Posts Tagged ‘oak tree’


In the morning I like to sit at the kitchen table with my coffee and look out the window at the oak tree. In the time I’ve lived in this house it has grown significantly. Its branches have grown long and wide. Throughout the winter I watch the different birds, and squirrels, and occasional raccoon, rest upon its bare branches. But now, as it should be, spring green leaves are finally growing. And even as I relish the transformation taking place in front of me I have to acknowledge that my hallway garden that receives so much light in winter because of bare branches is about to become a shade garden and so I have some plants to creatively move around. ūüôā

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my view out the kitchen window on a windy morning



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from small things …

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Caustic in Black & White 1

Okay, I first remember reading about John Cage in a story by Alex Ross of The New Yorker. The piece opened with a description of the 1952 performance of John Cage’s composition, 4’33”, which turned out to be four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. It’s a bit more complicated than that, or maybe not, but you can read more via this article link.¬† John Cage and silence came to mind recently because I was sharing a video I’d made with the physicist in my life and when I asked him what piece of music should I pair with these images, he suggested, “soundtrack by John Cage.”

Caustic in Black & White 2

Caustic in Black & White 2

At first I thought he was kidding.¬† There had to be a short classical piece to fit the light and motion so reminiscent of northern lights.¬† When I’d asked him what music to pair with a short video of sunlit water flowing over rocks, he’d suggested Faure’s Requiem in Paradisum.¬† Now he recommended silence? On my own, I found Bartock’s Evening in the Village. I tried the pairing. He appreciated Bartok but he still favored Cage.¬† I read a bit more about Cage, his compositions, his performances, his poetry … an interesting man to say the last.

Caustics in Color

Caustics in Color

So what I captured on the wall one morning took place in less than four minutes and thirty-three seconds.¬† It involved a rippled window, a different one in the house.¬† Light shone down through the gaps in the leaves and branches of the oak tree that towers over the house.¬† That light made its way through the glass refracting through the ripples producing a dynamic pattern of caustics on the wall.¬† Most often that pattern of light is static but this particular morning the wind was blowing. The branches and the leaves they moved creating what that physicist described as “a pattern of illumination that varied in space and time.” It was a good moment inspiring some experimentation as you can see in the video below.¬† The flickering on the wall is as it happened … in less than four minutes and thirty-three seconds.

A Silent Dance from Cynthia Staples on Vimeo.

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One day, I will move from this house in Somerville with its many windows.¬† I will no longer be able to climb its spiral staircase to the top floor and from there to peer out the old window at the towering oak.¬† I will no longer be able to train my camera up through that tree’s branches into the sky.¬† But that day has not yet come. So on this bright September morn, I am grateful for this window, this oak and the blue of the sky beyond.¬† Have a good day, folks.

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For¬†many weeks, I’ve¬†admired¬†its shape at the window, and how the morning and afternoon light fills its form.¬†A beautiful green vessel, for sure, that empty sake bottle.¬†I’m always shifting things about but that bottle I have not moved since placing it at that window. ¬†I began to wonder why.

I think it is the layering of the bottle’s illuminated form¬†against the living, shifting greens of the oak tree outside. ¬†As the wind blows and the branches shift, bits of blue sky or gray sky are intermittently revealed. The background is¬†constantly¬†in flux. ¬†The scene of bottle against tree is a¬†still life always in motion.

And yet even as I celebrate the serendipitous layering of light and color at the kitchen window, I also could not help but wonder what would the scene reveal with the absence of color.

Simply beauty expressed in a different way.

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This morning around the oak tree (that towers above the house) there was a symphony of color at play.

Spring light illuminated new growth, including golden pollen.

The wind brought sweeping movement.

It was a song celebrating life …

from the grand moments

to the tiny details.

A passionate composition of fierce expression in glorious color and texture.

At least that would be my music review. ūüėČ


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As I waited for the coffee to brew, I decided to snap a few photos of the morning rain beading on the oak tree towering beside the house.

For the most part, I focused through one or two panes of glass though at one point I did open a window and stick my head out.

Despite the morning chill, it was neat to see the buds on the branches and the subtle colors emerging, suggesting spring blossoms and leaves will soon to be.

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That is the oak tree in the background, its canopy thinning so that the morning light shines through the bedroom window in the most interesting of ways.¬† Why photograph a spot of light on a window frame? I don’t know but I was drawn to do it, and thankful that I could.

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