9" x 12"
When I arrived at the Arboretum this week, I was astonished to find so much in bloom already! Our viburnums have begun to bloom, the forsythia, a few roses struggling to burst their buds ... sigh. The warm weather and change in climate have been confirmed with the 2012 edition of the USDA Plant Hardiness map (http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/) Here in Smithfield, North Carolina we used to be zone 7b -- and now we are listed as zone 8a! So what does that mean? We'll be able to grow more cold-sensitive plants - plants that delight in warmer temperatures, and perhaps a few more tropicals. On the downside, it also means that some cool-weather plants just won't have much of a season to grow well.
As an avid gardener, what concerns me more is the challenge our plants face as they'll need to tolerate higher temperatures over a longer period of time. The American Horticultural Society has issued a "Heat Zone Map" (http://www.ahs.org/publications/heat_zone_map.htm), but unfortunately, there are many more plants that need to be added to that map than are currently included. Add to these changes the cold we didn't have in order to kill some of the insect pests that overwinter in our gardens, and we all know what that will mean come June and July. It's going to be an interesting year for gardening.
Which brings me to painting blue flowers. I fell in love with AMG's image, and she kindly allowed me to use it as inspiration for this painting. THANK YOU AMG!!!! Please see her marvelous photostream!
Blue is unusual in the natural world and perhaps that is why I am so drawn to it. I warmed my interpretation of AMG's photo with some violet - and I really enjoyed the chance to focus a bit on the coming spring season. Thank you once more, AMG!
This week we spend some time in the greenhouse as we begin planting our seeds for our plant sale in April and the Plant a Row for the Hungry raised beds and gardens. It'll feel good to get my hands in soil once again and begin that miraculous process of the life cycle. We've been covered with seed catalogues that truly tempt us into dreams of color, scent and view, and now it's time to add a bit of labor to make those dreams a reality.
Oh yes, I'm still wishing for snow .... but if I can't have snow, let me have flowers!
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
9" x 12"
Sunday, January 29, 2012
9" x 12"
The imagination is a wonderful thing. We walked around the park yesterday with light sweaters and jackets, and there were folks in tee shirts and shorts! Temperatures were in the low 60sF, the sun was bright and cheery, and yet, the calendar read "JANUARY!" Sigh.
I look forward to winter ... and while I do appreciate the mild temperatures, somehow, the season of rest and renewal that winter promises just doesn't reach the depth I need when the sun and warmth continue to beckon me outdoors to play and work. For that seasonal renewal we all need, I need a bit of cold and hibernation. And that just hasn't happened with such a warm winter.
So I've created my own little snowstorm, decked my beloved trees in a bit of frosting, and splattered my world with the snow I crave.
I'll turn the air conditioning down a bit lower, don my warm blanket and stir the fire. Care to join me with a cup of tea and scones?
Friday, January 27, 2012
9" x 12"
When I got home last night, the evening was so warm that it felt like spring was really stirring. The fellow who mows our property had just spread some rich looking compost in the front garden bed, and so in the bit of time I had before sundown, I collected my seed packages of poppies - pink, yellow, red, purple, orange. In our region, these seeds are to be scattered in January so that the winter's cold and rain will help them germinate.
I scattered all the seeds I had in the front garden - so that the blooms can be enjoyed from approaching the house as well as the porch. This garden receives a lot of light - and the most attention. I used all the seeds I had, and some very special seeds from one of my dear friends.
And this morning the rains that were predicted -- came -- and has been falling in a fierce downpour that woke me, and will be with us all day. BUT! they'll also be one essential ingredient that the seeds will need to begin their lives.
The second thing will be cold. And to be honest, this season hasn't seen much of that. Still, we are expecting a day or two this weekend with temperatures in the 30sF - and I'm hoping that this will be enough of a freeze to break the seeds' dormancy.
So today, as the rain drums the windows and the skies remain gray, I can think of poppies ...and imagine a garden filled with their joyous blooms.
Hope your day is bright!
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
9" x 12"
It's been such an unusually warm winter. Already the temperatures are in the 40sF and dawn hasn't even broken. We're expecting to reach the high 60sF by this afternoon. The flower buds are swelling on most plants, and some have even been fooled into blooming. I watch the Prunus mume (flowering apricot) trees by one of our campus lakes as they dress our gray days in vivid pink blossoms, and I hope that if the weather is to be as mild as it's been, that perhaps THIS year, the fruits will survive any remaining winter winds, and I'll be able to make apricot preserves once more. It's been well over four years since any of their fruits have survived a winter.
Still, I know those folks in the north are tired of it, but I still would love a good snowfall. Somehow it just doesn't seem like winter without at least one dusting of white. Barring that, I am ever grateful for those folks who do have snow, like my friend Fran in Canada, generously share their white worlds with us. If I can't experience the softening silence of the white stuff, thank heavens I can vicariously share a bit of it through photos and paintings. Thank YOU again, Fran, for the inspiration and for allowing me to have a bit of snow this year through your photos and my painting of your marvelous world. Please see Fran's incredible flickr stream!! (www.flickr.com/photos/fahansen/6703711969/in/faves-linfrye/).
May your day be warm and wonderful -- sun, snow or rain!
Monday, January 23, 2012
Though I have been to Italy several times, I've never been there during the olive season. I have seen these incredible trees, old, gnarly and with the most challenging-to-paint leaf color - like a pale blue green. They're typically not too tall - maybe 10-15 feet - at least in the groves I've been to - and in the spring, their tiny white flowers are ever so fragrant. I've walked through the dappled sunlight under them, stumbled over their crawling roots - but have yet to see with my own eyes the turning of those wee flowers into the fruits that we love and the oil that we depend upon for our healthy cooking.
So each year, I return to painting olives ... symbol of peace, reminder of a country that has claimed my heart.
The weather has turned cold again, at least for today, with a warm up promised for the rest of the week. It'll be a week of planning for us with back to back workshops from February through May ...no restive winter for us. We'll be gearing up for gardening season!
BTW, we had a ball with the grands! I've never turned a pot on a wheel, before, but I could tell that my granddaughter is a natural. Her long fingers just gently molded that bit of play clay as easily as if she had been doing all her eight years of life. It'll be thoroughly dry when she returns and we can paint it. I'm so proud of her! And then both she and her brother and I made cupcakes, and finished the day with a tea party! Fun!
Hope your week is enjoyable too!
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Dawn breaks in a misty, dreamy light. Though there's a chill in the air that reminds us it is still winter, there's a subtle warmth too, promising that today at least, will be a bit warmer.
The light comes slowly to the land, and the day begins.
This is how our winter has been here in the piedmont of North Carolina. A few mornings of misty cool followed by warm days. Every once in a while, probably not more times than ten, have we had extreme cold. Clouds would gather and look like the promise of a snowfall, but instead, we have another day of gray, drippy rain.
While this kind of weather has helped everyone's heating bills and has been a delight in terms of outdoor activities, gardeners and nature observers watch with concern as flowers, shrubs and trees are fooled into an early bloom, and then promptly get 'nipped in the bud' by those infrequent days of real winter cold. At the Arboretum, we remove browned flower petals and pile more mulch around those early plants to try to keep them warm through the cold days. But there is only so much we can do against this type of weather roller coaster.
Today will be one of the warm, rainy ones, and we'll be spending time with the grands this afternoon. With all the busyness of the holidays and then mom's illness, they haven't even had time to play with the Christmas gifts they received from us ... so today, we play with clay, bake cookies, build a few things, and maybe get to paint a bit.
Hope your day is wonderful!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
9" x 12"
I spent some of my most formative years on the coast of South Carolina where the salt marshes played a most important part of my life. I learned to love these incredible waterlands teeming with all sorts of life - from fish to birds to flora. I love the subtle seasonal changes of the spartina grasses ... and when Sally posted this dramatic image of the river from the marsh side, I was deeply moved - and had to pick up my brush to capture it in watercolor. Thank YOU so much, Sally, for allowing me to paint from your photo and for the inspiration and memory-evoking !! Please see Sally's webstream for more inspiration and wonderful work! www.flickr.com/photos/salbug00/6672808157/in/photostream.
I've been far from the Atlantic Ocean this week. My cooking workshop went exceptionally well, and I think I have convinced a few more gardeners to add additional herbs to their plant lists. I've also spent this week learning about new plants coming to the industry that will dazzle and please the homeowner and gardener. I have to admit that I am a 'utilitarian' gardener -- so my plant excitement, while aesthetic, focuses on those plants that can serve more than one purpose - such as attractive plants that are edible, plants that bring butterflies or birds, plants that can be used for medicine or crafts -- and the like. Yesterday was spent in classroom lectures; today, we get to see, feel, smell the plants we were introduced to on the screen. Should be exciting!
And though I will be very involved with the plants and displays before me (along with the hundreds of other conference attendees), my heart will return, again and again, to that rich waterway and marsh .... a place for me, of solace, peace, and quiet.
Hope you have a great day ... and once again, THANK YOU, Sally, for returning me to the marshland!
Sunday, January 15, 2012
9" x 12"
There is something about the sunset and the color orange that seems to most inspire me most these days. According to some authorities, orange is vibrant. It's a combination of red and yellow so it shares some common aspects of those colors. It denotes energy, warmth, and the sun, and can bring to mind thoughts of vitamin C and good health. In the western world, orange is often viewed as a symbol of warmth and nature, and in religion, joy and a catalyst of God's blessings. It is also viewed as being associated with creativity. Perhaps for all of those at least to me, unconscious meanings, I have been most drawn to all things orange these last few weeks.
This painting, inspired by Maurizio51 (www.flickr.com/photos/53359531n04/6158717850/in/faves-lin...) was thus a huge inspiration for me. His work is filled with such beauty and hope - that each image makes me gasp in appreciation. I am honored by his permission to be allowed to paint and post my painting created from one of his works. Thank you ever so much, Maurizio! Blessings! Please stop by his flickr stream for some incredible, awe-inspiring viewing!
I spent yesterday in the kitchen preparing for my herb cooking class this Tuesday. What treats! Appetizers, salads, pasta and a main dish and desserts - mint chiffon cake, lavender-lemon cookies and a most unusual chocolate candy to end the evening. I hope my participants will be pleased.
Charles has his jam today so our home will be filled with music. My mom, thank heavens, and you for your prayers, is doing so much better. According to my sisters, she's returned to her pre-infection state of mind (best of all news!) and is slowing beginning to gain her ability to stand on her own.
I hope your Sunday is filled with the orange glow of health, warmth and joy!
Friday, January 13, 2012
9" x 12"
When I was in New York with my mom and sisters, I spent most of my days in the hospital with mom. When she slept, I'd sit in the break room that happened to be across from her bed, so I could keep an eye on her room while not disturbing her with any of my own activity. I found a work of art on the wall across from the seat I typically occupied ...and as time permitted, used it to inspire this work. I could never make out the artist's name, but what appealed to me about it was the seasonal light. It spoke to me of hope, warm weather, and yet the turning of the seasons.
And so, bit by bit, I painted, and with the act of painting, wove the hopes and prayers for my mom, and hope for another season of her life. She's improving daily, and I know that each time I view this image, it'll bring me right back to that room, right back to the memories of this particular season.
It's funny how the act of capturing a certain time, scene, or feeling in words or images can have such emotional attachments. I suppose that is what 'art' is all about ...and I'm grateful for it.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
No -- no snow here -- instead another grey, rainy day. We're expecting over an inch of rain -- and all the while, I'm wishing it were snow. I heard on the news that Alaska has received 18 FEET of snow -- wow! That's a bit more snow than I'd want too - but a dusting of white, the welcome hush that comes with it, and the clean, clear air -- yes --- ! That's what I'm dreaming of!
It's been a catch-up kind of week with preparations for next year's events, budgets, and workshops. We have a late night tonight but an exciting program on landscaping with herbs. We've a full house, so by the time everyone leaves this evening, it'll be after 9 pm.
I've been preparing for my own workshop next week- Cooking with Herbs. I've found some unusual recipes to share so I'll be cooking this weekend to prepare for Tuesday's presentation.
Mom continues to improve and seems to be doing well. She still has a long road to recover her freedom of motion but from the sound of her voice, she is growing in strength. And today, she celebrates her 89th birthday! Happy Birthday Mom! Again, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
Stay dry today -- that rain is going to be a 'big event' all along the East Coast.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
9" x 12"
As I walk the fields and streams, the beauty I find in winter, the fogotten season, reminds me that even the pods and seedheads that remain after fall's glory contain their own splendor.
This painting was inspired by a fabulous image by my dear friend, Ronah (www.flickr.com/photos/kookie895/6654941143/in/faves-linfrye/). Please drop by her site to admire the most wonderful images!!! Thank you again, Ronah!
Though my walks through the fields have been curtailed of late, I have an earthware pot filled with forgotten winter beauties. Dried grasses, pods, capsules, seedheads fill that floor-standing vase and it brings all the colors of winter to the corner of my home where it lives.
To some eyes, the winter terrain is dull and colorless, especially following fall's more brilliant, vivid hues. But if one looks closely, the colors, quieter, a bit more serene, are just as magnificent: chocolate, ecru, coffee, russet, tan, olive, auburn, ginger. Naming the colors is almost as enticing as finding all the variations of earthtones!
There's a book I read ages ago entited "The Forgotten Season" that identifies the pods and seedheads that we tend to overlook. That wonderful volume reminds me that each season has its magnificence - all we need are eyes to see and a heart to appreciate.
Mom continues to improve and once more I thank you most gratefully for all your prayers.
Sunday, January 08, 2012
9" x 12"
A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature.
It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures
the depth of his own nature.
from the chapter "The Ponds" in Walden
The true peace of God begins at any spot a thousand miles from the nearest land. ~Joseph Conrad
Water, the essence of life and an essential part of the life force, seems to be beckon me these days. I'm drawn to the water as a thirsty woman, seeking the solace and tranquility it provides. This painting, inspired by my dear friend, Fran and her awesome images of her homeland, drew my attention and admiration. Painting it, brought a huge measure of solace.
Thank you so much, Fran! Please stop by and visit Fran's flickrstream for more of Nature's finest beauty (www.flickr.com/photos/fahansen/6474424161/in/photostream/).
Mom's days are up and down - filling us with sad worry one moment, and huge joy and hope the next. I've never been fond of roller coasters, and so this emotional one is pretty taxing. She seems to be making a bit of progress in rehab, has a fine room-mate and she is enjoying the sunny and warm room she's in. The nurses have been incredibly kind and helpful, and she's finally been able to use the wheelchair successfully without, like when one first learns to paddle a boat, going in circles! LOL I'm praying her progress continues and her bouts of confusion lessen.
Today we celebrate my grandson's seventh birthday. Wherever did the time go? I can still remember my son walking out of the delivery room to tell us the news of Nick's birth - the absolute JOY in his face, the tears of elation! This young man, so much like his father, is the only male in a family of female grandchildren - so needless to say, he is teased, but spoiled magnificently! He's a 'male's male' following his father and Pawpaw Charlie around like a mimic - with a sweetness that is abiding. He, like his father, loves the water, and boating and fishing, but today, he'll rollerskate with friends and family as he glides into another year.
In our part of North Carolina, ponds are fairly common. Most farms have at least one pond for livestock especially, for fishing, for storm water control. I like to think that at least some of these ponds, are there too for the inspiration and tranquility they bring. For when the sun sets and turns that water to gold, can anyone not be moved?
Friday, January 06, 2012
9" x 12"
Home. There are few other words in the language of humans that conjure up so many emotions and thoughts, images and memories. I feel as though I haven't seen my own for months .... and to finally sleep in my own bed, drink my own coffee, make order how of the remains of my hasty departure, are truly balms to the soul.
I chose flowers today, Iceland Poppies painted in between times of mom's wakefulness and sleeping; the quiet colors, simplicity and stark white of the paper to remind me of mom - her gentleness, simple ways, love of flowers.
She's finally well enough to be in rehab and moved there yesterday. She's still somewhat confused, and thinking she's in her former dwelling in Florida - but she's being looked after well and the stimulation of moving around more, exercising her new hip, eating with other people, should (?) we hope, give her a bit more liveliness and normalcy.
I too hope to return to a more normal schedule, but since her illness is long term, we'll all be preparing to repeat the last few weeks experiences.
What all this keeps telling me is how very precious each and every moment of our lives, the way we choose to spend each moment and with whom. I find myself even more grateful for those friends and loved ones who take the time to chat a moment, give a smile or a hug, have a cup of coffee, share their own lives. I have always found solace in the natural world and this continues even more.
The situation brings up the question, once more, of priorities, and how our lives are lived, and what is truly important. I've always been one to share such thoughts and ideas, and hope to do so here in words and images, as I too work through my own evaluations. I suppose we do this each New Year - resolutions of a kind. But I hope this 'evaluation' is far larger than dieting (again), keep off the cookies, and exercising daily!! LOL
Meanwhile, it'll be rest, a walk through the woodlands (isn't it unusually warm again???), and God willing, a bit of painting.
I'm thinking of starting a journal again - I used to keep one but I find it challenging to add one more thing to my day - so we'll see where my contemplations lead me.
Thank you once more for all your prayers and kindnesses. They have sustained me and my family more than you can know.
Biggest hugs ... and a heart of gratitude!
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Rosy Sun-Up - THANk YOU!!!!!
9" x 12" Arches 140#CP
My Thanks to BeataCz for inspiring this work!!! Thank you, Beata ---!! Please see her incredible photography (www.flickr.com/photos/57909733@N02/6522120939/in/faves-li... )!
I painted this before Christmas and long before Mom's illness, but it is fitting to post this positive and glowing work today! Mom has finally 'woken up', regained her consciousness and cogency, is eating, even walking a bit since her hip replacement, recognizing us, and returning to herself!
Thank you is a paltry few words to express the heartfelt gratitude of my entire family for your thoughts, prayers, good wishes, support and kindness during this most difficult time. I think now, especially, this painting speaks louder than any words I might find. Though the road to full recovery is long, we believe we've turned a corner - and can finally smile a bit more optimistically than we have in the last month. And we owe YOU our gratitude to helping bring that hope and glow to life.
My mother's favorite flower has always been the rose, and the symbolism of this painting - the sun rise, the colors, the woodlands (such a source of comfort for me) - couldn't speak more loudly of the joy and gratitude we are feeling.
Thank you again, Beata - for inspiring this -
Sunday, January 01, 2012
9" x 12"
A new year
A new start
A new hope for all the best and brightest in this
May 2012 bring everyone joy, creativity, prosperity and good health!
May we all enjoy the little, everyday things that make a life,
May we spend more of our precious time with those we love ...
Here's to 2012 ... May it be wondrous!