SEEING SPRING

The wild cherries and and the plum trees are in full bloom this week. White, cream and party-pink delights are sprinkled along the roadsides near home.  On the forest floor, last season’s leaves feed the soil.

I practice different ways of seeing Spring.  The camera is part of that – when it surprises me, that too becomes part of seeing with new eyes.

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Last week I went to a new-to-me public garden and found more Magnolia leaves that were skeletonized by insects; they make wonderful subjects. The one above must not have been tasty. It will disintegrate slowly and elegantly on a bed of dried ferns.

Pattern on pattern.

 

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Purpleleaf Plum trees line streets with a haze of frothy pink flowers, held aloft by rough, angled branches.

The skin of the blossom, smooth and delicate as a baby’s; the skin of the trunk, gnarled and coarse like a grandmother.

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Plum blossoms are an important symbol in Asian culture, and in particular, in the Zen tradition. The plum tree blooms very early, directly after experiencing harsh, cold conditions. Its simple five-petaled flowers give off a subtle, lovely fragrance. The plum tree has a powerful presence, at once rough, strong, fragile, intimate. Unstoppable.

Standing quietly under the tree

Gnarled, bruised bark,

Uncountable branches laden with pale, delicate flowers.

Fallen petals underfoot,

it’s enough.

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Viewed from three stories up, the early Spring woods is a complex web of intersecting lines.

Tens of thousands of buds

pepper every branch and twig,

moss clings wet and thick.

The forest is softening.

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  1. At the Rhododendron Species Garden (about 30 minutes south of Seattle), an Asian species rhododendron leaf lies on a bed of ferns. From the garden’s website:  “The Rhododendron Species Foundation & Botanical Garden is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the conservation, public display, and distribution of Rhododendron species. Home to one of the largest collections of species rhododendrons in the world, the garden displays over 700 of the more than 1,000 species found in the wilds of North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as the tropical regions of southeast Asia and northern Australia. Conservation has come to be of primary importance in recent years with the destruction of Rhododendron habitat in many areas of the world.”
  2. At the garden, a Magnolia leaf eaten by insects slowly disintegrates on a bed of moss.
  3. Magnolia leaf and moss.
  4. Magnolia leaves and moss.
  5. A Purpleleaf plum tree (Prunus cerasifera) near home. The Purpleleaf plum is common in and around Seattle. I thought they were Cherry trees but I just learned that they are a species of plum (in the same genus as cherries, apricots and almonds). This species was introduced to France from Persia well over a hundred years ago, and many different cultivars exist.
  6. A row of Purpleleaf plum trees glows like pink and white fizz.
  7. Purpleleaf plum blossoms.
  8. Purpleleaf plum flower with stamens full of pollen.
  9. The trees have grown into their own forms after years of neglect. Theirs is an untrammeled beauty.
  10. A softened and desaturated close-up of the woods – another way to see Spring.

 

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A selection of my photographs is available for purchase at lynn-wohlers.pixels.com.


47 comments

  1. Number Nine! They are all lovely, and your narrative reminds me of your own challenges of this past year… there are times you’ve had to face things with stark realism and inner strength – like in those branches, yet your sensitive and gentle nature is as delicate as one of those lovely blossoms.

    • That photo represents the haziness of the blossoms – we’ve had high winds and rain since then, so at least half of them have fallen now. I’m so gald I am able to get out more often! Your comment brought tears, Lisa. Thank you.

      • ‘tears are the escape vave of the heart.’ – i forget who to credit, but it is surely true.. and if anyone needed that valve to be working well, it’s you.

        continents separate us, but via soul connection, you’re right here and i’m right there…

  2. Beautiful images, my friend, and I find your words things of beauty too. I very much like the soft way you’ve processed these views of trees and blossom (eg the photo before the final one – and the photo above that photo, processed quite differently, is very striking too). “It will disintegrate slowly and elegantly on a bed of dried ferns.” says it all, and is phrased wonderfully. A 🙂

    • I’m glad you appreciate the writing as well, Adrian, really. The plum trees at this time of year seem perfectly suited for that “clarity and contrast to the left!” processing.

  3. Bravo! i’m particularly struck by the lacework structure of those skeletonized magnolia leaves — a study in ephemeral beauty, the sort of thing we now see being created for art installations, but never as eleantly, as lyrically, as in nature.

    • Yes, it IS like an installation, but as you say, nature does it more lyrically and elegantly – and I’d say, more simply, too. Spring expresses itself this way, with no effort.

  4. The 5th and 6th photos, showing the softened trees, are beautiful. I’m especially fond of those shades of green and pink. They remind me of my favorite elegant glassware, often called “watermelon glass.” There aren’t many good photos online, but this will give you a sense.

    The first skeletonized leaf on a bed of green growth looks for all the world like a crocheted tablecloth that has begun to disintegrate with age and use.

    • Thanks for pointing out the particulars, as always – I like the contrast between the blossoms and branches/tree trunks, and up close it’s even better in a way – these trees are covered in lichens, very rough, the perfect foil for those smooth pink petals. And wow, that glass, I love it! The colors are spot on for these colors – exactly the same sort of translucent intensity while still maintaining all the delicacy.
      Funny comment about the magnolia leaf and moss! Hope you’re having a good weekend!

  5. This are all wonderful images, Lynn, but in particular I love the first ones showing close-ups of leaves in various stages of decay. (by the way I haven’t forgotten about seeing you. Will soon get back to you).

    • Those leaves are so photogenic. I always appreciate your comments, Otto. Looks like you’ve been up in the mountains, from Instagram…how nice to go up into the snow and then come down into Spring blossoms. See you soon!

  6. With the succession of storms we’ve been having, our azalea flowers blew off before their time. This winter has hung around far too long. I needed those puffs of soft color you provided ever so much.

    • We just had another one – as you did too, I think – and most of the fruit tree blossoms are blowing off. I’m so glad I had the time this year to get out during the week, take my time, and really enjoy them. No more squashing everything into a few hours on the weekend, yes!

    • It is, but I know it will be where you are soon….and you’ll hear all those eastern birds singing that I miss so much – something about growing up with the songs of Cardinals, Wood thrushes, Orioles, Grosbeaks and SO many others that has formed deep connections, that I think I’ll always miss.

    • Susan, I love your comment. That special way of seeing is something you share with Lynn. Isn’t it wonderful to show the world your vision? Both of you are an inspiration.

  7. Magical images, Lynn – you certainly have a way of revealing beauty through your camera lens. I especially love the dreamy quality of the purple leaf plum tree photos – I wish I could just fall right into the photos 🙂

    • Mmm, good to hear! I like playing with Silver efex pro, it’s quick and flexible. The magnolia leaf seemed to be perfect for that – no need for color there. The last photo looked better when I took almost, but all the color out of it. Thanks!

    • It’s true, isn’t it? I loved the softening of all the deciduous trees along the highways back east every Spring, and that hint of lime green that crept in day by day. Here, so many of the trees lining roads (let’s face it, a lot of what we see is from the car!) are Douglas fir – big, dark, ragged creatures that eat up the light. I’m not real fond of them. .

  8. Your keen eye has found the most beautiful elements of nature, Lynn. I love the lacy leaves, the cherry blossom and the dreamier focus and colors of your wider shots. Wonderful post.


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