An Oasis: People of Another Land

Embera mother and child

Embera mother and child

With the peoples of the Amazon still on my mind after the effects of deforestation and fires, I felt inspired to post a few photographs from a different indigenous group. While traveling by small ship last spring along the from Costa Rican coast to Panama, then through the Canal and onto Colombia, I felt honored to meet them and be given the privilege to photograph them.

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Papaver Portraits

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Red, purple, and pink Oriental poppies may dazzle the eye, but I’ve discovered another variety. Well, it’s actually one that I transform into black and white. I hope you’ll agree that this make for a very different visual experience. For me, it brings into focus, on another level, the essence of the plant.

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Photographer on the Roof

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Photographer on the Roof? Perhaps in spirit if not in body. I recently felt that, like a cat, I was jumping from rooftop to rooftop. For sure this came from all the traveling I was indulging in. While leaping from a small cruise ship to an inflatable zodiac, from planes to trains, cars, and horse carriages and back on my feet, my eye and viewfinder seemed to possess a mind of their own.

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The Color Purple

Jacaranda and priest: Colors in nature and culture

Jacaranda and priest: Colors in nature and culture

All over the town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the jacaranda trees are in full bloom. We owe their presence to the late 19th century Japanese imperial landscape designer, Tatsugoro Matsumoro. While not originally from Japan but Brazil, they are as much of a signature piece here as bougainvilleas, also native to South America.

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"Casa Azul": Dazzling Blues

 
Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo, Credit: Sandra Laurin

Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo, Credit: Sandra Laurin

 

In my recent piece, “RED!!!”, I touched on the cultural and symbolic qualities commonly associated with red:  love, passion, and danger. I also explored the botanical and entomological source for its dye and paint. For example, the “perfect red” is derived from an insect, the cochineal, that thrives on nopal or prickly pear in Mexico. Used for centuries by the Mayans, it was soon coveted by the Spanish who traded it in Europe. The second most exported good from Mexico after silver it eventually was traded on stock exchanges such as London’s and Amsterdam’s.

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A High Desert Botanical Garden

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It’s hard to imagine San Miguel de Allende without its majestic botanical garden, El Charco del Ingenio. Upon first visiting it about twelve years ago, I felt a tad overwhelmed. It struck me as a wild, surrealistic, almost otherworldly landscape. However, with my background in landscape design, I began to appreciate what emerged as a series of elegant gardens following curved paths. Before me were wonderfully creative and visually satisfying combinations of plants, stones covered with rust-colored lichen and boulders. READ MORE

A Last Gasp

Milkweed Pod

Milkweed Pod

Well, not quite. We haven’t had a downright frost where the basil turns yucky brown, the hosta leaves droop like flattened crepes and all those black walnuts come crashing down at once. Instead, a 42 degree day will get followed by a humid 78 degree one and our incessant rains feel downright tropical. While sweaters remain in the drawer some folks wear sandals to the supermarket or post office. To Read More


Just Down the Road...

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With a mere suggestion of maple trees turning amber, staghorn sumacs sporting clusters of scarlet red and velvety fruits, Canadian geese honking overhead and monarchs on their way to Mexico, I’d like to offer a few moments from last season. Summer is drifting away: no ticks lodged in our armpits, the sky turns dark during dinner, the basil and tomato leaves are browning and the lake is no longer inviting.

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Reflections, Part 2

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The inspiration for a previous piece, "Reflections, Part 1", grew from images captured in June while visiting beautiful, historic towns in Alsace. The more I looked around, particularly below, the more my eyes opened to another dimension, in this case, the architecture and character of Colmar's, 'Little Venice' and Strasbourg.  Seemingly "floating" in rivers, canals and waterways awaited windows, doors, bridges, flowers and clouds. The effect transformed edges into soft, curving lines while colors almost melted in the tranquil waters.

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  http://Reflections Part 2

Flower Power: A Berkshire Spring

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People were saying April was more like March. But after a long winter, spring finally came to the Berkshires. Returning from Mexico on April 20th, I had expected the daffodils to be over and looking sad as they droop down and the tulips to have been simply chewed by the deer. Magnolias such as the one above might have been zapped by a late frost. This year though they miraculously knew to wait before setting out buds. What a display they could then put on!

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The People of Bhutan

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On so many levels, Bhutan or, Druk Yul, Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a mysterious, intriguing and visually rich, country. Set high in the Himalayas, this last Buddhist kingdom has managed, against many odds, to preserve its cultural and environmental heritage. Central to its heritage are its people. As my previous two pieces hopefully indicated, what is still referred to as a Shangri-La, provides much to contemplate.

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Bhutan: the Wild, the Cultivated and the Sacred

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Whether you are crossing the tarmac at Paro's airport while squinting through a brilliant blue sky towards Bhutan's mountains surrounding the landing strip — quite a challenge for planes; trekking on a steep path to a remote Buddhist monastery; or simply strolling along a village road, prayer flags will invariably greet you. Almost rarely out of sight, they form part of Bhutan's unique landscape and cultural identity. 

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