Posted tagged ‘Southwest’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

June 12, 2013

OK, fleeting, passing swiftly, not lasting…. The clouds on our famously characteristic blue Tucson sky are seldom present and are very welcomed but…fleeting.

Pink and fluffy clouds

Pink and fluffy clouds

Clouds at dusk

At dusk

Brief  shower

Brief shower

Clouds gathering for the monsoon

Gathering for the monsoon

Clouds bring the promise of rain so badly needed in this part of the country, especially now when temperatures are repeatedly 105 F daily, and the official beginning of summer is still 10 days away. They come and go and often nothing happens – till the monsoon arrives. Oh, and then what a relief! These heavy rains are worth waiting for, and they are celebrated with joy! So far we are waiting, we are waiting….

I wrote a special post about the monsoon – please check it out. Here is the link:

https://alicjamann.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/monsoon-report-from-the-patio/

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

May 9, 2013

This is a relatively easy challenge to photograph from above, and a pleasant task indeed! It leads naturally to taking pictures of plants and interesting food dishes, as well as clouds and the ground from airplanes or high, elevated areas. The results are more predictable, perhaps, than the photos of the previous challenge “Up”, but very enjoyable.

Small rhubarb in dark soil

Spring has arrived by now in most of the States, and many of us are involved in gardening. This small rhubarb was embraced by my pink garden shoes while I was taking this photo. The dark, rich soil is characteristic of gardens in New England. I took this photo a year ago while visiting our place on Cape Cod. This fleshy plant grows well over there, but it is not at all suitable for our Tucson’s dry land.

Spiky plant fof  the Southwest

Southwest plants are not very huggable, yet they are beautiful and amazingly capable to strive in poor soil conditions. I adore them for their “spikiness” that represents their feistiness and strength.

White flowers of oleander

Oleanders are grown in many areas of this country and are popular in the Southwest, as well. These decorative plants are easier to approach since they are relatively soft and not thorny. There is some danger of being poisoned by them, and that’s why they are not always welcome in private yards. Personally, I love them in any color— from red and hot pink to pale pink and white.

Colorful electric cords

This photo I dedicate mostly to men who love to tinker in their garages and other spaces cluttered with tools, pipes and cords. One can find beauty in any place!

Pizza topped with spinach

Scallops served on colorful plate

Here are my two FOOD photos – a very healthy pizza followed by my favorite dish of scallops.

Small pomagranade plant with one red flower

This small baby pomegranate, which I named Weston, is a very promising little tree, especially after being transplanted into the ground. Soon it will be covered with many flowers like this one and, hopefully, produce fruit that is known for being handsome and healthy.

A pink pretty rose

This very simple and elegant rose is a new addition to our patio. I have chosen it to celebrate the coming Mother’s Day. This rose is delicate and tender, yet very strong and resilient – just like mothers are.

Have a great and affectionate Mother’s Day!

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Last year at this time, I wrote a post titled Mother’s Day Reflections:  https://alicjamann.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/mothers-day-reflections/

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

April 25, 2013

Sometimes we do not need words of explanation or captions for photos. Such is the case here with my interpretation of “Up”.

 

Tall building in New Yourk

GW Bridge

View from the car of  a highway loop

Soutwestern Church with ringing bell

Tall business building in Tucson

I responded to several Weekly Photo Challenges before:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

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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.

a
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.

On Loving Trees

June 6, 2012

June is beautiful, but cruel in southern Arizona. Here in Tucson we are sizzling in triple-digit temperatures already! In fact one can cook a meal on the dashboard of a car if parked for a few hours under the naked sky and exposed to the brutal intensity of the sun. Everybody seems to love trees here in June for their protective shade. Even those who complain about how messy trees are—with their shedding leaves or pods and drippings of birds housed in their branches—tolerate trees while waiting for the monsoon season to arrive.

The picture below looks like a perfect dream for June — beautiful trees and water! In fact it is a photo taken in June, but in distant Poland during one of my visits there. I grew up near that pond circled gracefully with weeping willows. One of them extended her trunk horizontally towards the pond and I could sit on it, dangling my feet above the water and enjoying my invisibility to others provided by the delicate and dense branches. I loved that tree and since then weeping willows have been one of my favorite trees.

Trees and water
Alicja Mann in Poland

When I moved to Tucson I fell in love with the native trees of Arizona almost immediately. In fact the desert environment taught me a lot about the hardship of a plant’s life. My respect and affection for the trees here has grown enormously. Southwest trees are very graceful and tough at the same time. How can one not love them?

Trees in southwestern US

The palo verde is the official tree of Arizona. That smart and strikingly green tree is able to put to work chlorophyll not only in its needle-like leaves but in the “skin” (delicate bark) of its trunk and branches. In spring the abundance of the yellow flowers of palo verdes also is impressive.

palo verde tree branches and blooms

Although I adore palo verde trees, my special affection goes to the mighty mesquite, most likely because I had invested a lot of time, effort, and emotion to save one of them here in Tucson. It was one of the oldest and most beautiful mesquites I ever met. It lived in an unfortunate spot near a sidewalk in the community where I lived for several years.

My tree

If that mesquite could have walked, I am sure it would have walked away from the people who felt threatened by its roots. It is true that roots can cause some problems with pavements and buried pipes, but such problems are solvable if there is a will to solve them.

I fought hard for that tree and even saved its life…for a while. During my absence, however, when I had to go to Poland to take care of my terminally ill mother, the people of that community decided to cut that beautiful mesquite, anyway.

That was a memorable summer for me—the summer of 2007. I lost my mom and I lost “my” tree!

So when I found a different place to live—a property on which stands our renovated home and where also stands my studio—one of the important activities was adding a variety of plants. I decided to plant a young mesquite tree in honor of the one that was killed in 2007.

It just so happened that our new neighbors loved trees, too, and Joe had a couple of baby mesquite trees—nurtured by him from tiny seedlings—available for planting. I got one for our yard and they got one for theirs. Here you can see Joe and Nancy visiting a bit ruffled young mesquite decorated with ribbon on the day of its planting. From that day we became “mesquite relatives” with our neighbors.

Two people and recently-planted mesquite tree

Time passed and the young mesquite grew considerably along with the other plants in our yard. The tree looked as if it were dancing, reminding me of Zorba the Greek from the old classic 1964 movie (starring Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates), and I named him Zorba the Tree. It had such a strong presence that the new patio had to be designed to embrace him and make him the focal point of our yard.

Zorba the mesquite tree

Today Zorba has been with us for three years. It had to be trimmed a lot in order to grow taller and stronger. It became a favorite visiting spot for quite a few birds, including a stubborn woodpecker that injured one of Zorba’s “arms”. Little Zorba became an adult tree. His branches stretch from the studio to the house—creating a charming living ramada.

Zorba, a mesquite tree

Soon Zorba will have to stay alone for a couple of months during our annual visit to Cape Cod. I like those trips and will see other trees through the car window while crossing the country—the trees of New Mexico or the Midwest—sometimes close and sometimes far away.

Passing by trees
Passing by trees
Seeing trees in any place makes me happy, but the real treat is to visit trees I have known for a long time like the ones in the “wild” yard of our Cape house. The house does not have an ocean view as some people imagine, but that does not matter. It feels good to sit on the elevated deck being surrounded with the wild greenery—in fact it feels almost like being on an ocean of green. I especially like the protective presence (against hurricanes) of the tall white pines. Yes, white pines are definitely my favorites there.

white pine deck and tree
I will be happy to see again the old and majestic grandma Ernestine—a white pine who witnessed my sons growing up around there. I like to see her family members scattered around the house. I feel these trees are my friends, almost a family.

grandmother and youth white pines

It might sound strange and even corny when I talk like that, but that does not matter. I learned these feeling towards nature partially from my father, but mostly from my Wampanoag friends on the Cape. Native Americans often refer to plants or animals as “people”—like “plant people”, for instance. I like that concept very much and have incorporated into my life style and philosophy. I see my favorite plants that way, and especially trees!

Trees live long among us, silently witnessing our happiness and our sorrows. Trees are strong and yet they are vulnerable the way people are.

They live in communities like the ones in my Cape Cod yard.

trees in community
Sometimes they live a lonely life, like the tree I met on the Kaibab Trail while hiking the Grand Canyon.

Tree alone on Kaibab trail at Grand_Canyon
They dream like the “dreaming tree” below… and this is a poetic stretch of my imagination, of course.

Dreaming tree
Trees can definitely get hurt badly by a fire — most likely a man made one.

Being burned
And I like to imagine that they cry like us …just with a different color of tears….

Crying yellow

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Text and photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

From Highways with Love

September 30, 2011
A photo safari from the passenger seat
Northeast — Southwest

On the road again – go south and west my friend!

Trucks always fascinated me. How does one control such a big beast? And what is inside each of them?

When a truck is “naked”, it is even more interesting. I also love trucks’ shiny wheels. Here we are reflected in the hubcap of one of them. I am proud of that shot!

Today’s wind turbines adorn the landscape gracefully while generating electricity.

My affection for farms and farmland is captured in these photos.

Oh, those Nebraska roads!

Colorado (Denver) here we come … and go.

New Mexico has its own charm.

Finally Arizona — almost home! See you around.

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Photos and text copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

Cape Cod Sensuality

September 8, 2011

Moments of “less is more” in using words are of great importance. Bits of happiness and tragedy are captured in those moments. Poems are born in such moments. My desire to define the essence of my love for Cape Cod calls for such a moment.

I fell in love with the Southwest a decade ago and made Tucson my home, yet each summer I “go back home” to the Cape. The call of the Southwest and the call of Cape Cod divide my heart.

What is that call of the Cape made of?

For me it lies in the Cape’s sensuality. Yes, sensuality! Sensuality of the tastes and textures of the place. When I leave the Cape in a few weeks to answer the call of the Southwest, I know that I will also hear The Call of Cape Cod.

My bare feet will long for the silkiness of the beach sand

and the touch of frothy waves.

Eyes will miss the huddled boats in the harbor and the lonely ones

on the infinite ocean horizon.

Tongue will remember the bitter taste of the ocean water and the sweetness

of the native scallops.

Hands will not forget the roughness of the weathered shingles and the gentle touch

of white pine needles.

My heart will know how to answer that call….

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Copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

Bourne Bridge to Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Cape Cod Window, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Cape Cod Shingles and Flowers - photo by Alicja Mann

Huddled Boats in Woods Hole, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Woods Hole Eel Pond, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Mermaid watching - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach Umbrella - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Lost in the Beach Sand & Crowded Shells - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photos by Alicja Mann

Joy of the Mermaids - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Little Mermaid - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Nature Art - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Seagull Watching - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Resting Kayaks - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach Dune - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach at Dusk - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Restaurant with the view - Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Tasty Native Scallops - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

After the Sunset at West Barnstable, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

From Our Deck - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

White Pine - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Matt’s Hammock - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Alicja’s shadow - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

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Photos and text copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.


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