A Photo Essay
Prepare for Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th
I originally published these blossoms as “wild rose”. It was my Facebook friends who pointed out these are hawthorn flowers. The key to identification was the shape of the leaves.
In correcting my mistake, I learned the young leaves of Hawthorn are excellent for salads. Wonder how the fairy folk, associated with single hawthorns (as in the following photograph from the Hill of Tara), react to picking leaves from their trees? I didn’t hear of the practice during our time in Ireland.
My mistake was understandable, in botany the hawthorn is in the same family as the rose. The flowers are similar, having five petals. The “haw” in hawthorn is from the Old English word for hedge, as is this linear standoff the tree lining the way up to the Loughcrew Cairns.
I read these votive offerings are made at Beltane, in which case these are fresh from placement May 1.
The following year Pam underwent double total knee replacements, never the less, she was great company for all our adventures on the island. Even this steep climb.
These views were our reward for reaching the top.
The Emerald Isle, we fully understood this name.
The Greek name for the Hawthorn species is formed from two words meaning “strength” and “sharp”, referring to the thorny branches.
We marveled at the hawthorn hedges in field after field. I first notice them from the World Heritage Site, Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne, “Palace of the Boyne”). Here is one on the Dingle Peninsula, on the other side of the island.
Clouds of Blossoms
We have a selection of teas at home for brewing afternoons as a pick-me-up. Some brought back from travels, most from a local supermarket. This Japanese green tea brings to mind my childhood and our trips to Long Island to visit my Mom until she passed away June 2013.
In Japan, since the 8th century, “Hanami” is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming sakura or ume tree. Here in the United States, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrated commemorating the 1912 gift of Prunus serrulata Japanese cherry trees from Tokyo to the city of Washington.
Traditionally cherry blossoms remind the Japanese of clouds, the blooms come out en mass, the tree changes shape with the breeze. Viewing sakura brings to mind thoughts of the transience of existence, the fragility and transience of the exquisite blooms leads one to appreciate the moment. The following photograph of Pam was taken a month before my Mother’s sudden decline and passing in 2013. We’d travel to Long Island several times a year to visit her, then take in familiar sights.
The tree over Pam is called a Shirofugen (Scientific name: Prunus serrulata, of the Rosaceae family) and is one species planted around National Tidal Basin, Washington D.C. Shirofugen blossoms are described “Flowers double, deep pink at first, fading to pale pink.”
Growing up, our family visited the Planting Fields, a state park, several times in the spring and summer. As an adult with a growing family in Glen Cove, right around the corner, the Planting Fields were a welcome outing and visited several time times a year. The following photograph, taken that same May 2013 day, was a favorite park scene.
The two flowering cherry trees in the foreground are a type of Japanese sakura called Yoshino, one the most popular flowering cherries in temperate climates worldwide. All Yoshinos are clones from a single grafting and propagated throughout the world. The scientific name outlines the cross breeding of this variety, Prunus X Yeaoensis. Behind the cherries is an Oak tree, new leaves a bright green, and a pink child’s playhouse cottage.
A changing scene of the park is the now frequent visits by wedding parties and photographers, groups of Asian people, the bride and groom posing under the clouds of blossoms. By frequent I mean a steady stream, one after the other, when the blossoms are full.
In 2007 I spent hours framing and capturing the following photograph on a Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, during a visit to my Mother, who was widowed December, 1995. I used an inexpensive tripod, a Kodak DCS Pro slr/c camera body with the Canon 50mm f 1.4 USM lens, a UV filter and lots of time. There were no interruptions that day, at 5:30 pm I had the area to myself.
This child’s garden playhouse, framed by an ancient oak, pink Japanese cherry blossoms and gracious lawn was awarded a Photographic Society of American, Pictorial Print Division, Print of the Month award, published in the society magazine for that month.
My online gallery (see link below) “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”, has this print available for sale on high quality photographic stock with optional framing.
This week, I submitted the photograph for my Getty portfolio. As of today, I have not received their decision.
Please browse my reasonably priced stock photography. License a photograph, download and use it for your website or blog. Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.
Or click this link to purchase a print of “Playhouse” with optional custom framing from my Fine Art Gallery.
Spring Solstice is today
A storage building fashioned into an overlook, just off South Pulteney Road, Route 76, as the road climbs the hillside. This cast iron decoration graces the fence around the roof. The building is built into the hillside, one edge level with the ground.
As far back as I can remember, over thirty years, yet unmarked on maps, this building and view has been part of the experience of Keuka Lake. During that time, the fence was erected to protect us. The place symbolizes the gracious hospitality of the Finger Lakes Region.
I caught this feature during an outing to Dr. Frank Winery, just a ways up the road, one day of an unusually cold early December.
We spread our Thanksgiving goodies over three meals for our 2020 solo celebration.
Breakfast: Homemade Apple Pie (Grannie Smith Apples), Coffee with foamed milk and cinnamon
Lunch: Relish plate, sour cream onion dip, potato chips (avocado oil), Irish cheddar cheese and crackers, Dr. Frank Pino Noir
The roses are the last blooms from our garden.
….on a Sonic Drive-In Order Station.
On Tuesday, December 17, 2019 a caterpillar dropped from vegetation to crawl across the parking lot of Sonic Drive-In, 2140 N Courtenay Pkwy, Merritt Island, FL 32953, crawl up an order station, affix its tail to the kelly green semi-gloss enamel, to form a chrysalis.
The afternoon of New Years Eve, 14 days later, we spied the Retro theme of this fast food business, finding it appealing, stopped for a hi-fat lunch of hamburgers, onion rings (“highly recommended, very delicious”) and (ha, ha) diet sodas, choosing this same order station where the emerged Brush-foot butterfly, of the family Nymphalidae, clung, drying in anticipation of flight.
Captured here with the Apple IPhone 8. I cannot identify the exact butterfly species this is. Source: wikipedia article on Nymphalidae.
Our holiday tradition
You will be well-remembered for years when Pam’s salad is part of your holiday celebration. We hosted 2017 Thanksgiving and Pam’s salad was requested by her son and daughter’s families. When we went around the table to give thanks, our six year old grandson offered, “I am thankful for the jello”, meaning Pam’s salad.
My wife, Pamela Wills, perfected this recipe over the years as a nutritious and tasty dish she could make in advance.
Holiday Cranberry-Pecan Salad travels well and is a visually appealing dish to share at parties.
1 12 oz. bag of raw cranberries
1 6 oz. box of raspberry gelatin
1 6 oz. box of orange gelatin
3 cups orange juice
3 cups boiling water
1 large orange
2 large apples of your choice (I use sweet/tart/firm apples)
1 tablespoon orange rind
½ cup chopped pecans
Curly leaf parsley
3-4 small bunches of green grapes. I dip the grapes in water, then in sugar and let dry. Or you can use raw cranberries.
Dip bottom of mold into a sink of a few inches of luke warm water (not too warm or the gelatin will melt). Turn upside down on a large round platter or plate and garnish around the edges with parsley and the sugar-coated grapes or raw cranberries.
This is a great dish to share at a holiday party since you can make it in advance. My family prefers it over cooked cranberry relish and it is even good enough to serve as a dessert. It is easy to make, it’s festive and has always been a big hit. Enjoy!
Note: EAT the parsley garnish. Parsely is packed with vitamins and minerals. Just 7.5 grams (a fraction of an ounce) contains 150+% of most people’s Vitamin K requirement and about 15% for Vitamin A and C.
capturing a personality
Last year, you read about our grandson’s 6th birthday celebration in “Volcano Cake.”
A year has passed and we were amused at the changes and what did not. He makes his own clothing choices and the shark shirt reappeared, surprisingly it still fits. GMa combed his hair and he refashioned it, messy and spikey is the look as in these photographs of opening the furry birthday card (“The Grinch” was the cake theme).
I used a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, tilted the flash to bounce off the ceiling to gently brighten his face. For the memories we left the kitchen “as is” in the midst of cake baking, decoration.
View a larger version of each photograph by clicking twice. First to open a page, a second click on the image will yield the larger version.
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills