A few days back a new lithium battery for my DSLR arrived. Although I have a couple different lenses for it my favorite is the lens that I keep on the camera - a 40mm portrait lens with macro capabilities. We all know why, right? Yeah. Close-up flower portraits. I haven't actually used this camera very much in about a year. And now that I have it back in operation I want to use my favorite lens for a greater range of purpose.
To that end I went outside yesterday morning for a wander with the camera rather than my phone. Although I did take a lot of shots in close range mode I also began to actively prompt myself to start taking the kind of flower pictures I want to continue getting better at isolating with my eye and then stretching the "portrait" aspect of how I can learn to frame larger description highlighting a landscape vignette. Was just beginning to push myself beyond a wheel of perpetual blossom/other organic close-ups when the battery gave out.
I've never disciplined myself to learn how to work this lens for landscape images. But one of the reasons I chose it as what would work best for me is that so many camera buffs said this is a prime lens you can throw on your camera for months at a time - using it equally well for work-related needs and also vacations or group activities, etc. Then when J gifted the dream lens I went gaga for close-ups. Because it's all I've ever really wanted to photograph. Flowers. Thank you. That will be enough.
Here is a close up word detail about the way I've most had trouble assimilating to a so-called new normal. I really couldn't deal with the absence of ongoing tra-la-la visits to the greenhouse and nursery visits. While winnowing my photo files I started crying one night in an authentically brokenhearted way. I'd noticed how many of my spring and early summer photos through the years held spotlighted and peripheral evidence of ongoing visits to a nursery or the farmer's market perennial lady. It was the no-more-doing-of-this thing that felt most unnatural to me. At least once I'd gone through my cycles in earlier spring of getting so wigged-out and emotionally raw without a background of casual drop-in/run-into-each-other level of of socialization I hadn't realized was so central my to sense of inner stability and balance.
this went on for awhile. I had only J to talk to about it and he'd look around at all the seedlings and fail to appreciate my emotional turmoil until it manifested in random cry-fests over unrelated things. He kept telling me this was about that and I should re-institute parts of an order I cancelled when he was first laid off. There were ... tiffs of an ultimately pointless nature related to my reluctance to resurrect the order once he found the right fit of a new design gig. Who knows what tomorrow holds, right? So I made a deal with myself I'd wait for the annual live plant sale at Select Seeds at the end of May and then see.
They had the sale early this year no doubt to stimulate sales among hesitant shoppers. I browsed the sale items listing at 2 in the morning back in very early May. Among several other things I chose two different fuchsias. They're planted in the same pot and I recently put them on a table rather than leaving them to bloom on the deck's floor. This will give the hummingbirds clear visibility of the flowers. It also offers the treasured little birds more protection from Mama.
Such concerns are front and center over last group of days because the wrens who were born under the lid-cap of our propane tank have fledged. They're loud and extremely quick to learn. J's had a front row seat to every step and flutter of their progress since he's working from home and has a window-view desk right in line with their ventures back and forth from the tank.
It's really the perfect place from a wren's point of view. Sometime I'll do a post about that specifically. But for now just imagine that everything I write here is accompanied by wren song and/or scolding. Imagine it's what we hear at the volume all teenagers play music riding in a car. This goes on from the time the babies wake until they go to sleep. In between they explore their song range and figure out how the various hooks and riffs fit together. This morning I did my morning yoga practice's beginning standing meditation with the sun shining right in my eyes at first. On the peak of the mudroom's roof one of the wren children stood backlit by the sun. This allowed me to see how nearly all of its pinfeathers are gone or reduced to fluffy bits that will most likely be gone by noontime.
The bird sang with great conviction. I can't say it was joyous like our pair of lovebird cardinals. It wasn't loopy or strutting its stuff like the catbirds. It was a song of all the truths this tiny magical bird knew. A song to be sung in a voice that has learned its primary powers of wing and song. I listened and watched the bird sing.
Eventually, with the tiny new wren still singing, I got on with my practice and was all the way to its ending point of corpse poste meditation before I realized the bird wasn't singing anymore. It's kind of like the 7 roosters who live next door. Yeah you heard me right. Going full tilt from 4 a.m. until the hens are in every evening. We don't even hear them anymore, no lie. They have to get super piercing to break the caul of normal decibel acceptance range.
The other day J was in a meeting and I heard him explaining yes, there are multiple roosters and they are very loud but we don't hear them anymore. He had to shut the doors to the rest of the house and the outside world so his meeting could continue effectively.
Now there are also wrens. And not just on our deck and all around the roof and foundation plantings of the house. They are everywhere throughout the propery this year as I've said before. And I keep thinking about them in relation to Celtic legend. How there was a contest to see which bird would be king. The birds would fly as close to the sun as they could. and Wren figured out how to win by tucking into Eagle's feathered ruff until they were quite close to the sun. then Wren emerged and flew free fast to be crowned King. Wren flew directly into the sun's corona before dodging free again. so Wren was quick enough to escape death but the spots on this bird's tail and wings are said to have originated from this particular escapade.
After we lived at the old place for a few years a decaying local nursery business was restored. They began restoring the former display gardens by building a pergola to showcase a mantle of yellow trumpet vines. I wished mightily and many times over those years: that I might someday live in a place with this flowering vine in a previously unknown color. I found it exotic then and now I find it omnipresent. There are runners everywhere in the lower portion of the field and throughout the evolving sanctuary.
I so admire Dee's amazing captures of recently dead life. There's a name for that kind of assemblage but I do not recall what it is. And cannot think clearly. There are five or six wrens going full tilt just beyond the windows of this room. A mother is attempting to instruct on some level and multiple other young wrens have shown up to weigh in on the proceedings.
I do not want to become immune to their vocal presence as you kind of have to with the roosters. I've already posted about how much I delight in bearing witness to the wren fledglings' learning curve and individuation process.
This is a seasonal leafy cave created by the original landscape design's placement of the vine. I put the angel there the day of Vindman's testimony. I was afraid he was going to be assassinated. Thought the angel's style and coloration looked out of place but at the same time she seemed to be where she belonged. This is only the second time I've gone into the leaf enclosed space. The first time I left a certain flower offering for an immeasurably pivotal friend in the throes of active death. And now, also yesterday when I checked to see if there were any remains now that he was gone.
I found no trace. and took it as a message. I'll be doing that for awhile.
Out in the field the Autumn Clematis vine has found its footing after languishing during the drought as well as before. This lovely flowering plant's hardiness asserted itself in the wake of something (the big hare-like rabbit I assume) eating it down to practically nothing not once but twice. Then J nailed one of the left behind lattice forms and I doused liberally with emerald elixir and pear essence. We have watered from time to time as well when ordinarily we would not.
Basket flower with buds. I think this is one of the most seductive flowers especially for a bee. Bumbles are particularly fond if her. Am used to thinking of her from a pollinator's perspective but this year I've also begun to look at the fully opened illuminated crown aspects. They are so obvious to me now but it took almost two decades to look up, as it were, from the fascinating world of how various local pollinators interact with this flower Unclear why it took so long. Mind too stuck on the flower canon and thus Lotus being the open crown blossom of choice. Basket Flowers attract all manner of pollinators especially hummingbirds and butterflies. This particular bloom is about 5 inches in diameter.
Yesterday afternoon J and I went to retrieve the winged cat guardian tribute to Celeste. On the way home we stopped at our friend's farm. He lives on the banks of the river I share in an ongoing way. Said this has been quite a drought season so yield is both lower and delayed. Has been irrigating constantly from the river. I noticed the chickens have a new enclosure and the fields have been rotated in really creative ways. Loved that their garlic was cured still on the stalk. I got so much in anticipation of the tomato influx in the near future.
Mark grows wonderful corn. That's how we got to know him at first. He and J have music in common but now he says everything they knew as standard socialization fare has fallen apart due to the pandemic. It seemed logical and yet still a very shocking moment - the three of us standing in the sun joined in contemplation of what that meant at a personal level. I'll go back for more garlic the next time I do errands in that direction. I've ordered ahead for the fall and we'll get the unturned plots amended with rotted manure but until then I'm grateful to have a local organic source for this essential plant ally.
Leafing through this book a few times a day - stopping to spot read here and there. It is AMAZING. Have decided to set-up a pairing blog for books that are closely related and enhance each other in a useful or balancing way.
Will be pairing this one with Farming While Black.
Took her directly to the field when we got back from our excursion. Yes. She belongs. Later in the afternoon J drove out to the Valley to get take out from our 'special' Indian restaurant where we've been going for years in celebration of holidays and family dates of importance. Our anniversary is the day before T's birthday. So we've always gone to have this meal together on either the 10th or the 11th of March. This year our special dates were eclipsed by Charlie closing things other than restaurants that made all three of us reconsider how comfortable we were doing takeout. And we couldn't decide. None of us knew.
So last night we celebrated T's 35th birthday and our 36th wedding anniversary. I additionally count as part of the anniversary our previous 5 years living in Boston. We arrived in town on the 10th. When we decided to marry J suggested we do it on that anniversary date. So we are just 9 years away now from a full half century of time together. We could not have conceived of what retrospect might show us about ourselves as we have always been.
The restaurant has a slimmed-down menu to accommodate the times. There was also a sticky note to ask if you had kitchen favorites not on the new menu. They prepared Pudina Ajwain for me and I was very grateful because I love that bread so much. Am eating the leftovers of my meal as I type. The meal here at home was festively low key and a beautiful part of the day's overall vibe and how easily it seemed to be absorbed into my family's etheric skin.
I noticed beyond our collective good humor that we were not as physically distanced. four or three feet rather that six. T is into month four of his treatments. It is indeed unpleasant for him as the doctor described it would be. His own description ahead of the fact as "highly annoying" is still his way to describe what's going on for him no matter how obviously he's suffering quite a bit on any given day.
I am amazed at his strength and pragmatism. J has previously shared that T says he learned how to warrior-through from me. I was surprised. Yesterday he said it to me directly. And I was so grateful that the thing I most thought might cause him to flunk me as being a genuinely good mother turned out to be something he can re-invent in line with his own necessity.
Today I'm collecting Blue Vervain flower heads to make a tincture. Over the past week I've started two half pint jars of Monarda fistulosa flower tincture. I've also made a quart and a little extra of a heal-all oil containing dandelion, calendula, prunella, and red clover flowers - all picked here at home and dried earlier in the season. It also contains comfrey, lemon balm, plantain and violet leaves all picked fresh yesterday. Preparing the herbs and layering them for the warm oil infusion was an extremely satisfying experience. Am giving it a few days for sediment to settle and then I'll turn a large portion of it into winter-skin cream. We've been using some iteration of this recipe all the time this year due to the hand sanitizer drying our hand's skin so much. Especially our palms and fingers.