Feeling winter? The weather in Albuquerque is still that beautiful autumn weather those of us who live here love so much. But, a change – hopefully brief – is coming. You know, the cold wind and significant drop in temperature. We know we are very lucky here. Even in the midst of true Winter, we will have sunny and often warm days. But I tend to turn inward in winter. I can feel winter coming.
Others’ Thoughts on Feeling Winter
“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
“But if I was still alive, I’d have a damned fine day despite the rain, despite the depression, think of something you like doing and do it!…As for me, if I was still alive, I’d have a great cup of coffee, a nice breakfast, then I’d take a drive, walk around, smoke a cigar, eye the pretty ladies…hmmm, nice lunch, yes sir! Read a good book and listen to music, maybe hang out with friends, watch some baseball on TV, love good conversation…and maybe end the night with a little romance. You know what I mean? Live, live everyday, every night, then when you get over here on the ghosty side, you’ll say like me, hey, I did pretty damned good. I hardly moped around at all. I enjoyed my precious human life to the full! Yes sir, I sucked the marrow outta them ribs! ~ Jim Stallings, If I Was Still Alive
For me, I have stockpiled what seem like endless photographs I can edit, maybe composite, play with through the cold and dark days of winter. And before Winter truly sets in, I have more photography to get done.
Hover Fly update with commentary of Baldo Villegas, who is now retired but former State Entomologist for California. I had written him last week, but was not sure I had the correct email. Yesterday afternoon I received his response. As all of his responses, this one is full of information and also interesting and easy to understand. Baldo helps everyone! Thank you, Baldo!
The insect in the picture is a Syrphid fly, not a wasp but a mimic. These flies belong to the large family of flies called Syrphidae and are known by the common names Hover Flies or Flower Flies. Most have warning coloration resembling that of wasps or bees. In fact there is one species that is commonly called a drone fly as it looks just like a male honey bee. Most syrphid flies are predators of soft bodied insects such as aphids. A few are pests of bulbs and such and others have interesting lifecycles and are rather interesting.
Syrphid flies will visit flowers for nectar and pollen in order to help in egg production. The nectar is for the energy that they consume hovering around aphid infested plants.
Baldo’s tagline in his email is “Love Bugs, Roses and Cats …. even if the cats don’t give a hoot.” 🙂
Pollen wasp is something I had not known about until a few days ago. Yet, pollinators are something we talk about frequently, because of their vital importance to crops and virtually all plants on earth. I, and neighbors, try to include flowers that will attract pollinators. While we tend to think about the beauty of the the flowers, we talk less about the beauty of our pollinating friends. Yet, up close and personal, they can be beautiful and interesting.
Regular readers and friends know that I have grown a variety of sunflowers for years. Years ago in Arizona I grew Tithonia rotundiflora (“Mexican sunflower”). It is in the same Family, Asteraceae, as our typical sunflowers. However, the genus is Tithonia rather than Helianthus. When I saw seeds in the grocery store, I thought maybe it would be fun here. So, I decided to try it. It is a fabulous plant for Albuquerque!
The other day I was out photographing the flowers. I saw a wasp on the tithonia. While I considered it a yellow jacket, its behavior seemed odd for a wasp. It almost seemed to be making love to the flower. So I kept photographing it, hoping I could understand what was going on. When I looked at the images on the computer, I saw what appeared to be a very odd mouth part. As it turns out, it is a very specialized mouth part, a “suctorial proboscis.” (These wasps – this isn’t one) are solitary vegetarians, sucking nectar and pollen from flower tubules.) As it turns out, what I took to be a wasp is, in reality, a hoverfly with also very specialized suctorial proboscis. Example here: hoverfly
The joy of photography: seeing and learning new and different things, without even trying! Last week I did not know what a pollen wasp was. Now I know what it is, and this is not one. It is a hoverfly. Now I know they also have these very specialized suctorial probosci. This week I am glad this one chose to visit my garden and allowed me to photograph it! And thanks to Anita Storino for the updated information.
The first day of autumn in New Mexico is always exciting. Chile roasting and the State Fair are almost over, but the Balloon Fiesta, Marigold Parade, arrival of the cranes and other migratory birds, and gorgeous days with cool, crisp nights are still ahead. This is how the day began:
While I grew Mexican sunflowers many years ago in Arizona, this is the first year I have grown them in New Mexico. I had forgotten how much I liked them. Because I now know, I plan to grow them in subsequent years. In addition, the pollinators like them, too.
Other flowers that bloom well up until frost are cosmos. They come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Pollinators like cosmos also.
The first day of fall 2017 began beautifully. I was reminded of this quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne:
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
29th Annual Corrales Fine Arts Show, During the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
The 29th Annual Corrales Fine Arts Show begins with a reception October 6 at the Old San Ysidro Church. The show will be open daily, October 7-15, 11am-5pm, except closing at 4pm on Sunday October 15th. The show opens after the morning’s Balloon events, and closes in time for you to make it to the evening’s Balloon events.
I love showing in this venue. The building itself is historic, and part of old New Mexico. The light in autumn is beautiful. A portion of the proceeds from the show go to maintain the structure. The show consists of paintings, sculpture, photographs, textiles, and other arts. It is as varied as New Mexico itself. The show is juried by artists.
This year I am showing three pieces:
The show is free, as is parking. All items are available for purchase.
If you live in the Albuquerque area, or are coming to visit for the Balloon Fiesta, plan to visit the 29th Annual Corrales Fine Arts Show.
Sunflowers go with August in the same way that the smell of roasting chile does, at least if you live in New Mexico. I could have had blooms a bit earlier. However, I waited to put out the seeds until the pansies from last fall finally faded with the heat. In another month it will be time to plant pansies again. By then, these will have finished blooming and the birds will have consumed the seeds. Monsoon rains also go with August, and this afternoon I got 1.5 inches of rain in about an hour. It was actually a very pleasant rain, although the Weather Service issued flash flood warnings. This monsoon season, so far, 5.5+ inches of rain have fallen at my house. The flowers are happy.
Monsoon light makes for some remarkable skies here in the high desert. The rain is always welcome. That is especially true this year, which has been very dry to this point. Monsoon season seems to have finally arrived, with heavy rain in some parts of Albuquerque two nights ago and an inch of rain at my house last night. Photographer friends here in Albuquerque remember the monsoon skies of 2009. 2016 may be remembered for its rainbows. Albuquerque has a reputation of sorts for its rainbows, especially the double ones. This has been a great year for rainbows!
Two nights ago I photographed a striking, although single, rainbow. I knew it would develop because of the special monsoon light that appeared as the clouds cleared from the west, with heavy clouds to the east. Anyone who has been here for any length of time and has watched the skies at all knows what this looks like.
7:17pm, MDT. Sun breaking through storm clouds to the west lit this little goldfinch and the branches of a neighbor’s tree dead from the prolonged drought. Heavy, dark clouds covered the mountains to the east. This is the set-up for a rainbow here in Albuquerque. The little spots are not dust on the sensor, but light reflecting off very light drizzle falling at the time.
7:19pm, MDT. A very faint rainbow appeared.
By 7:25pm MDT a magnificent, full arc rainbow had completely developed, persisting for some time.
I chose this particular evening to focus on the interplay of the monsoon light with things I enjoy in my yard. The large sunflowers are almost ripe with seeds for the birds. This image seems to speak to people with a variety of different beliefs about the cycle of life, with the fading sunflowers that will soon provide nourishment for the birds, and the rainbow, a symbol of hope for people of many different beliefs.
Monsoon light – just one more reason I love living in the high desert of New Mexico.
2015 ANMPAS – Annual New Mexico Photographic Arts Show
2015 ANMPAS, the Annual New Mexico Photographic Arts Show, will once again be held in the Fine Arts Building at EXPO NM. It is open to the public December 6 through December 27, 10:00am – 5:00pm, except December 24 and 25. The show is free to the public throughout. Some days, particularly the weekends, EXPO may charge a parking fee. The opening reception is December 5, from 2:00-4:00pm.
This is a juried show, and artists participating must be residents of New Mexico. All artwork is for sale, and may be taken by the buyer at the time of sale.
I have enjoyed participating in ANMPAS and the related InSight shows over the years. These are the brainchild of organizer LeRoy Perea, who has watched the submitted entries grow in both quantity and quality over the years.
I am thrilled that for 2015 ANMPAS, the jurors selected three images from my series, Persephone.
Those of you who have followed me very long know that sunflowers are frequent photographic subjects for me, as are butterflies. I grew these sunflowers, and they are from the second crop of 2015. I really liked the structure of the sunflower plant in the “Heart of the Matter.” My son appreciates structure, especially in black and white images, and I converted the image immediately.
My son liked it as much as I had hoped.
I showed that image to a friend, Jim Stallings, with whom I have corresponded over the past couple of years and whose input has influenced some other photographic work, such as “The Observer/The Observed,” which I decided to show after Jim wrote a short poem. He wrote in the context of activities of autumn, after seeing the sunflower image:
…it is that ancient mythic time for the daughter Persephone of the Earth Goddess Demeter to return to the Underworld and stay there until the return for Spring. So all that feeds into the unconscious…the separation of between life on the surface of the world of fall and winter and waning and yet returning light and another go at renewal and new life. It must be motivating in your photographic subjects as well.
It is true that my fall images, even of bright flowers, tend to be dark.
I had not read mythology in a long time. As I read some of the stories of Persephone, I was struck by the fact that she did not seem to be constantly miserable in her months in the dark Underworld with her husband, Hades, who had first abducted Persephone with the permission of her father, Zeus. Mythology is full of plots and subplots, but I decided to create this particular series using some of my favorite subjects – flowers and butterflies – around the theme of hope in a dark spot.
Butterflies have multiple meanings to me. They are a symbol for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – “lupus” – an autoimmune chronic disease with multiple manifestations, with treatments but no known cure. One of the manifestations for some people is the so-called “butterfly rash,” and thus, the butterfly as a symbol.
The particular butterflies I chose to use in this series have special meaning to me. The butterfly in “Heart of the Matter” is a tiny hair streak butterfly photographed at the Corrales home of friends Tim and Laurie Price: special friends, special place, special day. People who have brought hope to some of my dark places… The butterfly in “Awakening” is a glass wing butterfly photographed at the Albuquerque BioPark. The butterfly in “Emerged” is a red lacewing photographed at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
I was asked to write a brief description of “Heart of the Matter:”
Persephone, goddess of Spring, was abducted by Hades to become his wife in the Underworld. Her mother, Demeter, goddess of the Earth and of the Harvest, in her anger and grief, caused the earth to go barren in her daughter’s absence, our dark winter months, and to bloom again upon her return in spring. This series is about the annual descent into the underworld of the darkness of Winter and rebirth into the light of Spring. “Heart of the Matter” represents the potential for rebirth – from any dark situation – in the developing bud (the heart) of the sunflower, and in the butterfly (with its heart shape), showing the strength, delicacy, and light of hope.
I have been asked whether there will be more in this series. Persephone’s story is one full of plots and subplots, all very stimulating for this photographer. These particular three, tell one of the stories I wanted to tell. There are many more I look forward to telling visually, but I do not anticipate black and white sunflowers with colorful butterflies as the vehicles of the next set or sets.
The Persephone series that will be shown at 2015 ANMPAS means much to me on a very personal level, and I thank LeRoy Perea and the 2015 jurors for selecting these three images for the 2015 show. I hope those of you in the Albuquerque area will come out for the show in December.
Autumn Sunflower. Autumn in New Mexico is a magical time of year. Corresponding to events rather than calendar dates, its beginning is generally marked by the arrival of the season’s green chile crop, with the pungent smell of roasting chiles everywhere. Major events following in quick succession are the New Mexico State Fair (EXPO NM), the Corrales Harvest Festival and Pet Parade, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (accompanied by the Corrales Fine Arts Show at the Old San Ysidro Church, one of my favorites!), the Marigold Parade marking the Day of the Dead, and the the All American Thanksgiving Day celebration. For me, mixed in with that, are personal celebrations and activities with family and close friends. Autumn is my favorite time of the year in New Mexico! And, also, the busiest!
Autumn is, of course, ultimately followed by winter. (Reminder to self: buy a new snow shovel before winter’s arrival with a predicted strong El Nino!) Even early in the current season are little signs the glorious days of autumn cannot last forever. But, even these signs carry their own kind of beauty.
Old cars and sunflowers are each, in their own right, icons of the New Mexico landscape. Imagine my joy as a photographer when I found the two together!
Those of you who have followed this blog for some time are aware of my interest in old adobes and every now and then, in old wooden buildings. I don’t have a series of old cars (yet 🙂 ), but more sunflowers are definitely on their way.
I could not resist this image of an old car surrounded by sunflowers!