March 10, 2015
I love walking around the garden at this time of year, enjoying the spring sunshine and looking at all the new growth taking place. The Crocuses (top) seem to be one of the earliest to make a move, not afraid of a night or two of frost. The beautiful bright red Anemone, meaning ‘daughter of the wind’, is the middle photo, then last but not least comes the much-loved Daffodil, that inspired Wordsworth to pen:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
There is a deep stirring of the soul that takes place upon encountering all the new colour bursting forth from the greys and browns of Winter. The subdued silvery light of cold short days gives way to the yellowy warmth of the Spring light and the anticipation of the Summer to come. Perhaps it is a hint of Eden, of new life and new beginnings, the old is passing away, the new has come…
May 10, 2012
The light has been interesting today, overcast yet bright and with lots of contrast. I took the two pictures below during a stroll around the garden after lunch earlier today.
Since becoming interested in photography again over the past number of years I have gradually developed the habit of looking for photo opportunities everywhere. I notice all sorts of things that previously I would hardly have paid attention to, such as the way the clouds are forming over the field across the road, the warmth of the light early in the morning and again just before sunset , the look on a child’s face when they are given an ice cream, (not to mention the supposedly more mundane things such as flowers, insects, birds and even plain and simple leaves).
All these things and more have taken on a new and profound fascination – beauty is everywhere if you are looking for it.
(link to photos on Flickr here and here)
January 17, 2012
Some photos from the last few weeks…
The Rose bush outside our Kitchen window is a never ending source of inspiration.
Taken one evening from the back garden.
“And now we shall look through the Round Window…”
Rainbow over the rooftops of Kilkenny.
A “Mini” wedding.
A couple of the Residents at Hayfield Manor, Cork.
Marram grass, at Curracloe, Co. Wexford.
November 4, 2011
Yesterday we visited the amazing National Botanical Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire. It is such a great place for all ages and levels of gardening interest. As you can see from the above picture the vast glass dome is very impressive, it holds a rich variety of plant life that wouldn’t last very long unprotected in this particular climate!
We’ve had a good few days off and are now on the ferry home as I write this (on my phone). Looking at the picture now (and the one below) I am struck by the unreality of it all, (albeit a welcome one), like a kind of zoo for plants…
Then as I let my mind wander further I’m awed by the contrasts; it was warm and still inside, with exotic plant life and strange tropical sights and smells all around, yet once outside we were blasted by a cold decidedly untropical Welsh wind and that special sideways rain that is the proud preserve of the west coast of the British Isles :-/
But maybe it’s not just plants that can live in an unreal world; the question of what’s really real has been a question on people’s minds at least since Plato’s Cave. It’s perhaps a question that many of us try to avoid because it can make us feel uncomfortable: “Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “How should I live my life?” “Did the Universe come about by chance and if so where did the concept of chance come from?” “How do I know that I know things?” … And so on! But of course it is good to think about and consider such things and then to realise that above all other life we humans hold such a lofty and privileged position – one of great responsibility, which – it is stating the obvious – we have not (on the whole) done a very good job with…
Fueled by too much coffee I could waffle on for ages, but the sea is getting rougher so I need to stop looking at this small screen!
… I struggle to imagine how anyone can consider these things and exclude God from the equation. In some ways I admire the Atheists, they require a depth of faith for their world to hold together that is staggering, far more faith than I could ever claim to have…
September 20, 2011
Hungry Caterpillars munching away on the remains of our broccoli plants!
One of my favourite books as a child was Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. It begins with the words:
In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.
Then continues a wonderful story, complete with caterpillar holes in the pages, eventually ending up with the hungry chap becoming a “beautiful butterfly.”
It has been a joy to read this story again to our boys and is perhaps one of the reasons why they get so excited about seeing caterpillars in the garden and especially when they find Pupa delicately hanging from underneath windowsills and other hidden places!
People have often found the transformative process of a caterpillar becoming a ‘beautiful butterfly, as something reflective of the process of coming to faith in Christ; we leave our old way of life behind and begin a new life with Christ (rather than ourselves) at the centre. Of course the physical reality is usually not so clean, for the Christian continually battles with their old way of life and with selfishness, greed and all the rest of the baggage that we all carry. The process of change is piecemeal; little by little He works in us and so even if to ourselves (and to those who know us well) there might seem like a very long way to go, the end result is that we shall (eventually) become the way that we were always meant to be. We cannot of course take any credit for this change at all, it is all because of His love and His grace…
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
July 19, 2011
Here’s some photos taken over the last few weeks…
An ‘Early Purple Orchid’ growing on our front lawn. (Film: Kodak Portra 160 VC)
Long Strand, Co. Cork (Film: Kodak Tmax 100)
Garden Foxglove (Film: Kodak Tri-x)
From the hill down to Red Strand, with Galley Head Lighthouse in the distance. (Film: Kodak Tri-x)
Not sure why I took this picture – something to do with patterns and textures I think! (Film: Kodak Tri-x)
Connonagh, Co. Cork (Film: Kodak Tri-x)
November 4, 2010
Sunflowers are amazing; we all love the large yellow flowerheads and the fact that they can grow so tall with little or no help from the gardener. The most wonderful thing about them is their ability to track the Sun. At night, the flowers move either not at all or randomly about, but with sunrise they immediately (in plant terms) turn to face the east and then follow the Sun throughout the day until it finally sets in the west. They call this Heliotropism (thanks to Wikipedia for that one) and this reminds me of a great truth…
The Lord Jesus said:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Like the Sunflower, we were made to follow the light. The Sunflower follows the Sun, we follow The Son, the Light of the World.
And another verse, this time from Ephesians 5:8
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”
Photo notes: I’m fairly sure that I couldn’t have taken this picture with my digital camera (a Nikon D70s); the sun would have been overexposed to the point that the whole right hand side of the picture would have been white, with no clear definition in it at all. I could have then exposed for the sun, but that would have meant that the left hand side of the picture would have been very dull. If I had a graduated neutral density filter I could have used it but I don’t have one :-( However, a great advantage of slide film is increased dynamic range (you can get more detail in the highlights and in the shadows than you can with all but the most expensive digital cameras). Of course you get great colour and a three dimensional look too, and you also get the joy of not knowing what your pictures will look like until that little box arrives in the post and you hold up those small plastic slides to the light…
September 24, 2010
The snail he lives in his hard round house,
In the orchard, under the tree:
Says he, “I have but a single room;
But it’s large enough for me.”
September 13, 2010
I suppose we don’t need any reminder that Summer has now reluctantly begun to make way for Autumn. All around, the leaves are beginning to change colour, many flowers parade their final encore and the sounds are those of finality (for this year at least); the swan song is in the air.
I came across this butterfly whilst recovering a rugby ball from a flower bed. Like the autumn leaves, its wings are fading; once glorious colours are now only shades of brown. Yet it is still beautiful.
Having helped with a couple of funerals recently, the words of the old funeral service (which is seldom used now) came to mind:
Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live … He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.
A little bleak perhaps, but a stark reminder of not only the fragility of life but its transience also. Not only we but all of Creation are in an inevitable Autumn, waiting patiently for that eternal Spring to come…
May 31, 2010
It’s amazing what you can find when you’re not looking for anything! My better half came across this tiny little flower whilst she was cutting the grass (the blades of grass around the flower give a sense of the small scale). We think that it is the beginnings of an Early-purple Orchid, but are not entirely sure, maybe some of you green-fingered readers will be able to help us out here? I know some people like to treat their lawns with all sorts of chemicals so that they can enjoy a velvety grass-only lawn with not a weed or any moss in sight – I’ll gladly put up with a few dandelions here and there if it means we can get to see such lovely flowers as this:
Lord, just as a flower can radiate its precious beauty
and cast its fragrance everywhere.
So I ask you to cast the sweet fragrance of your presence over me.
Surround me with your love.
Fill me with your healing balm.
Enfold me with your peace.
Comfort me with your presence.
May your fragrance linger in the stillness of my soul.
May your healing love renew my very being.
(From Fr. James McSweeny: A Year in Reflection)