Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nature Notes: I'll Get You, My Pretty

Tall Bellflower Blossom

If you have kids of a certain age, you probably remember the Pokemon craze. Pokemon were little fantasy creatures. There were hundreds of them, and the battle cry of the game was "Gotta catch 'em all!" The tykes who got sucked in drove their parents nuts in their quest to acquire every new critter the company made.

I have become similarly obsessed with wildflowers. I didn't set out to catch 'em all, but that certainly has become the goal. Every day brings something wonderful that I've never noticed before.

Wildflowers are ephemeral creatures. They are often subtle, small, and hidden, and they bloom for only a short while. Blink and you've missed one. So every chance I get, I'm poking through weeds, lying on my stomach in the mud, risking my neck climbing things for a better view. And on days I'm not prowling the property, I'm wondering what I'm missing.

Meanwhile, the vegetable garden is overflowing, there are clothes in the laundry we don't remember owning, and feral dust bunnies are breeding under the beds. I've taken to leaving the vacuum cleaner and a bin of cleaning supplies in the middle of the living room, in case anyone drops in. (I get credit for doing housework without actually having to do any.)

Capturing a wildflower isn't exactly easy, either. Too much or too little sun, and the colors are wrong. If there's a hint of a breeze, you can forget a sharp focus. If there is no breeze, mosquitoes are snacking on your tender bits.

The bellflower above has been the toughest customer so far. The stalk is tall, so it's never really still. They grow under trees, so lighting is patchy. Worst of all is that amazing, wonderful pistil that sticks out a good inch from the plane of the petals. No amount of fiddling with the settings will put the whole flower in focus. This is the best attempt so far, and I'm still not happy with it.

Of course, I could just cut them and bring them inside. No wind, good lighting, no bites. Dramatic black background. I'm sure the photos would be technically better, but it would ruin the experience. It would take the "wild" out of the flower, and it would take the flower out of the earth.

There's a quote by Malcolm De Chazal: "The flower in the vase smiles, but no longer laughs." I prefer my flowers laughing.

The collection so far is in a Flickr set, linked below, if you're interested. I'm still uploading entries, and I'll keep at it until frost puts an end to the project. Until then, please note there is a vacuum cleaner in the middle of the living room. Housework is in progress. Honest.

White Yarrow Flags

Downy Yellow Violet Dwarf Ginseng

*Wildflowers on

Click here to see more Nature Notes.


RJ Flamingo said...

Ha! Great post! Well, I think your shot of the bellflower is very good! I sympathize with your efforts. I have the same sort of luck. And my vacuum is in the living room, too. :-) Feral dust bunnies... Hahaha!

Sallyacious said...

This morning I unpacked half of two boxes and the tippy top layer of a third. You will get no judging from me about housework.

I like that shot. I think it's beautiful. And I love your approach to photography. It's what I think too. The moment is part of the photography, and by taking the flowers inside, you've changed the moment into something sterile and less "alive." At least, that's what I think.

Rambling Woods said...

It lost my comment..Noooooo... This was a wonderful post Vicki. I went to flicker and looked at all your photos thinking I might see something that I have seen in my area. I am going to borrow the feral dust bunnies...LOL....Michelle

MyMaracas said...

RJ, You use that vacuum trick too,eh? LOL And I thought it was just me. ;-)

Sally, it's nice to be understood about doing the flower photos the hard way. My kids think I'm nuts. Hope you're all settled in soon, so you can start exploring your new home.

Michelle, I hope you found a few new ones. Thanks for checking out the set, and for coming back and doing the post again! I really appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

I had not realised you had made the great change. We did that nineteen years ago and moved to an island without any amenities.
You obviously have electricity and I can say it makes a difference.
The very best of luck in your venture.

Carver said...

I enjoyed this post so much. Beautiful flowers and well written.

MyMaracas said...

Aileni, an island? With no electricity? You are my hero. I'm still missing city water. There's no way I'd last without power.

Carver, thanks! I'm glad you stopped in, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Beautiful shots !! I really enjoyed the colors and beauty..Thanks for sharing..Unseen Rajasthan

jo©o said...

Hiya Vicki,
That blue!
BTW, Phyllis Diller had this joke about putting a dab of furniture polish behind your ear before the husband came home :-) Still makes me smile.