Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

Tending the untended garden, and appreciating small moments in nature

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Small Daisy flower

The Untended Garden has been truly untended lately. I’ve been focusing on other writing projects this year, and it’s been hard to find time for this blog. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been plenty of nature-inspired books, art, music, films, and other media to talk about.  In fact there’s almost too much. And the internet does a great job at letting us share these amazing things. It makes me wonder about the direction of this blog, and where I want to take it.

Eventually I will come back to it regularly, but for now, here are a few recent nature photos of my own. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the small moments in nature, and how they often seem to encompass the entirety of the natural world in their own way. The smallest flea struggles to survive, just like a bird, or a lion, or a whale, and they all play their own part in the giant tapestry of the natural world. I also think that the more we understand the natural world around us, the better we can understand ourselves.

I put some of these thoughts into an article about how to reconnect with small moments in nature. I call it The 60-Second Nature Challenge, a way to observe the tiny pieces of nature in order to better understand the whole. You can read it here.

That’s all for now, I hope you can all get outside this summer, and find your own inspiration!

Tiny bee on flower

Bunny under fence

Butterfly on a burr flower

Queen Anne's Lace

Skipper on a leaf

pond460

Lacewing

Maria Schneider, music inspired by nature

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

The Thompson Fields by Maria Schneider

Jazz composer Maria Schneider draws much of her inspiration directly from nature. Her latest recording, The Thompson Fields, is inspired by the prairies where she grew up in Minnesota. As she said to NPR’s Here and Now, “The sound of my music is what it is largely because of the natural landscape I grew up with, and people who made me appreciate it so much.”

Her work incorporates elements of jazz and classical music, with improvisation from the musicians in her ensemble. Tracks like “Walking by Flashlight” and “The Monarch and the Milkweed” evoke nature and the feelings one experiences in nature.

The album was developed through the ArtistShare web community, which allows artists and fans to connect and support each other. It has recently been nominated for a Grammy Award.

Here is the official trailer for the album The Thompson Fields:

Here is the full interview with Maria on NPR’s Here and Now.

Here is an excellent profile in the New York Times from 2013.

And here is a great interview with Maria from the Detroit Jazz Festival, also featuring clips of her orchestra in performance:

This is my last post for 2015 at The Untended Garden. This site has been a little more untended than usual lately, but I hope to get back to it more in 2016.

It seems like more and more people are rediscovering nature as a balance to the world of technology we live in. Artists have been in touch with nature since the beginning of time, and I think they can play a big part in our understanding of the natural world.

Happy New Year!

Premier Automne – First Autumn

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Premier Automne, directed by Carlos De Carvalho and Aude Danset

Premier Automne, directed by Carlos De Carvalho and Aude Danset

Premier Automne is a brilliantly animated short film directed by Carlos De Carvalho and Aude Danset, produced by Je Regarde. It is stunningly beautiful, and explores nature both visually and thematically. But I don’t want to summarize the story if you haven’t seen it yet, because the discovery and mystery of each moment is what makes it so compelling.

Watch for yourself, and then I will share some thoughts below. (Watch on Vimeo for a larger picture, it’s worth it.)

There are so many ways to look at this film. As a simple human drama, it’s the story of two people eternally set apart from each other by the laws of nature. And yet they are both lonely, are both drawn to one other. Both inhabit a world completely foreign to the other, and frightening as well, even as it seems perfectly natural to them.

There is an overtone of death throughout the film, echoed in the darkness that surrounds their world, and yet there is also life below the surface, waiting to spring forth. In most stories, the protagonists manage to overcome their problem in the end, but this film is much more open-ended.

Life and death, summer and winter, boy and girl. There is a lot to think about here. How do you interpret this film?

For those of you who like to go behind the scenes, here is a link to the production blog, and here is a video about the making of the film.

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A tree for all seasons

Friday, March 18th, 2011

When people think of looking at trees, March is not usually the month that comes to mind. At least in the northern climates, March is a month when the world seems colorless, trees are bare, and the ground is either frozen or soggy. We are exhausted from winter and just want to see spring.

But I think winter trees, stripped of all their leaves, can be really amazing to look at. You can see all the twisting branches, the intricate patterns. Light falls differently in the winter, weather changes often, and nearly every day creates a different view.

A Swedish photographer named Stefan Jansson photographed the same tree every week for a year, to observe how it changed. The results are truly remarkable, as you can see the tree as it passes through variations that most of us don’t even notice. Look through the slideshow above or view his whole set of photos on Flickr to see the amazing variety from this one tree.

So don’t wait until autumn – trees can be appreciated all year long, if you just take the time to look.

The last rose of summer

Friday, September 24th, 2010

September is flying past, and autumn begins this week. I took this photo of a rose in my yard yesterday, as it made one final salute to summer. Today, its petals are lying on the ground. It reminds me of the famous poem by Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852.)

‘Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
From Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit,
This bleak world alone?

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Before we leave summer entirely, here are some photos I took of my garden over the past few months, showing its progress. It’s not a very big garden, and it grew a bit more wild than I anticipated, but it’s always inspiring to see plants grow and blossom in front of your eyes. It’s also fascinating to see all the insects who come to the garden and make it their home.

Luckily, this little fellow stayed outside the fence, and ate the weeds in the yard. Meanwhile, the garden will keep blooming until the first frost, when it will be time to dig it up until next year.

This also marks another milestone, it has been one year since I started this blog. It’s been fun exploring artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers who use nature in their work, and I’m looking forward to more interesting discoveries next year. So stick around!

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The Big, Blue Ocean

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
Illustration by Alicia “Kat” Dillman

Summer is here, and for the next six weeks or so, I am going to devote this blog to one of our greatest and most inspiring natural resources, the ocean.

Since ancient history, the ocean has inspired art, poetry and storytelling in every culture. In fact there are so many great works of art and literature about the ocean, I think we’ve taken it for granted as one of those eternal things in life that will always be there, impervious to anything. The ocean is always described as “mighty” and “powerful”, something that humans must battle and which always has the upper hand.

Anyone who has witnessed a storm at sea knows how powerful it is, yet it is not invulnerable, as we’ve learned in recent months. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is only the latest and most visible blow to a living ecosystem that is slowly dying. So in the next few weeks, I will be highlighting some famous and not so famous art, books and films inspired by the ocean, to help us all gain a better understanding and appreciation of why it is so unique.

I’d like to start by highlighting a wonderful blog called Ripple started by artist Kelly Light to help animals harmed by the recent oil spill. The images in this post are all from that site, and I encourage you to check it out.

Also, the Smithsonian Institution has a new website called Ocean Portal, which has many cool features about the ocean’s history and ecology, definitely worth taking a peek.

Illustration by Gina Marie Perry

Illustration by Alicia Padron

Illustration by Renee Kurilla

Illustration by Katriona Chapman

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