I first found out about these flowers when the best friend of my grandmother brought them into my life – she used to grow big beautiful yellow chrysanthemums in her garden and it always fascinated me how this plant defied bad weather, first blows of frost and first flakes of snow. Flowers are associated with spring, with the first rays of early March sun, while in autumn everything shuts down and prepares itself for yet another long sleep. Almost everything, apart from chrysanthemums whose splendid colors explode to brighten up first gloomy days of October. They are such a pretty site, but you have to wait all year long to see them bloom for this short, late time. You have to be patient, the best and most beautiful things in life require perseverance and patience. Also, you have to be punctual, because if you miss them you’ll have to wait for another year to see them bloom again. And a year can be a very long time, once I used to say very casually and confidently that I would do something or go somewhere next year, it went without saying that the next year would come, then another next and all the other nexts after it. Today I’m much more cautious when I want to say a thing like that, now that I felt all the fragility and uncertainty of life in the closest possible proximity. Chrysanthemums will always remind me of it.
The previous post was about apples in beautiful nature, while this one is about how nature can create interesting patterns and imprint art on apple fruits. Here is original natural art, and my touch to it in five different variations. 🙂
The harvest of walnuts is almost over, trees are shedding yellow autumn leaves… but some types of apples are ripening or are even about to ripen. Dad’s trees are covered with beautiful, healthy fruits – you can’t even imagine how much he loved them and how happily he ate his apples every day, sometimes even all winter, if his trees gave enough fruit. Here are some photos, I hope you’ll like them!
Sunday night’s photo as promised 🙂
I chose a series of photos I took when a kitten in front of my dad’s cottage house was trying to catch a lizard. My uncle called him Maconi – maca is more or less kitty in Serbian, so maconi should be something like a big and important kitten. He lets him sleep in his beautiful comfortable chair at the terrace of his cottage house, which is a rare privilege, so yes it appears to be a very important kitten. 🙂
Have a great week everybody!
I can’t say I had any particular relationship with walnuts till a year ago. I knew of course that they grew on trees and that my dad had some on his little piece of land, I knew that I couldn’t eat them raw as I would immediately feel a burning sensation all the way down my stomach due to some sort of allergic reaction so they weren’t exactly on the list of my favorite food items. On the other hand, my mom would often put them in all sorts of cakes (in particular my favorite chocolate cake Reform) and occasionally mix them in raw form with cooked wheat which is very important in our culture, but other than that I didn’t contemplate much on this strange type of fruit as we perceive it in my country.
Famous poet from Montenegro, Njegoš, in his classic work “Gorski vijenac” mentioned an epic truth which goes more or less like this: “Hard walnut is a strange fruit, it won’t crush but it’ll break your teeth.” I think that he’s the most responsible for establishing the expression “hard walnut” we often use in our everyday speech, referring to a person who can’t be easily convinced and who won’t back off and change the attitude under pressure, someone tough enough to refuse to be “broken”.
I would also hear my mom complain every autumn about a giant walnut tree growing outside our apartment building, saying that it makes annoying noises at night when ripe fruits hit the hard asphalt, and that it leaves behind mountains of dirty leaves on the ground by the beginning of November.
That used to be pretty much everything when it came to me and walnuts. What I failed to recognize though was that I missed the essentials – I never learnt to distinguish walnuts from other trees by the shape of their leaves, I never collected a single fruit with my own hands from the ground and I never watched it develop in its hard green shell that in the end turns to black-brown in the process of ripening and cracks open to drop down its light brown stone-like product. Just like many other things, I considered walnuts merely something that I could buy or take and consume as desired, oblivious of how that consumption philosophy pushes us further and further away from nature that created and shaped all our lives.
Who knows for how long this could go on for me if my dad’s life hadn’t come to its end. Walnuts usually start ripening by the middle of September if the weather is favorable, which was the case last year. As my dad sat and lay on his deathbed in his bedroom after being discharged from the hospital as an “untreatable case” (there is no facility or trained staff for palliative care in oncology in Serbia, believe it or not) and sent home to our bare, medically uneducated hands to do whatever we thought we should to alleviate the pains and misery in his last days, walnuts kept popping out from their greenish-brown shells and hitting the asphalt under the bedroom window. Last days of death from cancer are among other things marked by huge changes in body’s physiology, which heavily impacts the brain of the dying person. People dying from cancer usually turn to themselves reliving distant childhood memories, fall in and out of consciousness and occasionally lose touch with reality and persons around them, until pains close in on them one more time with harder and harder blows. Changes in physiology and strong painkilling medication induce periods of delirium, infallible proof that the end is getting nearer and nearer. There were long periods when I could sit on the bed by my dad’s side, without him being conscious of my presence. Most of the time I couldn’t even just touch him as this provoked unbearable pains, so whenever I felt that he could at least communicate with me I would start whatever small talk that came into my mind. Times for big talks were over, it’s nothing like you see in movies with those important lines for special goodbyes – in death in real life it all gets pointless. Dad’s body had a strange tendency to rhythmically move with the sound of walnuts hitting the ground, so knowing how much he loved this fruit, several times I tried to ask him: “Dad, do you hear the walnuts falling down?” Absorbed in his thoughts he usually failed to respond, staring into emptiness. Once however, growing intensely delirious he replied: ” Yes, goats are falling down, too.” I remember staring at my dad in scary disbelief watching his distorted expression, horrified that he went totally nuts as (wal)nuts outside continued falling down and creating some highly ominous atmosphere. I hadn’t dealt with death from cancer before so I feared this stage very much, observing with intense fear how dad would swing from delirium to a perfectly normal state and back again in terms of hours. There was nobody to guide me or even just explain to me how this end of life enfolds, and from my experience it’s much better to be prepared for what you’re about to witness than to live in ignorance of foolish protection from the reality we all have to face in some form or another. Thank God there was at least internet by my side to help me recognize all the relevant signs in spite of my total refusal to admit that one life was about to be over beyond any repair. Life eventually ended with the sound of nuts cracking as they landed on the hard ground. The burial was prepared and awaited during horrible sleepless nights interrupted only by that familiar, ominous sound. Those hardest days that come after the burial were still marked by this more and more annoying tapping which threatened not to end ever again.
Then somehow as the tree exhausted all its fruits and autumn progressed into winter, somewhere along that path tapping stopped, but I failed to spot the exact moment when this happened. There was snow and silence, so cold and hard that I almost preferred to hear the familiar ground hitting sounds again. Winter turned into spring, strong summer heats chased away spring blossoms again, and finally the end of another August got nearer and nearer. I felt it in my stomach that was turning into stinging and painful knots again as I relived dates and events from the previous year. Memories were like needles piercing my skin, thousands of pains and moments of disbelief, real as if it all had happened the previous day, as if time had stopped and the year never elapsed, the year in which among other things I gave my best to learn all I could about walnut leaves, shells, fruit ripening. I would look at the tree outside the window and as I remembered the goats falling from the sky, my body would fill with intense fear. I dreaded hearing the sound of falling walnuts again and it seemed that I wouldn’t survive it without dad around. I almost begged the Heaven above not to hear that sound ever again, especially not at the time of anniversary. Strangely enough, it seemed that my prayers were heard. The unfavorable weather slowed down the ripening of walnuts and by September 12th still not even a single one hit the ground. After the anniversary, me and my mom went several times to dad’s cottage house and she “put me in charge” of collecting fallen walnuts and hitting down the ripe ones that were still on the tree. It felt awkward and I was reluctant to start, but once I did I never felt sorry for my decision. It’s not easy to spot fallen walnuts nor to track them when they bounce down from the tree. Each one you find gives you a small boost of happiness because you had a successful “nut hunt” as I decided to call it. As you analyze the ground around the tree you bend over and get up thousands of times, which gives you all the exercise your body craves for in today’s sedentary lifestyle. And on the top of everything, something strange started happening. Whenever I gave a close look along the paths I had frequently covered all my life in my neighborhood or elsewhere around the town, I would spot a walnut tree I walked by thousands of time not knowing what it was. This year was extremely prolific in terms of walnuts, so during this last month or so there wasn’t a single day in which I wouldn’t come home without at least 10-15 walnuts in my hands. Time worsened in last 15 days with the arrival of strong winds and rain, but it proved to be actually beneficial for a nut hunter like me – I would find myself in the middle of rain and walnut storm as winds and humid weather would shake the trees and make them shed the fruits. They would fall in dozens, hitting my head, hand, feet, rolling down the ground in my direction, literally following me wherever I went. One day three walnuts landed down from different directions and joined together to stop in front of my feet, as if something or somebody sent them to convey a message and help me make the final peace with these trees. Also, last year we didn’t find any walnuts at the cottage house as nobody went there due to my dad’s condition for more than 2 months, which means that probably somebody took them away. My mom had to buy them all year long for all memorial days for my dad, because they are traditionally mixed with cooked wheat prepared together with wine for the religious service. She repeated many times that my dad wouldn’t believe that she had to buy walnuts when we had two fairly big trees of our own.
This year it was all somehow evened out, because not only the harvest is really extremely abundant, but also it turned out that there was no reason for me to fear the sound of falling walnuts. Nut hunt turned out to be a happy task, a true way for me to preserve the memory of my dad. I could be wrong or not, but as my dad loved them so much I have a feeling that this was his gift and the way to say that everything is ok and that there is nothing to fear any more, that on the contrary we should be strong and brave hard walnuts fighting for our place in the world.
Happy nut hunt to all walnut hunters from my hemisphere!
I know that I still have to finish that indoor photo blog of different plants, but I couldn’t wait to share with you some news. What news? Well… the camera went out! Yep, you heard well! 🙂 If someone’s here for the first time, they’ll surely wonder what can be so special about camera going out, cameras normally serve to be taken around and capture special moments… well, in my case, camera didn’t go out for years, so this is a major event. It’s not that it exactly hit the road on a wild tour, it just walked with me around the building several days ago, but it’s still a huge step. And we were lucky enough to be greeted by a fearless butterfly, proudly posing for our first outdoor photo! I couldn’t have asked for more… 🙂
We also had a very funny encounter with an elderly lady who arrived from the bus station and found me standing in deep grass, staring at something on the ground. I had already made a photo of the butterfly, but I wanted to make another one just in case… and he decided to tease me a little bit, closing his pretty wings on me, so I was waiting for them to open again. The lady approached me and said – Hey you, kid (I look quite younger than my age but I am rarely among people, so whenever this happens it reminds me of that funny age-look dissonance) what are you doing in that deep grass?? Ticks are dangerous… do you know what a tick is? :)) I almost started laughing like a madman, but I somehow refrained myself – I could have made her a long speech on Lyme disease and available treatments, percentage of infected ticks etc. and there she was, asking me if I know what a tick was! Maybe it would be better for my nerves if I actually didn’t know any of what I do, but I’m a very well informed hypochondriac among other things. So I just replied – yes I know what they are, no worries. And she objected again – But they are dangerous, get out of that grass! I repeated – It’s really ok, this grass is hit by totally boiling sun, and anyhow it’s not their season, but thank you anyway… That’s how we closed the tick subject, but she still wanted to know what I was doing in the grass :)) – when the butterfly suddenly opened his wings again! I grabbed the bag and took the camera out hastily, which scared the lady as she jumped away, and then started laughing… Oh you just want to take a grass photo… :)) (she failed to see the butterfly). Then she wandered happily away down the forest convinced that I am both tick safe and sane, and me and the butterfly completed our little shooting session.
I continued my walk making a circle around the building and taking some more photos of wild flowers – if you asked anybody round here about them, they would just shrug and say – those are flowers?? Just plain wild grass growing everywhere, they’d better mow it soon… yet look how beautiful they are! Sometimes I think that our neighborhood is not particularly nice, apart from having a lot of green areas. Photos like this make me change my mind. 🙂
Here I closed the full circle around the block, found another butterfly to my pure astonishment and ran into the lady again, because she went slowly the other way through the forest. She looked at me as if she never saw me before and said – Hello there, how are you today? 😀 That was such a perfect “Twighlight zone” effect, as I was wondering who’s crazy, me or her, but I decided not to contemplate too much on it. I just replied – Very well thank you, how are you? – to which she responded – I’m fine, too. See you tomorrow! Tomorrow?? Where? And who was she in the first place? Maybe I should better stick to indoor photography… 😀
There are more wild flower photos, I’ll post them soon – hope you’ll enjoy them!
For quite a while I thought that every moss rose story inevitably faded away with last leaves that fall off the trees in autumn. Three years ago I was offered a hanging variety, it lasts really long, the woman said. I am always for experiments when it comes to flowers so I was more than willing to give it a try, not knowing what to expect. I was positively surprised by these cute, small needle like pink petals opening everywhere along their green cascading branches, but I made a mistake of pulling them out of the earth when they seemed withered for good with the arrival of winter. Last year I was very happy to see them again at the market, noticing however that they cost a lot more than the normal variety. They were sold by one quite interesting fellow who spoke Serbian with strong Russian accent – he explained that these are called Mediterranean moss roses, that they always have this same color and most importantly, that they are – perennials, meaning that they typically last for more than one year! Mediterranean climate in winter is way milder that our continental one, but still the Russian said if I covered the withered sprouts and roots with leaves and if the temperatures didn’t fall too low, the plants should survive. I did as I was told, and this year’s spring invigorated them to grow triple in size in comparison to how they looked last year. Hopefully, they will be here to cheer up the atmosphere the next year as well. 🙂
Shooting these photos was quite challenging, as they hang in cascades over the balcony’s box and I live on the second floor 😀 I could have dived down right onto my head, but fortunately I both survived and got some decent shots! 😀 Can you believe that I don’t have prominent fear of heights? I know, seems incredible even to me, but certain phobias simply had to miss me somehow. 🙂 Happy day everybody!
My flower balcony 7 days photo blog diary stopped at day 4 – it took me quite a while to get back on the track, but I decided not to give up, especially because my geranium posts got a lot of likes. 🙂
Day 5 was supposed to be dedicated to moss roses which is really interesting English name by the way – in Serbian we call it PRKOS, challenging word for translation… something like innate willingness to oppose especially to hardships, stand for yourself, do something in spite of circumstances that don’t work for you. We are well know round here to do things in the best possible way especially when somebody or something blocks us or prevents us from doing something, so I think this is a perfect plant for me to continue this flower story. 🙂 If my computer had died irreversibly, these pictures would have disappeared… but here they are, against many if not all odds.
My southern balcony is usually horribly warm, hit by the strongest noon sunshine, so plants struggle to survive – one of the plants that has absolutely no problem with this terribly warm sunshine is moss rose, which is why I used to plant a lot of them over there in the past years. They come in many different bright color varieties and I am really sorry now that I didn’t take pictures for quite a long time, but anyhow the point is that normally a moss rose flower is uniform in color – pink, red, yellow, white… To my astonishment, this little plant unfolded its flower and I was really amazed to discover – multicolor petals! I don’t think that there was some special manipulation here as I paid a normal, very low price per that small plastic container, it was perhaps just nature that had some fun mixing orange, pink and yellow seeds to come up with this unique solution. 🙂
These flowers open up only if hit by bright sunshine, and one flower lasts typically just one day, then another one opens up. They are sturdy and strong, real warriors – that was how they earned their name in my language. The plant lasts one year, which means that with the arrival of a new spring they have to be cultivated again from seeds or bought as already developed seedlings.
Flower days, day 4 🙂 Have I already mentioned that I have many different geranium types? 😀 I couldn’t resist sharing some more nice pictures, hoping that you’ll like them, too. My southern terrace is in a good covered position so all the flowers and other plants survived tonight’s heavy rainstorm with lots of thunders and lightnings, which hopefully means that I’ll have more nice photos to share in the coming months. Tomorrow I’ll present a new plant… 🙂 Till tomorrow then, have a great day or night wherever you are!
Here comes the sequel of the geranium story – these varieties are more classic, easier to grow from sprouts, have bigger flowers, but are less resistant to hard direct sunshine… in spite of their stunning blossom colors, I somehow prefer those tiny velvet-white little flowers I shared with you yesterday. They are no bigger than a fingernail, yet so strong and really charming. 🙂
Today’s geranium beauties are blossoming very well this year because we’re having tons of clouds and rain, even now in July – temperatures rise and fall like crazy every single day which is extremely unusual here where I live, and also very challenging health wise. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to focus on these beautiful images to help me go through each of these days. It will also be a wonderful reminder of the fruits of this year’s summer, once the autumn and winter set in, putting nature to one more temporary sleep. 🙂