About composerinthegarden

A composer by vocation, a gardener by avocation. My garden and my life as a composer are deeply intertwined - the yin and yang of my creative life. . .

New beginnings

Celebrate endings—for they precede new beginnings. ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

This week, and the last few months, have been about endings and beginnings. I am nearing the end of the mixing and mastering of my Watershed CD , a three year effort. We hope to send it for duplication in a week, thanks to the engineering wizardry of my husband/sound engineer Bill. We spent the last half of the spring semester teaching from home because of COVID restrictions and realized how much we liked being home all of the time. I spent hours at the piano, sketching new ideas while looking into the green woods.

piano

Angel was delighted to have us home 24/7; we snuggle a lot on the sofa.

The garden got some extra attention too – early summer was beautiful, in spite of  the late hard frosts.

Heat and drought were hard on the garden in June and July; although some plants bloomed, the flowers were short lived. It rained last night, with loud thunderstorms and heavy downpours – this morning the trees and plants are green and glowing and the garden looks lush again. gardenafterrain

We liked being at home so much these past several months that when the chance came to retire earlier than expected, we both took it.  Bill and I are now officially retired from our teaching jobs of 30+ years. We have been celebrating with cake, cake

with wine,

pianowine

and with mornings on the deck complete with guitar music. billgtr copy

All the things I love the most are here – the sound of the wind in the trees, the dance of a hummingbird at the flowers, the ebb and flow of the seasons, my piano, a house full of books and of course my husband and Angel. I am leaving a large part of my life behind with no regrets – it was a good ending – and now I am ready to begin the third act. I am still a composer, a gardener, a writer, a photographer – but now I have time to reflect, to explore, and to be more present on this page.

The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. ~ Steve Jobs

whiteoak

I hope that you are all well in these most difficult times and that you are able to stay safe, full of hope and surrounded by love.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

So loud and clear

Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

Spring has suddenly unfolded herself, transforming from a few bright flowers lost in a brown sea of last year’s leaves to a rich tapestry of green punctuated by full bouquets.colorfulhillside

Green leaves of every size and shape have sprung up, fresh and new.

New flowers open every day, making the morning stroll through the garden a journey of discovery.

gardenarch

The earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

springgl

After a long winter of dreary days and muted colors, the textures and forms of spring make me feel as if I’ve stepped into the land of Oz, from a black and white world into a land of vibrant color.

Near a birdbath set into the ground,greenbirdbath

I found a tiny bird nest – it may have blown out of a tree during yesterday’s wild winds. tinynest

On May 1, two of my compositions will be featured on our university’s weekly A Little Friday Night Music concert series on YouTube. If you are free on Friday, May 1 at 7:30 P.M. (eastern daylight time), please tune in and enjoy the concert performance of selections from Watershed and Arcadian Tone Poems, both pieces inspired by my love of nature. I will be there in the live chat to answer questions and comments during the concert. The video will remain on YouTube thereafter, so you can tune in anytime.

May you enjoy the sights and sounds of spring, wherever you find yourself. Stay safe, stay well, stay strong.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

In a quiet time

There are few machine noises these days, just the occasional car in the distance or neighbors working in their yards. The bird song has been astounding, as if they can now hear each other clearly and are no longer struggling to communicate through a wall of manmade sound.

The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear. ~Rumi

I was weeding near the ‘Snow Fountains’ Japanese cherry tree yesterday when I heard a loud buzzing sound. It was the first bumblebees of the season as they dove through the branches and nuzzled blossom after blossom.

“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
~ Kobayashi Issa

I love the quiet moments in my garden. Did you know that scientists have discovered that as we isolate and stop our frenzied pace, the earth itself has become quieter?

waterbowl

Spring holds hope for a new beginning and this year is no different, but perhaps it is more important and more longed for in these strange times. The sun shining through blossoms of the spicebushspicebushbranch

and the light on the footpath lightonpath

seem to promise renewal and fresh beginnings at a deeper level – I hope so.

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. ~Rilke

The daffodils and Virginia bluebells are opening . . .

along with late blooming double hellebore ‘Rose Quartz’. hellebore1

Life is uncertain yet we can still be kind, still be thoughtful, still be loving. Each step in the garden reminds me that Mother Earth and her creatures are flourishing even as our human world is turned upside down. My greatest hope is that we will find a way to live in harmony with each other and with the earth. Many people are in desperate need now – I encourage you to do what you can in your own way to help, whether it is to call a friend or contribute to your local food bank. If you are in need, please reach out to others for help – we are all in this together.

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring. ~ Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Thank you for walking with me in the garden. I wish each of you gentle silence and peace of heart.

Listen to silence. It has so much to say. ~Rumi

All photographs and text ©2020 Lynn Emberg Purse, except where noted.

 

Serenity in the garden

We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. ~Sri S. Satchidananda

The garden is waking up and I am a frequent visitor. When I cannot bear another word or warning of the world’s calamities, I step outside. A month ago, the world was white with snow. FebSnowgate

Then the March winds came and turned the sky blue. marchskies

The robins and a pair of mourning doves are regular visitors to the birdbath and their songs ring out in a quiet world that has begun to bloom. The snowdrops appeared first, tiny clusters of white that nodded in the early spring sun and shrugged off the snow. The Tommy crocus (Crocus tommisinianus) appeared soon after, to the delight of a few early insects.

Now the hellebores are stealing the show. Some are named varieties with strong colors and sometimes doubled in form. (click any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image)

Others are chance seedlings of a few plants gifted to me by a friend many years ago. They seem to have crossed with the fancy ones and made some pretty color combinations.  A few even lift their faces up to the spring sun.

Forsythia and Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry) are bearing their cheery yellow flowers while a few daffodils come into bloom.

I leave behind worry each time I step into the garden and embrace the serenity that I find there. May you find inspiration in the beauty around you and dream beautiful dreams.

My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. ~Abram L. Urban

All photos and text ©2020 Lynn Emberg Purse, except where noted

Building structure

Physically, gardens must have boundaries. Mentally, they can reach to the limits of the known universe. ~Tom Turner

The first significant snowfall of the season brought out the beauty of the garden and its bones, its structure. Devoid of color, the 4″ of fresh white snow highlighted the shapes of fences and arbors, benches and shrubs, the lines of tree limbs and last year’s grasses.

You mustn’t rely on your flowers to make your garden attractive. A good bone structure must come first . .  no matter what time of year. Flowers are an added delight, but a good garden is the garden you enjoy looking at even in the depths of winter. ~Margery Fish

The patterns of paths and plantings were a mere suggestion where the snow fell most heavily. circlegarden

The weeping cherry tree marks the center of the garden of circles. cherrycircle

Even as I begin to plan this year’s garden and plant the seeds of flowers, the structure of the garden speaks quietly to me in the depths of winter – “build . . . build . . . you will not regret it.”

A garden is half-made when it is well planned. The best gardener is the one who does the most gardening by the winter fire. ~Liberty Hyde Bailey

This coming spring will mark 19 years of making this garden, but for the past few years, I have struggled with  natural disasters that have rearranged the garden structure as well as struggling with mobility issues of my own. We had our our small upper deck rebuilt last March – we knew it needed repairs but the builders discovered that it was built improperly and rotting within. The rebuild was perfectly executed and we were able to add an attractive cedar ceiling on the underside of the deck, an unexpected bonus.

In July, lightening struck a massive white oak near the house, damaging it beyond saving and wreaking havoc on the electrical systems of the house. It took months to repair everything and the dying tree was removed in October. (Angel inspects the oak tree in happier times)angelsnowtreeThis month, we enclosed the space where the oak had stood and extended the tall fencing almost to our property boundaries, adding privacy around our patio and a safe entrance from the house into the enclosed woods for Angel. Later this summer we will add another arbor to mark the entrance gate like this one on the other side of the house.

Snowy arbor

My own physical structure has required some rebuilding as well. Arthritis and bursitis has kept me out of the garden for the past two years and at times I wondered if I would ever really garden again. Fortunately, physical therapy and multiple lifestyle changes have restored a great deal of my mobility over the past few months. I realize now that the garden and I have moved through de-struction and re-building together, partners of a sort. It has been a challenging journey for us both but one with lasting rewards . . . and just in time for spring.

All gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Robert Dash