Green things growing

O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
       ~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (English poet)

greengarden

Profuse rain and warm sunny days have turned the world green. Plants grew a foot overnight and the tender veil of new leaves in the spring woods was suddenly transformed into a verdant velvet curtain. O the green things growing indeed.

herbcircletrees

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration . . . ~D. H. Lawrence

In a few weeks, flowers will fill the garden beds but for now, they are lush islands of leaves with a few sparks of floral color. Not all of the foliage is green though – deep reds, bright golds and warm bronzes have come into full leaf as well.

There are a few bright spots of contrasting colors as spring flowers give way to the early summer blooms of alliums and flowering shrubs. (Click on any photo to see a larger image)

Some of the perennials have begun to bloom, bridging the floral gap between spring and summer.

In a few days, the garden will change again as the roses and peonies and foxglove add their drama to the scene, but for now I will treasure the blessing of green things growing.

All photos and text ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse (except where noted)

Tipping Point

Tipping point – the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place ~Merriam-Webster 

For the past few weeks, spring bulbs have been blooming at my feet, adding shots of welcome color to a skeletal world of bare branches and empty earth. Each day brought something new into flower.

The past few days, after warm and rainy weather, the world looks if an artist had spilled an entire palette of colors into the landscape. The skeletons of bark and branch are suddenly clothed in spring finery and the once bare earth is filled with plants rising up to meet the new canopy overhead.

The kousa dogwood reveals its delicate young leaves against the woods around it. dogwoodleaves

Vibrant new oak leaves are festooned with tassels of Victorian flowers whose pollen sifts to the ground, layering everything with a fine gold dust. oakflowers

The shrubs are fully flushed out with lush green foliage and some, like this Viburnum plicatum ‘Summer Snowflake’ are beginning to flower. woodlandedgeWP

 

A lady bug emerges into the cool morning air from the rough leaf of a Chinese viburnum, where she sheltered during the night.ladybugleaf

Each morning when I step outside, my eyes are dazzled by the richness of the garden, herbbedsMay

the light sifting through leaf northwalkWP

and flower. bellacoolaWP

Scenes that were flat and dull are now filled with shadow and light, herbcornerWP

shape and color. bleedingheartWP

I am too restless to stay indoors; I trace my path through the garden again and again to greet each new face, marvel at each new sign of life.  cherrytreearchWP

As the light fades in the evening, I stand on the deck for one last drink of color.  glMay

Early spring has tipped deliriously into May and each new day promises more change, more surprise, more beauty. Wherever you find yourself, may your days be spent in the beauty of nature awakening.  lowergrdnMayWP

Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire. ~Virgil

 

Earth Day, Watershed Edition

I remember the first Earth Day as a teenager – I loved the idea then and all of these years later, it still seems a special day to celebrate. As I grow with my garden, I realize that creating a healthy place for all flora and fauna to flourish is my first ideal and goal. Lately, my time has been caught up in finishing the school semester, guiding my ensemble through its spring concert and tending my garden. Bill, my husband and creative partner, has been editing and mixing the studio recording of Watershed for cello and orchestra that was premiered in late February. The CD containing the piece will be released in late fall on Three Oranges Recordings but we are far enough in the mixing process to share a few of the highlights here in this montage, thanks to Bill’s talents and generosity. (see an earlier Watershed post here).

Adam Liu, the cellist for whom the piece was written, turned in a stunning and passionate performance and our Duquesne University Orchestra, inspired by masterful conductor Daniel Meyer, was at their best. How lucky can a composer be when the artists that bring a piece to life give their creative all? Adam began his musical career playing the erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument, and suggested that he play the second movement, Sunrise on Still Water, on the erhu rather than the cello. I agreed and I love the sound – it shimmers with unearthly beauty. I hope you enjoy this short montage of highlights from the 20 minute piece.

Spring is tentatively here, with mild days alternating with snowy winter days. The weeping cherry tree is in full bloom, but ironically its cultivar name ‘Snow Fountain’ became a reality when an overnight storm coated the blossoms with white snow.

The daffodils are coming into season, even as the early small bulbs continue to bloom.

The hellebores have shrugged off the snow and cold and continue to bloom in soft pastel shades.

Wherever you are, I hope spring is coming your way and your world is filled with color and beauty. And may every day become “earth day” in our hearts and minds.

Fits and starts

“fits and starts” – with irregular movement; with much stopping and starting” ~ The Free Dictionary

Spring is dancing with one step forward and two steps back, a tango of fits and starts. T-shirt and sandals one week, winter coat and boots the next.  The week before our spring break from school, the days were mild and I hoped to spend the break in the garden.

It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before…
There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare, ~William Wordsworth

 

Alas, my week in the garden was short circuited by cold rainy days and a few snowstorms, yet the flowers bloomed on.

 

Once school restarted, the weather warmed up again but only on the week days! Soon another winter storm came roaring through and left 6” of snow over the garden, captured in the video below.

While I was dismayed by the weather, Angel and our guest poodle Charlie Brown had a grand time playing in the snow, making me laugh at their antics.

 

The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart.  ~Chekhov

On this last day of March, the sun is shining and the air is warming; it is a good day to work in the garden. The snow has finally melted away into the ground, fixing nitrogen into the soil and promising a wonderful garden season to come. Each day, something new blooms or shows promise of growth. The Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry) is a mass of tiny yellow blossoms and small yellow daffodils are coming into flower.

 

As we move into April, I look forward to seeing the garden come alive. Wherever you are, I hope you treasure and enjoy the beginning of spring as the earth comes to life.

In March, winter is holding back and spring is pulling forward. Something holds and something pulls inside of us too. ~Jean Hersey

All photos and text (except where noted) ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

Watershed

Water is the driving force in nature. ~Leonardo da Vinci

I have been elsewhere these past few months. If you spoke to me, I only heard part of what you were saying. If music played other than what I was composing, I did not hear it. I vaguely remember the holidays but they intruded upon my inner world and I merely went through the motions, eager to return to the world of water.  Deep within the mystery of watersheds, I often forgot appointments or rescheduled them in order to pursue the trail of liquid sound. One morning, I awoke with musical figures and phrases running through my head and felt as if I had somehow been transformed into water itself. waterdrop

Last month I submitted the score and parts for Watershed, a concerto for cello and orchestra, and attended rehearsals last week. The premiere, featuring cellist Adam Liu and the Duquesne University Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Daniel Meyer, takes place in little more than a week, to be followed by recording sessions. Although I am now more present to the daily life of the world, the music of Watershed continues to play through my head day and night.

Walking through the misty woods this morning with Angel, each step was in rhythm with the flow of water. (Click on any photo to see a full-size photo. All photos ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

The song of the river ends not at her banks but in the hearts of those who have loved her. ~Buffalo Joe

The inspiration for Watershed is the abundance of water where I live, in the midst of the Pine Creek watershed. The headwaters of the creek begin in the northernmost corner of our county and flow south towards the Allegheny River and then on to the Ohio River. In its travels, the creek becomes a lovely quiet lake in our county park before flowing over the dam and continuing on its way. Many of our local roads in the Pittsburgh area follow the creeks and streams that feed our watershed; driving south on Rt. 8 traces the path of Pine Creek and the many smaller waterways that join it. Local waterfalls feed it and eventually Pine Creek takes a wide meander, a large curving loop, at the Shaler Plaza, and then continues on to join the Allegheny River. Each of the four movements tries to speak in the voice of the creek in its journeys from headwaters to the confluence of rivers.

. . . I feel like the Queen of Water. I feel like water that transforms from a flowing river to a tranquil lake to a powerful waterfall to a freshwater spring to a meandering creek to a salty sea to raindrops gentle on your face to hard, stinging hail to frost on a mountaintop, and back to a river again. ~Maria Virginia Farinango

watershedsignMonths of research have left me with a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for the flow of water through the land.  The idea of the watershed, water flowing to its lowest point to eventually flow to the sea and return as rain, began to heighten my awareness of all things water. I was introduced to the concept of the river continuum by friend and colleague Brady Porter. I discovered that the signs that mark our local creeks and watersheds were put there partly through the efforts of an environmental scientist whose daughter is a cellist and a former student of Adam Liu, the artist for whom Watershed was composed. I discovered that the lake that I love (featured in this video), when drained and dredged in a restoration project a few years ago, revealed the deep trough of Pine Creek running at its bottom, unseen yet present, a hidden current. Everywhere I drive or park my car, I see the ever present Pine Creek, now a beloved companion on my travels. In fact, it is so ubiquitous, it is rarely noticed by those who see it every day.

pinecreek

Pine Creek below a busy road

Water is the most perfect traveler because when it travels it becomes the path itself! ~Mehmet Murat Ildan

I am not alone in being inspired and transformed by moving waters, by streams, by rivers. Countless poets, authors, philosophers, scientists and naturalists have something to say about it.

A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself. ~Laura Gilpin

The river has taught me to listen; you will learn from it, too. The river knows everything; one can learn everything from it. ~Herman Hesse

I am beginning to understand that the stream the scientists are studying is not just a little creek. It’s a river of energy that moves across regions in great geographic cycles. Here, life and death are only different points on a continuum. ~ Kathleen Dean Moore and Jonathan W. Moore

Look around you – do you see water? Treasure it, listen to it, protect it. If you are so inclined, I hope that you can attend the premiere of Watershed, which I now realize is a love song to moving waterNevertheless, you can discover the voice of the stream or river near you and learn to hear its song.

I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. . . Am I like that? Always me, like the river itself, always flowing but always different, like the water flowing in the river, sometimes walking steadily along andante, sometimes surging over rapids furioso, sometimes meandering with hardly any visible movement tranquilo, lento, ppp pianissimo, sometimes gurgling giacoso with pleasure, sometimes sparkling brillante in the sun, sometimes lacrimoso, sometimes appassionato, sometimes misterioso, sometimes pesante, sometimes legato, sometimes staccato, sometimes sospirando, sometimes vivace, and always, I hope, amoroso. ~Aiden Chambers