Central Park with path, benches and lamps

Central Park with path, benches and lamps

Central Park in autumn left me with feelings of nostalgia and romance.  I found that the special effects manipulations on my Photo Express iPad app helped to evoke these soft and elegiac feelings better than the unedited photos.  For example, consider these three versions of the above photo:

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Which one do you like best?  It’s hard to choose, isn’t it?

I did get carried away with the dramatic, artsy manipulations of my photos from Central Park.  I hope you like the kaleidoscope of colors and images as much as I do.

The Mall

The Mall

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Watercolor sketch of oak leaves and acorns from the trees lining the reservoir at Central Park

Watercolor sketch of oak leaves and acorns from the trees lining the reservoir at Central Park

 

 

That Golden Time of Year

October 25, 2013

“Yellow the bracken,
Golden the sheaves . . .”
— Florence Hoatsen

Watercolor sketch of fall leaf

Watercolor sketch of fall leaf

Last week I celebrated the color red in the landscape.  Today’s post gives equal time to the yellows, golds, and greens.

Path at Green Lake

Path at Green Lake

Green Lake benches

Green Lake

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Spider web

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White birch with dappled leaves

White birch with dappled leaves

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Watercolor sketch of ginkgo leaf

Watercolor sketch of ginkgo leaf

Watercolor sketch of fall leaves

Watercolor sketch of fall leaves

 

 

 

“No place can be real emotionally unless we’ve imagined the life there, and our imagining is not likely to be very substantive if not informed.”
— William Kittredge, Southwest Homelands

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

New York City architecture

New York City architecture

Flag refection in revolving doors, Times Square

Flag reflection in revolving doors, Times Square

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
— Mark Twain

“Travel is not altogether an indulgence.  Going out, seeking psychic and physical adventures, can reawaken love of the shifting presence of the sacred Zen ‘ten thousand things’ we find in the wiggling world.  Travel, then, is a technique for staying in touch, a wake-up call, not a diversion, but a responsibility.”
— William Kittredge, Southwest Homelands

I’m back home again after my first trip to New York City.  Now, when I read a novel set in NYC, or see a movie that takes place there, or hear news of the big city, I will have a better sense of the geography of the place and my responses will be more grounded.  I know now how walkable the city is, and that despite its size and population, NYC is manageable because it feels like a collection of small villages.

I do feel that tourist travel is an indulgence, but for me, it is a necessary one.  Any travel is mind-broadening.  And it’s good for the spirit to feast on new sights and experiences.  The challenge is to hold on to that sense of wonder and adventure as I transition back to the familiar geography of my home and workplace.

I can see that traveling on vacation is, on some levels, an escape from my “real” life.  I do partly agree with this comment:  “Looking, consuming with the eye and producing nothing, can never be a genuine life.”  (Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Not Now Voyager)  Schwartz goes on to reflect on the risk of traveling as an escape from the struggles of making a meaningful life at home:  “Nonetheless, when we’re gripped by uncertainty, travel feels like a ready solution to the problem of What next?  What to do, what to think, what to be? . . . On a trip, there’s always another monument, another excursion, another natural wonder to visit, to prove to ourselves that we’re doing something.”

My time in New York City felt like that — always another sight to see.  I couldn’t have sustained that level of sightseeing for too many more days.  After four days in the city, I felt full, and glad to return home to digest and make sense of all that filled my mind.  New York offers such richness, and I can see that it is easy to overdose.

And now it is time to learn once again how to be at home:

” . . . the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive a the ground at our feet and learn to be at home.”
— Wendell Berry

Central Park in Winter

February 2, 2013

Central Park

Central Park

“I have never found a city without its walkers’ rewards.”
— John Finley, “Traveling Afoot”

Temperatures plummeted to about 10 degrees during our final two days in NYC, but we found that it was comfortable walking as long as we stayed bundled up.  Walking through the trees of Central Park broke the wind, taking the biggest edge off the cold.  The park was a starkly beautiful place in winter.  We happened to be there when they city was making snow for a winter festival.  The sparkly moisture in the air created an eerily beautiful backdrop to the views.

Windy path in Central Park

Windy path in Central Park

Park benches

Park benches

Horse-drawn carriage

Horse-drawn carriage

The park was quiet in the cold winter morning

The park was quiet in the cold winter morning

Trees of Central Park

Trees of Central Park

Snow-making machine at work

Snow-making machine at work

Central Park

Central Park

Lamp posts, Central Park

Lamp posts, Central Park

Trees near the Mall, Central Park

Trees near the Mall, Central Park

Benches lining the Mall

Benches lining the Mall

The Mall, Central Park

The Mall, Central Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking the High Line

Walking the High Line

One of the top highlights of my first trip to New York City was walking the High Line, an elevated park built on an old railway.  It’s currently about 1.45 miles in length.  We walked the entire line, from the southern entrance in the Meatpacking District to its current terminus on 34th Street.  I wish I could return in each of the four seasons because as lovely as the park is in the cold of January, it must be even more vibrant in spring, summer, and fall.

History of the High Line

History of the High Line

Let me take you on a virtual tour.

Steps up to the park from Gansevoort -- a study in grays

Steps up to the park from Gansevoort — a study in grays

Protecting a piece of art from the winter chill!

Protecting a piece of art from the winter chill!

The High Line is dotted with many benches and plantings

The High Line is dotted with many benches and plantings

Diane Von Furstenberg building next to the High Line

Diane Von Furstenberg building next to the High Line

Sun deck

Sun deck

700 panes of colored glass -- art installation called The River that Flows Both Ways by Spencer Finch

700 panes of colored glass — art installation called The River that Flows Both Ways by Spencer Finch

Huge glass window over a busy NYC street

Huge glass window over a busy NYC street

First view of IAC Headquarters building designed by Frank Gehry

First view of IAC Headquarters building designed by Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry's IAC Building along High Line

Frank Gehry’s IAC Building along High Line

Lights glow in the windows

Lights glow in the windows

Art installation called Broken Bridge II by El Anatsui

Art installation called Broken Bridge II by El Anatsui

Wall art viewed from the High Line

Wall art viewed from the High Line

Window overlooking the High Line

Window overlooking the High Line

Nearby wall art seen from High Line

Nearby wall art seen from High Line

Benches with lighting near 34th St on the High Line

Benches with lighting near 34th St on the High Line

And here are some of the plants, trees, and flowers along the High Line in winter:

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Jelena witch hazel

Jelena witch hazel

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Strolling along tall cedar trees, Washington Park Arboretum

I made a special visit to the Washington Park Arboretum yesterday to experience Paths II: The Music of Trees, a series of seven sound installations by composer Abby Aresty.  She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, and this outdoor music project is her dissertation.  She recorded natural sounds at these sites in different seasons, and then used them in compositions, which are broadcast in three-hour “concerts” on Wednesdays and Saturdays in October. You can read more about this remarkable project in this Seattle Times article.

I didn’t want the month to pass without checking out this unusual art project.  Armed with a map from the Visitor’s Center, I strolled the paths looking for the seven listening sites.  As always, I enjoyed wandering among the many tall trees of the arboretum.  And the unique soundscapes made this visit especially memorable.

“Twisted things continue to make creaking contortions.” (Gaston Bachelard). At Site 1, twisted plastic tubing becomes “mutant” branches.

The path near Site 1: The Music of Trees

Staircase under Japanese maple, Washington Park Arboretum

Walking beneath the rhododendrons at Site 4, where the sounds featured raindrops on leaves

Rhododendron bud

Site 6 used hanging sculptures like wind chimes, and the music incorporated the sounds of falling leaves.

Looking up into the maple tree at Site 7. I couldn’t hear the sound concert because a maintenance crew was blowing leaves down the way.

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Light-dappled curtain of leaves

Magnolia

Colorful Japanese maple against evergreen

Cluster of oak leaves

Bench, Washington Park Arboretum

Street light, Washington Park Arboretum

Green Lake in autumn

Scarlet and yellow,
Golden and brown,
Winds of October
Blow all the leaves down.
Tear from the branches
Their curtains and spread
Carpets of color
Beneath them instead.
Glittering with rain
Or ablaze in the sun,
Falling in showers
Or dropped one by one.
Scarlet and yellow,
Golden and brown,
Winds of October
Blow the leaves down.

As far as I know, this is one of the few times that I am repeating a poem that I have previously posted on this blog!  I still can’t find the author of this poem, which I first read in a Waldorf school parenting class.  It certainly fits the landscape around Green Lake this week.

Foot path at Green Lake

Fall foliage at Green Lake

Carpets of color

Curtains of red against green and yellow

On the path at Green Lake on a windy October day

Fallen black walnut among the leaves

Winds of October, wild sky over Green Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon B Dove garden cottage, Georgetown Garden Walk

Yesterday was the 2012 Georgetown Garden Walk.  My friend Carol and I strolled around, map in hand, enjoying the garden ramble.  We re-visited old favorites from last year’s Walk, and eyed a few new surprises.  This year the Garden Walk was made extra special by art in the gardens, a co-event called “Cross Pollinate.”

My absolute favorite part of the Georgetown Garden Walk was Jon B. Dove’s garden cottage.  I would love to have a garden retreat like this to write, paint, and work on my blog. Here are some photos:

The Jon B. Dove garden cottage interior

A relaxing spot to read a book

Dove garden cottage, another view

A profusion of clematis, Dove garden

Honeysuckle blossom, Dove garden

Another garden shed being made over into an extra living space

Red poppy

A small backyard space converted into a magical oasis, lined by votive candles

Daisies

Garden gate, Georgetown Garden Walk

Garden arch, a cool, green spot

Many gardens sported interesting art objects, like this vintage toy airplane

Foliage from Solomon seal

Purple and green grape leaves

We saw borders lined with hubcaps, bowling balls, and this one with bottles

A gardener and her passion flower

Pink hollyhocks

Old-fashioned flowers — hollyhocks

Tea in the garden

Carol resting on a bench in Oxbow Park

Parasol and long braid

This woman with her parasol was perfectly attired for the garden walk.

Plein air painter in a garden

Budding artist, Piper, painting in her garden

Poster for 2012 Georgetown Garden Walk

“It was the morning of the sixth of May,
And May had painted with her soft showers
A garden full of leaves and flowers.
And man’s hand had arranged it with such sweet craft
There never was a garden of such price
But if it were the very Paradise.”
— Geoffrey Chaucer, from The Canterbury Tales

A man’s hand crafted the lovely grounds of the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, and it has become one of our city’s paradises.  The city of Seattle hired the Olmstead Brothers (successors to Frederick Olmstead, who designed New York City’s Central Park among other famous commissions) to develop the landscaping plans for the Arboretum.  The Olmsteads were proponents of connecting urban dwellers to wild and natural spaces.

Here are some photos of my Spring visit to the park:

Signpost for Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum

The paths are perfect for strolling, jogging, and walking the dog.

Magnificent trees and wild spaces

Mushroom along the path

Bottle-brush plants in a low spot

A bed of ferns

Ferns

Ferns

Bench along the path, Washington Park Arboretum

Bluebells

Green foliage

 

 

 

 

Azalea Way, Washington Park Arboretum

The azaleas at the Washington Park Arboretum are just now starting to bloom and will likely be in full splendor by Mother’s Day.  Azalea Way is the main walking thoroughfare in the park, a grassy expanse dotted with park benches and lined with trees and flowers.  It’s a relaxing place for a stroll or a picnic.

Bench tucked in by azalea bush, Washington Park Arboretum

One of several viewpoints, Washington Park Arboretum

Azaleas in the morning sunlight

Azalea buds and blooms

These azalea buds will be opening in the next couple of weeks.

Azalea buds

Azalea bud, unopened

Azalea in bloom

Azalea Way in late April

Purple azaleas

More buds

Another view of Azalea Way

Southern end of Azalea Way

Azaleas, Washington Park Arboretum