The New Year brought snow to Albuquerque and much of New Mexico before moving on to Texas, Oklahoma, and beyond. One good thing about snow is that many birds are attracted to feeders. They often will hang around the feeders long enough for photographs. This Northern Flicker was a great model on the morning of January 2.
Stormy Sunrise with Crepuscular Rays
Crepuscular rays, as many of you know, delight me when they appear. Although the term itself refers to “twilight,” Albuquerque provides a unique setting for sunrises. The uneven horizon of the Sandias to the east, with frequent mountain-capping clouds there, are perfect for these rays at sunrise. The past couple of days have been stormy, which can sometimes make for colorful images.
These rays this morning were short-lived: 2 minutes. I was lucky to see them! Now a light snow is falling. The temperature on my back porch is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.I would be very happy if a heavy snow fell in the mountains! We have had so little moisture this winter. We depend on melting snowpack for much of our water.
While the sky is dreary at the moment, the sunrise definitely made being up worthwhile!
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.
Finally, make the most of your day!
“Albuquerque Winter” may make some people laugh. Although we do see flashes of it here in town, they usually are neither long nor severe. The State of New Mexico depends on mountain snowpack for water.
The end of last week and Saturday saw spring-like temperatures, and sunny, brilliant days. Sunday morning’s wind hinted at change to come. Compare Sunday’s sunrise to that of Saturday’s (in the prior post). In addition to the clouds blowing along in the sky, note the cloud bank rolling over the top of the Sandias.
As the sun set Sunday night, the winds increased, and rain fell briefly. Within a matter of minutes, the rain turned to snow. Thankfully, the winds died down. I awoke this morning to a beautiful, soft snow.
The snow is already melting, and the streets are clear. However, more snow is due tonight into tomorrow. We do need the moisture, and if it does not last too long, it will just be part of a typical Albuquerque winter.
Sunset, Snow, Mountains: The Beauty of New Mexico
Sunset, snow, mountains: compare this sunset over the Sandia Mountains less than 36 hours after the very fiery sunrise in the previous post.
Late afternoon was cold and very windy. But the image appears calm – at least to me – compared to the fiery sunrise. The weather that morning was relatively calm (on the ground) and warm. I also watched this one as it developed, and had my camera and coat ready. I felt cold only when I was back in the house. This view, like most of those shown here, is from my back yard. 5:30pm. I see an old man with a Pinocchio nose in the cloud. Do you?
I rarely show photographs from the front yard, because the view is of a street of houses, driveways, and parked vehicles. Every now and then, though, I have to try because something special cannot be ignored. This is the same sunset looking east to the Sandias at sunset. This is toward the north end of the Sandias, with the collection of towers. 5:29pm.
This week is one of wind, along with cold compared to the winter we had had so far. But, I am not complaining, because the weather has brought the kind of sunrises and sunsets I love.
Persephone in the Underworld
Persephone in the Underworld – how would you imagine it? I don’t mean when she was initially violently abducted from her beautiful springtime world on Earth by Hades, with the consent of her father, Zeus. I mean more when she returned year after year, as wife of Hades and Queen of the Underworld, at a time that would be Winter on Earth.
So many variations exist regarding that part of the myth that I felt free to pick anything I wanted. Some versions have Persephone despising Hades forever, but those are not the more common versions. Interestingly, many versions note that of the Greek god and goddess couples, they were the “most faithful” to one another, for whatever that is worth.
By most versions, Persephone and Hades did not have children together. Persephone had two, maybe three children, with two generally reported to be the result of rape by her father, Zeus. One more example of violence against women from world literature. It may be that ultimately her time in the Underworld with Hades in Winter, in the role of wife and Queen of the Underworld, was a welcome relief from wondering when and where her father would appear in her life on the beautiful Spring on Earth. Who knows?
Most note that she performed the entire range of her duties as Queen of the Underworld well.
So, was Persephone a beautiful trophy wife for Hades, but one in whom he had little to no interest beyond owning her once he had her? Did Persephone despise him every moment she was in the Underworld, counting every day until she could leave for the cyclic return to Earth? Did they fall into some kind of known routine, like old married couples, where they knew each other and what to expect, with a generally acceptable accommodation toward one another? Given artistic license, I’ve chosen to interpret the relationship through my imagination. And, at least in this post, I am not going to address her first Winter in the Underworld after he abduction by Hades. In this post I am looking more at her subsequent Winters, remembering that in earlier posts she chose to eat the pomegranate seeds, knowing she would be bound to Hades as his wife and required to return in a yearly cycle. The flip side of that coin is that she also knew she would have time each year on her own, as Goddess of Spring, with none of the duties of Queen of the Underworld. I said it in an earlier post, but I’ll say it again – I think of Georgia O’Keeffe’s marriage, and her time away on her own in New Mexico.
I have chosen to represent Persephone, after the first Winter in the Underworld, as in a fulfilling relationship with her husband, in the choice she made. (Call me Pollyanna.) These images are my representation of Persephone in the Underworld.
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.
Winter to Spring in Roses
Winter to spring transition in roses is abundantly clear in my garden this year. A couple of weeks ago we had several days of above average temperatures. Many roses began to send out new growth.
Here in the high desert of New Mexico we are taught not to prune our roses until late March or early April, because pruning stimulates new growth. That tender new growth will die if we get a late freeze, which is not uncommon here in the high desert. So, my roses have not yet been pruned, nor will they be for several weeks. But, because the roses are sending out new growth, I have had the opportunity to photograph old spent blooms and hips with the new growth: a winter to spring transition. I sometimes think of it as “the junction of life and death,” but I realize that is too strong for some readers. I personally find with junction of the remains of last year’s growth and blooms with this year’s brand new growth to be beautiful and interesting.
Some of the new rose leaves are red. This is not a photoshopped color. The red color is due to pigments called anthocyanins, which actually help protect the tender new growth from harsh UV light. As the plants mature, and they no longer need this protection, the pigments disperse, the leaves become green, and become chlorophyll factories through photosynthesis. Not all roses produce the red leaves on early spring growth, however.
Snowfall Overnight in Albuquerque
Snow rarely falls in Albuquerque as often as it is forecast, especially in these drought years. While I certainly do not want as much all at one time as we received in December of 2006 (22 inches in my yard), this morning when I awakened to five inches (12.5 centimeters) of the beautiful white stuff in my yard, I was very happy! I do not yet know the snowfall amounts for the surrounding mountains, but I hope they are significant.
Wind must not have been significant as the snow was falling. There must have been some wind later, though, because the accumulation on trees is not much this morning.
The white stuff can enhance the appearance of the ubiquitous block walls and stucco found in Albuquerque.
Even the gates seem enhanced this morning.
One really good thing is that the streets were warm enough that most seem clear, at least in my neighborhood, this morning.
(eta: FB friends are telling me the streets in some parts of town were terrible, at least earlier this morning!)
The snowfall overnight was really nice to wake up to this morning.
Winter Sunset, both East and West
Winter sunset. This was a two-for-one, with interesting things going on both to the east over the Sandias, as well as in the sky to the west. A “winter storm” is due tomorrow, with perhaps 4 inches of snow in the city by Friday. Turbulence is certainly evident in the sky looking west.
We see lenticular clouds over the mountains not infrequently in the winter. I like lenticular clouds. I also enjoy the alpenglow of the Sandias. It does not last long, but it is striking when it appears. This view, looking eastward, appears “calm” to me.
The winter sky looking westward could not have had a more different appearance, and it is anything but “calm.”
The skies here are never boring, and often are quite interesting. This was a great two-for-one sunset.