the art of doing meditative nature photography

Posts tagged ‘flowers’

A Celebration of National Wildflower Week

May 4th-12 is National Wildflower Week! I would be remiss in my duties as a lover/photographer of wildflowers if I didn’t share some Colorado beauty in celebration. So, a collection of just a few of my favorite wildflower shots from the past few years…:)

One of the most uplifting aspects of spending time in nature is being soaked through your senses in beauty. There’s beauty in the smells of nature, the sounds, the feel of the sun on your skin and the wind through your hair. But come spring and the arrival of wildflowers, the eyes are offered the biggest treats. Splashes of color and grace blanket wild landscapes in lush displays of nature’s grandeur. Delicate, sunny faces smile at us with a cheery “Hello!”

May you all be uplifted by wildflowers this week! Enjoy all that nature offers us to heal, center, and delight us.

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Today I am so grateful that spring is just around the corner…
In two shorts months the pasque flowers will peek above the cold ground, and greet me with the news that the cold winter is ending…


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The Tansy Aster, Nature’s Curly Ribbon

The tansy aster…

Nature’s curly ribbon

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I couldn’t resist! Today’s pics of my favorite flowers as they begin to curl up after blooming. They look like curly ribbon!!!

My favorite flowers are hitting the peak of their blooming season with beauty and whimsy, adding their purple-and-yellow splashes of joy to the rich palette of the Colorado autumn.

Snow arrives here in the foothills of the Rockies tonight.

It’s as if the tansy asters are the ribbons on the gift of the arrival of snow. Heralding an ease to our drought as white sparkling water falls to blanket our mountains for the winter.

Weather our first snow well, little tansy asters!

On Waiting Patiently and Holding Hope: Life lessons from the Fall Equinox

(click on any of my photos or a larger image)

When I wrote last March’s post about the spring equinox, I was working towards something. I had an exuberant anticipation of the blossoming of a new endeavor in my life.

I wrote:

“Tonight (where I live, anyway- it may be early tomorrow where you live!) the earth will be aligned such that the sun crosses the celestial equator. The days will be, momentarily, equal in the length of light and darkness. The time of long nights and short days will phase, barely perceptibly, into the time of longer days and shorter nights. I will celebrate another transition in life, choosing this day to mark what I already see happening- the arrival of spring.

For me, a season of magic begins. Spring has an almost intoxicating pulse of life coursing through it. You can almost feel all of nature around you in a collective deep breath, as the race begins and the time of rest is over, for now. The excitement of renewal, rebirth, and re-invention of all our selves begins.

As a nature photographer, this season marks the start of the great thrill ride for me. One of my greatest joys is documenting new life from first bud to last bloom, observing in one living being the great race of life, all of its hurdles and triumphs, growth spurts and rests, milestones and mishaps.

Tonight I will take this opportunity to reflect on my own life, and ponder what this new spring season brings for me. I am in my own growth spurt right now, with new ideas budding and new aspirations emerging, while simultaneously other aspects of me fall away like the leaves in autumn. I feel as nature does, now. I am in transition. Tonight I will allow myself to feel the pulse of nature, tap into its collective breath, and try to catch some of that intoxicating rush of life-force that drives us forward in time, relentlessly reaching, growing, emerging.

I wish a Happy Spring Equinox to you all, a season of growth to bring to life and full bloom whatever dreams inspire your souls.”

Oh, such enthusiasm!

I had a dream inspiring my soul, and was joyously lost in the flow of transition. Spring was progressing with its intoxicating rush, and I felt on the edge of not just transition, but transformation.

Then as spring morphed dutifully into summer, that glorious season of “blooming” that followed turned out to be a season of chaos. The Waldo Canyon Wildfire happened here in Colorado Springs, and all my grand plans of blossoming something new into existence were thrown into a holding pattern. There was no time or emotional room for big plans, grand dreams, or transitioning, much less transforming. It was all I could do just to hold it together some days. I felt withered, exhausted, and stressed beyond belief.

It wasn’t just me or my fellow humans that withered. I watched all summer as the plants around here struggled, with the drought, with the smoke, with the intense heat. They never quite got their act together. Many lost branches or grew in awkward, stunted ways. Nothing ever looked or felt quite right or normal. Beyond the ugly, sad scars on our once-lovely mountains, everything looked wounded. Even my favorite flowers, that I look forward to seeing all year, seemed a mess as their blooming season approached in September.

The few tansy asters that I found seemed distressed and suffering.

I was sad. I would hike the trails at Garden of the Gods, looking along the places where they normally grow in wild, uninhibited abundance. I searched for their bushy, showy splashes of purple, only to find just a few scraggly stems with small, stunted flowers.

Sigh. It seemed a sad end to a sad summer. This season of “growth” was going to end with a whimper.

But several more weeks went by and a funny thing happened. All of a sudden, there were tansy asters!

Not scraggly twigs with scrawny petals, but rich, full blossoms seeming to smile at me with cheerful purple faces! As I wandered the trails day after day, I found more and more tansy asters beaming at me.

Their presence along the trail edges made me feel like a marathon runner getting high fives from people along the road. Every trail corner I turned, new purple, petal-faced friends cheered me on.

They hadn’t withered, after all. They’d simply waited.

Wow. What a life lesson from Mother Nature. I’ve blogged several times about my life-long struggle with learning patience. Pile this experience on top of all the other lessons like a cherry on a sundae.

You see, I’m squirrelly. A little ADHD, even. Impatient by nature, and a little beat up from a life with a bit more drama than I would have cared for. Patience and hope are two things I have been thoroughly tested on… over, and over, and over. I’m always praying to pass the test and stop repeating this life class.

This summer I, appropriately, slowed down. I put things on hold. I said “O.K.” to the notion of –gasp- waiting for something. I did it, but I didn’t like it. I fought it, struggled against it, and wound up a bit depressed over it.

Life had not conformed to my schedule of blooming. My glorious transition was put on hold. My triumphant transformation temporarily stifled. I felt like a runner who was waiting at the starting line, ready, coiled to spring forward, adrenaline rushing, only to have someone cancel the race. Ugh, how disorienting.

So, being the silly squirrel that I am, I became sad and out of sorts. My bushy-tailed glee waned in to tail-dragging “waiting” (eeew!). I was a little bitter and whiny about this summer, I’ll admit it. And almost a little self-righteous about it. After all, even the plants had given up hope this year. The lesson I saw in them was, “Oh, well. No hope for this year. Pack it in and call it quits till next blooming season.”

Until the tansy asters showed up.

Good grief, they hadn’t given up! They hadn’t whined once about the stress of ash on their leaves or smoke blocking the sunlight they needed to survive. They hunkered down, and waited. Patiently. Wisely. They took their time to regroup, get the nourishment they needed, and bloom- a little late- but bloom nonetheless. With gusto.

I found myself somewhat speechless this past week on the trails. Almost as if the tansy asters were giggling at me. “Silly human. Don’t you know that it’s alright to bloom late? You may not get exactly what you want in this life right out of the gate, but it will come! You may not get as far as you want when you like, but you will get there. You will bloom in your own time.”

And what has happened is something rather remarkable. The thing I thought I was doing last spring, the transition that I thought was happening, turned out to be something else. The delay turned out to be a good thing. A godsend. It was the sacred space that allowed my business partner and I to realize that we needed to pick a different fork in the road that we were travelling. Not stop, per se, just shift lanes and make a course correction that made our idea much, much better.

The struggle we had just endured had focused us. Patience and waiting turned out to be just what we needed. I had no reason to lose hope or lose sight or feel thwarted. I needed to be the easy-going tansy aster with the wisdom to let life unfold naturally, organically.

Fall is not normally my favorite season. It is rather obvious from my March equinox post that I am an enthusiastic fan of spring and summer! I am realizing during this fall equinox that fall is beautiful, too.

While I have always been intoxicated by the glory of twinkling golden aspen leaves in the Colorado fall, I was always nonetheless disappointed by autumn’s arrival.

It meant more waiting. Waiting for growth, waiting for blossoming, waiting with that ghastly patience that I so dread in life.

But this year is different. This year I am going to relish the season of dormancy. The season of rest. I am going to go about the quiet business of taking my business down the new fork in the road. I’ll quietly lay the ground work and be ready to burst forth its new expression of itself in the spring.

This year, I am willing to wait for the thing I want. This year, I am no longer frustrated by these things not coming in to my life fast enough, soon enough, or on my timetable. This year, I am content like the twinkling aspen leaves.

This fall equinox I spent the day with beloved people- my kids and two of my very best friends- up in the Colorado Mountains. I spent the day hiking and laughing, slowing down, and being at ease with the pace of life and the path I am on.

I can’t convey in a simple blog post how deeply this has affected me. And that’s O.K. I know in my roots and my heart that something new has taken hold. A transformation did occur, just not the one I was expecting. I grew. I matured.

I bloomed in to someone who can wait without losing hope.

I learned that some things in life are worth waiting for. That sometimes you have to choose the wrong path in order to arrive inexorably at the better path.

Thanks, tansy asters.

Wishing you all a beautiful fall equinox!


Judgment of Beauty and Life

Be One Who Climbs Above the Ordinary Dirt and Discovers Wonder and Beauty

Be one

Who climbs above the ordinary dirt

 And discovers wonder and beauty

(click for a larger image)

Getting Lost Through the Lens: Like Hitting a “Reset Button” in the Thinking Mind

It can be soothing and humbling to change our perspective.

I’ve been absent from this blog for a few weeks, busy beyond busy with end-of-school-year hustle and bustle. Yesterday was the first chance I’ve had to get out in nature and do some photography. I truly hadn’t realized how much I’d missed it.

I’ve been feeling a bit off. Life has been a tad overwhelming of late- busy, hectic, intense. Sometimes I thrive on squirrelly intensity, but the past few weeks have worn me out. My daily meditation hasn’t been the same since it hasn’t been through the lens. So I was quite happy yesterday to “refocus” myself out in nature, camera at the ready.

I didn’t have to look far for a new perspective. As I opened my car door once I arrived at my wild spot, I immediately noticed a sprinkling of dainty purple flowers blooming haphazardly among some grass by the roadside.

They were immensely small- graceful, petite splashes of soft lavender that seemed dwarfed by a simple blade of grass. From a standing position, they were barely noticeable at all. But my photographer’s eye noticed the subtle, shadowy green and purple world hiding beneath a newly leafed young Gambel Oak.

As I stooped down to peek at this miniature ecosystem I was astonished by the change in my perspective. I was in Garden of the Gods Park, known for its massive, towering sandstone formations. Tourists surrounded me, snapping pictures of the mammoth stones and gasping at the fantastic landscape before them. But me, I was stooped down next to my car, observing a tiny realm of diminutive flowers, grass blades with fuzz, and puffs of dandelion all smothered in dancing sunlight filtered theatrically through the soft, new Gambel Oak leaves. My perspective, especially through my macro lens, was that of an ant!

And what a world the ant sees! Does the ant even notice the great stones above? I don’t know, but honestly, the ant wouldn’t need to see them in order to find beauty in its world. For the world of fuzzy grass and purple flowers by the road has a gorgeousness all its own, rivaling any towering things.

So yesterday I spent about twenty minutes crouched on the ground looking at delicate lavender I-don’t-know-what’s. I stared at dandelion puffs, dainty ferns, and the occasional ant, home to this emerald paradise by the roadside.

For twenty minutes I got lost through the macro lens, reveling in sheer delight, in the interplay of color between lavender and green, between sunlight and shadow. My artist’s eye caught the different beauties that lay in the straight, smooth grass and the curvy petals and jagged ferns.

The dandelion puff seemed a complete cosmos unto itself, floating through its own space and time.

Getting lost in these tiny realms is like hitting a “reset button” in my thinking mind. I’m restored and rested. The sensation is much like waking up after a night of intense dreaming. “Real life” then seems somewhat surreal, as the aftertaste of the dream lingers in your consciousness like a powerful flavor.

When you’ve taken a small trip of sorts to another way of seeing and experiencing, your passion for your normal everyday existence takes on a new feel. Upon coming home from a long or faraway vacation, our home often feels a bit foreign at first, as we readjust and regain our bearings.

But what a wonderful feeling it is! Leaving and returning is a refreshing sensation, as it refreshes our perspective, our sense of place, and our sense of being. We fit in in a slightly new way, now. Our experience elsewhere has changed us ever so slightly, and we return to the everyday with fresh eyes and new subtleties of our spirit.

For me, escapes into tiny worlds with a camera are the same.

Oh, how much most of us miss, though! Small islands of wonder right at our feet go unnoticed. The stars in the heavens above us go unnoticed. Our perspective stay so much… the same, most of the time. We take the wonder all around us for granted, and perhaps don’t give it the honor and respect it deserves.

Like my emerald green oasis of purple flowers. Alas, the only other someone who apparently noticed this spot of ground was someone’s dog… who, well, did what dogs do. I wish that instead of seeing this small patch of Earth as a potty, the dog owner had seen what I saw- an oasis of blooming, leafing life- tiny, delicate, shade-draped and serene.

We could all use a reminder now and again of how special each corner of our Earth can be, even a seemingly insignificant, scraggy spot on the side of the road. It has its own special beauty, if you just get down to see it. If the dog owner had noticed the pretty purple petals, perhaps they’d have found another spot for Fido to poop. The bare ground or plain grass would’ve been less disturbed than the fragile flowers!