Saturday, December 24, 2011

Snow Scenes

The moon, the stars, the glistening snow
wishing you a Christmas thats bright and beautiful
and a sparkling New Year

There is a quality of stillness so rare that the air shimmers in its presence, like right after a new snowfall

Needless to say,, this phot0 was taken last year, no snow for us this year - but we can dream,  so let's just remember . . . .

Skating on the Pond at Glen Oak Lagoon, this is from a painting by  Elmer King  - a much-loved Peoria area artist.
Skating with friends and family on these park ponds was a
wonderful part of our winters for many years.

Mt. Pilatus in Lucerne Switzerland, 1967, the only year we spent Christmas away from home, far away from home!

 A favorite miniature painting by my Aunt Betty - 1975

Can you remember the movie Little Women
with Katherine Hepburn? That is one big snowman.

It wouldnt be Christmas without the art of Tasha Tudor and her wonderful books.

Today we have Facebook, my mother and her friends had Autograph Books - they actually wrote in them with a pen!  I think they might have written "Yours till the snow flakes" . . . .

With Paper & Paint    A Simple Gift

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An Ode to Boats

I know, I  know  . . .the rest of the world seems to be worrying about snow and shopping, but Ive been re-reading The Wind In The Willows , and I cant stop thinking of our boat. I feel she needs a proper farewell before the year ends, so I'm squeezing it in here. Its my homage to all boats, ones I have owned, ones I have borrowed, and one's I have had the pleasure of just watching. 

As I bid farewell to summer this year,  I also said goodbye to our humble little boat.  She got old and worn out, but I loved her still. Why? Well for one thing she was the first boat we ever owned that had a cabin below with a head, a galley, and a bed! Then there was the real teak wood that adorned so much of her deck and interior, and the name on her side - "Petite Bateau" - French of all things! She had class, and she was the scene of many warm and sunny memories with friends and family.  Especially magical were the soft velvet evenings on the river, with stars twinkling above and the moon throwing a long luminous path across the dark water.

Boats at rest as the sun sets over the harbor in Door County, Wisconsin - a feast for the eyes as the day ends in ribbons of liquid gold and amethyst.

We talked for days about this one, wondering what it looked like inside and trying to imagine how it would be to travel the Florida waters in a craft like this! 

Spotted on a recent trip to Paris . How much fun would it be to "rent" one of these and spend the day sailing on the pond in the park!

Canoes can be challenging fun - especially when you are trying to keep them 'right side up' on the Crystal River adventure in Wisconsin.

This boat got a second chance at life , and though it's days at sea seem to be over, it still manages to put on a very good show. Just goes to show you, we all have more than one talent!

How exciting to be sailing off the coast of Maine. I watched this boat from the rock-hard safety of my island , but  I could actually feel the thrill of the wind and water.

Ive never met a boat I didnt want to ride on, but an early morning solitary sojourn on a calm, quiet lake has to be the best of all. Just me, slipping slowly looking through the crystal water with the sound of the paddle as it splashes at my side. Ahhhhhhh . . .

A boat at rest in the harbor is a beautiful thing, but boats are built to sail, to race and to soar.  And so, I believe, are we!

With Paper & Paint       Green Dory

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autumn Unleashed

It would be worthwhile having a cultivated garden if only to see what Autumn does to it - A Austin 1894

The leaves fall off the trees with a breeze
You can jump in the leaves

When they come together
They feel light as a feather
by Hannah 2002

The place is a mess, winds and rains have taken down bushels of twigs and leaves, and I am hopelessly behind on my garden chores. Most Novembers I am lining up bags of leaves in triple digit numbers, this year not a bag have I filled. Perennials are still limping along in some places, annuals are mostly gone, and Im letting it all happen .
Amazingly, here and there, little spots of beauty still emerge

The evenings are cooler, the skies are brighter and the rains are wetter . . . and after a long absence spent on indoor projects, I finally took the time to walk in my garden today, just to see what had been happening.  I was surprised and enchanted with the brilliance waiting to be discovered, and thankful that I took those few minutes. I could have missed all this!    

For at least a month now my garden has been the object of utter neglect - all the fussing and puttering that goes on in the enthusiasm of spring and  summer is long forgotten, and Autumn's beauty has happened entirely without me.  Well let that be a lesson to me and everyone, all of us who thought we were such necessary elements  in our gardens.  Guess what, life, the garden, it all goes on without us , quite nicely as a matter of fact, and the results can be spectacular.

I picked up these miniature roses at the supermarket in May to make a corsage for my grandson's Prom date, then planted them in a stone trough.  They seem to be quite happy and continue to bloom and thrive in the cool wet days, looking quite happy with an added tapestry of fallen oak leaves.

Kale has to be the brightest bonus of all - each one started from a tiny seedling pack in the spring and growing into a giant and regal rosette in the fall.

I cant decide, should I leave these fabulous heads of cabbage in the garden until a hard frost nips them, or cut them and bring them inside!  I can just see them in the center of my harvest table!

While I have been searching for the perfect rug for the dining room,  just look at the carpets mother  nature
has woven on my lawn

With Paper & Paint
Sometimes it seems to me
That my garden tries
To give me all it can
Just before it dies

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Garden Ghosts

Some of the greatest delights are found in the inherited bits of garden one encounters over a lifetime, a legacy of spirits and garden ghosts 

Are their ghosts in your garden?  Im happy to say that I share my heritage, both real and remembered, with generations of  gardeners who have gone before me. Family members, friends, some I have never actually met but know from the stories that were told to me-  we are all part of an unbroken line that I now hold the end of - who will I hand it to?

Perhaps there are long-empty raised beds, or the skeleton of a grape arbor, long abandoned. But the bones of a garden someone once loved are there, ghosts if you will, spirits held in time for all who will feel their magic and take up the trowel to carry on . . .

This is the family of Joseph Schneider, the builder of my house. He was listed on public record as having the occupation of "Gardener". He was the first gardener, I am the current one.

As soon as I moved into my “ new” old house it became obvious  that the grounds had  once been the realm of a true gardener. The clues appeared everywhere, the statuesque oaks trees, mature flowering shrubs, the scraggly rose that still hugged the porch post. When our first spring came around the scores of tender shoots and emerging bulbs were a daily treat. Sweet surprises left for my delight by the generations before me.

These girls are having too much fun, and wouldnt I like to have that wheelbarrow ! - They all lived in the house I now call mine, and their spirits remain in the garden that I now tend, carrying on a tradition rooted in  the feel of the earth.

My garden mentor, my grandfather - here in the most dapper outfit ever! I personally never saw him in anything but bib overalls, and I continue to carry that tradition on today - overalls are my favorite attire for gardening or for any creative activity!

And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see - or like a  sealed letter they could not plainly read.

I never saw this garden, but my mother spoke of it all through her life, and her remembrances of this place were so strong and sacred to her. She is sitting here in an arbor with her younger sister.

The gardener was a woman called  "Gusty", a ghost to me but a very real  presence to my mother. Pleasant memories make everything real.

I must close with some seasonal fun - these are some of my favorite garden pals, doing what we love to do at the end of the season - making "Witches Bundles' from herbs and dried grasses.  Created  to hang by the door as protection from the mean spirits of this season, its our way of both honoring and laughing at the ancient traditions of herbal lore, and a good excuse to be outside enjoying Autumn's delights.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall in all it's Finery

This, this! Is Beauty;  cast, I pray, your eyes
On this my Glory! 
These Briliant hues are all distinct and clean . .
 Gorrge Crabbe, The Borough 1810

Since I have begun to study painting I have learned and gained in so many ways, especially in my awareness.I can no longer just look at a beautiful scene briefly, I now need to absorb it. A blue sky will never again be only blue for me, it will instead be a study as I ponder  -  is it cerulean or cobalt I'm seeing, and how does the color change as it meets the horizon.

 Does the gold of the changing leaves look more brilliant against the gray sky or the blue? And the greens, all so very complex, how could I mix my paints to achieve that deep hint of blue I am seeing in the spruce?

 If this sounds like a chore , I assure you it is not - It is a wonderful gift really  to "See" what is around me and before me each day.  With that awareness comes appreciation and gratitude, and ultimately a sense of awe. If I never paint again, I will always have that gift.

There's no better place than a Saturday market to soak up the colors and textures of Autumn

Three French Hens in Morris Illinois was the destination for this weekend!  How Inspiring on a warm October morning

I really should have bought that striped blanket!

Glitter meets Gory!

Talk about seeing the blues in the sky,   Wishing I had a place for this blue leather chair! 

Spotted this fellow sitting patiently outside the shop - I think his wife was still inside trying on clothes, he said he hadnt seen her in hours!

So pick up the phone, call a friend, make a plan for a Fall Field Day of your own, the leaves are falling a little more every day . . . . .

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lessons Of A Late Season Garden

A modest gatden contains, for those who know how to look and wait , more instruction than a library

The mornings are cool and the light has a new clarity these days, the skies a sharper blue.  I feel I need to apologize for the really bad thoughts I have been having for the past month, wishing for the scraggly flower beds to just get it over with! 

My garden is responding with a final encore for me, redeeming itself from the disappointments of August, and reminding me once again to be patient and let life do it's thing. It's exactly what I needed to get my enthusiasm back, and suddenly Im in the mood to make plans for next year.  Let the seed catalogs come!  I'm ready to devour them.

Finally, the moon flower blooms -I thought it would never happen -  now I must add a nightly visit to inhale the unforgetable fragrance.

The anemone offers it's multiple blossoms , graceful and delicate and blooming prolifically.

Who can endure a cabbage bed in October? - Jane Austen
I know this kale is edible, but it's just too beautiful to disturb - I love gazing into the center of the plant - it has all the magic of a kaleidoscope
The nasturtium seems to be happiest now, climbing with wild abandon on the wattle fence.
And of course, mums. Returning from last year in the perennial border.

There is no end to the lessons to be learned from a garden, if only the student is willing. It is truly one of my finest teachers.

With Paper and Paint