I used to be a more enthusiastic gardener but my outdoor gardening days have become pretty limited. I manage to get into the garden once a year and clip everything back and pull out all the dead stuff from the previous year, but that’s pretty much “it” for me.
I love my indoor garden. It’s not huge, but it’s pretty and I can manage it … which is a powerful reason to love it. I look daily at my soon-to-be blooming Christmas cactus and the shoot of upcoming orchids.
I thought there might be another blooming of the Christmas cactus. Why? It just looks so incredibly healthy and it’s been putting up new shoots like crazy. I wasn’t paying much attention to it, probably because of the birds. But I was noticing that the orchid has sent up a new shoot and when I looked, I realized that cactus if full of buds.
So … I took a few pictures. I think we’ll have actual flowers next week or even the middle of the week. That was a really fast turnaround, fastest ever for me.
Usually, I show all my pictures at once. This time, I realized I could save some and show them over a few days. Unique concept, I know. I also can’t wait until a birthday or Christmas and always give presents ahead of time.
All of a sudden, in just two days, the last bud bloomed, the other flower closed up and I think by the end of the week, both plants will go into retirement for a few months.
On a more positive note, I have a new shoot coming in from my orchids. No buds yet. Just the tall, naked shoot. It will be weeks before it turns into buds and more weeks until it flowers. It had two shoots, but one withered. The other looks healthy.
The buds have been big since before Christmas, but this cactus waited until the New Year to bloom. I suppose that would make it a New Year’s cactus?
The buds were pink and the bud which has not yet opened is also dark pink, but after opening, it seems more red than pink. In any case, that’s what the camera picked up.
The leaves are translucent, so how red or pink the blossom appears depends on the light.
It was a sunny day. I had to wait until the sun wasn’t directly on the flower. I need the brightness of the sun, but in full sun, parts of the flower burn out and processing the pictures becomes problematic.
It’s easier to wait an hour until the sun has moved to the west a few degrees. This time of year, it doesn’t take long for the sun to move along.
These are all macros because that’s the lens I had on the camera. Besides, what’s the point of having a macro lens if you don’t use it to photograph flowers?
Between sanity and madness, there has always lain writing. I have written my way out of deep depression, terrible grief, loneliness, and hopelessness. When I write, I find my way. Lately, photography has become part of the writing. Not instead of it, but in addition to it. The pictures are part of my story, the thing that I am doing besides pondering the evils of the world.
It’s not just because “birds are pretty” or for that matter, because “flowers are pretty.” It’s because both of these things are of the earth and remind me that the earth brings forth beauty. Sometimes, the beauty is also terrible in its potential and consequences. Gigantic storms flood coastlines and river valleys. Fires destroy woods and towns. Winds blow down ancient trees and make the oak trees in our woods groan with the strain of motion for which they are never ready.
The process of taking these pictures is calming and it brings up a kind of genetic memory of a past built into my bones but lost from active memory. It reminds me of a childhood lived under waving white oaks — and that was the good part of childhood memories. It reminds me of the summer I spent reading hundreds of books about paleontology, volcanoes, and earthquakes.
So much of the stuff I know now I learned before I was ten. The things you learn “way back then” stick in your memory forever. The things I learned yesterday may scatter before dinner, but memories of books I read in childhood are permanent and have become the basis of later learning.
Today is a gray day with patches of blue. I realized that the birds needed feeding. I should have done it yesterday, but there was a holiday this week and it knocked my (very shaky) calendar off-balance. And so, while Garry is out testing the limits of his cochlear implant on creaky old colleagues from his working days, I refilled the bird feeders.
I had to learn to do it myself because no matter who else I depend on, in the end, I need to be able to do it alone. Sometimes, that’s the way it works. Garry is out, Owen is recovering from surgery and the birds are hungry.
And I need the pictures.
Blessed be the birds the fly through my woods. They keep me sane, keep madness outside the door and let me live just like a regular person.
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