apple, black walnut, Central Virginia, chestnut, countryside, double rainbow, farm, Flora and Fauna, green apple, green pepper, Inspiration, iPhonography, lifestyle, nature, pepper, photography, rainbow, rainbow photo, storm, summer, trees, Virginia, walnut, weather
It has been a week since the Eastern United States was hammered by a fast-moving, deadly storm. Here in central Virginia, after an eerie, silent stillness with no warning of what was to follow, we were blasted by a sideways, screaming wind. Nothing else… just wind. Then, the wicked, other-worldly tempest brought-on wild, non-stop lightning in the clouds above – as if someone was flicking a light switch on and off, on and off. The lights flashed all around us without pause. There was still no sound, except the roar of the wind. Later came lightning that was lower in the sky, accompanied by rumbles of thunder, downpours of rain, and hail. Throughout it all, most devilish was the incessant wind. Many likened the 70-plus mile-per-hour wind to the scary roar of a train.
We took the rampage seriously. After returning home safely during the first-half of the storm, my husband sat inside the house with the front door open, listening, for the sound of an approaching tornado. My son and I retreated to the far side of the house, opposite the ancient maple tree outside, wary that the tree would fall into the house. We learned after-the-fact that this unusual storm is called a derecho – a widespread, fast-moving weather event that features intense, straight-line, damaging winds and sometimes thunder and lightning.
And, sadly, for many in Virginia, that very scenario was a reality. Most tragically, however, is the fact that when it was all over, just an hour or so later, lives were lost, property was severely damaged, and, for a great number of families, power was out. Today, one week later, the clean-up continues. Many families remain without power. We’ve seen working power crews here from as far away as Texas. I am so very sorry for families who lost loved ones.
Even so, Mother Nature has a way of recovering. First, there was the double rainbow outside my barn. Even without electricity at the barn, seeing the rainbow brought me a feeling of hope.
Then, throughout the past week, I’ve been finding little fallen orbs of nature… beautiful trinkets dropped by trees and plants. And each is green.
Green, the color of nature. The color of rejuvenation. The color of life.
So, with these verdant little reminders of our future and all that is good in life, we rebuild, replant, and reclaim.
Live goes on…
All photos taken with an iPhone 4. © 2012 EddinsImages
High school students from all over Virginia are visiting and working in our community this week. The students, toiling alongside volunteer professionals, help seniors in need as part of a program called Work Camp that is organized by the Diocese of Richmond.
Nearly 180 volunteers are spending Monday through Thursday performing home improvement projects for families – mostly seniors – who were identified through social services. The twenty-or-so projects around the county range from building wheel chair ramps, to painting projects, to knocking-down home walls.
I am proud to say that my very dear friend who works in adult protective services was instrumental in bringing the Work Camp volunteers to our small community – our county is the smallest in the entire state of Virginia. Last weekend, when she mentioned they were looking for some peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich makers, it was a no-brainer.
Ever make 180+ PB&J sandwiches with plastic-baggie covered hands? Let me tell you… it is a peanut buttery mess! In fact, we made such a sticky goo, that I did not dare risk taking photos with my iPhone!
Regardless, earlier this week, my teen-aged son and I joined my friend and another high school student and we put together modest, bagged meals for volunteers who have been camping in the middle school all week. We spread peanut butter and jelly on loaf after loaf of soft bread, we bagged sandwiches, and we “loaded” little brown bags with “one sandwich, one piece of fruit, one bag of cookies, one bag of chips, and one napkin.” Not much for our volunteers to eat during a long, full, day of hard labor… and I understand it was to be the same meal for them each day all week. And then, the volunteers got to sleep each night in the middle school (after their timed showers)!
My hat is off to these wonderful kids and adult volunteers who took a week out of their precious summer helping out strangers in a faraway community. These super stars deserve far more than the simple bagged PB&J meals they were served…
Hopefully, after returning home, each volunteer will enjoy a meal fit for a king or queen. I’m sure the grateful folks they’ve helped this week would approve.
All photos taken with an iPhone 4. © 2012 EddinsImages
Two days ago, the lifeguard at our local pool rescued a frog from the pool skimmer. Based solely on looks, I have unscientifically identified the little darling (the frog, not the lifeguard) as one of two Gray Treefrog species native to Virginia. According to the Virginia Herpetological Society, the way to distinguish the Gray Treefrog, Hyla versicolor, from the very similar-looking Copes Gray Treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis, is by their found location and their different calls. My friend was silent, so, because of our location in the state, I’m going with Hyla versicolor.
Without a doubt, this beautiful little amphibian is one of the most endearing, gentle creatures I have ever had the pleasure to see and hold. I was completely bewitched by the little froggy’s charm and expression. And, my found friend had the most sublime, silvery and green glimmery, shimmery skin… almost ethereal. And under froggy’ arms and legs was a rich, golden-butternut color.
I do worry about my froggy friend because pool chemicals are dangerous – often deadly, in fact, to many animals. I learned many years ago while working on an environmental education program that amphibians are especially sensitive to environmental changes and toxins. Scientists know that changes in amphibian populations are often the first indicators that something is wrong in an environment. In fact, as our world becomes more polluted and humans continue to alter our natural environments, amphibians become more and more likely to disappear… forever.
Hopefully, our lifeguard made this save in time. And, the last I saw, my charming little froggy friend was nestled high in the leaves of a dogwood tree. But seeing his little face here does remind me to take care when it comes to wildlife and nature… it is all to easy to take what we have for granted. Someday soon, saving frogs may not be as simple as scooping them out of the pool.
Author’s Note: My research indicates “gray tree frog” and “gray treefrog” are each used [correctly] to indicate the same animal species. I’ve used the contraction in my text.
All photos taken with an iPhone 4. © 2012 EddinsImages
coming of age, Flora and Fauna, hiking, iPhone Photography, Middle school, National History Day, nature, nature photography, relaxing by the stream, school graduation, spring, summer, Virginia, walking
Yesterday was the last day of middle school for my son. It is hard for me to imagine that in the fall my only child will begin high school. A competitive swimmer and honors student who has earned all “A”s this year, he placed first and second at the regional- and state-level National History Day competitions. This weekend, we’ll be in Washington, DC, at the national competition… I’m so very proud of his accomplishments!
Today, I’m taking the morning to welcome summer. Although it is cool for June, it is sunny outside, the birds are singing, and I am going to enjoy a thoughtful, long walk past misty fields, grazing cattle, pastel mountains, roadside flowers, and meandering brooks with polished rocks and shy little frogs. I’ll be thinking about how our lives have changed, and I’ll be remembering how far my son and I have come since his dad passed away when he was just a little boy. That’s when we left New England behind to start our new life in Virginia.
And, I’m going to celebrate and rejoice how proud I am of my son and how much I adore my husband today.
Then, I’m going to listen to the cheerful songs of my favorite mocking birds and the gurgles and ripples of the little babbling brook at the bottom of the hill.
I will sit and relax while I welcome the lazy days of summer in Virginia.
Photo taken with an iPhone 4.© 2012 EddinsImages
art, art at home, art collecting, Art for home, art for kids, art gifts, Blue Ridge Mountains, City Hall Savannah, gift ideas, Hawaii souvenir, Kauai, Kauai souvenir, Landscape art, Mount Kearsarge, New England, New Hampshire, New York City, Paris, Paris souvenir, souvenirs, Times Square, travel gifts, travel keepsakes, travel memories, Virginia
I love art. Not too long ago, I discovered that a huge cache of my stored art was destroyed due to water damage. I was heartbroken. The lost art helped me to realize how much I value and appreciate these very personal collectibles. For example, over the years, postcards, snapshots and souvenir trinkets disappear in crowded drawers, dusty albums and forgotten boxes. But the art remains on the walls and tables, and lingers in my mind. Like the best desert you’ve ever eaten, or your mother’s cooking… you never forget the art. And the more time passes, the more I respect the extra-special and highly personal nature of the art I’ve collected.
Fortunately, not all of my art perished.
As I look back on it now, I realize that many of the art pieces were collected while traveling. Or, purchased because they depict specific places where I’ve lived and loved. For example, when I first relocated to Virginia from New England, one of my first purchases was a painting of hay bales in a field with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background… a scene I see everyday here.
Perhaps, my most favorite piece is a painting of a small pond that was just down the road from my old farm in New Hampshire. The woman who sold the painting to me loved it as well because she also lived near the pristine pond she called it one of the most peaceful places on earth. The man who painted it lived in a neighboring town. The painting makes me think not only of the place I adore, but also of the people I so enjoyed and miss seeing today.
A small watercolor reminds me of Mount Kearsarge, the mountain at the end of my old home road in New Hampshire. My son will never forget the time I decided we should have a “picnic” on top of the mountain. It was during the summer just after my husband passed away and I was a little scattered… we had no food for a picnic in the house so we went to the nearby McDonald’s and purchased lunch (yes, I kind of shudder about this now!). Then, I drove 15 minutes to the near-top of the mountain (I’d underestimated the time needed to drive up the mountain) where we found a picnic table overlooking the landscape below, including our farm. Since climbing on foot to the top of the mountain would take another several minutes and our “picnic lunch” was getting cold, we decide to picnic at the overlook. Only problem was, despite our generous application of bug spray, the bugs were merciless. We lasted about 5 minutes, then headed for the car where we finished our “picnic!”
Chatham, Massachusetts, is one of my favorite places in the world. Growing up, I spent my summers in Chatham. Also, as an adult, I lived in Chatham for many, many years. When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to stay at the Wayside Inn on Main Street. My other grandmother, my mother and I shopped, and I modeled as a child, in the Children’s Shop across the street from the Wayside Inn. Every Friday night, my family and I (along with everyone else in town) would enjoy the summer band concerts in the park next door to the inn. I’ve got a print depicting the bandstand hiding somewhere. And for several winters, I worked with my great friend, Nick, who gave horse-drawn hay rides up and down Main Street during special town celebrations. During one particular winter hayride stint, I wore a red jacket as I walked up and down the snowy street alongside the team that Nick drove, wearing his tan overalls. The two horses that pulled the red wagon were Harry (the chestnut Belgian) and Tommy (the white Percheron). Then, one June evening, Nick drove Tommy the Percheron as he pulled the black carriage carrying me to my wedding in the square-steepled church with the clock, just down Main Street from the Wayside Inn.
As a child, I spent fabulous Cape Cod summers racing in Stage Harbor in my little white Sprite sailboat.
Just last summer, my son and I visited Savannah, Georgia. We were both impressed with the city’s many pristine parks and old architecture. Savannah’s City Hall is gorgeous. In an art gallery alongside the river, I remember how my son and I were having anxious fits as the sales woman took forever to ring-up our two small watercolor prints. She was chatting merrily, on and on… completely oblivious to the ginormous, very black and very menacing storm squall heading down the river toward us. When we finally got our two prints, my son and I ran crazy-fast, racing the storm, to our car parked in the lot across the street. We got to the car just as the raindrops hit the windshield. Before the doors were even closed, the black skies split open with streaks of white lightening. Torrents of water cascaded around us. My son and I laughed with giddy relief as we high-fived ourselves, safe in the car.
A large black and white print of a traditional logging scene reminds me of winters in New Hampshire and the fair (that my son so enjoyed each year) where I purchased the print. Clearly, I like horses… they keep cropping-up in my art choices!
My son’s late father took me on a trip to Quebec City. It was one of just two trips we took together. Who can forget the great, famous Chateau Frontenac with its distinctive green-roofed tower overlooking Old Quebec, the marvelous, historic neighborhood of Quebec City? Unlike the sunny scene depicted in my print here, it was a wintry 20-below zero degrees Fahrenheit when we were there! I remember there was snow and ice everywhere and my camera was too cold to work. My favorite places were the restaurants – some of the best food I’ve ever enjoyed – and the marvelous book store with all the books in printed in French.
If you’ve ever been to Notre Dame in Paris on a rainy day, you’ll know that this painting is exactly what it looks like outside the great church. I love this little water color for its marvelous atmosphere and simple beauty. Its one of my favorite pieces of art. And, as just an add-on to some other more pricey art purchases, this is one of the least expensive pieces of art I’ve ever purchased.
There’s only one Times Square! I grew-up less than 30 minutes from New York City and I never appreciated the city until I moved away. I’d love to live there now.
For years, my dad traveled around the world for his work. He even went to China way back in the 1970s (he says an agent from the government came to question him afterwards). Anyway, he most often went to Japan; and sometimes, he brought back beautiful little watercolors and prints for me. I’m so pleased these works were not lost to the water damage! And I so enjoy them. By comparison, although I have some of his photos and I love photography, I don’t ever look at photos my dad took of his trips… I much prefer the art. When I think about it now, it seems that most likely it was my dad who started my penchant for collecting art while traveling.
The best part about finding and displaying art from travels is that friends sometimes catch on. For example, I’ve never been to the Northwest Coast, however, a friend who went to visit her family there brought home a watercolor print gift depicting one of my very favorite birds, a heron. On the back of the print there is information about the artist and her distinctive Northwest Coast Indian paintings. My friend knows how much I enjoy birds, especially herons, egrets and cranes. I consider this gift very special, indeed.
During a family trip to Kauai, my son picked-out a couple of fun watercolor prints. As my son spent weeks chanting, over and over, the Hawaiian fish name “humuhumunukunukuapuaa” (pronounced HOO-moo-HOO-moo-NOO-koo-NOO-koo-AH-poo-AH-ah), finding a souvenir to showcase the most well-known fish of the Hawaiian Islands, and to celebrate my son’s accomplishment remembering such a name, was a no-brainer! Finally, he learned that the fish was “really” just a “common” Trigger fish. He rolled his eyes and shook his head, and was, of course, somewhat disappointed that the fish is really nothing all that “special.” Of course, the family memories it will always bring to my mind makes this little fish very special to me.
What precious goodies have you brought back from your travels?
All photos taken with an iPhone 4. © 2012 EddinsImages
I have a love-hate relationship with Spring. After frigid temperatures and months of nothing but dull landscapes of brown and grey, April’s warm weather – along with peeps of fresh green outside – are always welcome. Yet, it seems that I always get excited too soon. You see, invariably, an early thaw leads to a few warm days.
Then, it gets cold again.
Worst of all, many plants that dare to bloom during the early thaw, ultimately, wither and die. (I’d share photos of my husband’s tomato plants, but, it is too depressing). I hate that.
Nevertheless, I’ve learned that my clematis are better timekeepers than I. They seem to get it just right, year after year. And, when clematis variety “Nelly Moser” finally opens her petals, I know that Spring weather is here to stay. My striped, candy-pink Nelly, above, is just a newbie. Planted last fall, she is actually the smallest of all my clematis plants (there’s not much more to her than what’s shown in the photo), and yet, she is still the first to bloom, along with another couple of my youngsters, white clematis “Henrii.” My Henrii group are a bit less protected than the single Nelly Moser, and they got whipped in the wind during the last few days. My first-to-appear Henrii bloom looks a little shabby. I didn’t take his photo.
Now that I think of it, the Nelly Moser is just sitting in clay soil (not good for her) and, still, she is first to bloom! Note to self: amend soil or move Nelly…
Regardless, both Nelly Moser and Henrii are fairly common varieties and are regarded as excellent repeat bloomers, each with a relatively long flowering season. Although, I remember not being overly impressed with either variety when I was first familiar with clematis, (candy cane pink = too cute; white = boring), I’ve come around over the years. Because of their easy maintenance, excellent hardiness, great repeat blooming, potential for sizable blooms (Nelly Moser, up to 9 inches; Henrii up to 7 inches ) as well as prolific blooming – I’ve had these varieties absolutely smothered with flowers, even when I’ve totally neglected them – each has grown to become an all-time favorite of mine. Best of all, I adore roses, and clematis make perfect rose companions.
Hummm… now that Spring has arrived, my rose buds will open soon.
I just love Spring!
Photo taken with an iPhone 4. © 2012 EddinsImages