Monday, March 31, 2008

For Dith Pran

This post was originally to be part of my "Looking for Summer Theme." The temperature was actually below freezing yesterday morning when I photographed this sculpture at the Katonah Museum of Art so his appreciation of the sun seemed very appropriate.

But a few moments ago, when I heard about the death of Dith Pran, photographer and Khmer Rouge survivor, activist, and historian, I knew this photo had a better meaning.

The story about Pran's life, "The Killing Fields," was one of the most touching movies I've ever seen. Once rescued, Pran became a reporter for The New York Times, and I always searched out his work, so much did he seem like a personal acquaintance thanks to the movie.

Today, this photograph is a tribute to Dith Pran: his courage, his fight for justice, and his inspiration for a kinder world.

Friday, March 28, 2008

History in a Bird's Nest

My father has the amazing ability to “whittle” recognizable shapes out of virtually any straggly bush and one day decided that the out-of-control forsythia in my front yard was actually a basket. Soon after, he arrived with a piece of rebar and his hedge clippers and set to work. A couple of years later, it became an Easter Basket. The year after that, as I was getting the front garden ready to plant, I found this bird’s nest on the ground. The green strands are some of the synthetic grass we used to line the Easter basket; the black is some of the deer netting we had used to protect our vulnerable plantings the previous winter. We’ve preserved this nest for twelve years now, although I managed to over-prune the basket out of existence.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Passion for the Pasque Flower

I only learned about anemones once we moved from the city and I started to garden. I think I love them as much for their beauty as for the melodious pronunciation of their name “a NEM o nee.” This picture was taken at the market in Menton, France last Saturday on a day of site-seeing after a business trip to Cannes.

Anemones are also commonly known as pasque (from pasch or paschal, Easter) flowers, due to their habit of flowering between late March and early June, an odd attribution for me, since I equate them with the summer. But in South Dakota, often peaking through the snow, they are the first sign that spring has arrived. By summer, when they are blooming in New York, their Great Plains’ region lifecycle is complete. Not surprisingly, the anemone is South Dakota’s state flower.

Along with clematis, buttercups, columbines, delphiniums, and poppies, all varieties I happen to favor, they are part of the ranunculaceae family. Quite accidentally I caught some ranunculi in the top right corner of this photo.

Here are some links for additional information on this plant, its family, and relationship to South Dakota. Happy Spring

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Letter in a Box

It’s supposed to work the other way around. By following “clues” posted on the web, you are supposed to find the letterbox, stamp it with your own personal stamp, then re-hide the box for someone else to find. As the dogs and I were walking along the Beaver Dam River in Bedford Hills, NY, searching for a “water” picture for next month’s theme, this box floated up to me.

Until we “met” I had no idea that “letterboxing” even existed, yet there is apparently an entire community seeking these hidden boxes. To learn more, here is a link related to letterboxing in North America; here is the link to Dartmoor Letterboxing where it all began, and here’s the Wikipedia write-up. And yes … as soon as my stamp is carved I’ll be joining the “club,” a great excuse to find new places to walk my dog(s)! Through some detective work and luck I have actually found its rightful home, and it shall be returned tomorrow.

Any Letterboxers among CDP’ers?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shamrocks from the Heart

On a dare, exactly eleven years ago today, Tommy, the veteran bartender at The Blazer in Purdy’s, New York sold his trousers for $30 and donated the money to charity; a tradition was immediately born. The proceeds have grown annually, topping $6,000 in 2007. Funds accrue from both the sale of shamrocks which help decorate the pub and proceeds of an auction, the items for which are donated by the community. Items have typically included facials from a local spa, handmade pillows crafted by students from an area middle school, football and hockey tickets, gift baskets, sets of children’s golf clubs, and too many more to mention. The items are never solicited; they simply appear at the restaurant. In recent years, the money has been contributed to Friends of Karen, a charity headquartered in Purdy’s and dedicated to providing emotional, financial, and advocacy support to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. “The most important thing I can say,” Tommy said, “is that we are just facilitators. It’s the local community that makes it all happen.” (Inset photo Tommy, and Blazer owner, Alice).