Thursday, May 31, 2012

Country Roads Photo Shoot

It was 85 degrees according to the temperature gauge in my car yesterday morning at 9:30, and with our Mississippi humidity, it felt more like ninety-five. But I was on a mission to find a particular picture I've been wanting to capture, so I braved the heat and ventured out onto some of my favorite country roads around Vicksburg.

It was a glorious day to be out in the country. The corn is already standing tall in the fields ...

And cotton trailers are lined up, ready for cotton pickin' time this fall, which will be here before we know it.

But back to yesterday ... I didn't find the picture I was looking for, but I did find lots of lagniappe along the way which, I think, turned out to be just as interesting as the picture I went in search of. That happens a lot on my photo shoots.

The first thing that caught my attention as I was driving down the north frontage road along I-20, between Edwards and Bolton, Mississippi, was the Queen Anne's Lace along the fence rows. It was absolutely glorious in the Spring ...

But now that summer temperatures are already here, it is fading ...

I pulled over to get a closer look, and was amazed at how beautiful the fading blossoms and seed pods were. You can click on the pictures if you'd like to get a closer look, too.

The seed pods remind me of little bird nests ...

There were still a few pretty blossoms mixed in and amongst the faded ones, and I captured this one to preserve it in a picture before it succumbs to the summer heat ...

After admiring the Queen Anne's Lace, I left the frontage road and headed for some of my favorite country roads in Hinds County, in hopes of fulfilling my mission to find that picture I've been wanting. I'll give you a hint — it involves cows, but, unfortunately, this is about as close as I came to capturing it ...

That black beauty was way off the road, but she stopped grazing long enough to pose for the picture.

A little further up the road I spotted these cows who were sticking pretty close to the tree line, trying to stay cool in the shade. Whoever said cows aren't very smart, was wrong!

They were a long way from the road, too, so I had to use my zoom lens to get these pictures.

Since it's so hot now and the cows are staying out of the pastures in the shade, it's going to present a challenge for me to get the picture I want ... but I love a challenge, and won't give up until I get it. I'll be sure and share it when I do!

After I gave up on the cows, I stopped to look at these white flowers that were growing beside the road ...

A closer look ...

I thought they were pretty, but, as I was capturing them with my camera, something in the underbrush caught my attention.

Ahhh ... lagniappe in the form of wild blackberries!

My mama always told me that snakes "hang out" around wild berries, and I thought it was because snakes liked to eat them. Of course, now I know the reason they like the berries is because they like to eat the little critters that come to eat the berries. Even though I didn't see any little critters or snakes-in-the-grass waiting for little critters, I was hesitant about getting any closer to the blackberry vines than the edge of the road, so my pictures aren't that great. The moral of this tale? — It's better to have out of focus pictures than be bitten by a snake.

Another bit of lagniappe I enjoyed along my journey was seeing the silhouette of a bobcat crossing the road about half a mile in front of me.

When it comes to photo shoots, I guess country roads are one of my favorites. You never know what you're going to see, and I never fail to find something I want to get a closer look at (like the Queen Anne's Lace and the white flowers).

I hope you enjoyed going along with me on this shoot, and I hope I have inspired you to take time to "get closer looks" at things along your everyday journeys.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Flowers in Flight

I only ask to be free.
The butterflies are free.
~Charles Dickens

Butterflies are self propelled flowers. ~R.H. Heinlein

The caterpillar does all the work,
but the butterfly gets all the publicity.
~Attributed to George Carlin

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,
The Master calls a butterfly.
~Richard Bach

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.
~Robert Frost, "Blue-Butterfly Day"

The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued,
is always just beyond your grasp, but which,
if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

I've watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly! Indeed, I know not if you sleep or feed.

How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
~William Wordsworth, "To a Butterfly"

Flowers and butterflies drift in color, illuminating spring.
~Author Unknown

Not quite birds, as they were not quite flowers,
mysterious and fascinating as are all indeterminate creatures.
~ Elizabeth Goudge

Friday, May 25, 2012

One Nation, Under God ...

As we celebrate this long Memorial Day weekend with picnics, barbeques, and family gatherings, let us also remember the true reason for the holiday — to reverently honor and pay our respects to those who gave their lives in service of their country, preserving and protecting the freedoms that we all enjoy today. I wish I could personally thank each and every one of them for the sacrifices they and their families made for our country.

I would also like to remember with gratitude our servicemen and women who, as I write this, are risking their lives every day to keep America out of harm's way.

While we should remember these heroes in our prayers every day, I hope we will all take time out this weekend, as "one Nation, under God," to proudly fly our flags, bow our heads in gratitude, and ask God to protect them as they protect us, and bless them and their families for the sacrifices they make for us.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD
(1872-1918) Canadian Army

Picture borrowed from the Internet, Artist Unknown

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Our Little Gem Magnolias are in full bloom and although the lighting is not the best at "high noon,'' I captured this perfect bloom at its peak at noon yesterday ...

To God be the glory ...
Great things He has done!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Cottage Garden Revisited

[This is a re-post of a story I wrote a couple of years ago featuring a beautiful little cottage garden I discovered while taking a shortcut through one of the oldest and prettiest neighborhoods in Jackson, Mississippi. I hope you don't mind if I share it again today.]

I was running some errands in Jackson, which is about an hour's drive from where I live in Vicksburg, and, as I said, I was taking a shortcut through a residential area of Jackson, when I happened to get a glimpse of a white picket fence in front of a house on one of the side streets. It looked so pretty, and I couldn't resist turning around and going back for a closer view.

When I turned into the side street, I couldn't believe my eyes ... for there sat the sweetest little cottage-style house, with a white picket fence and the most glorious flower garden I think I've ever seen. But, as picturesque as all that was ... what literally took my breath away were the charming little birdhouses tucked in and amongst the flowerbeds bordering the fence, both on the outside and inside. There must have been close to a hundred of them!

I pulled over and sat in my car for a minute, just taking it all in. I noticed a lady working in the yard, so I got out and walked over to her and introduced myself and asked if she would mind if I took some pictures.

I wouldn't have blamed her if she had said no, because I was babbling away about how gorgeous everything was and "gushing" over all those birdhouses. But she was very gracious and introduced herself, and said I was welcome to take pictures. After gushing and babbling some more, I went to my car and got my cameras and spent the next 15 minutes "in my glory," taking pictures and visiting with "Miss Susie."

She was as lovely and gracious as she looks in her picture, and made me feel as if I had been invited to visit her beautiful gardens. Miss Susie told me they built the picket fence about 19 years ago and called it "the playpen," because that's where their grandchildren played when they were little. She has been collecting birdhouses for about 18 years, and the majority of them were custom built by a friend. And what an amazing collection it is! It should be featured in Southern Living magazine, or in Mississippi Magazine.

Here are my photos taken from the street side of the fence. I hope you will click on the pictures to enlarge them. The birdhouses are truly works of art, and Susie's cottage flower garden is a perfect "gallery" for them (you can also see close ups of them in the slideshow at the bottom of this post).

This cute little "Tin Man" stands beside
the arbor and greets guests as they arrive.

These little turtle stepping stones lead you through the arbor to the front yard ...

This sweet little ceramic sign welcomes you as you enter the front yard. There's a lot of truth in its message, too.

Here are a few of the flowerbeds and birdhouses nestled along the inside of the fence:

I love the cobalt blue planters sitting in the flower bed.

And this blue gazing ball in the back of the flowerbed caught my attention, too ...

The little statue hiding in the ferns is Saint Fiacre, the Patron Saint of Gardeners (if you would like to read more about him, you can click here) ...

Everywhere I looked there were pictures to be taken, but I didn't want to impose on my hostess. She told me that her flowers and birdhouses make her happy, and I could certainly feel her sweet and gracious spirit reflected in them.

My visit with her, brief though it was, will always be a fond memory for me.

I created a slideshow featuring close up views of some of the birdhouses, and hope you enjoy "touring" them as much as I did (don't forget to turn your sound up if you'd like to hear the music).

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: