Summer 2020: Lily Variations (7 of 10)

From “Summer Days at Mount Shasta” in John Muir Ultimate Collection: Travel Memoirs, Wilderness Essays, Environmental Studies and Letters by John Muir:

“The common honeybees, gone wild in this sweet wilderness, gather tons of honey into the hollows of the trees and rocks, clambering eagerly through bramble and hucklebloom, shaking the clustered bells of the generous manzanita, now humming aloft among polleny willows and firs, now down on the ashy ground among small gilias and buttercups, and anon plunging into banks of snowy cherry and buckthorn….

They consider the lilies and roll into them, pushing their blunt polleny faces against them like babies on their mother’s bosom; and fondly, too, with eternal love does Mother Nature clasp her small bee-babies and suckle them, multitudes at once, on her warm Shasta breast. Besides the common honeybee there are many others here, fine, burly, mossy fellows, such as were nourished on the mountains many a flowery century before the advent of the domestic species — bumblebees, mason-bees, carpenter-bees, and leaf-cutters. Butterflies, too, and moths of every size and pattern; some wide-winged like bats, flapping slowly and sailing in easy curves; others like small flying violets shaking about loosely in short zigzag flights close to the flowers, feasting in plenty night and day.”


In the last four of my summer lily posts — starting with this one — I’ll be showcasing galleries where I took a lot of creative license with the original images and tried to transform them in new ways. When I took these photos, the lilies were blooming abundantly — with many of the blossoms in large clumps making it difficult to isolate just one, two, or even three of the blooms without also including many that were not yet opened, along with more of the background than I wanted. Here’s an example of what I mean: a fine looking Swamp Lily variation with way too much busy-ness beyond the foreground of the photo.

Whereas I often use Lightroom brushes to carefully trace around image elements to eliminate the background, for these images I tried to use the brush tools like paintbrushes by first turning the entire image black then using a sweeping motion with the mouse to selectively remove the black mask. This is probably something that physically or mechanically would work better with a tablet and stylus; but I did manage it quite well after getting used to some awkward arcing or sweeping mouse movements, then zooming in to add or remove additional black masking wherever I got carried away.

Here are a couple of before-and-after views showing one batch of lilies where I removed much of the background as well as many of the blooms that hadn’t opened yet or faced away from my camera. The first view features the new “image compare” block WordPress recently introduced (see WordPress.com instructions or Jetpack/self-hosted site instructions); the second view shows the before and after versions as a slideshow (click the first image to enlarge).



Here are the final images — first, this peppermint-candy-looking lily, followed by different angles of the Swamp Lily.




The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (5 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (6 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!


3 Comments

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (6 of 10)

From “The Valley of the Unrest” in The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe:

Once it smiled a silent dell 
Where the people did not dwell; 
They had gone unto the wars, 
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars, 
Nightly, from their azure towers, 
To keep watch above the flowers, 
In the midst of which all day 
The red sun-light lazily lay. 
Now each visitor shall confess 
The sad valley’s restlessness. 
Nothing there is motionless— 
Nothing save the airs that brood 
Over the magic solitude. 
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees 
That palpitate like the chill seas 
Around the misty Hebrides! 
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven 
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven 
Uneasily, from morn till even, 
Over the violets there that lie 
In myriad types of the human eye— 
Over the lilies there that wave 
And weep above a nameless grave! 
They wave:—from out their fragrant tops 
External dews come down in drops. 
They weep:—from off their delicate stems 
Perennial tears descend in gems. 

From “The Poetic Principle” in The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe:

“An immortal instinct, deep within the spirit of man, is thus, plainly, a sense of the Beautiful. This it is which administers to his delight in the manifold forms, and sounds, and odours, and sentiments amid which he exists. And just as the lily is repeated in the lake, or the eyes of Amaryllis in the mirror, so is the mere oral or written repetition of these forms, and sounds, and colours, and odours, and sentiments, a duplicate source of delight.”

From “The Masque of the Red Death” in The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe:

“The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the ‘Red Death’….

It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence…

The tastes of the duke were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colors and effects. He disregarded the decora of mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not….


My, my … I spent half the day looking through my library for some quotes about lilies, was about to give up but then started poking among Edgar Allen Poe’s words when I found the poem above, and a second lily reference in his essay about poetry and our appreciation of beauty. Since I was in Poe-mode, I decided to include a third bonus-quote, from The Masque of the Red Death — one of Poe’s most horrifically endearing (!!) stories about the prince of an unidentified kingdom who tried to shield himself and his sycophants from a plague while partying big-time in his ostentatious abbey, as his subjects got sick throughout the land. Spoiler alert: he failed. I had highlighted these passages a couple weeks ago when I saw a meme on Twitter pointing out that Trump’s Rose Garden gathering for his Supreme Court nominee leading to a coronavirus outbreak that included Trump himself … was just like the plot of Poe’s story. Well, damn, it really was! And there were even buffoons!!

Sharing is caring! 🙂



The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (5 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!


Leave a comment

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (5 of 10)

From “The Arrival of Fall” by Lauren Springer, in The Writer in the Garden by Jane Garmey:

“Fresh, vibrant June passes to a languid, slow July. Then comes a turning point, when summer suddenly feels utterly tiresome. Some years, late summer weather is kind and merciful, indulging the gardener in a quick turn to cool nights and days filled with a mellow, amber sunlight that actually feels good on the face, totally unlike the prickling and piercing rays of high summer. Other years, the wait is interminable, summer’s heat oozing on well into months traditionally autumnal….

“Just as fall is a time for letting go, for riding with the slow, melancholy yet beautiful decline toward the inevitability of winter, it is also a time for loosening up rigid color rules. What may jar in the May and June garden is a welcome sight in October. Colors have richened and deepened with the cooler temperatures and golden light. The sunlight of autumn softens the boundaries that in spring and summer define orange, red, magenta and purple…. Nature combines cobalt skies, red and yellow leaves and purple asters; the gardener does well to take inspiration from these stunning scenes.”


The first day of autumn was a few weeks ago, yet here in the Southeast we have our own transition from summer to fall that I’ve designated as a new season. It’s called Summerfall.

Summerfall’s most notable characteristic is that it’s cold enough in the morning to crank on the furnace, but warm enough in the afternoon that you need a bit of the air conditioner. Temperatures will swing as much as 30 or 40 degrees between dawn and dusk, before they settle into a narrower range that presages winter.

Summerfall only lasts a couple of weeks — usually winding up in late October — and it’s only toward the end of the month that the leaves around town start to shed their greens and reveal all their fall colors before they need raking and sweeping and bagging up. With the sun tilting toward its winter angle, all those green leaves look super-saturated right now — which in part accounts for how early fall can seem so emotionally soothing after the long, hot months of July, August, and (here in the south anyway) early to mid-September. The galleries below are a recap of the lily photos I’ve posted so far; and I’ll be using this tween-season to finish up my summer photos in a few final posts while I also begin photo-hunting for the first appearances of fall color among the plants in my garden and the surrounding neighborhood.

For those interested in what I’ve written (see here and here) about the upcoming general election in the United States, below are two websites I’ve recently been visiting to keep tabs on early voting, and one I’ve found that describes the ballot processing rules for each state. That third site is useful (note the column “When Ballot Processing Begins”) for an important reason: it undermines the false idea that we will not know the results of the election for many days, weeks, or months (as the president and his campaign have tried to claim) since many states start processing ballots well before November 3.

Tracking Absentee Votes in the 2020 Election

National 2020 General Election Early & Absentee Vote Report

Absentee and Mail Voting Policies in Effect for the 2020 Election

Also: Please VOTE!


We are counting on each other to change the world.


The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

Thanks for reading and taking a look!



Leave a comment

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

From “The Golden Children” in The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated and edited by Jack Zipes:

“So the husband went fishing … and he fished and caught the golden fish a third time.

“‘Listen,’ said the fish. ‘Take me home with you and cut me into six pieces. Give two to your wife to eat, two to your horse, and plant two in the ground. You’ll reap a blessing by doing this. Your wife will give birth to two golden children, The horse will produce two golden foals. And two golden lilies will grow from the earth.’

The fisherman obeyed, and the fish’s prophecy came true.”


I don’t have a fishing pole, so I’ll never know if I can get two kids, two horse babies, and two lilies from one six-parted fish. If you try it — let me know how things work out!

Below are a few more lily images from my trips to Oakland Cemetery. For these golden yellow ones, I got as close as I could without stepping on a ghost, then zoomed in to capture the blossom’s interior detail, then erased the backgrounds to emphasize the yellow and green colors.

Select any image if you would like to see larger versions in a slideshow.

The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!



3 Comments

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

From The Reason For Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann:

“Once Alice takes her fateful first step through the looking glass, she finds a pleasant garden where the flowers talk… but have only the least regard for her. Instead, they await the arrival of the Red Queen…. “

From Alice in Wonderland (Norton Critical Editions) by Lewis Carroll and Donald Gray:

“‘O Tiger-lily!’ said Alice, addressing herself to one that was waving gracefully about in the wind, ‘I wish you could talk!’

“‘We can talk,’ said the Tiger-lily, ‘when there’s anybody worth talking to.’


Tiger Lilies!

Below are five variations of images of a single Tiger Lily that I found while wandering around Oakland Cemetery. Imagine my surprise to learn that Tiger Lilies — one of the few lily varieties I photographed that I could actually identify — have nearly identical relatives called “Leopard Lilies” and “Panther Lilies” by some people, apparently because we humans are fond of naming things after animals we admire. Once I learned that, I headed back over to the cemetery to see if I could find some with different spot patterns (and to see if they would talk!), just to call them by the names I had recently learned … but, alas! (who says that?!?) there were none left because summer’s dragging its hot way toward fall and most of the lilies have turned into leaves.

The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!




3 Comments