Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Alaskan purple

I am not ashamed to admit my thievery: I steal each and every palette direct from nature.

Being in Alaska recently has given me inspiration galore. There's an entire rainbow of hues. I expected the blue and green and brown, but I was rather surprised how much purple you find.

The sky and water at midnight...

Flowers, wild and cultivated...

Sometimes lavendar, sometimes shading toward maroon...

Sometimes skirting at blue tones or contrasting sharply with brilliant green...

Here's a peek at one of the Alaskan purple palettes I've pulled straight from nature. Do you think they're just right or a little too strong?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Picking jewels

The sun's going down and I'm out in the garden with my adorable husband and the puppies, picking raspberries, thinning the beets and watering the summer garden.

Then when picking stray weeds I glimpsed something that had changed greatly in the week I was away.

The first cherries are ripe!

Hurrah! Into the house for the white ceramic bowls. Let the celebration begin... Time to call the neighbors, pull out the stepladder and pluck the first of the jewel-like fruit, then into the kitchen for a cherry lemonade toast.

You can't help but love life's little rituals when they're as sweet as this.


Will you permit me to gush?

I just returned from Alaska, where I taught on board Celebrity Mercury. What a gorgeous ship, and what astonishing beauty I found in Alaska.

The passengers were great, sketching and snipping and posing for portraits I cut zippy quick.

Then when we docked, I hiked like a fanatic. If you happened to be in Alaska last week and noticed a woman laying flat on the ground to get the perfect photo of partridge berry or fritillaria alongside a stream bed, I bet I know who it was you spotted!

These salmon berries were not ripe. I would have photographed the ripe ones but I ate them all before pulling the camera out.

Each and every inch was packed with beauty. I left most of the cruise ship passengers behind and simply set out on foot to climb the back of Mount Roberts, alongside Mendenhall Glacier, and up a mountain behind Ketchikan. All breathtakingly gorgeous. I sang as I strode the trails, not wanting to surprise a bear.

On a foothill above Juneau, I spotted this beautiful cabin. I am now mulling over a paint job for the studio and some additional flower boxes and planters! And notice that overhang? Maybe I could get one to keep the rain from dripping down my neck when I enter on those rainy days...

While I didn't meet a bear, I did see plenty of other wildlife. Ravens, whales, porpoise, seals, eagles delighted me, and you will forgive the jerkiness of this picture of a porcupine. I am not certain who was more startled, him or me. Needless to say I was so excited I couldn't manage a decent portrait of this large and charming fellow.

As we headed south, Alaska and the midnight sun of midsummer seemed to be almost bidding us goodbye.

As nice as going away is, coming home is always even better.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More treasures from the garden

Outside the studio and around the corner beside the tayberry patch, brilliant orange poppies wave in the breeze...

And my imagination has been tickled, bringing a new poppy collection...

Now I'm dreaming what I'll do with the roses...

And the robin's egg that fell to the grass...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sunrise in the garden

Bright and early this morning I was awake. Why not follow the birdsong out to the garden?

I spent two blissful hours weeding and killing slugs and snails.

Two hours among the miracles!

Grasses bending in the breeze

Poppy buds just barely opening

and in the splendor of full bloom

Two hours at daybreak with the shy wonders we so often ignore when the world intrudes. Two hours alone with God and his quiet gifts.

What lines and forms, scents and textures linger in a garden at daybreak...

Soft roses, clematis brilliant as fireworks, snails leaving silver trails...

Oh, the joys of early morning. I had almost forgotten.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer's essence

Ahhh, the essence of summer...

Every walk through the neighborhood yields up ideas galore. Wagons and puppies and children dancing under the hose. Laundry on the line and mothers shouting over the fence that supper is ready by the barbecue.

Yes, this is still real life for some of us who have chosen to life deep, not fast. It's a counter cultural lifestyle, but a satisfying one.

The studio beckons and just out of view pink roses tumble over the studio's front door.

Along the river, fishing shacks await the weekend, when rods and reels and campfires will come into use.

And the islands are calling us to visit again.

The very air seems alive with the perfume of summer. Surely this is the most magical of seasons.

Ahhh, the essence of summer. Season of lush life, spilling over with richness. I wish it would last forever.

Won't you come for an evening and toast marshmallows around the campfire? Because summer will soon fade into autumn. Let's enjoy it while we can.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Evening in the garden

Summer evening, the kids next door are splashing in the sprinkler and the frogs are beginning to sound in the meadow. Just outside the studio door, cherries are ripening and the gazebo's mossy table is set for a romantic picnic for two.

Soon the blooming clematis will give way to heirloom roses...

Penny is ever the faithful companion and the chickens forage for slugs in the vegetable patch.

In the underpinnings of the deck, three robin families have nested and the babies cry loudly for food.

My world is abloom right now with the simple pleasures that all the money in the world couldn't buy: peace and long hours of creativity, and friends, family and little creatures to share it all.

By my standards, I am a rich woman indeed. So blessed and hoping I'm passing it along.