Like the First Morning

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. ~ Thoreau

sunnyhillsideWPEach morning this week began with a walk through an ever-changing garden. Spring is building up to an astonishing crescendo of color and texture and growth, all laid against a ground of fresh green. The early dawn chorus of birdsong masks the ordinary noises of  the world – robins, bluejays, cardinals, and red-tailed hawks zoom through the woods as they raise new families, argue over territory, and search for food. As I wander through the garden every day, the same song comes to mind. “Morning has broken like the first morning; blackbird has spoken like the first word.” Yes, each morning this week feels like the first morning, fresh, new, full of life.

On one particular morning, the garden sparkled in the morning sun from the previous night’s rain, and as I walked through the wet grass, more lyrics came to mind. “Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven, like the first dewfall on the first grass.”

grassbladesWP

Tulips are the rising stars. One of my favorites is ‘Shirley’, white with feathered purple edges and a stunning center of blue. White daffodils and wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) are fitting companions to its beauty. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger version)

Lilac ‘Beauty of Moscow’ is adding its sweet scented blooms to the mix as it cascades over the fence, while in the woodland, the trees and shrubs are still leafing out and shade loving peonies bloom quietly amid the emerging ferns and hostas.

Each day feels like a miracle, a new chance for new growth and life. I wish you all a beautiful morning walk in your daily life. “Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden . . .”

Here is the 1971 version of Morning has Broken that I hear in my head as I walk through the garden (original text by Eleanor Farjeon, 1931, set to a Scottish hymn tune).

The Year’s Last, Loveliest Smile

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
~WIlliam Cullen Bryant

muddy shoeAutumn is officially here in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ve been busy lately filming nature’s habitats for my A Year in Penn’s Woods project. On this past solstice weekend, I filmed scenes at a lake in the county park near our home. This lake was dredged and restored a year ago and is again filled with a rich diversity of plants and wildlife. Summertime was over, but the fish were still jumpin’ in the lake. Geese, ducks, and a beautiful blue heron graced the water. Yes, I lost a shoe to the mudflats that evening, having ventured too close to the water to find the right spot for filming. The water saturated mud sucked the tightly laced shoe right off of my foot and soaked through the other one; it seemed more important at the time to save the photography equipment rather than the hapless shoe. Undeterred, I continued filming in muddy socks on firmer ground. Lesson learned for future ventures.

Autumn solstice moon

The night of the solstice was magical; a moon slightly past full held court in the heavens wreathed by feathery garlands of clouds. The night was warm; the thrum and buzz of cicada and frog song created the illusion of a summer night instead of the advent of the autumn solstice. As the frog and insect chorus died away, the late evening concert was completed by the soft hoot of an owl in the woods. Although I am still editing the video footage I captured, I grabbed some still shots out of the video to share.  Enjoy!

All photos © 2013 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Let the Rain Kiss You

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~ Langston Hughes, American poet

small hostaThe garden glistened this morning with a thousand silver liquid drops of rain, lingering from yesterday’s storms. I’ve been absent of late, preoccupied with finishing a large music piece due in July and with testing and refining my video techniques for the Penn’s Woods project.

This morning, I gave myself a ramble about the garden to capture the sudden wealth of beautiful scenes of raindrops on leaf and bloom.  I have been trying to develop a cinematic approach in capturing video, using selective focus (depth of field) and composing images using a spiral Fibonacci curve. Today, I challenged myself to shoot still photos the same way, using one lens (60 mm macro) and publishing only those photos that needed no cropping and minimal technical prep. Here are a few images of the garden in a magical moment and hopefully a reflection of my current goals in capturing images. Click on any photo to trigger the gallery view. Enjoy!  (All photos ©2013 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

Kiss me with rain in your eyelashes,
come on, let us sway together,
under the trees, and to hell with thunder.
~Edwin Morgan, Scottish poet

Evensong

Evensong ~ 1. a daily service in the Anglican church, also called evening prayer; 2. a song sung in the evening

Iris reticulata 'Harmony'

Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

This Easter Saturday, I spent most of the day in the garden. Early that morning, the bird chorus was joyous and noisy. The first day of true spring weather arrived with warmer temperatures and cloudless blue skies and the birds were celebrating.  It was the time for garden cleanup, pruning shrubs, raking leaves from the garden beds, and a general assessment of the state of the garden and its possibilities for the coming season. I grabbed the camera to record the few flowers in bloom – hellebores, crocus, Iris reticulata, and intense blue of a lonely Scilla siberica. The sun shifted through the sky throughout the day, guilding the garden with luminous golden light. I constantly refilled my water bottle and labored throughout the day interspersed with plenty of rest sessions, usually on a stone step facing south, absorbing the full face of the early spring sun.

Hellebore

As I finished my work for the day and strolled through a garden now ready for the season, I became aware of how different the garden sounded in the early evening. The raucous morning chorus had mellowed into the last songs of the fat robins sorting through the garden beds for an evening worm snack and the chirps of a chickadee who was exploring the beauty bush for a possible nest site. Their songs were separated by moments of quiet; a golden glow had descended and the song of evening matched it, relaxed and reflective.

snowdropsEvery culture and religion has a set of songs that matches the time of day.  Matins, vespers, compline, all music for a time of day. Indian musical culture has scales and songs, ragas, that are only to be used for specific times of days. I found myself wondering, as I wandered through the evening garden, if this tradition arose from gardeners, or at the least, those paying attention to nature, to the  rhythm and song of the natural world.  How different is morning song from evening song! One greets the day with joy and then later celebrates the work of the day and its attendant rest with song punctuated by moments of silence. Here is a lovely video of evening bird song in Vancouver that I discovered online that most closely resembles the sound of my garden last evening. 

Rose hellebore

Although I can capture a few blooms, I cannot possibly capture the feel of this day with my camera.  The slanting gold of evening skies, the winter sun shining on a few bold blooms, an ephemeral butterfly moving so quickly that I cannot capture it, all are etched in my mind’s eye. The camera might capture nothing more than the brown and gray landscape of an early spring garden but there was so much more, a garden of possibilities. The light shifting through the bare woods. Nascent buds swelling on shrubs and trees. The fresh smell of soil awakened from the frozen grip of winter. This day now only resides in my memory of a perfect span of time spent in the company of birds, sunlight, and the spirit of the garden. Spring has arrived quietly and nestled in my gardener’s heart. It may snow tomorrow or the next day, but for me, spring has come on an evening song and I treasure the moment.

What the Storm Brought

  • mounds of snow
  • playtime with Angel Eyes
  • breathtaking winter scenes
  • warmer weather and a thaw
  • the last snow storm of the year?

I woke up to a winter wonderland in March, every twig and bough coated with snow. By this afternoon, most of the six inches of snow was melting away. Ephemeral beauty; a black and white world in color.