Posted tagged ‘patio’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

November 13, 2013

There is a natural readiness in us to label our habits as bad or good ones. They are also difficult to photograph. For instance, my good habit of religiously wearing a seatbelt while driving is not very photogenic, nor is my bad habit of misplacing sunglasses and frantically searching for them – a few moments before leaving home.

My custom of drinking wine on the patio at sunset I consider a very pleasant and definitely photogenic habit.

Patio on the end of the day.Glass of wine on the patio's table

Ever since we built our large, sunny patio that connects and embraces the house, my studio and a beautiful mesquite tree, we have had the custom, an end-of-the-day routine, to sit on the patio and enjoy the last warm rays of sun. The fact that the sun goes down right behind my studio is a nice coincidence for me. I welcome that soft announcement of the end of the day and, perhaps, the end of my work…. A glass of wine is a must!

closeup of the glass of wine and image of the studio

I offer a toast to the gentle, late warmth of Tucson’s sun, since most of the day that very same sun is hot and harsh – even in the middle of November.

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

December 13, 2012

I was born and grew up in a country that has been celebrating the four seasons for centuries! Spring was always beautiful with little flowers peeking from under the snow, and so was autumn with nostalgia of the falling leaves in Warsaw. Majestic winter, generously spreading its white fluffy blanket, could beautify anything. But my favorite season was summer! It represented freedom from school and a lot of fun with friends on the Baltic shore. The warmth of the sun was unforgettable.

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My life in this country started on Cape Cod where I settled for “quite a while” raising my two sons and working professionally. All four seasons marked the rhythm of our life there. Again, summer was my favorite and compensated for the grayness of winter.

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It was on the Cape that I defined the color of my parachute. And that is how I landed in Tucson, Arizona, a place where summer never ends…well, almost never. Actually, there are some changes of season here in Tucson. And that is the point of this photo essay.

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Saguaro Bloom (c) Alicja Mann

2) Lilies

Southwest plants are blooming all year round – just different ones in different (calendar) seasons. With the flowers, the blue sky, and the warmth of the sun, every day seems like a summer day.

3) African Daisy

4) Durable Verbena

5) Orange Trumpet

 After the hottest days of June the monsoon season is greatly anticipated. Dark clouds signal its arrival. The heavy, warm rains are welcomed and celebrated.

6) Before the Rain

7B) Monsoon Rain

7C) After the Rain

Even in December the patio plants look as if it were summer.

8) Geraniums

9) Yellow Trumpet

10) Spike and Window

I know it is winter when our neighbor, Joe, decorates his orange tree with large, colorful lights to celebrate the Holidays and keep the tree warm at night. That is the sign for me to be ready to cover our plants to protect them from the occasional touch of frost. It also is the time to hang the Holiday wreath and acknowledge the arrival of winter.

11) Joes Lights

12) Winter Wreath

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Text and photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

Monsoon Report from the Patio

June 30, 2011

It is the end of June and we are sizzling in Tucson with 110 °F almost every day. Wow! “Where is the lovely monsoon rain?!” I ask myself, as many Tucsonans also ask lately. As of yesterday there was no sign of it.

It is so unfortunate that recently other states in the country have been suffering from too much rainfall and too high water levels in their rivers. Devastating floods were the nightmare and the reality. Meanwhile Arizona firefighters struggled for days and days with beastly wildfires. We had not had a drop of rain for a long, long time. Maybe that’s why it feels like the monsoon is late this year. I am also late with our departure to Cape Cod for this summer.

“Such intense heat as we have experienced lately, plus some winds, should bring the monsoon rain soon,” I tried to convince myself, feeling fatigued by the heat as never before. Yesterday ended no differently than other days – a mostly clear sky above and our patio unwalkable in bare feet beneath. The hope for rain went to sleep along with the sunset.

I went to sleep too, but did not sleep well at all. Around 3 am I decided to start the new day. While sipping coffee from my favorite mug, I glanced through the book Sing Down the Rain which has been with me since I began living in Tucson. It is a children’s book written by the professional storyteller Judi Moreillon and richly illustrated by Michael Chiago whose art work is inseparable from his Tohono O’odham heritage.

Cover of Sing Down the Rain
….When the sun is white hot, in May and in June,

This dry land is waiting — rain will come soon.

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….Clouds swollen with rain that’s waiting to fall

Will bring cooling water for one and for all.

The poem-story is about the Saguaro Wine Ceremony which is one of the most important celebrations of the Tohono O’odham Nation of southern Arizona.

“The majestic saguaro cactus provides the fruits used to make sacred wine used in the ceremony,” explains the publisher’s note on one of the book’s flaps. “For two nights, the men, women and children dance in the ‘Rain House’ to ask for plentiful rainfall.”

Knowing this story, I often comment half-jokingly that we – the newcomers living in this area – do not dance enough and that we should follow the tradition of the people who are rooted here and know how to bring down the rain. While reading some passages of the book again, I discovered suddenly a little tap-tap-tap sound on the roof. Could it be the sound of falling rain drops? I jumped to the door, opened it widely and… there they were — the very first drops of rain falling on the warm, rough surface of the patio! It was 3:30 in the morning and just a few minutes later the impressive lightning and roaring thunder arrived. The rain became intense. I ran across the patio to my studio to open its door and let the smell of rain come in. Then I sat and watched the beautiful performance of Mother Nature. I wish I knew how to take good photos at night! I tried anyway, but without much success. However, I salvaged a couple just to share with you.

Water on a brick patio Feet on a wet patio
Rain on the patio at night

“The storm” ended a bit after 5 am and I had fun wading in the puddles on our patio. When my shadow, my faithful companion, regained some strength with the rising sun, I took a few more pictures.

Reflection of clouds and umbrella in wet brick patio Photographer's shadow and her feet on wet brick patio
Reflections (umbrella and my shadow) in a large puddle on the patio in the early morning

At 9 am the patio was still walkable and the sky a bit hazy with the clouds whispering about rain. That whispering faded away by noon.

There is a lot of hope for more rain on this long 4th of July weekend. We in Tucson should dance and sing (and perhaps skip the fireworks) to celebrate the arrival of the monsoon season as well as Independence Day. Our friends on the Cape and in Boston can truly enjoy fireworks and dry weather with a touch of sunshine after some wet days there in the past weeks.

Happy Fourth of July wherever you are and whatever you do!

Alicja spelled out in freworks

The credit for this photo goes to the Falmouth Fireworks Committee on the Cape. Kudos for such a clever design of the fund-raising card. I bet people smiled, as I did, seeing their name in the sky — if only on the postcard.

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Text and photos (other than book cover and card) copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.


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