Monday, January 2, 2012


What does one do for entertainment in Texas over the Christmas holidays? According to the media, most people shopped until they dropped. Then they got up and did it again. Sports fans got the best Christmas gift they could imagine when the NBA began its season on Christmas Day. The Dallas Mavericks, however, unwrapped a disappointing opener for their fans. And football games are aplenty. We were neither at the mall or at the arena. We went to the Dallas Arboretum.

Despite being December 29th, it was a beautiful and sunny sixty plus degree day, a perfect opportunity to be outside walking off those holiday cookies and cinnamon rolls. Also, Offspring #1 got a macro lens for Christmas ostensibly to take pictures for her food portfolio but a trip to the Arboretum to photograph plants seemed like a reasonably low stress way to familiarize one’s self with the new lens. Weber and I enjoy taking pictures as well so with our shoulders loaded with camera bags off we went unsure of what we may find to be picture-worthy at the Arboretum at this time of year.

When all was said and done, Brooke had taken over 300 pictures. I asked her to give me her favorite. This is was she sent.

The camellias were one of the few flowering plants.

In the spring and summer when the flower beds are bursting with blooms and all the foliage is thick green and thriving, it is easy to find beauty; it is perhaps even possible to attain beauty overload. The potential for stunning photographs during the peak growing season is almost overwhelming. However, in the midst of winter, when almost nothing is flowering and many plants lay dormant, beauty puts on a different face. It is much more subtle and does truly lie in the eye of the beholder. It is up to each of us to look closely enough to see the beauty in the barren trees or the mulch covered flower beds. It is up to us to see that much beauty exists in the lulls of the life cycle.

I had a somewhat strange feeling when I saw this next image. It reminds me of the pictures of the veteran's cemeteries where all of the markers are uniform and, when photographed, are often adorned with similarly uniform American flags. The irony here is that these are the plants that are the most hardy, the ones that have survived the Texas weather extremes.

I like all of the different colors and textures of the trees in this picture.
I can't remember what this shrub is but the orange leaves seem so full of life. Orange is one of my favorite colors probably because it just exudes energy.
I love this next picture. It may be the one that best exhibits that sense of a different kind of beauty. Here is a leaf that was probably bright green and firmly attached to a tree not too long ago. It is now donning its winter colors as it meanders alone amidst some ornamental grass. It will probably be blown or swept into a compost bin soon. Right now, to me, it is dancing along full of life and with its own personality. Though I know that the two holes in its middle are really signs of decay, they look like eyes. This little leaf standing upright with the sun shining through it is beautiful. I think this my favorite of the pictures that I took.

As many of the trees are shedding their final leaves of 2011 and flowers are dropping their last petals, new life is emerging as the gardeners are beginning the early plantings of 2012.
I am looking forward to visiting the Arboretum in the spring with my camera again in hand.