The datura bush in my front yard is blooming now. Flowering is not new to this plant: as a tender perennial, it regrew from roots that did not freeze last winter and in early summer sported a few blossoms to celebrate being alive again. Since then, it has become a gargantuan, spreading mass, taking over its end of the flower bed and swallowing the sidewalk to my front door. A homeowner more hospitable than I would have cut the bush back to clear the path, but once I saw the hundred or so buds poking through the broad green leaves, I chose Beauty over neighborliness. For just a few days this week, I get to host a flower show’s profusion of large, trumpet-shaped white flowers. They bloom at night and glow in the indirect light of early morning, before wilting and dying under the afternoon sun. The next morning’s bloom presents an entirely new set of fresh flowers.
The bright light of midday bleaches the flowers of color: they appear simply white. Photographing them in the early morning, before direct sun touches them, reveals pale hints of lavendar at the fringe and pointy tips of the trumpets’ edges. At this time of day, the flowers behave like stained glass, painting the light that bounces around them and passes through them with prismatic color. Photo editing can exaggerate this effect.
Boosting vibrance and saturation pulls more pink and blue out of the white flower. Manipulating image highlights reveals texture and cellular structure in the soft, fragile trumpet. When I produce photos that make these blooms glow with an eerie light, I find a new perspective on the flower known as “sacred datura.” See more at my Sacred Datura Gallery.
Welcome to April 14, the day before Income Tax Day here in the US. For those who are celebrating having filed their tax forms, who are needing stress relief to meet tomorrow’s deadline, or who enjoy having any excuse to party under the stars, the universe at midnight (PDT) gives the gift of a lunar eclipse.
One feature making this eclipse special is its totality’s visibility to most of the United States; only our friends in far-west Alaska and New England will see a partial eclipse. Notably, most of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East won’t see an eclipse at all.
The more unusual feature is this eclipse’s position as the first in a tetrad of lunar eclipses, the second tetrad of 8 such sequences occurring this century. Whether you believe this lunar eclipse and its tetrad signify “The End Times” or you appreciate it as a natural phenomenon of our amazing cosmos, you might decide it’s worthwhile being a little sleepy at work or school tomorrow to go out and observe tonight’s spectacular sky show.
For those who prefer a good night’s rest, Changing Woman offers this post’s title image of a beautiful earthbound “Stargazer” for your meditation and enjoyment.
Working on my primary New Year’s resolution—(re)organize my photo archives—I (re)discovered this image of a Mexican primrose and the goldenrod crab spider using one of its petals as a dining table.
Goldenrod Crab Spider / Misumena vatia – Images by Jennifer Nelson
Taking this photo, I was experimenting with using the low-voltage landscape lighting in my front yard to backlight the flower for a stained-glass effect. Finding the spider and the fly about to re-enact the drama of Mary Howitt’s classic poem was only a happy coincidence. Finding this photo again gives me an idea for another resolution: spend more time with the camera in my garden at night. What new fascinating wildlife encounters might I discover?
Actually, I uploaded my favorite Havana photo to thejigsawpuzzles.com and their software made the pieces. It uses Flash to play, and it is challenging (and rewarding) to assemble: give it a try!
Click here to download Adobe Flash Player for free. For full screen display (makes easier solving), click the arrows in the lower-right corner of the puzzle frame. Drag pieces into place by right-clicking on them and moving your mouse. Pieces do not need to be rotated to fit together. When you have pieces that match (and your computer’s sound turned up), the “click” confirms their joining. Enjoy!