Monday, November 30, 2009

Pine Cone Wonder

So that's how they do it!

OK, so I live such a secluded life that I never knew how pine cones get to be pine cones. But here they are--female pinaceae cones right in front of my camera lens--lifting overlapping scales (I googled Wikipedia) from a central axis. The scales open temporarily to receive pollen, then close during fertilization and maturation. At maturity, they re-open again to allow the seed to escape.

Just in time for Christmas wreaths and decorations, fire starters, bird feeders, and toys.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wild Horses

And wild horses couldn't drag me away
And wild horses couldn't drag me away.

Yes, they can.

I should be writing a story, getting on with the to-do list.

But Susan Boyle's lilting Scottish voice, singing Mick Jagger's "w..i..i.i..ld horses" takes me back to Iceland and the steeds corraled by the roadside, the cold wind blowing their manes and tails, tundra and mountain ranges in the distance. Impatiently, the horses wait for riders to release them from the enclosure. While they wait, they butt heads and push each other about. I'm a close-up witness to the wild power of pure-bred horses.

Can't get them (or the song) out of my head.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Table Grace: Earthly Goods

Potter's clay appeals to us as few substances can. Like mud for making pies or sand for building castles, it casts a magic spell when transformed into platters and plates.

Behind finished surfaces lie origins in rock-ribbed mother earth. From mountainous stones, the forces of sun and wind, rain, and frost extract the ingredients for clay--silicates of aluminum, flint, sand, and iron. Down the mountain torrent the elements are carried to stagnant backwaters on the plain where they settle into wide and oozy beds of mud. There they age for centuries until one day the clayey soil is retrieved and taken to the pottery.

For serene abbey-style souls, the rainbow ends in the pots of gold set on the table. Nuggets of sweet and red potatoes, roasted and spooned onto ceramic platters, stand out on white tablecloths like stones on the side of a snow-covered mountain. Freshly steamed ears of corn, cradled in earthenware, bring summer images of field and sun to the tabletop. Large, round loaves of bread wait on wooden slabs and lidded crockery invites the discovery of mouth-watering riches inside. It's the mother lode of earthly goods--pay dirt and clay pots filled with abundance.

The warmth of earthenware bowls and platters suggests rock-solid generosity and salt-of-the-earth hospitality--perfect for feeding the hungry flock during Thanksgiving.