Of flowers and light

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” ~Theodore Roethke

As earth spirals towards the summer solstice, each day begins earlier and seems filled with more light. The growing crescendo of flowers opening in the garden somehow capture and reflect that light even more.

Allium 'Everest' against beauty bush

Each day brings new change as buds become flowers . . .

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and garden scenes shift their colors as new blooms open and others begin to fade.

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When I first began to study photography, I was deeply influenced by a line from the book The Art of Seeing – “Only light, not things, strike the retina.”  The objects we think we see are in reality spectrums of light reflected back to us. That realization changed the way I saw the world and the way that I tried to capture it with my camera. In the garden, light is everything. Plants respond to it, live by it, reach for it, and reflect it.

What we see as color is actually the reflection of a particular wavelength of light. Happily, color in nature is never just one shade or tone, but instead a complex reflection that challenges and seduces our eyes with both boldness and nuance.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The garden unfolds in the growing light, rich and full of promise, and extends an invitation to step over the threshold and wander the paths.

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher. ~William Wordsworth

hrbMayvert

Enjoy the loveliness of May and may you treasure the light that grows each day.

“I knew, of course, that trees and plants had roots, stems, bark, branches and foliage that reached up toward the light. But I was coming to realize that the real magician was light itself.” ~Edward Steichen, photographer

Composing about light: The Four Elements: Light

The Light Returns

Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. ~Terri Guillemets

solsticesunsetgateThe winter solstice has arrived – every day from now on will be a little longer and a little brighter as the light returns. It is no wonder that we turn to celebrations of light at this time of year in the northern hemisphere with candles, yule logs, and lights on our Christmas trees.treelights

Mother Nature celebrated the earth’s return towards the light in her own way. The early sunset of the winter solstice lit up the sky with colors ranging from tints of pink, yellow, and blue to fiery corals and golds blazing into the deepening night. It seemed fitting that the shortest day of the year provided the loveliest light. May your days be merry and bright in this season and the next.

The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Terri Guillemets

You can find some of my winter and Christmas music in the Christmas tab at the top of the page – happy solstice and Merry Christmas, everyone!

I’m Not Ready

It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready. ~Sarah Kay (American poet)

earlyduskWPI’m not ready. I’m not ready for Christmas, I’m not ready for winter, I’m not ready to wake each morning into the dark and cold world of late December. This morning, I awoke to snow and bitter temperatures under a dark gray sky and murmured to Angel “I’m not ready.” She sighed a doggy sigh and snuggled closer, ready to dream some more and pulling me in her wake.

MusicTreeDetailIt is no wonder that Christmas and many other traditions celebrate this time of the year with lights. In the northern hemisphere, the light of dawn comes late and the fading light of dusk comes early. With so few daylight hours and so many of them gray and dark, the bold and hopeful lighting of many lights is necessary to the human spirit and a reminder that the days will soon grow longer.

 

This year, our unusually mild weather icybranchesWPhas allowed me to work in the garden deep into what is usually a cold snowy month. I’ve accomplished garden chores that often get delayed until spring – the leaves gathered and shredded, the trees and shrubs pruned, the summer soil from the pots emptied into the woodland’s edge for building new beds. I’ve already planned next year’s garden – the seeds to start, the plants to order, the perennials to propagate. In fact, it is focusing on next year’s garden that has softened the sting of the coming of winter.

frostyspruceWPThe effects of El Niño are predicted to extend our weather into a long mild winter here in the mid-Atlantic states. It may be global warming, it may be a temporary weather pattern, but whatever it is, I admit that I will welcome a mild winter after the severe weather conditions that have prevailed for the past few years.

I’m cutting branches of pine and holly to decorate the house, I’ve strung many lights on the tree, and I’m planning the Christmas feast for our family, but in my heart, it is all about garden dreams – the return of nature’s light and warmth and new growth. Winter is about endurance of the cold and dark, spring is about the renewal of life. Today, I dream of sugarplums and spring flowers. Here’s to the return of light to the world and to your life- may you be ready for whatever comes.

christmaslightWP

December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory… ~John Geddes

Primavera

Primavera, the Italian word for springtime, is also the name of Botticelli’s famous painting. I was privileged to see the original in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and stood before it for hours, entranced by its beauty. There are over 500 identified plant species depicted in the painting, including 190 different flowers.Botticelli Primavera

Flora Primavera

Detail of Flora

As I write this, the earth shifts into the vernal equinox, the time when there is an equal number of hours of light and dark all over the earth, and the official start of spring for the northern hemisphere. I’ve been dreaming of light in dark places lately, even of singing of light in those places. Without light, we cannot see color and it is color that is promised by the arrival of spring.  As in Botticelli’s depiction of Flora scattering flowers on the earth, the vernal equinox signals a shift in the turning of the earth to more light and new growth.  Happy springtime!

Images of Primavera courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Four Elements: Light

What is to give light must endure burning. ~ Victor Frankl

Light in CloudsAt last, I have finally completed the music and video of “Light,” the second piece of The Four Elements. As I did with “Breath” I am offering a free mp3 download of “Light” for the first week of release, which you can find on my Facebook Music Page or at CD Baby.  (After midnight EST, Sunday, August 26, it will revert back to a $.99 download.)

Since I’ve previously written about the creation of this piece in Fire and Light: When the Idea is Too Big and At the Speed of Light, today I simply present the video, the lyrics, and a few acknowledgements. Enjoy!

A special thanks goes as always to my creative partner and husband, Bill Purse, who not only engineered and produced the audio recording, but also played bass and sang. Another thanks to two of my former students, Mike Elliott and Rob Balotsky, who played electronic percussion for the piece, no mean feat considering the odd time signatures and shifting rhythms. A final thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope Program and NASA video sources for such inspiring images of our world and our universe.

Lyrics to “Light”   ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse

Light, Light
Solar plexus, solar flare
Fire burning through the air becomes
Light through the leaves, Light through the clouds

The edge of dawn, the hem of night
chasing shadows in the race to light.
Light, Light.

Gathered on the waters, reflected by the moon.
Even once removed, its power streams into the night, light.
Light, Light.

Lux aeterna, Lux aeterna, Lux, Lux