Hyacinths and Biscuits

March 31, 2013

“Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.”
— Carl Sandburg

White hyacinths

White hyacinths

Hyacinths with tulip

Hyacinths with tulip

White hyacinths

White hyacinths




White Iris

May 27, 2012

“The white iris beautifies me.”
— Wallace Stevens, from “In The Carolinas”

White iris in the morning light

Detail, white iris

White iris, like white flounces

White iris after rain

Wisteria in a Seattle alley

Purple wisteria

Dangling blossoms

Cascading veil of white wisteria

Detail of white wisteria in bloom

Looking down the street under a canopy of white blossoms

I pass this blooming golden chain on my walk to work.

Cheerful, yellow golden chain

There have been so many different flowers coming into bloom these past couple of weeks.  I feel compelled to jump from one bloom to another.  And for sure I had to do a post on wisteria and golden chain before they fade.  I lump them together not only because they bloom at about the same time, but because each glory under the prodigious weight of hundreds of dangling blossoms — a living curtain.  If I squint my eyes as I look at them, they remind me of impressionist paintings.

Among the impressionist painters, Claude Monet is perhaps most famous for his paintings of wisteria, which grew over the foot bridge in his gardens at Giverny.

Wisteria (Glycines) 1919-20 by Claude Monet from the collection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College

Monet Refuses The Operation
by Lisa Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolves
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.


Bouquet of lilacs with a pair of spectacles

“Now you are a very decent flower,
A reticent flower,
A curiously clear-cut, candid flower,
Standing beside clean doorways,
Friendly to a house-cat and a pair of spectacles,
Making poetry out of a bit of moonlight
And a hundred or two sharp blossoms.”
— Amy Lowell, “Lilacs”

“May is lilac here in New England.”
— Amy Lowell, “Lilacs”

It’s May and the lilacs are blooming here in Seattle, too!

Purple lilacs


White lilacs

Lilacs and books

Lilac and the book, Bringing Nature Home

Lilac photo, edited with inverted color

And don’t you just love that “purple” lilac scent?  What other smells mean Spring to you?

by Kathryn Worth

Through all the frozen winter
My nose has grown most lonely
For lovely, lovely, colored smells
That come in springtime only.

The purple smell of lilacs,
The yellow smell that blows
Across the air of meadows
Where bright forsythia grows.

The tall pink smell of peach trees,
The low white smell of clover,
And everywhere the great green smell
Of grass the whole world over.

Curling bark of white birch tree

This birch tree stands near the bus stop in my neighborhood.  I had occasion to spend some time with it as I was waiting for my bus to arrive.  It’s really a marvelous tree.

Birch buds in an alternating pattern down a twig

Birch catkins

These catkins look like three-toed bird claws

Sagging bark like old skin

Watercolor and ink sketch of birch buds and catkins


Lady Liberty appliqued wall-hanging, pieced by my sister, quilted by me, in 2000

In celebration of our nation’s birthday, this Fourth of July, I will share with you my collection of handmade quilted items in red, white, and blue.  I’ve made these over the years from fabric scraps.  They’ve become treasured holiday keepsakes.

Star Soup quilted wall hanging, made in 1995

Glory Be quilted wall hanging, made in 1998

Pledge of Allegiance, embroidered and hand-quilted while on a trip to Washington, D.C. in 1999

Red, beige and blue scrap quilt made in 1999

Midnight Sky quilt made from old blue jean scraps, 1998


Silence and Solitude

July 25, 2010

White daisies

“When from our better selves we have too long been parted by the hurrying world, and droop, sick of its business, of its pleasures tired, how gracious, how benign, is solitude.”
     — William Wordsworth

“In seeking wisdom, the first step is silence, the second listening, the third remembering, the fourth practicing, the fifth teaching others.”
     — Rabbi Shlomo ibn Gabirol

Giant White Poppies

July 1, 2010

Matilija Poppy, Center for Urban Horticulture

This one resembles a pompom on a tamoshanter!

Giant white Matilija Poppy.

The most surprising blooms at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture were these giant white poppies.  The flowers were as big as dinner plates, the largest flowers of any poppy.  They reminded me of fried eggs!

Matilija Poppy, botanical name Romneya Coulteri

Egg frying in a pan

White Foxglove

June 27, 2010

White foxglove in the morning light

Purple foxglove is more common here, but this year I am seeing white foxglove as well.  I like how the morning light edges these white bells in a soft glow.

I’ve read about the concept of keeping a daily gratitude journal.  I haven’t followed that path, but I do find this blog serves something of the same purpose for me.  If I can find and notice and appreciate just one thing in my day, then I feel fulfilled.

“White foxglove, by an angle in the wall,
Secluded, tall,
No vulgar bees
Consult you, wondering
If such a dainty thing
Can give them ease.”
     — T. E. Brown, from “White Foxglove”

What is Pink?

May 14, 2010

What Is Pink?
by Christina Rossetti

What is pink? A rose is pink
By the fountain’s brink.
What is red? A poppy’s red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? The sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro’.
What is white? A swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? Pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? The grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? Clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!

I pulled a few photographs from my archives to illustrate this poem:

What is pink? A rose is pink . . .

What is red? A poppy's red . . .

What is blue? The sky is blue . . .

What is white? A swan is white . . .

What is yellow? A pear is yellow . . .

What is green? The grass is green . . .

What is violet? Clouds are violet . . .

What is orange? Why, an orange . . .