Dogwood Bloom Against Japanese Maple Heatherwood Spring
As I stroll along in our Heatherwood Garden, I always have a camera, at least my iPhone, with me. This Spring, our variegated dogwood only had a few blossoms and they were 7-8 feet from the ground. I looked around to see if I could get a good sky background, but all we had were grey nondescript clouds. I stood on my tip toes extended my arms and tilted the iPhone down just a bit to pick up the deep red of a Japanese Maple as a background. It pays to be tall.
I don’t have to go far for a photographic safari. Everything I need is in our back yard.
Looking down on this row of smudgepots from the old cherry orchard brought back many memories of my childhood. Sixty years ago, I can remember waking up to skies covered with smoke. A thin film of soot covered anything that was open. The soot could even seep in through cracks into our house. Walking outside I remember feeling the smoke in my lungs. These pots were used to produce heat to protect the spring flowering buds from frost. The oil-burning smudgepots were placed between the rows of trees to produce a warm bed of heat. Cherry trees were the most susceptible to the frost because they typically were the first to bloom in the Spring.
Smudgepot lighting was always a special time when I was old enough to work in the orchards. I can remember hanging out in Grandpa Brown’s bunk house with several other school buddies in an evening when a frost was expected. We were suppose to do homework, but that never happened. We would “horse around” and then try to catch a little sleep. When the temperature stated to drop, we would rush out and light the oil in the pots. We would then monitor the temperature until it rose above freezing. We would then rush back out and turn the pots off. After shutting down the pots we would go home and get ready for school. I left my oily and smoky clothes in the garage. I would shower and get dressed, then head down to school. Most of my school pants were white denims. It didn’t take long to get them covered with the soot left by a previous night’s smudging. After school, we would go back out to the orchards and refill the smudgepots to prepare for the next freeze.
Living out in the country is a wonderful opportunity to get out and explore. I have no excuse to feel “cooped up” inside the house. A 20 minute walk and I am above it all, overlooking an old cherry orchard, the valley below, and the gap to Yakima. How peaceful it is to just stand up on the hillside and observe the wonderful area where we live. In a short time, this orchard will be covered with white and pink blossoms. It is one of the few “old stands” of cherry trees around. Each year they remove a section and plant new trees. Hopefully this section will remain for several years to come.
A few days ago we had a light snow. I gazed our from my kitchen window and became fixated on the wonderful piece of history in my backyard. The snow provided a nice contrast between the irrigation flume’s wood structure and the sagebrush speckled background.
This piece of history was built in 1892 to provide irrigation water to the Selah Valley. Over the years, much of the canal has been upgraded and the wooden flumes torn down. I am lucky to have one of the few remaining sections above my home. I currently get my irrigation water directly from this flume. Sadly, it won’t be for too many additional years. Plans are to replace this section with an underground pipe. So until funds are available, I will enjoy what remains of our little bit of history.
Wow! I looked out the window this morning and saw fire in the sky. It was ablaze! I love getting up and watching the first light coming over the horizon. There is always something new and different. Nature is amazing. What a wonderful way to start the day!
The leaves have fallen. A few stragglers remain. Hoarfrost on the remaining vegetation is a mild reminder that winter is on its way. Walking around our yard in the midst of beautiful branches and leaves covered with ice crystals was like walking through a wonderland. It was a gift from above.
I love the morning! Each new day brings a new look at the world. It may be dark and intriguing. It may be a little dull, but still full of potential of what may come. Or it may be bright and colorful, like today! But, no matter what it first looks like, it brings new thoughts, feelings, and opportunities.
This morning, I was writing at my desk. I looked up and saw a little color enter the sky. I put down my pen and quickly picked up my camera and walked out barefooted onto the patio. I opened my shutter and let the light flow in. It only lasted a minute or so. If I would have waited to finish the sentence I was writing, I would have missed the opportunity.
Life and photography are similar in many ways. Never pass up a chance to create a beautiful image. Never pass up an opportunity to live life to its fullest.
I love the early morning. I am usually up an hour or two before sunrise at this time of year. I anxiously await for what each new morning will bring. Today, my gift was this beautiful pastel painting over the “Gap”. Looking ninety degrees to the east, the sky was on fire. It was quite a contrast with the soft pastel color looking south over the Gap.
Since moving back to Selah almost 2 years ago, I have photographed this view hundreds of time. Each new sunrise or sunset presents a new gift. It is a wonderful way to start the day.
Driving home late in the afternoon, I looked back in my rear view mirror and saw golden sunlight patches on the ridge dividing Selah and Yakima. They looked like patches of gold. The sight stopped me in my tracks. I stopped my truck, got out, pulled out my I-phone and received this beautiful gift. A few minutes later it was gone. I have never seen (recognized) such a pattern on these hills before.
Lesson Learned: When I see a gift, stop and receive it. It may never present itself again.
I received this beautiful gift yesterday morning. The combination of a brilliant sunrise reflecting off beautiful lenticular clouds … I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the day. It inspired me to get out and spend several hours walking around my yard taking remnants of the fall colors with my macro lens. It was a wonderful morning, full of discovery and exploration!