Posted by Pamela Breitberg on June 18, 2013
Iris pair in bud copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Iris bloom copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Iris emerging copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
All these images were taken the same day, in the same setting. Each Iris grows in the same ecosystem, the west side of my garden; each received similar light, water, temperature and soil conditions. Yet each is in a different stage of bloom. I think I’ll let the images speak for themselves and allow you to find words to tell their story.
Story without a title
No title, story to come
Unwritten story, no title
Story that needs telling title
Separate stories within same plot
Plot of stories
Creation of an identity
Identity of a story
The Identity of a Story
Wanted: Identity of a story
Wanted: Story’s Identity
Labor of purposeful creativity
Choice of title
Title without a story
Untold title to an unwritten story
Posted in Blogging Tips and Comments, Nature, Photography | Tagged: images, Photography, titles, words, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on June 15, 2013
Cransebill copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
The story changes when the focus changes. Sometimes the bigger story is in the background. Sometimes the story is revealed when the camera focuses differently than the photographer’s intention; this time the camera showed me a more interesting subject than the Cranesbill flower. It caught the hole-makers in the act.
Insect Hosting Cranesbill copyright 2013 Pamela Bretiberg
Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged: bug, holes in flowers, insect | 2 Comments »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on June 15, 2013
When are flowers on a single stem made up of two distinct characteristics?
European Cranberry Bush 2013 Pamela Breitberg
European Cranberry Bush copyright 2013
A “wet woods” is an understatement for the Harms Woods patch of Cook County Forest Preserve. At this moment one would need tall boots to take a stroll here as the excessive rains have reinforced its official wetland status. This wet footing is the ideal habitat for the European Cranberry Bush
(Viburnum opulus). Flat pancakes of white flowers draw attention in the spring; red cranberry-like berries hold visual interest in the fall. Pure white flowers fully open on the outside of the pancake cluster, while smaller cream colored flowers open in the interior. Both flower types have five petals but the inner flowers’ petals are less distinct. The larger outer flowers are sterile while the small inner flowers are fertile. A fine example of nature breaking the rules of nature.
For detailed information see: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_viopa2.pdf
Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged: Cook County Forest Preserve, Harms Woods, illinois, spring, wetlands, white flower, wood | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on June 10, 2013
Siberian Squill copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Irony can be found in the early blooming blue perennials. Blue symbolizes sadness and lack of hope. These blues signify the exhilaration of continued survival.
It’s the in-between time of seasons, which in Chicago means weather is more unpredictable than usual. Spring suggests temperatures finally above freezing, but Chicago’s average last frost date is May 15th, roughly two thirds into the season. “Average” is the pleasant way of saying Chicagoans should expect regular appearances of the low 30′s through the end of May.
Virginia Bluebells copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
As we wait for the weather to awaken our romance with springtime these blue perennials wake from their dormancy and stir new energy in our beings. Their appearances warm our souls while we anticipate southern winds’ warming. Is it any wonder that Chicago’s Blues Fest ushers in the festival season, chasing away winter doldrums? I share these blue images to strengthen the spirit of those Chicagoans restlessly awaiting summer’s arrival.
Columbine copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
False Blue Indigo copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged: blessing, blue, blues, chicago, hope, irony, spring, symbolize | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on June 6, 2013
Snowball Bush with Barbery in background, copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Snowball Bush copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Sometimes things that happen to you in your childhood impact your adult life choices. My mother rightfully took pride in her garden and lawn; they were beautiful from her hours of care. My favorite place though in the springtime was the yard several houses away. They had a wonder of nature, the Common Snowball Bush (Viburnum opulus ’Roseum’). More importantly we were allowed to have snowball fights in May using these large round bunches of delicate flowers. A child’s dream comes true.
Without hesitation this Snowball Bush was a first purchase for me when we bought our home. And each spring I still get great pleasure in tossing a snowball or two.
They also make great cut flowers. To keep them blooming longer smash the small the woody stem before putting in water.
Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged: child, childhood, garden, memories, memory, play, snow, snowball, spring | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on June 3, 2013
Tree stump at river’s edge, copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
I began my focus on the distant shoreline, across the Skokie River. It’s an inaccessible section of Forest Preserve; no bike, foot or horse trails. It’s my nature to want to go where I’m not allowed, where others have not trod. I want to explore the unexplored, which is difficult to do in our much settled Chicago area. So I veer off the bike trail and follow the foot trail which is dirt instead of paved and less traveled. It is early morning so I saw about sixty travelers (bikers, dog-walkers, hikers) along the paved bike trail, I was the only soul along the river’s edge (at least of the human kind).
Across the river showed exposed tree roots, a surprise because spring usually produces raised rivers holding winter’s melted snows and springs prolific rains spilling into the forest floor. Irises were close at the edge taking advantage of the wet environment, not yet ready to bloom. I focused on the old broken tree stump as a prominent point of interest. My ever wishful thoughts searched vainly for animal wildlife. This inaccessible area seems the perfect place to spot deer and other forest creatures, yet in twenty seven years I have yet to see any. But I admit that they are most probably deeper in this habitat, choosing not to be the people-tolerant deer that I so often observe on the trails.
Sun lit Maple leaves copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Artists learn quickly that the eye is drawn to the lightest elements in the scene and use this to focus the viewer on their intended subject. I could not help but notice the morning sunlit Maple leaves on my side of the river just above me. The artist in me realigned the image and focused on these brilliantly lit leaves. The tree trunk and the distant river’s edge became the leaves’ complementing background, providing a sense of perspective.
As I enjoyed this quiet scene, rich in God’s bounty, I noticed that this latter image was showing many stages of the trees’ life cycles. The foreground leaves showed springs’ reawakening of hardy deciduous trees. The background displayed the final stages of tree life including stumps and fallen branches as well as current life in the tree roots. Somehow seeing and knowing nature’s ability to continue year after year through many and varied storms reassures me that it is right to believe that all is well and will be well in spite of life’s many trials.
Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged: comfort, cycles, focus, good, image, life, perspective, river, Skokie, spotlight, trails, tree, woods | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on June 3, 2013
Mayapple @2013 Pamela Breitberg
Mayapple flower 2013 copyright Pamela Breitberg
Mayapples’ blooms hide under umbrella-like leaves on the forest floor. This seemingly shsy flower appropriately named blooms in May and its fruit resembles a miniature unripe apple. For those who don’t mind kneeling on the cool, water soaked, spring land, you can see their beauty.
Mayapple 2 copyright2013 Pamela Breitberg
For more information on Mayapples see “May in April”, posted April 17, 2012.
Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged: apples, beauty, bloom, flower, Forest, pure, shy, spring, wood | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on May 30, 2013
Dew soaked grass copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
When the air is cool and the season warm, grasses and dew are nature’s instant breakfast.
Prairie breakfast copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Posted in Nature, Photography, Prairie | Tagged: breakfast, dew, gifts, grace, grass, morning, Prairie | 1 Comment »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on May 29, 2013
What a confusing louse! Eating this plant will fill you with lice. Looks like sideways slippers. Has hair and tiny teeth. Pinwheels are seen when looking at it from above. And it t takes food from others.
Swamp Lousewort copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Meet the Swamp Lousewort (Pedicularis Canadensis) aka Wood Betony. The Greek word, pedlilon, means slipper or sandal, and these slippers grow sideways on the stem. Indeed when looking down on the stalk the flowers form a distinctive pinwheel. The leaves are hairy with tiny teeth around the edges. Livestock that ate Lousewort were believed bug-ridden with lice. To confuse the nature of this plant the Native Americans used it for medicinal purposes (see below).
Wood Betony pinwheel copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
If all that isn’t interesting enough, the Swamp Lousewort is considered a hemiparasite. It does use photosynthesis to make its own food (energy source); but it also take food from other plants via connections in their roots. These particular images were made on a nearby prairie which was more wet than usual this spring. I had never seen this plant before and this weekend the field was full of Swamp Lousewort.
It was routine for European settlers to name newly “discovered” plants with names they were reminded of from their homeland. This is the reason so many plants are called “false …..”; they look like a plant they know, but it a different species.
In regards to the name, Wood Betony, the Sierra Club’s Potomac Region Outings says, “It has the same name as one of the most well-known herbs of Europe, Stachys officinalis, the other, Old World wood betony, a perennial grass that has a purple spiked flower at the top (Stachys means ‘ear of grain’ in Greek) that is common in open grasslands and wooded areas in Eurasia and North Africa.”
Lousewort leaf with dew, copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
- They continue by telling of the uses for Wood Betony by the Native American Indians:
- “The New World wood betony P. canadensis was not nearly as well established as the old. This is due in no small part to the marginal acculturation of the Native Americans that extended only to an oral history for the conveyance of historical practices. According to D. Moorman in North American Medicinal Plants, betony was widely used by a number of tribal groupings not only to treat maladies, but also for aphrodisiacal and veterinary purposes, some of which are likely whimsical. The Cherokee used it as an antidiarrheal, especially for “bloody discharge from bowels,” in addition to the more common uses as a cough medicine, a dermatological and a gastrointestinal aid. The Iroquois, on the other hand, used it as a heart medicine and as orthopedic steam bath for sore legs. The Meskwaki and the Ojibwa used it as a love potion – a sylvan cantharis of sorts. According to an oral account of a member of the latter tribe “the root was added to some dish that was cooking without the knowledge of people who were to eat it, and, if they had quarreled some, then they would become lovers again.” However, the interviewee reported that it was frequently misused. From the veterinary perspective, the Cherokee used it in dog beds to rid the puppies of lice and the Menominee added chopped up root to make their ponies fat and to be “vicious to all but the owner.” What is clear from this accounting is that the North American wood betony was used extensively by numerous tribes for a wide range of purposes.
- When the New World was settled by the colonists from the Old World, P. canadensis became conflated with S. officinalis so that the properties of the latter were conveyed to the former. The Pennsylvania apothecary and printer Christopher Sauer wrote of the efficacy of S. officinalis in The Compendious Herbal published serially between 1762 and 1778. In a recent revival of the book William Weaver notes that “there are several native betonies, and those with the leaves and flowers most similar to the European plant were evidently used as substitutes.” The uses of native wood betony by the colonists must have been based in part on what they learned from the Native Americans about P. canadensis and in part about what they remembered from their previous deep-seated appreciation of S. officinalis. There is one anomaly with this association that warrants special mention, as it is the most noted of the etiology of betony. This concerns the origin of the common name lousewort and the reference to lice in the genus name Pedicularis (little louse in Latin). The National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers provides the detail that both the common and genus names “refer to the misconception once held by farmers that cattle and sheep became infested with lice when grazing on the plants.” This attribute applies only to the New World wood betony and must therefore somehow derive from the practices of the Native Americans. However, the only known citation is for the use of the plant to prevent the infestation of lice in dogs and not the attraction of lice to other animals. This bit of folklore will necessarily remain unsettled, and the alternative name of lousewort will unabashedly persist.” From: http://www.sierrapotomac.org
Posted in Nature, Photography, Prairie | Tagged: European, louse, medicinal, name, Native American, origin, pinwheel, Prairie, swamp | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Pamela Breitberg on May 28, 2013
One of two prairie patches in this area of Cook County Forest Preserve, Miami Woods. I’ve seen deer along the bike (and jogger and walker) trail, but never so close to the trail in the prairie area. Yes, they are fairly comfortable with humans passing by; but never tame. I still feel lucky after 27 years of observations when they allow me to watch for a while.
Urban deer copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Appearances aren’t what they seem; copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg
Posted in Nature, Photography, Prairie | Tagged: city, Cook County, deer, doe, forest preserve, Miami Woods, people, Prairie, trail, urban, wildlife | Leave a Comment »