remarkable diversity.











Beauty on Both Sides

I have always been attracted to abalone’s iridescent interiors, but I had no idea about the range of patterns and colors that nature creates on their outsides until I started collecting these shells. Although there are commonalities among the suborders of the Haliotidae family, each individual shell is unique. And the outsides of the shells can change color based on the types of algae the abalone has been eating.

There is often a beauty to both sides of natural objects. In these days of deep divisions, I find that to be a most refreshing idea to keep in mind.

When More Is More

Arranging rocks so shapes, colors and patterns complement can be an interesting and absorbing challenge. In times of dramatic change, that can take me beyond our limited human perspective on time.

All of the rocks in the arrangements below are agates. The first photo shows a bowl with small cut and polished agates from around the world. The next three show specific types of agate – bubblegum, Fairburn, and Lake Superior agates, respectively. For the most part, these agates were left as they were found with colorful patterns natural on the surface or revealed by abrasion. I find the matte finishes and rounded shapes of the natural stones to be particularly appealing.

Take your time with what can be a visual adventure. You can learn something about agates, of course, but also about your particular tastes. Perhaps you will catch a hint of the slower “life” in these stones that might provide a bit of calm in these turbulent times.

Mixed cut and polished agates

Bubblegum agates – you can see how they got that name

Fairburn agates

Lake Superior agates

Dog Walkers Rule the Dawn

As I start my early morning walk, I notice it is quieter with fewer cars starting up. In my Arlington MA neighborhood, dog walkers have always been out and about at dawn. Seeing them now provides a most welcome sense of normalcy.

As I approach, Robbins Farm Park has a view of soft pinks over Boston framed by deep red leaves. Dogs romp as their owners call out greetings, recognizing each other despite their masks. A playground attracts a few children with its long slide and harvesters in the community garden seem most appropriate for a park that was once a farm.

Continuing down the sidewalk, I come to Menotomy Rocks with its glacier-carved granite outcrops rising here and there. Fallen logs molder on either side of a wide path as yellow leaves glow on the living trees. Dogs seem to love it here and families come down to watch ducks swimming through vivid reflections.

Despite all of this radiance, the dogs and their owners are what speak most to my heart. Even from a safe “social distance,” there is no mistaking their contagious joy and contentment. They know how to live in the moment.

Sometimes, and especially now, I find it helpful to get back to basics. Remembering what is still here for us in this most troubled world has been helpful when there is so much to be worried about


Finding Joy in Details – Morrisonite Jasper

I find Morrisonite to be particularly rich in details. Both the jasper and the beautiful location where it is found stimulate the imagination. I can count on delightful surprises when I attempt to capture its endless patterns and colors in closeup photos.

The slabs shown below include an entire cross section of a jasper seam. The second photo shows a small section of a slab. Several examples exhibit the overlapping egg pattern that also occurs in several other types of jasper.

Lapidary artists find a great deal to select from. While the finished cabs can be set in jewelry, the best are often acquired by collectors who prefer to keep these little works of natural and lapidary art just as they are.

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Abalone Tide Lessons

As soon as I started the photo series, I was totally entranced. There were worlds of dazzling design in the abalone shells’ spiraling concave interiors. I might discover an area of delicate veiled dreams or bold drama. Taking closeups and seeing what the camera had captured became an addiction.

I began to sense how the shimmering designs carried the rhythm of the tides that the abalone depended upon for all their needs. There were encoded hints of whale song yearning and how our planet breathes as it dances with its companion moon.

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