Walk, Work, Discover: Hydrangeas in Winter

From “The Walker’s Waking Dreams — Rousseau” in A Philosophy of Walking by Frederic Gros:

Rousseau claimed to be incapable of thinking properly, of composing, creating or finding inspiration except when walking…. It was during long walks that the ideas would come, on the road that sentences would spring to his lips, as a light punctuation of the movement; it was paths that stimulated his imagination….

“Walk, work, discover…. Trampling the earth with his heavy shoes, disappearing into the brush, wandering among ancient trees. 

“Alone, and surrounded — or rather filled — with the quiet murmur of animals and trees, the sigh of wind through the leaves, the rattle and creak of branches. Alone, and fulfilled. Because now he could breathe, breathe and surrender to a well-being slow as a forest path, without any thrill of pleasure but absolutely peaceful. A lukewarm happiness, persistent as a monotonous day: happiness just to be there, to feel the rays of a winter sun on his face and hear the muffled creaking of the forest.”

I’ve been prowling my neighborhood, hunting for splashes of winter color. I’ve ended out with a large, slightly unwieldy batch of photos that I’m organizing into a half dozen galleries, that I’ll be working on and posting over the next week or so. Unlike summer and spring here in the southeast, green no longer dominates the scenes that become my photographs. Where green is present, it’s typically found in hardy grasses; or more commonly, among the ivy varieties whose color shifts from deep green to a shadow-filled version, where aqua or blue are emphasized by seasonal changes and the softer light of a winter sun. Backgrounds, especially, transition toward muted gray, chocolatey brown, and pastel variations of yellow, orange, and gold. My eye moves toward the surprising shapes and textures of plants in their dormant stages, and how those forms stand out as abstractions of their growing season versions.

The two galleries below include images of hydrangeas — bits of hydrangeas — that I found shaded by the trees of Oakland Cemetery’s gardens. The first gallery features those where pink and red was still present on the leaves, after their fall turn and while still barely attached to their stems. The white filaments on some of the leaves — a form of mold or fungus — presented some interesting (that is, frustrating) challenges for the photographer because their contrast with the red shades created a difficult-to-overcome sense that they were out of focus … fuzzy, that is. To (attempt to) improve their appearance, I used radial filters in Lightroom individually over each of the leaves, reducing whites, highlights, and saturation then adding a bit of texture and sharpening to emphasize the veins in the leaves over the cottony fungus.

Except for the last photo below, this second gallery shows side-by-side pairs of the same clumps of spent flower clusters, framed differently. I did very little post-processing on these nine images, mainly some brightness and shadow changes to soften and darken the backgrounds and emphasize the remnants of the buds — which through the zoom lens looked almost like they were suspended in mid-air, held up as they were by tiny threads. Our eyes tend to pass over sights like this; but zoom and macro lenses provide a view of the world that our unaided sight typically misses.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

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Merry Christmas!

From “A Christmas Carol” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“‘It’s Christmas Day!’ said Scrooge to himself. ‘I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night…. I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!…’

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him….

“He had no further intercourse with Spirits … and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!”


Below I’ve accumulated all the holiday photo galleries from the past ten days … a seasonal spectacle of color and light! Click the links atop each gallery if you would like to see the original posts and the quotations I selected to go with them.

Thanks for reading, and taking a look … and:

Merry Christmas to all!


Ten Days To Christmas: Peace


Nine Days To Christmas: Two Santas and Three Snowmen


Eight Days To Christmas: Tiny Baubles


Seven Days To Christmas: Red and Green


Six Days To Christmas: Silver and Gold


Five Days To Christmas: The Bright Lights Are Coming From Inside The House!!


Four Days To Christmas: Winter Solstice


Three Days To Christmas: Angels, as the Dog Watches Over Them


Two Days To Christmas: Light the World


One Day To Christmas: Happy Christmas Eve!


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One Day To Christmas: Happy Christmas Eve!

From “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” in Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience, by Shaun Usher:

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. 

“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there….

“Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”

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Two Days To Christmas: Light the World

From “The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“A little before twilight one Christmas eve, Gabriel shouldered his spade, lighted his lantern, and betook himself towards the old churchyard…. As he wended his way, up the ancient street, he saw the cheerful light of the blazing fires gleam through the old casements, and heard the loud laugh and the cheerful shouts of those who were assembled around them….”

From “The Gift Reversed” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“That as they were assembled in the old Hall, by no other light than that of a great fire … the shadows once more stole out of their hiding-places, and danced about the room, showing the children marvelous shapes and faces on the walls, and gradually changing what was real and familiar there, to what was wild and magical.”

From “What Christmas Is As We Grow Older” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“The winter sun goes down over town and village; on the sea it makes a rosy path, as if the Sacred tread were fresh upon the water. A few more moments, and it sinks, and night comes on, and lights begin to sparkle in the prospect….

“Welcome, old aspirations, glittering creatures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter underneath the holly! We know you, and have not outlived you yet. Welcome, old projects and old loves, however fleeting, to your nooks among the steadier lights that burn around us.”

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Three Days To Christmas: Angels, as the Dog Watches Over Them

From “A Christmas Tree” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“What images do I associate with … the Christmas Tree? Known before all the others, keeping far apart from all the others, they gather round my little bed. An angel, speaking to a group of shepherds in a field; some travellers, with eyes uplifted, following a star; a baby in a manger….”

From “A Christmas Carol” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel….”



From A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher:

“Dogs were with us from the very beginning.

“When we were hunters and gatherers and walked out of Africa and began to spread across the world, they came with us. They guarded our fires as we slept and they helped us bring down prey in the long dawn when we chased our meals instead of growing them. And later, when we did become farmers, they guarded our fields and watched over our herds. They looked after us, and we looked after them. Later still, they shared our homes and our families when we built towns and cities and suburbs….


Of all the animals that travelled the long road through the ages with us, dogs always walked closest.…”


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