“Describing the daffodils she and her brother William saw on a walk, Dorothy Wordsworth said, ‘Some rested their heads on these stones as on a pillow.’ This is good to remember when looking at daffodils after a storm: they are simply resting their heads. Dorothy noted that the daffodils ‘tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, they looked so gay and glancing.’ One can’t help wondering if William read her diary before writing his famous poem and wandering lonely as a cloud.”
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
Today we have more flowers, and fewer words … Thanks for taking a look!
“The tall lilies are brought forward in all their glory … and the nearest of the trees with their whorled branches tower above you like larger lilies, and the sky seen through the garden opening seems one vast meadow of white lily stars.“
“English snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), called Candlemas bells, or Mary’s tapers, are the emblem of hope. They are not often seen hereabouts, as their place is taken by the snowflake, which grows so much better with us, but I have had them in my garden by the second of February or before….
“One of the stories of the garden of Eden is that it was snowing when Adam and Eve were driven out, and the Angel, touching the flakes, turned them to flowers as a sign that spring would come.“
Below are five views of a snowdrop I found growing in the filtered light provided by a large maple tree, at Oakland Cemetery’s gardens. I couldn’t decide if I liked the partially darkened background (in the last three shots) better than the others … so I included all five photos.
I took the photos below in the same area, thinking they, too, were a kind of snowdrop … yet imagine my surprise to discover that they aren’t.
I’ve mentioned before here that I often use a site called Plantnet Identify to help me figure out the names of various plants and flowers that I photograph. I typically use the site as a research-starter, since it takes a picture you upload and returns the names and images of possible matches, which I then chase down some googly rabbit-holes to see if I can confirm the plant’s identity. I uploaded one of the three pictures below, and here’s what Plantnet said:
Loddon-lily? Spring snowflake? — what? not a snowdrop?
Turns out many people (!!) get confused by these two plants, enough that there are articles describing how they’re different. See, for example: What is the difference between snowdrops and snowflakes? Or just remember this: snowdrop flowers have petals that look like helicopter blades with only one flower on a stem; snowflakes look like tiny bells and will often produce multiple flowers, clustered near each other, at the tip of each stem.
If you would like to learn more about the differences between these two plants, see Galanthus (the snowdrop’s plant family) and Leucojum (the snowflake’s plant family). The history and cultural references for the snowdrop, in particular, are interesting to read.
Here are the first three snowflake photos:
Here are three more snowflakes, produced with a little more grain in the images because they were nestled in a very shady spot so I used I higher ISO — which rendered the images a lot softer in focus, but not entirely unpleasant to look at. 🙂
Here are five views of one of the early tulips I found, one of the few hardy enough to produce two large flowers during these late-winter, early-spring days. The five views were taken at decreasing focal lengths; and for the last two, I used a shallower depth of field to blur the backgrounds more but retain some of the surrounding purple, gold, and blue colors highlighted by a bit of reflected sunlight. The background colors in all five photos come from pine bark and leaves that fell around the hibernating daffodils during late fall and early winter.
Sometimes nature just likes to surprise me with its deceptively simple yet elegant forms. Here’s a batch of tulip leaves, just a few inches high, soaking in some mid-day sunlight, probably waiting a few more days to send up some blooms.
“Attention is crucial to experience. The less of it we assign to any one activity, the less capable we are of appreciating it, of being aware of all its nuances and dimensions and, ultimately, the less significant and satisfying our experience of it is. A meal eaten in front of the television will not be as rewarding as a meal experienced as a primary focus of attention, savored slowly and deliberately. A virtuous violin performance among the clamor of a subway station will not be as moving as one experienced in the quiet darkness of a concert hall. The same is true for experiencing the wild: the more distractions we bring into it — sounds and scents and anxieties and social interactions — the less of it we experience and the more prone we are to dismiss it as lacking. This is not attention deficit; it’s attention overload. We invest our awareness in too many things and, not surprisingly, we get little return from each of them….”
“So often I find myself engaged in a composition, thinking and refining and contemplating, when my subject remains static, when nothing other than my thoughts is changing … and yet I am so elated and immersed in the experience that no other thought even enters my mind. Worries and anxieties disappear, small discomforts never register in my conscious mind, and nothing else deserves attention until after the click of the shutter, and sometimes beyond as I consider other possibilities. To me, the making of an image is a slow and meticulous process, not because it has to be, but because I find it most rewarding as such. By the time the image is realized I have no reason or desire to enter it into any kind of contest or offer it for anyone’s critical evaluation beyond just sharing it with the world in the hope that someone else may find it of some use. I already won the greatest prize the image could have garnered me by virtue of the transcendent, and deliberately prolonged, experience of making it.”
A few days ago, I sat down to write the fourth post to go with a fourth gallery of daffodils from Oakland Cemetery’s gardens — when I realized I didn’t actually have any more daffodil photos. WTF! How did that happen!! So after an hour of hesitation, I put a fresh battery in the camera and headed back over to the cemetery, which in my imagination — given that everyone had been cooped up home-working and home-schooling all week, and most places were closed — was going to be packed with Saturday morning flaneurs, making it difficult to maintain proper distance. Well, that didn’t happen: I only saw a couple dozen people on the entire 66 acres — and staying clear of each other was easy there, given that each acre of the property is bisected by multiple sidewalks or paths, and by redirecting your steps you could end out at the same spot with just a short detour. It was a strange thing to realize that the centuries old, somewhat random layout of this property — with two wide entrances and a series of connected mazes that have emerged over time — was more suited to current conditions than newer urban spaces that tend to force people through small openings onto linear trails or roadways. Places like the zoo or the botanical gardens, for example, might afford ample opportunities for distance-keeping once people are on the property, but no one can get in without funneling first through entry gates, turnstiles, or other narrow entrances — an efficiency for access control and fee collection that suddenly seems (at least temporarily, yet with an unknown end date) obsolete.
Taking nature photos during a pandemic feels incongruous at times, and it seemed to take longer to get into the flow than I’m accustomed to. Still, I spent about three hours wandering the property, hunting down new daffodils since those featured in previous posts — early bloomers I found on the first few acres near the cemetery’s entrance — were mostly spent and getting crowded out by irises preparing to bloom. Deeper onto the property, farther from the entrances where the sun strikes later in the morning, I did find several nice assemblies and ended out with a few dozen photos to create these last daffodil galleries for this final day of March.
Yes, these are ALL daffodils. The first two photos do show a typical daffodil structure, but with the others, their daffodilliness isn’t so obvious until you take a close look at the star-shaped arrangement of the petals toward the back of each flower. While I couldn’t identify the variants for certain by name, I did learn while searching around that double-daffodils and daffodils with clumped flowers are common varieties. I like the third and fourth ones, little bouquets on their own with a mix of white and orange petals; and the last five reminded me of … Reddi-Whip!