Tag Archives: spring

A Whole New Life

I’ve been posting here less often for a very good reason: after five years of under-employment, I landed a job.

NOAA logoDream Job

I’ve gone to work for a company called Earth Resources Technology, a prime contractor for NOAA.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration is under the Department of Commerce. That’s because the agency’s sections, oceans and weather, are vital to the American economy.  Because of this, I have high hopes that NOAA will escape the worst of EPA’s fate.

Word Games

Alas, we learned today that the word “science” has been removed from EPA’s mission statement. It find it confusing that people can decide that the tradition of scientific method, patiently carried out over centuries, can suddenly be discounted.

Restoring Harmony

I’m working in the Restoration Center, part of NOAA Fisheries division, whose mission is restoring damaged wetlands and marine environments. Below is an article of the sort I hope to be creating in the near future.

Six Things to Know About Coastal Habitat Restoration

For instance, restoring habitat not only improves the fishing, it creates over 15 jobs for every $1 million invested.

So expect more musings on things of a watery nature from me. From Harsen’s Island, Michigan, to the Everglades, from the Great Dismal Swamp to Piscataway NP (where I live), the wet places have always had my heart.

By the way, I heard the first Spring Peepers yesterday!

 

Cherry Blossom Joy!

I try to get out and paint plein-aire from the Yoshino cherries during their brief and glorious blooming. It’s always unpredictable! This year it seemed imminent, then a cold front delayed their progress, then BAM! an explosion of flowers.

CherriesPhotog2016
Ducks check out the Photographer

When I first came to Washington, I expected something gaudier. I was amazed by the subtle beauty of these earliest blooming trees. They are a ruddy color before their buds open, then a soft pink when they’re newly opened. Finally they create a soft glow of white with but a memory of pink, as if a cloud were caught in the dark and twisted branches of the old trees.

Morning at Capitol Plaza
Morning at Capitol Plaza

Saturday I spent the day with easel and paints under the pale clouds, enjoying the color and all the other folks who came there to do the same. Lily got lots of petting and I got one small and one large canvas started. It was a perfect day.

If you’d like to join me, leave a comment. I plan on heading down again on Saturday April 2 from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm. Visit me on Facebook for daily updates and spontaneous painting trips!

The Earliest Frogs

I hear frogs.

Yesterday a deluge. Wild storms ripped libs from the trees.
Pounding rain left pools of cool spring water
the vernal pools that invite the sleeping ones awaken.

Imagine: your world is cold, solid, dark. You are one with the winter dream, until a trickle of liquid warmth reaches down, stirring something in your sleep.

This (relatively) warm tickle, a tentacle, touches tentatively, teasing a limb
reminding a muscle of its urge
to leap, to stroke, to swim. Your chilled blood moves.
Your amphibian body stirs.

Restless, confined, no longer adrift in the winter dream
with a little birth struggle
you press forth from the cold mud,
slip into the vernal pool,
wave your webbed feet and trill.

Neomenia, Eostre & Equinox

Neomenia is a fancy word for New Moon, which we have a splendid example of today. The Super Moon of March 20, 2015 caused a total eclipse of the sun for the North Atlantic and bits of Greenland and Iceland.

Some Pagan folk call Spring Equinox by the name of Ostara, or Eostre, after the ancient Germanic goddess who heralds the spring reawakening. The word is related to East, and Aus, a proto-germanic word for dawn. I’ve often thought is sounds quite a bit like Purim’s Esther and that other rabbit & egg holiday that’s just around the corner!

The Equinox refers to the balance of dark and light, for today, the night is as long as the day, roughly speaking. I see for us the sun rises and sets at around 7:18.

Rumor has it that the heavenly dance of Pluto has big things in store for our little planet. So heed the auspicious signs, plant your seeds, honor your Mother. Let us celebrate the wonder of life.

I wish all the blessings of the change of season to you all, the joy of rabbits leaping, and flowers opening, and delicious boiled eggs of many colors, including chocolate!

 

Who Lives Among the Flowers?

Photo-blogging the summer of 2014

Last weekend I took photos of the magnolia seed pods and sent them to a friend, who exclaimed: “what an awesome praying mantis!”

I hadn’t even noticed the creature when I clicked the shutter. So, I thought, how many photos do I have with accidental critters in them? A few. But if I expand the concept, I have a great many images of life among the flowers.

Most, but not all, of these images have animals among the blossoms. Human animals included. In a few, like the first, the wildlife is invisible. It’s been a colorful year!

IMG_2485

Fairy house on Capitol Hill

LilyLaikaAzaleaPoodles Lily & Laika in Congressional Cemetery

IMG_3597Compulsive Gardener Glee

IMG_2757 Jose visits from the Left Coast

IMG_2773 Lynn and her lovely daughters, plus Hunter

IMG_2948Laurels blooming on NoName Road

IMG_2708Freya

IMG_3602Pollinators at work

IMG_3274Blogger in Bliss

IMG_3387 Silver-bordered Fritellary on Echinacia

IMG_3348  Boats & Day Lilies

IMG_3217 Zebra Swallowtail on Buttonbush

IMG_3207Carol sunning

IMG_3447Lotus in the Mattawoman, flood tide. Who swims below?

IMG_3416Forest spinner

IMG_3614Southern Magnolia pods and mantis

Cherry Blossom Time!

IMAG0354

cherryMap

This Sunday April 13th if you’re in the DC area you can come and join me and other plein aire painters while we paint cherry blossom landscapes at the foot of North Capitol Street. Click on the map for directions.

If you are NOT local, click HERE.

Bring your sketchbook, easel and brushes, camera or phone, picnic or dog, or just your eyeballs. These are some of the prettiest trees in the city, complete with Capitol view and reflecting pool, andthere’s parking on the weekends.  (Please don’t tell anybody! It’s my big secret, just you & me.)

UntitledLast year we went to Fort Washington Park and there were just a few lovely old Yoshino trees, but no water for them to reflect in, which really makes them extra pretty.

You can tweet me at @PatriseArt for realtime info, in case I just can’t take the beauty of the day and end up there sooner, which seems very likely.

Carpe Diem!

 

 

 

Here’s Why We All Get to Eat

new birch leaves
photo by Marilylle Soveran

Today I bring you a tribute to the engine of the life, something that if you’re like me, living in the Northern Hemisphere, you have been outside celebrating in recent days. The cherry trees are opening their blossoms, the lambs are cavorting on greening pastures, and everyone wants to be outside in shirtsleeves, taking in the bright sun.

Photosynthesis!

Mr Latimer’s bottle garden was planted 53 years ago and watered once in 1972. It thrives on sunlight alone, due to the balance of oxygen from bacteria (animals) and CO2 from plants exchanging moisture and nutrients. It’s a microcosm of our planet, which acquires nothing from outside our atmosphere but sunlight (well, the occasional meteorite, too) yet air and water circulate between our lungs and the green plants in a wonderful harmony. You can read more about this HERE.

The light of the Sun is what makes this go. Here’s a simple diagram of the exchange.

photosynthesis

Some of you may remember the challenge of tracking the whole business in organic chemistry — you might remember it as being complicated, and chemically, it’s pretty amazing and intricate. But the way it works is a simple exchange, and because it works, we all get to eat! I don’t know about you, but I find this bloody AMAZING.

Here, this is even simpler:

See that second half of the equation? The sugar is the source of ALL THE FOOD WE EAT. Even if you are a carnivore, the animals you eat grew up eating plants. We are all eating sunlight, by virtue of the photosynthetic process. And yeah, we get to breathe the oxygen. Pretty convenient if you ask me.

And then there’s the icing on the cake:

It’s Beautiful:

Star Magnolia

 

How did you celebrate being alive today?

Miraculous Sounds of Spring

If you heard this sound, would you think it was?

click to play audio

At first listen, you might think you were hearing something like this:

click to play audio

That’s a sound it’s good to hear in the woods these days. The mid-Atlantic winter has been hard on us, and the singing of frogs brings hope that today’s Spring Equinox has really arrived.

Those are ‘spring peepers,’ tiny chorus frogs that awaken and sing in vernal puddles each year in forest wetlands. They’re tiny: adults rarely more than an inch and a half in length. I am transported by the sound: these durable creatures rise from the frozen mud and sing for love in one of the first bright declarations of spring.

But even more miraculous that these singing amphibians is the first recording. Play it again. What you’re listening to is the dawn chorus of the planet Earth, sounds emitted by the energetic particles of the earth’s magnetosphere, stimulated by the solar wind.

These radio waves are at frequencies which are audible to the human ear, if sound traveled in a vacuum, and if you could expose your ear in space! Here they were recorded by two satellites studying the Van Allen belts and other phenomena of the near solar system.

Happy Equinox!

Spring Colors

I found myself compelled to browse through spring photos today – and was struck by the peculiar colors we see this time of year, after the monochrome of winter. Here’s a sampling, and there are more to be seen at my Flickr (below right)

The pale skins of sycamores and their dancing shadows stand out against an impossibly blue sky, violet woods and radiant green lawn. Marshall Hall, MD
The native red cedar is ruddy even in its greens – taking on an orangey hue in the strong sunlight. Marshall Hall, MD
Red branches, gold grasses, subtle violets and reflected blue – so much color in a ‘drab’ scene!
radioactive moss and tiny blue flowers
the color in this image was so striking I made a painting of it
One of the eldest Washington cherry trees. the subtle haze of their color is so suited to early spring.

Day 2: Piedmont Carolina

The Carolina morning is sweet, cool and clear, a frisky breeze ruffling the new leaves.

We’ve left the coast, and with it the bowl of still and humid air that is the mid Atlantic, even in the freshest seasons.

We’re further south but higher, resulting in the same stage of spring: radiant dogwoods, new leaves, early bloomers still bright, with the irises in bud.  Yesterday we climbed and climbed. Route 360 through Virginia unfurled in wave after wave of low hills, each one cresting just a bit higher than the last. Now the land is labyrinthine hollows and piney woods, with no roads that follow any cardinal line.

I can feel the mountains even though they’re at least a hundred miles away.

This lovely house is a haven for birds, butterflies, blossoms. Mama cardinal nests outside the door. The beams and planks of the old part of the house are fragrant with age: a bit smoky with a frisson of ancient dust. I’m sleeping in a slant ceiling room with white beaded ceiling, in a nest of pillows and comfort. I found a tiny vase of lily of the valley beside my bed, something my grandmother Bea would have done.

We’ve had a beautiful day of coffee, garden, kitchen, luncheon with friends under maple leaves so new they were nearly yellow, vivid against the blue. It’s been lovely to BE here, taking in the beauty of the place, knowing that the next few days we will be dashing through many places worthy of lingering.

BTW, if you want to follow us on Twitter, use hashtag #coast2coast. I’m @patriseart.

Here’s a few pics; if you want more, they are on Flickr, at right.

North Carolina farmhouse