Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Overslept But.....

by Deanna

Belonging to the Morton Arboretum Photography Society comes with lots of privileges, one being monthly photo trips to photo worthy places plus the added addition of being with like minded people who love photography as much as I do. The Chicago Botanic Garden was our destination of choice for the month of April and oh boy did we visit at the most opportune time. Everything was in bloom, our neighborhood is overflowing with the goodness that comes with Spring.

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead.” 
― A.A. MilneWhen We Were Very Young

We were due to meet at 8:00 AM at the entrance into the gardens, but Deanna fell back to sleep after the alarm rang at 6:00 AM. The drive is anywhere from an hour plus, so when I left the house at 7:25 AM I knew I was in trouble. No traffic, thank you God, and I sped along (yes, I was going over the speed limit) and pulled into the parking lot at 8:05 AM.  Eventho I made it in record time, my photo group had already began their journey thru the gardens, leaving me behind. OK, do I search to find them, or just enjoy my lone walk, knowing that eventually we would meet? I chose the latter, and sure enough we finally met at the walled English garden. So come along with me as I wander thru the gardens before I meet up with the rest of the group. 

Holy moley, what in the heck were these giant cone shaped plants bursting with blooms rising to over 6 feet tall right outside the wall? Resembles something growing in outer space or perhaps Disney World. 

These beauties are aptly named "tower of jewels" or Echium 'Red Rocket'.  According to Google (my go to for info) they are biennials which mean the seeds are planted one year and the next they bloom. Hopefully they re-seed and continue their beauty year after year. 

They also have the "Blue Steeple" Echium by the entrance which is just as dazzling.

I love the Morton Arboretum, but I LOVE the Chicago Botanic Garden. Flowers, flowers and more flowers everywhere you look.  As I wandered with camera in hand, I was breathless at every corner, every turn there was more and more beauty.

The ever faithful, ever beautiful Bleeding Hearts....

The harder than heck to photograph Hellebores because they always have their heads bending downward as tho they are praying continually. 

“The deep roots never doubt spring will come.” 

Another lovely that I am not real familiar with is this beauty called a 'Yellow Crown Imperial (Fritrillaria Imperaialis). This is another wowzer, standing at 2 to 3 feet tall. 

“I suppose the best kind of spring morning is the best weather God has to offer.” 
― Dodie SmithI Capture the Castle

Ranunculus in yellows, reds, oranges, and pinks are planted in various gardens and planters...sigh!.

And then there are the Lupines...magnificent in purples and pinks.

“Spring drew on...and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” 
― Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre

A trip to the land of beauty would not be complete without at least one image of a crab apple in bloom. Be it crab apple, cherry, or apple the blooms that later turn into fruit are in their eye-popping glory right now.

And for just a little something extra, I've added a black and white. I really don't know what this is, It was a bush of some sort with all these white berry blossoms. I wasn't swooning with its color so made the decision to change it to B&W.  I kinda like it.  You won't find me doing this too much with florals. I am such a color freak that removing it really goes against my grain. 

I hope you enjoyed our walk thru the gardens, I plan on returning very soon to continue to soak up the beauty of Spring.

“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?” 
― Neltje Blanchan

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gotta Get Away

by Leigh

Sometimes you just have to get away....away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life....away from the constant cell phone ringing, facebook dinging and instagram pinging.  You have to get away from the noise of the everyday routine.  It doesn't have to be a week long vacation or anything that requires reservations months in advance.  It can just be a quick 48 hour trip to a nearby lake and a dear friend's cabin.

I always keep a fishing pole and tackle box in my car.  Really!  it's true!  stop laughing!  I always have it with me because I never know when I might pass by the perfect fishing hole.  Even though the fish weren't biting on this particular day the time I spent alone just listening and watching the birds was just what I needed to recharge myself.  

And even better than solo fishing time is time with girlfriends (girlfriends who don't laugh...too much...about my fishing obsession).  A day spent in our pj's, laughing till we cry while painting wooden boards with antlers and flowers!  Flowing glasses of wine, cheesy movies on tv and ruffles chips with sour cream & onion dip.  Perfection!  

We spent all 48 hours in that cabin just the three of us...except for the quick 10 minute beer run trip to Okay, Oklahoma (in our pj's no less!).  It was the perfect weekend.  Sunday afternoon I was back home doing the usual routine of laundry and grocery list making when my husband made the comment about how happy I was.  And it's true...all I needed was a little recharge to put a little pep in my step.  Moral of the story....take some time for yourself.  It doesn't have to be a two week doesn't even have to be a 48 hour trip, but giving yourself the gift of time can last for a long while!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Morning Performance

by Carol

Having a 17 week old puppy is having a baby in the house again. A "sitter" (walker) comes at noon, outings are scheduled, and the kitchen is gated. The electrical outlets are covered, and nothing is left on the floor for even a second! Closet doors are closed and (obedience) school starts June 1st.. And sleeping in is on hold for a while. But there are unexpected joys to be found besides the adorableness of a puppy.

Among them is a renewed appreciation for early morning. I rise every weekday at 5:45, and have for years, but those weekday mornings are full of the time constraints that get me out the door and to work on time with matching socks, and food for noon. I always appreciate the light on the drive to work, but I don't have time to bathe in it and my mind is pre-occupied with the day's schedule. Since my kids left the house, I have slept in a bit on weekends (all the way to 8:30!!).  But now, I am wrapped in a sweatshirt, out on my lawn, walking my Lily by 6 AM. She is not old enough to leave the property yet, so I am getting reacquainted with early morning on my little homestead.

The east side of my house is the "business side." It's narrow and holds the propane gauge, the electrical connections, the hoses. The rest of my 1.9 acres spreads out to the west and behind. But Lily and I now walk the whole property, looking for as much variation as we can find, and watching the sunlight move slowly in from east to west has become a delightful way to wake up.

Fresh out of bed and just out the door,  it is a bit chilly. The grass is damp. The trees are grey. The deer feeding in my field are almost in the dark. But then, a glow develops behind my neighbor's barn.

Its low and pink. Soon, little tendrils of light are illuminating a single weed here and there. Then the rolling hills of my neighbor's perfectly fed lawn develop shadows and pools of golden light.

 The 100 year old house across the street suddenly has light on the front door that is worthy of a Wyeth painting.

The blossoms of my pear and apple trees begin to glow.

The green leaves and the birch stand begin to ignite.

And finally the light reaches  my emerging daffodils, low to the ground.

All this to the soundtrack of the morning birds. It's quite a stunning show - coming soon, to a yard near you. And there is a glorious repeat performance every day. And its free to all!

I recommend you attend a performance soon.

"Life is too short," she panicked, "I want more." He nodded slowly, "Wake up earlier."

                                                                                                              Dr. SunWolf

© Focusing On Life