(click on photos to enlarge)
Our prairies awake with warming soils. We can see green leafy growth beginning now. We were not able to burn the prairies in the late winter/early spring this year which would encourage quicker growth. Last year we burned part of them and the year before the ditch. Next year we will have more work to do. The plants will not fail us and will emerge, grow and bloom on their own schedule. There are a few early bloomers in the prairie, arising out of spent debris from the previous year.
Birds, bees and insects will fill the prairies with their sounds and flights making our walks through them full of life. The tall plants form bower like shapes over our heads we need to duck under, while the dogs run ahead. I have visited other larger prairies but, somehow, our own prairies slow my pace and increase my powers of observation. Taking my camera with me lets us revisit the prairies and share them with you.
I have been asked why the name of my blog is Songs for the Garden. The garden is filled with sounds and when I write about the garden I am responding tp the sounds consciously and unconsciously. Sounds add to the experience of the garden visitor.
Leaves rustle in the wind. Birds sing their calls. Dogs bark. Horses neigh. People speak (to themselves, to other people, to their dogs). Water runs and falls. We hear footsteps, hoof beats and paws if we listen closely. Cars and trucks drive by. Tractors climb the contours of the fields. Sometimes a musician plays. You may hear a Cubs game announced on an outdoor radio. Severe weather sirens startle and create urgency to leave the garden.
In the garden I also respond to the use of the elements of garden design which are shared with music composition as they are with the fine arts and other forms of design. The most obvious ones are Rhythm and Repetition. Vanessa Nagle writes, in her book "Understanding Garden Design", "Music uses rhythm and repetition as an underlying force to unify its other components. So too do rhythm and repetition serve as a background to garden design." Repeating shrubs of similar shapes have rhythm as do the repeating parts of a fence. Using these and other elements evoke emotional responses. The energy produced by a quick or slow sequence of notes or plants (or other things in the landscape) draws responses from listeners and users.
Garden designers use transitions in the garden to move from one use area to another such as from patio seating to a play area. Composers use transitions to move from tranquil sections to more emotional complex sections of compositions. Gardens can evoke similar emotions.
So, the next time you visit a garden try to sense the musical elements within it and feel the rhythm and repetition.
The eerie weather matched my mood of unreality, sadness and no way forward. My surroundings were hidden from me. I took my phone out of my jacket pocket to see if there was enough light to capture the scene.
As I looked at the images on the screen I saw my elder trees gathering in the others, portraying a grouping that has weathered many storms and still stands upright and strong.
Maybe I found a metaphor for going forward.