There is a certain irony to being owned by a camera-shy Westie, a dog breed that is one of the most photographed in the world. Many of my shots of Hildy are of her rear end, the result of calculated last-minute turns, or of the back of her little white head. The light this morning was what I call autumn, luring me outside to play with my camera and to create a little mischief with Hildy. A toss of the beloved squeaker toy set the trap, and despite the possibility that I was waiting for her holding the evil thing that clicks, it was too much of a temptation for even the most wile Westie.
“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
― Kobayashi Issa, Poems
Spring arrived early this year but barely made a ripple in the southern atmosphere as it painted our world in pastels, a relief considering the thrashing we took in the late winter months. The cherry trees in the yard bloomed bigger and the petals fell earlier leaving behind small orbs of dark red, eagerly devoured by chipmunks scampering though the branches like tiny acrobats. The testosterone ravaged birds arrived, puffed up and singing loudly, happily, uncontrollably. They staked their territories, built fine nests of pine straw and dried moss, cleverly disguised above the bird feeders lined like smoke stacks along the branches. The turf wars began. The squirrels, ready to feast at the tables set before them, were shamed into retreat by the flurry of beating wings, warriors suspended in mid-air. The rains came, barely making a ripple and our world rested, preparing for the inevitable arrival of summer, and a backyard truce of sorts.
It’s daybreak on Venice Beach and the sun targets the local pier for a hit of warmth and color. The weathered structure is suddenly transformed into art, light accentuating the etchings worked by the sea and the beautiful symmetry of its industrial design. In a few hours the same sun will bleach the cement pilings of color and the tide will swallow loudly the layers of ocean carvings. The desolate pier will become alive with human activity, and the artistry will evolve again.
I’ve wanted to go to the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s “Garden Lights” display since its inception three years ago, and decided that this year I would cast aside all self-imposed holiday duties and make a beeline to the beautiful mid-town gardens with my family. We were not disappointed. A million plus twinkling lights displayed artfully throughout the woods and gardens made for a fun and festive evening. Enhancing the adventure is a popular detour from light gazing, the Glow Bar, where beverages of choice (wine!) are available to toast the holidays with loved ones in this magical setting. If you find yourself in the Atlanta area mid-November through early January this year, try to make the effort to take part in this enlightening and extremely enjoyable experience. My advice is to check the Weather.com forecast before you make plans and pinpoint the evening with the warmest temps. If it includes a warning about a POLAR VORTEX, you may want to keep your eye out for a friendlier weather day. Polar Vortex = Not Much Fun Sightseeing Outside at Night. For more information check out the Atlanta Botanical Gardens website.
A sunny view of a favorite street in a well-loved U.S. city. Located across the Potomac River from Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia is rich in colonial history and a former home to early American luminaries such as George Washington and Robert E. Lee, and it’s where the daring Edmonson sisters became figures of the anti-slavery movement after they tried to escape Alexandria by ship. In more modern times that sometime resident Jim Morrison of The Doors might have walked along my favorite streets during his high school days only adds to the mystique, and I feel as moved by Alexandria’s layers of history as I do in any city in Europe.
The cheerful scene at the end of a sunny pedestrian pass-through drew me in during a visit during the holiday break. The sun-kissed 105 S. Union Street address is home to a cozy bakery and coffee shop, Firehook, whose foodie motto is “Living on Bread.” Yum! It was a shutter finger numbing 29 degrees as I explored the brick lined streets that day, and the thought of the divine scent of baked goods and fresh coffee had me lingering a little longer on one of my favorite streets, in one of my favorite cities.