This Fourth of July will be different that any other. The Fourth of July has always been a special time when I’ve celebrated with family and friends. I remember growing up and having family get-togethers at Sportsman’s Park in Yakima and watching fireworks at the Selah Park. I’ve been lucky enough to spend the Fourth in Washington, DC four times. I’ve watched fireworks over the Capitol Mall … what a glorious experience. Our University of Washington college group (the Whizzies) have gotten together for the Fourth every year since the the mid 80’s. For the past 30+ years we have joined together at Sunriver Resort in Oregon. We have watched the Whizzy children grow up and have children of their own. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed all our lives but not our spirit. Though we will not physically get together, we will have a collective Zoom event to celebrate the Holiday and our friendship.
In these difficult times, let’s all take the time to reflect on what this special holiday represents. It is a time to be grateful for what others have given to insure our independence and freedom. It is a time to give back to our Country and peoples and to make our Nation stronger.
The textured pattern of this tree trunk also caught my eye. I do not know what it is … yet. It is time for another trip to the Arboretum to see if I can locate this tree and find out what it is. Maybe I can add it to the Heatherwood Arboretum.
This post will start a series of images depicting nature’s little wonders. These images are from a photo excursion I took in the Yakima Arboretum over a year ago. From time to time, I give myself an assignment to practice a specific type of photography. This trip I focused on looking for little things that caught my eye whatever they might be. Some were abstracts, others were macro details of pieces of nature.
Interesting bark was one of the things that caught my eye. The texture and color contrasts of the peeling bark of a paperbark maple (Acer griseum) creates a beautiful abstract that highlights a winter scene. We have planted two acer griseums in our yard, one at the entry of our Japanese garden and one in the middle of our front lawn. They are striking in the summer and gorgeous in the winter, especially covered with a little snow.
I had planned to visit the Palouse in June to see the spring greens and yellows. It just wasn’t meant to be. I am yearning to get out with my camera for an adventure. Maybe later on this month I will be able to travel for a couple of days out to the Palouse. It should not be too crowded so I will be able to maintain social distancing during the trip. Warm summer breezes and softly blowing grains will be waiting.
Remember the “Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” TV sitcom back in the late 50’s and early 60’s? Each episode started and ended with a little soliloquy of Dobie talking in front of “The Thinker.” Dobie was always contemplating on what the important things in life were: Girls and Money (used to get Girls). Things were much simpler back then. I decided to make good use of my “social isolation” time and did a little searching and found season 1, episode 1 of the show. It made me smile as I thought back to those simpler times and the start of the “beat” generation.
Fifty plus years later, I found myself standing along Rodin’s “The Thinker” in downtown Philadelphia. It was a difficult time for me then. I took the time to admire Rodin’s sculpture, clear my mind, and refocus my thoughts on what was the most important thing I could do moving forward. The answer was simple, live each and every day to its fullest.
Today was one of those days. I started sharing coffee and breakfast with my dear wife. We had a nice discussion, then went out to work in and enjoy our developing landscape. Later I came in for lunch and a nice afternoon nap. I woke up, did a little reading, then reviewed some of my older photography work, including this image of “The Tinker.” It triggerd old memories and I watched the episode of Dobie Gillis. Enjoying time with my wife, enjoying nature and getting a little exercise, reading to stimulate my mind, studying some classic art through my photographs, and watching a little past history … it was a simple, wonderful, and full day.
As the temperatures hover in the high 90’s, our new meadow continues to display a variety of color. I long to be able to get our among the flowers and become one with my camera and the beautiful blooms. For the next several weeks, I will need to be content with viewing alongside and from above. Patience is not one of my strongest virtues.
This is another one of our ‘”viewing rooms” at the southeast corner of our property. Looking north from here I can see the lower lawn area, the meadow and the crabapple grove on my right. Circled around the back and to the far right, is a conifer grove. A large Zelkova on the left provides shade from the afternoon sun. In a few years, this will be a protected hidden alcove. It will be a good spot to watch young ones play on the grass.
Our current “stay at home” and “social distancing” environment does have a few advantages. It gives me the opportunity to refresh some of my photography lessons. David duChemin, one of my instructors, stresses that to make a meaningful/compelling photograph, a photographer must first have a vision. That vision translates to having an intent for each image that is taken by a press of a cameras shutter.
This same thought is directly applicable to designing a landscape. When we first started designing our future arboretum one of the first things we did was to walk around the property to identify what scenes we wanted to protect and emphasize from potential “viewing rooms.” Selah Butte and the old Naches-Selah irrigation flume was a mandatory view. We picked a point near the southwest corner of our open lower lawn to build a protected viewing point. This point is where this image is taken from. We designed a planting area behind this point, an oval patch of lawn in front, and other curved planting and lawn areas between to develop a little room. In the back of the room, we planted trees to create shade from the afternoon sun. We framed the view of the butte with an oak and a Katsura tree. Other trees in the mid-ground have a limited height and will not interfere with the view. The summer sun rises directly over the butte. The setting sun lights the hillside up with a warm orangish glow. It will be a great place to welcome the rising sun with a cup of coffee as well as a peaceful place to enjoy a glass of wine as we enjoy the warm glow of the setting sun.
Now, let’s get back to the original question, “Why did I create this image?” My intent was simply to create a baseline illustrating the view that we have at the completion of our first phase of our Heatherwood’s landscape design. The image was created mid-day on the first day of summer 2020. I plan to develop a history of the passing of the seasons, morning and afternoon perspectives, and maturing of our Heatherwood arboretum over time.
The “Eastern Smooth Beardtongue” (Penstemon laevigitus) is one of our garden’s first bloomers. its three foot tall burgundy stems host brilliant white and pink flowers in the middle of the meadow.
Small beautiful vignettes like this help me focus on what is right with this world as I let go of the many difficult things we are all facing. Beauty is all around us, we just need to open our eyes and hearts to recognize it.
Here is to more color in the meadow. This time we’ve added a little orange to the yellow and purple. The patches of color are separate, but gently blend into one another. The yellow provides a little buffer between the orange and the purple. What a summer treat our new meadow brings us.