With the growing season wrapping up, ornamental cabbages and kale are appearing in the planters along Brighton’s Main Street. These grace containers at the entrance of Brighton Bar and Grill along with a few straw flowers to add some color. The big, showy plants can withstand mild frosts and bring color to the late fall landscape as it becomes monotone. They won’t endure our winter weather but they are beautiful for a while. I’m not sure whether these are kale or cabbage. I’ve read both are edible but when cooked they turn an unappetizing gray. Tis better to just enjoy them as eye candy.
It’s May again in Michigan. Highs in the mid-70s and crisp evenings that force us into jackets have been great for gardeners. Plants that shrivel in typical August sun are holding their blooms longer and the heat tolerant plants, like the two here, are blooming their hearts out. No matter how little attention gardeners give Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) they’ll still draw attention from passersby with their dramatic blooms in Michigan Augusts. This year, they are prolific (above).
The summer varieties of Phlox are phabulous [sic] this year. Frequent evening downpours have kept them watered (right) to the delight of butterflies that drink their nectar.
After posting the previous entries, I realized this blog has been monochromatic for too long, and we’re not even half way through winter. Expect more snow shots in the coming months. It’s my world for a while. I’m returning to summer and brilliant sunshine for a moment to remind Michigan readers that color grows here and it’s glorious. Maybe we appreciate it more because of the gray months.
The iris are beside a pond in front of the First National Bank in Brighton on Challis Road. The peony, below, is in a parking lot at an apartment complex. Both are in urban settings although they don’t look like it in these photographs. The color of the peony is not accurate. My camera turns particular reds into shocking flourescent pinks sometimes. I don’t know why. I’ve reduced the saturation of this image but it still looks like it might glow in the dark. The iris can be a desktop pattern if you need a winter blues remedy. It’s very large. The larger peony photograph isn’t like this close-up. You can see the whole flower. Both photographs were taken in early June, 2009.
Joan gardens. In the pink light at the end of the day, her gloves are left on the edge of a raised bed. Putting them back in the shed would signal she had no intention of working tomorrow. I’m sure it was an unconscious act, the leaving of these. To her, they are not left behind like many of the things I find when I’m wandering about taking pictures. Those things are abandoned. These gloves are poised for Joan’s return.
Ruth Esper is a gardener and a damn fine one at that. Her Howell garden on McClements Road is open to the public. I’ve made frequent visits to it over the span of many years. On this 2008 late-July evening, past the prime blooming of her prized iris and daylilies (many she’s hybridized herself), the perennial garden was still a riot of Renoir color as each plant elbowed its neighbor.
Jump to November, 2009: It’s turkey time for Patty and Eric Roeske of Hartland Farms. They were interviewed by Eric Seals, Staff Photographer at the Detroit Free Press. In his video (which is no longer available online), Seals captures Patty saying, “I don’t think we know anything more simple to do. Farming is … is what we do.”
The late Joseph Campbell said, “‘Follow your bliss.’ Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.” In both cases, Ruth and the Roeskes, don’t have jobs; they have lives intertwined with “what they do.” I doubt they call it “bliss” when they are doing the heavy lifting, but they continue to do it. They aren’t robotic about the chores; they are devoted to their craft. To say they find pleasure in what they do doesn’t cut it. It’s more accurate to say they find purpose.
Think about it: virtually all of the people we admire have that characteristic and, when asked, rarely explain why they do it. They simply state, “it’s what I do.” They know words can’t describe the complex mixing of their lives and tasks.
I’m a night owl. I come from a long line of night owls so it’s genetic in some way. Consequently, most of my photographs are taken at night. In July of 2009, I walked to the St. George Lutheran Church in Brighton, MI. They have spotlights mounted in the ground that shine up to their rather clunky steeple that has all of the architectual charm of a pre-fab aluminum-sided garage. Why they want to draw attention to it is beyond me, but I glad they do.
Just to the right of the front stairs is a nicely-tended garden and patio area. Spires more beautiful than the steeple reach toward heaven there. Daylilies and hostas dominate. The nearby spotlight bathes these spires while the foliage is lost in shadows. Lovely. They have the same quality as mountain peaks showing above clouds from the Zhejiang School’s ink paintings from 14th century Asia.
I took two photos that night and they are crappy ones at that, but they inspired an idea I’m pursuing titled “NightGardens” which will evolve over time. Expect to see more from that series here at Words4It.