and we may not be done with the snow! I understand that Meteorological Spring* began a few days ago, but judging by the looks of things where I live, we’re still betwixt and between, alternately charmed by early flowers and frustrated by cold, wet days.
A few weeks ago fragrant Witch-hazel bloomed at the botanical garden, then just Monday morning a generous helping of wet snow graced the woodlands. The bright, lime-green Osoberry buds that are tiny beacons in late winter woodlands here sported snow caps for a few hours on Monday – but no worries, they survived. March may swing our hopes abruptly back and forth but we know that underneath the daily changes, light is moving back in. And we are grateful.
*Meteorological Spring, a date meteorologists and climatologists use for easier record keeping, begins March 1st.
It’s an unsteady time of year. It seems there are more dark and dreary days than promising ones, but there is still much to see, much to gape and wonder at.
- Witch hazel (Hamamelis X intermedia ‘Jelena’) at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, shot at f 3.5 with a 60mm prime macro lens.
- A snow-bedecked Douglas fir and Big-leaf Maples behind my home, shot at f 8 with a 20mm prime lens.
- Witch-hazel again; this one still gripping last year’s thickly-veined leaves. Shot at f 6.3 with a 60mm prime macro lens.
- More Douglas firs, shot at f 8 with a 20mm prime lens.
- The ground beneath the fir trees. The Doug firs are like fussy ladies during storms, flicking their wrists and tossing branchlets down to the earth, far below.
- Witch hazel (Hamamelis X intermedia ‘Pallida‘) with a well thought out backdrop of Bloodtwig Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’) at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, shot at f 10 with a 60mm prime macro lens.
- New leaf spears of the native understory shrub, Osoberry (Oemleria cerasiformis) shot at f 2.8 with a 20mm prime lens. Osoberry, aka Indian plum, grows along the Pacific coast (and inland to the mountains) from British Columbia to California. The unsweet but edible fruit was mixed with other fruit and eaten by indigenous people; bees rely on the very early flowers.
- These trees are covered with invasive ivy, a common sight in suburban woodlands in the Seattle area. It does make a handsome image! Shot at f 8 with a 20mm prime lens.
- Another Witch hazel, Hamamelis japonica, at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, shot at f 7.1 with a 60mm prime macro lens.
America has four native Witch-hazels but the winter-blooming species are native to China and Japan. The hybrids above (Hamamelis x intermedia) derive from Asian species. They’re a pleasure to see each year when little else is blooming, and when the fragrance is full they can draw you in like a magnet.
I find that photographing heavily fragrant plants often intoxicates me into forgetting to pay attention to what I’m doing. In the midst of the overwhelming sensory experience, as I click the shutter over and over, I think I am capturing the whole of it. The same thing happens at waterfalls, with their powerful noise and negative ions. When I get home the images disappoint, because they don’t – they can’t possibly – approach that feeling of being carried away.
It’s more to be grateful for though, and gives me another challenge: remember to come back down to earth a few times in the midst of those experiences. Pay attention to the camera a little bit, too.