“Grabbing Some Peace” and “Gotcha”

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

Sunday, January 13th, 2019 Pam and I met grandchildren Soraya and Taj at McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach for the day. Pam had found the gardens as a suitable “half-way point” meeting place between Cocoa Beach, our winter haven, and Jupiter were the grandchildren lived. The meeting turned out as an inflection point in for us and the featured Artist.

As you can infer from his “dates”, John Seward Johnson II (April 16, 1930 – March 10, 2020) passed away the next year. Best known as “Seward Johnson”, he was a grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I, the co-founder of Johnson & Johnson, and of Colonel Thomas Melville Dill of Bermuda, Mr Johnson was an American artist who created trompe-l’œil painted bronze statues. He designed life-size bronze statues that were castings of living people, depicting them engaged in day-to-day activities.

A large staff of technicians did the fabrication of the works he designed. Computers and digital technology often were used in the manufacturing process.

Sometimes the manufacture was contracted in China. He was the founder of “Grounds For Sculpture”, a 42-acre sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey.

After this both Soraya and Taj’s moved on in their lives, branching out from their Jupiter, Florida roots. Both stay in touch.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Protoceratops, a caring parent (?)

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Life from Death

while trillium

Taken with a Canon 100 mm “macro” lens, a Kodak digital single lens reflex body, a Manfrotto tripod and ample time and patience.

Enjoy!

Click here for my Online Gallery offering from this group.

Trillium rise from the decaying tree roots.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Are White and Red Trillium a different species?

A question of speciation

Click me for my Getty flower photography.

Questions about speciation of flora can be complex and are so in the case of trillium. A straightforward answer is “yes,” white and red trillium are different species with distinct characteristics, as can be seen from the first photograph.

The white trillium below are in the species Trillium grandiflorum as evidenced by coloration, the shapes of the flower petals and anthers. For this discussion I will focus on the flower petal shape and coloration. The grandiflorum petals are broad at the base and wavy, compared to the more blade-like red trillium, Trillium erectum, straight-edged petals.

There is the obvious difference of color, but Trillium erectum has a white form, not seen here.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Then, there is this specimen, below, with a stippling of red on blade-like petals with wavy edges. Here is where the experts differ and, in summary, many believe trillium species are an interrelated complex with the possibility of hybridization, sharing of genetic material between the different species to produce fertile offspring. This specimen may be an example of this hybridization.

Click me for another Trillium posting

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Massed White Trillium Blooms

Wonder of the northern spring forest

Click here for my Online Gallery offering from this group.

I came upon this display April 2004, a wonder of the northern spring forest.

Click either photograph for a larger view.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Around and About Athens, New York, part 4 Finale

295 year old Zillow listing

Real Estate

Home for 295 years, one way to describe the Albertus Van Loon house, 85 North Washington street, Athens, New York. Built before there was a George Washington or Athens New York. The river flowing by was named North River when this door first opened. The Delaware was South River.

Click any photograph for a larger version

Listed today on Zillow with a increasing value and, incredibly, “built 1725.”

Well cared for…..

…..solid masonry walls with timber additions.

Right on the Hudson River.

Details

Albertus is a Great+ Uncle for Pam. She felt the connection to this place, marveled at the well build masonry and solid windows, absolutely loved the ivy. 85 North Washington was our last stop.

Click me for the first post of this series.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Around and About Athens, New York, part 3

Blossoms, headstones and the passage from Dutch to English

Blossoms

Spiraea bushes in full bloom flanked the Riverside Park along Water Street.

Click any photograph for a larger version

Well cared for…..

…..as are the urns across the street.

Athens Country Cemetery

Our daughter-in-law and her Mom were a source of post-trip information. “Yan Van Loan” is how Jan Van Loon’s name is pronounced in Dutch, they kindly informed us.

Passage of political control from Dutch to English was decades old when Jan Van Loon acquired his land on the river. By the 19th century the name was anglicized (turned English) on the headstones, spelled as it was pronounced in English. In the 18th century Pam’s ancestors had moved west and south to what became Plymouth, Pennsylvania (Luzerne County). This was before the coal fields, in the 18th century agriculture was the primary industry. Pam’s branch of the Van Loons retained the Dutch spelling and anglicized the pronunciation, as “Van Loon” is pronounced in the English language.

The very old burials were marked with headstones of locally quarried slate, as was common in upstate New York. You can see slate headstones in this video of a Pioneer Cemetery near our home in Ithaca, New York.

In Athens the oldest stones were in the same condition, the lettering and decoration erased by the elements even when the stones are still standing. Some kind people researched the burials and erected a modern, white marble memorial stone with the names and dates of the ancestors named in the records. Jan Van Loon, Maria his wife, or any of Pam’s direct ancestors were not among them.

The Matthias Van Loon of this memorial obelisk was a descendant who remained in what became Athens, New York. The following two photographs are of the base and an overview. Matthias Van Loon’s is on the right.

This Catholic burial is on the very edge of the site, as though pushed off to the side. That is the yard of a private home in the background. I started this post with flowers because there was little evidence of familial devotions on these burials of previous centuries.

Click Me for “Around and About Athens, New York, part 4”

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Flowering Bush Mystery

Request for Assistance

Here is a repost of a popular and interesting article. The answer is in comments. Thanks, readers!!

I need your help this morning. This year each of these bushes in front of our kitchen window has profuse blooms after Pam pruned and fertilized them early spring. I am coming up blank with identifying them.

The two bushes are over six feet tall and lose leaves each autumn (deciduous).

Here are some photographs. Can any readers identify these bushes? The common name or scientific will be much appreciated.

Thanks so much.




Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Life and Death

Rumination on wild flower blooms

Click here for my Online Gallery offering of trillium.

An access road, now blocked with huge boulders by the State Park, leads to this dam at the head of Fillmore Glen. I stop here for reflection at times and have climbed behind the dam for photographs. It is possible to drive up the south side of the glen on a poorly maintained road and park next to the boulders. In this season (spring) the surrounding forest is carpeted in wildflowers. Hepatica, trillium, dutchman’s breeches. One day, years ago, I pulled in behind a late model convertible with a license plate holder advising the owner was a member of the 10th Mountain division and a World War II veteran.

They were a well dressed and groomed couple. The white haired driver, in his late 80’s at least, patiently waited while she, a frail woman, walked the margins of the forest, enjoying the wildflowers. It was my impression this was a ritual for them, developed over the years. One of the few spring outings left to them.

Wildflower displays develop over hundreds of years. The massed trillium are on land not disturbed for thousands of years, since the last ice age. These same spring wonders were certainly enjoyed by the Iroquois before us.

Click either photograph for a larger view.

On the gorge slope below the parking area, in a hollow on the north side of a large (I recall) oak, one early sunny spring morning I discovered the last resting place of a deer. Only the bones and some fur remained, the visible portion resembles the Capitulum and trochlea of a human arm bone and, indeed, there was a scapula close by. The season is evoked by the unfurling fern against the based of the oak.

Dark, Unwritten Forest Secrets
Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Man of War Beach Walk

Beauties and Dangers Encountered During a Walk on the Beach

Over the years my selection of beach texture photography has expanded. Click this link or any photograph to visit my Textures Abstracts Patterns fine art gallery.

Setting off from the International Palms Resort Pam and I turned left, walking toward the pier, about 2.5 miles away. On the left is Lori Wilson (public) Park. One benefit of this location is the lifeguard station and “protected” swimming. We have reservations about ocean swimming: Sharks? Man ‘O War?

Headed north on Cocoa Beach – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

That hotel with the dark windows, on the north side of Lori Wilson Park is the Hilton. This sandcastle, washed out by high tide, caught in the dawn light, was in front of the Hilton. It brings to mind the interaction of nature and people.

Washed Out Sand Castle – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

There were strong on-shore winds that day. Dune grass driven by the wind made this pattern.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery
Wind Driven Pattern – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The wind and tide washed ashore all sorts of man-mad junk.

These small pieces of plastic washes off distant islands by hurricanes, the plastic ground up into bits.

The branded drink holder, the “corn huskers” of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, does not speak well for the alumni as these are sold locally. Community-minded people walk the beach with bags, picking up the bigger stuff.

When the wind changed the small plastic washed out with the next high tide and the beach was cleared.

Debris from Hurricane and Tourists – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Corpse of a gull with ground up plastic bits.

Gull Corps – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The gull beak has the same cruel beauty in death as it does in life.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery
Gull Corps – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The wind drove ashore living creatures, left them on the beach to dry out or as food for crabs and gulls. After a Man Of War washes up on a beach it is still dangerous. Long tentacles extend from the body and can deliver painful stings.

Beached Man Of War – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The person walking around these tentacles is wisely wearing shoes, as I can tell from the footprint shape.

Each such tentacle is threaded with stinging, venom-filled structures coiled, like a spring, ready to pump venom into the victim for the purpose of feeding, catching larval and small fishes and squids.

These structures, called nematocysts fire on contact and do not differentiate targets be it a human foot or a squid.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery
Man of War with extended tentacles – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The crest of the Portuguese Man of War is very visible in the water, the sac can be inflated/deflated to catch the wind or even sink the organism to escape surface feeders. The fanciful resemblance of the floating crest to a sailing ship is the origin of the organism’s popular name. The scientific name is Physalia physalis. While it appears to be a single creature, it is actually several working together for common benefit.

Named After Sailing Ships – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

In Australia they call these baddies “blue bottles.” So descriptive.

We talked with life guards about first aid procedure, for the stings, and were not comforted by their ignorance. We had done the research ourselves. Be informed before you step onto the beach. Do not expect well informed assistance in the case of a sting, pre-arm yourself with knowledge.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery
Life guards were not knowledgeable – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

This is an especially dangerous configuration of a beached Man O’ War (also known at Floating Terror): a blue balloon with strings trailing from it. Young children will see the balloon and want to grab or play with it. If we see tourist families with young children, when these are around, we will go out of our way to warn them.

Dangerous fun balloon configuration – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

These disconcerting findings on the beach do not diminish our enjoyment of the environment, instead we are left with a greater appreciation and respect for the ocean.

Dunes welcome us home after a successful sunrise photo shoot.

Click photo to visit my Fine Art Gallery
Glowing Dunes at Sun rise – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Please browse my reasonably priced stock photography. License a photograph, download and use it for your website or blog. I have 100’s of clients, worldwide. Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.

Or click this link or any photograph or this link to select a print with custom framing from my “Textures” Fine Art Gallery.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Sand Abstracts accepted by Getty

Success.

I am happy to report 100% of the photographs presented in my “Sand Abstracts” posting were accepted for publication by Getty.

Click Me to view these and my other “texture” photographs on Getty

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved