Blue-Violet Iris Interior

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Artist as a Locavore

Once upon a time, back when I was able to travel, I took Mouse with me wherever I went and so he got to be photographed in places like Arizona and California as well as in and around my home. Now, though, when leaving the house at all is a stretch on most days, I must, more than ever, find unexpected beauty to photograph in what is close at hand.

I've particularly enjoyed taking pictures of flowers this spring and summer and the map of my neighborhood above (I live at the green star) shows where I found some of my recent favorites.

I find plenty to photograph at my own home. For example, a pot of red and yellow tulips that bloomed on my deck this spring proved fertile ground for collecting colorful images without having to take more than a dozen steps out of my back door.

I photographed this peony at the house (second from right on the map) where I frequently go to look after my neighbors' elderly cat. The Ancient Kitty's semi-retired owners often leave town for three-day weekends and I've taken to carrying my camera with me when I walk to and from his house twice a day.

For example, I spotted a tangle of poppies across the street from the Ancient Kitty's house (first from right on the map) one day, which yielded a spectacular crop of images, including the one above.

It was while walking home from the Ancient Kitty's house that I saw a particularly magnificent bed of bearded irises (bottom center on the map) was once again in bloom and ready to be photographed.

I had been on the lookout for the irises, but these beautiful pink flowers growing out through an evergreen shrub were a pleasant surprise I encountered (below and to the left of my house) while on my way to the Ancient Kitty's one day.

Sometimes I take the other route to the Ancient Kitty's house (a little variety is always nice) and that's how I came to photograph these lovely purple daisies (top right on the map).

What the map doesn't show is that the development where I live, which could be roughly described as a squashed figure eight, is not located on level ground. The right-hand loop of the figure eight slopes gently down toward the Ancient Kitty's house, but the left-hand curve drops off quite steeply, from right about where I found this sea of fallen flowers (top left on the map) on the sidewalk outside my childhood baby-sitter's house.

On most days I am utterly unequal to the exertion of hiking in and out of the lower portion of the neighborhood, but if I'm feeling particularly strong, I will occasionally take a tour of these lower reaches. I photographed this rhododendron flower (lower far left on the map) on one such outing.

And earlier on that ill-fated day one month ago when I hit my head, I had made an extremely successful trip to the bottom of the neighborhood, capturing this foxglove (upper far left on the map)...

...this deep orange marigold (bottom left on the map)....

...and this outstanding hypericum shrub flower right next to where the bearded irises had bloomed the month before.

What I hope to show here (in addition to some pretty pictures) is that remarkable things can be found very close to home. I live in a perfectly average suburban neighborhood and have a policy of only taking photographs of things that can be reached from the sidewalk. While it would be fun to travel to a wider variety of locales, I've found that my ability to see beauty in ordinary surroundings allows me to reap rich rewards even on such a restricted scale.

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