Posts Tagged ‘curiosity’

It can be hard to read a coffee table sized book while sitting on a Boston subway during rush hour. But that’s what I was trying to do after a visit to the library to retrieve the book Nature’s Chaos, a collaboration between photographer Eliot Porter and writer James Gleick. I sat snugly between, on my left, an older African fellow wearing a very puffy and, I’m sure, warm coat.  On my right sat a young Chinese boy wearing a very puffy and, I’m sure, warm coat. The little boy kept getting in trouble with his dad because he was a bit hyper.

I’d been waiting a long time for this book.  Carefully, very carefully, trying to respect the space of my neighbors, I opened up the book into a narrow V-shape. I figured the text I could read later, but I wanted a peek at Porter’s vast landscapes.  I could see a little but not enough.  Wider I opened the book.  I peered closely at the sweeping patterns in cracked mud and lava flows. There were leaves on water and sunset clouds.  As I lost myself in these scenes, perhaps the book fell open wider still because all of a sudden I noticed something.

Now the African gentleman was a bit more subtle but I could tell he was looking at the book with me. He’d adjust his glasses as I turned a page and every now and then he’d bend over slightly, trying to see the cover to find out what in the world I was looking at. The little boy hadn’t learned how to be subtle. He just peered right over my arm. I didn’t bother looking at his dad. I just began pointing out features on the page to the boy. Occasionally I’d drag my finger along a seemingly mundane scene, like orange flowers in a green field or vines on a tree trunk. I’d say softly, “That’s pretty cool, hunh?” His eyes never leaving the page, he’d nod and say softly, “Yeah.”

On the last page, I made a dramatic show of closing the book and saying in a little louder voice, “And that’s it!” The little boy (and the gentleman too I suppose) slid back into his chair.  His father whispered to him.  The little boy looked up at me.

“Thank you,” he said.

I smiled. “You’re welcome.”

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It streamed into the kitchen and set everything on fire, from the honey on bread to the pink petals of the African violet.

And then of course my curiosity was sparked and so I wondered what if I pull out that green glass and fill it once more with water and perhaps a dried flower or two?

Nothing earth shattering but it was fun and as I had fun the light went out. A thick layer of blue-gray clouds veiled the sun. I missed the sun but the clouds were beautiful too.

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The drinking glass I picked up at a thrift store with the intention of planting sprouts in it this winter.  But for now it has been sitting on a table next to the window.  This morning I dropped two small tomatoes into it, just a placeholder until I chop them up for salad later.  Then that thing happened again.  While at the keyboard I happened to glance over my shoulder and there it was, a curious light on the tomato as the morning sun shone through the curves of the green glass.  At first my focus was purely the tomato but as I hunched over my still life I noticed what was happening at the base of the glass.  So I placed a piece of black cardboard beneath the glass, removed the tomatoes and added some water. This is what I saw.

I changed the level of the water. I placed the green glass on top of a clear glass to raise its height.  At one point I dropped in an ice cube.

It was just fun to see what changes might take place.

I set aside the green glass and replaced it with a clear square glass that has a thick bottom.  I photographed its pyramid like base and that was pretty cool.

Overall, my “experiment” took about 15-20 minutes.

Not much clean up.  Just some glasses to dry.

Just some glasses to dry.


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an unexpected meeting along a wooded path

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The fruit was purchased at a roadside stand, warm red exterior and bright gold interior.  Sweet and tangy.  A delightful treat. And now I have this seed.  To plant or not to plant? 😉

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… I just make myself sit in a place, for just a few moments, and watch where the sunlight falls. And sometimes I notice that there are places where I have to shine my own light into a shadowed nook to appease my curiosity.  One day recently, while shining such a light, this is what I saw at Trinity Church.

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Last summer, a large bee and I had an altercation in the kitchen.  In short, it could not manage to exit out the window through which it had entered and so it now rests in a jar, frozen in time, quite beautiful, I think, if a little macabre.  Off and on, I have tried photographing the creature but nothing clicked until yesterday when the sun shone “just right.” Flowers both real and artificial reflected on the surface of the jar.  The bee’s wings glowed with iridescent light.  Factoring in curvature and irregular thickness of the glass … well, it was a sight that made me grab my camera.

The biologist in me is kind of curious what will happen over time, but likely what will is happen is that later this spring I will bury the bee in a pot full of flowers or maybe under that big oak tree.  We’ll see …

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