Honeysuckle Days

Summer is here in earnest. We’ve had a little rain and the honeysuckle on the west side of my home smells sublime.

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Early morning and the perfume is strongest in the cool air. In this variety it’s the yellow flowers seem to release the headiest scent, the white hardly not so much.

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This plant has been documented since the middle of the 14th century and the word is in fact a misnomer – as listed in my copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1996:705). It was thought bees sucked honey from these flowers.  They can’t reach the nectar, of course, but hummingbirds do. We do have nectar-eating birds in Australia, but no hummingbirds.

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Originating predominantly in China, about 40 species of honeysuckle grow in Europe and North America … not sure what mine is. I planted it not long after I moved in.

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Did you know Woodbine is another name for Honeysuckle? When I was a child I knew that word as a cigarette brand. When I sang in choir that Robert Burns’ song “Ye Banks and Braes ” I imagined spirals of smoke around the roses. 

Oft hae I been by bonnie Doon
To see the rose and woodbine twine.

I wonder where I smelt and saw honeysuckle for the first time? They say honeysuckle symbolises happiness.

A filbert-hedge with wild-briar overtwined,
And clumps of woodbine taking the soft wind
Upon their summer thrones.John KeatsI Stood Tiptoe Upon a Little HillPoems (1817).

Isn’t Keats’ image of honeysuckle flowers as thrones just right? He must have studied the flowers close up and from every angle, like a child.For the dreamy amongst us, Woodbine appears in wedding ceremonies to represent the love that clings without harming anyone. Among the French, giving honeysuckle to a partner represents generous love, and in China dreaming of honeysuckle means passion. 

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Honeysuckle Hero Susan Weeks was Inspector Foyle’s driver in the British TV series “Foyle’s War” … seems she was born when the honeysuckle was in full bloom. 

Oops. I forgot to mention Honeysuckle Creek our famous Space tracking station. It’s 50 years since it sent out the first images of the Apollo landing to the world.

                     HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

PS. This is my post for “Something Smelly” for Jenn Mishra’s Inspirational Photo Theme for Dec 16. #witsendtravel

All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law. 

Hydrangea: Cee’s Flower of the Day

A  friend’s woodland garden in NZ has lots of different types of hydrangeas.

Where did they originate? Here’s a potted history.

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Blue lace-cap variety

Of the 75 species in the genus, most hydrangeas grow naturally in Asian countries like Japan, China, Korea, while there are several species native to the US.

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A mop-cap variety

In 1730, North American farmer and plant hunter, John Bartram sent hydrangeas to Europe. He, and his son William, later discovered an oak-leaved native species (Hydrangea Quercifolia) in Georgia.

(Not sure about this one)

Back in the 1690’s, Engelbert Kaempfer a German physician and explorer worked for the Dutch East India company in Japan and had discovered mop-head and lace-cap hydrangeas there. Japan, at that time, was closed to trade with the outside world … so it was more than 150 years later that an English botanist Charles Maries was able to take samples of Hydrangea Macrophylla and Hydrangea Serrate to Europe.

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Many modern varieties have been bred and propagated for their gorgeous colours and size.

Sources of info.

Plants of Japan in Illustrated Books and Prints To be Featured in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library At The New York Botanical Garden October 20, 2007–January 13, 2008

Glyn Church, Hydrangea expert interviewed by BUCKWELL, Carol, “Hello Again, Hydrangeas” in New Zealand Gardener, Auckland, Nov 2017.

See Also

CHURCH, Glyn. Hydrangeas. 2001.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

Tell the Story Your Way

As a people watcher, I’d rather not take a direct photo. As a storyteller, I see a face in the crowd that makes me think “There’s the beautiful maiden from the Grimm’s “Three Feathers!”

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She’s the one who speaks up against the bullying brothers saying, “I’m not jumping through any hoops for the likes of you!” Then I store away her likeness in my imagination till the next time I tell that folk tale.

Photography is a more recent form of recording. Before that, people painted or sculpted faces to remember.

This likeness of Joseph McIver graces the entrance to Paisley Close (alley) in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

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On 24 November 1861, at this spot, the 250 year old tenement above the then East Bailie Fyffe’s Close, fell down into itself. Rescuers who searched the rubble found 35 dead and were ready to give up after two days. Imagine their surprise when they heard a Scots voice below them call out “Haul awa’, lads! Ah’m no deid yet!

The Town Council then took responsibility for the poor housing conditions in the Old Town.  They rebuilt and paid for this memorial to celebrate the new close, as well as the few survivors, like the lad who was pulled out hale and hearty. They did carve an English version of what he shouted, though.

“””””””””””””””””””””

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

Story

Still Favourites: Weekly Photo Challenge

Some of this year’s photos I didn’t post and still like –

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Young artist sketching the guitarist on stage.

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Is it a bird, is it a plane …? IMG_4005

Unwinding.

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Here’s looking at you, kid!

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And another year comes round again! So lucky!

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2017 Favorites

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

Structure / Order: Weekly Photo Challenge

The challenge this week is ‘to share the structure of something that is typically overlooked.’

“What kind of flower is that?” I wonder, as I spy crumpled pink on the footpath.

“O, oh. Is it dead?” I zoom in.

A couple stops to find out what I’m photographing and before I can say anything to them about poisonous … , he’s picked up a broken branch to touch …

the spider … which grasps the proffered twig and hangs-on in mid-air, while being carried to a near-by tree.

Here it stays, held fast by eight skinny legs – an impressive structure!

Not really scared of spiders … am fascinated by their differences, their webs … their ingenuity and their persistence.

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Tiny spiders like these surely have a sense of humour –  ‘Moustache’ Spiders?

 

Structure

Story Twigs the Imagination! is a blog created by Meg Philp and Copyright © under Australian Law. 

Get a Wriggle On: WPC

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This week’s Photo Challenge is reflecting.  The stainless steel facade of the Len Lye Centre, opened in 2015, does just that. This landmark building, part of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, celebrates Lye’s artistic aim ‘to create an art of motion.’

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Len Lye was ‘a highly original photographer, poet and theorist.’  He also created kinetic sculptures, paintings and experimental, animated films – all from an unusual angle. He left New Zealand and worked in England, as well as New York. Just before he died, in 1980, bequeathed his works to the people of New Zealand.

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In 1941, with his life-long friend, British writer Robert Graves, Lye wrote a wartime manifesto for they were ‘deeply disturbed because they felt the Nazis were winning the propaganda war. Winston Churchill and other leaders were not explaining clearly what the Allies were fighting for.’

This recently discovered, 76 year old, manuscript explains an artist’s perspective of what freedom and democracy really mean, as well as the value of individuality. Now published, it is available for $12NZ from the Govett-Brewster Gallery/ Len Lye Centre shop entitled Individual Happiness Now.

Better ‘get a wriggle on‘ before it’s too late.

Reflecting

All text, except quotes, and photos by Meg.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

 

H2O Collage: Weekly Photo Challenge

Water covers three-quarters of Planet Earth and makes up two-thirds of each healthy, human body.

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Lily pond in Mt Cootha Botanic Gardens.

Our city council says water features and fountains boost the city’s attractiveness and develop its ‘green and vibrant character.’

Where would we be without this element in our ‘collage?’

We are all the waves of one sea.

We are all the leaves of one tree.

The time has come for all to live as one.

We are all the flowers of one garden

And the waves of one sea

And the leaves of one tree. © Naomi Baltuck

H2O
Collage

All text (except quote)  and photos by Meg.

BALTUCK, Naomi. 1993, Crazy Gibberish and Other Story Hour Stretches (From a Storyteller’s Bag of Tricks) Hamden, Conn. Linnet Books. p.103

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This blog, of text and images, is Copyright © under Australian Law.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up Against the Odds

It’s always interesting to spot another person taking photographs. My curiosity gets the better of me. What are they looking at?

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Yes. I was there to see the wooden lighthouse at Katiki Point, still standing on the edge of the wild Southern Ocean since 1878. But I had to keep an eye on that photographer.

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Couldn’t catch the birds flying past + the waves breaking!

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My Zoom wasn’t as big as his.

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What are the odds he’d get this close to a big seal? Just look at the expression on its face. What is it thinking? Get back. You’re too close? Oh my goodness, not another nosey beak!

I’m reminded of something that happened on an earlier trip to New Zealand over twenty years ago –

My friend and I expectantly trotted down the track, through low scrub towards the beach on the edge of nowhere. We couldn’t see the sea but we could hear it. It was a beautiful, clear day and the sign had said that the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins could be sighted at this time of the afternoon.

On this driving holiday of New Zealand’s South Island, we were free as birds to stop, explore and move on when we felt like it. We were having a good time. We didn’t need binoculars. This landscape was large.

The Hide which ended our trek was small and dark, but with a step up and a viewing gap where we might scan over the low trees to the beach below. I swung myself up and in, surprised to find another person already inside.

Arms folded, she was leaning against the wall with a cigarette in her right hand. We said hello. She raised her eyebrows in a nod, and exhaled. I stepped up to the wide view. She sat down on the plank, along the back wall. When asked about any sightings, she replied that no, she hadn’t seen any. We waited. She lit another cigarette.

We waited. I was happy just to watch the sea move. Time passed. She suddenly stepped up beside us and looking out said, “They’re late!” I was speechless.

“The sign said they get here at 3.30pm every afternoon, and it’s past that now.”

My ‘compadre with total recall’ sprouted some of what we’d read on the sign – the hundreds of kms adults swam every day to bring back food for their young, how small the colony was, the size of the birds, how much fish they caught …

She sat down again. We waited in silence: motionless; just smoking.

“I’m not waiting any longer,” she suddenly muttered, as she screwed the butt into the ground with her boot. Relieved to see her go, I said, “Hooray!” ( No …truly, it’s an Aussie way to say “Cheerio!”) and settled back into the chin-on-hands position and stared down at the surf crashing onto the shore.

No ‘parcel of penguins’ landed on that golden crest. But we did, finally, spot one dark shape flounder thru the foam – only to be hurled unceremoniously onto the beach. This solitary Yellow-Eyed Penguin, picked itself up and, after staggering a little like a drunk waiter, made its way up the steep sand, head down. It was awesome to watch each determined, tiny step. The bird was gone in about ten seconds. We stayed on for a while longer but saw no more penguins.

……

Today, these “rarest of penguins in the world” are more endangered than ever. The latest challenge has been outbreaks of avain diphtheria … amongst other things. For more info see the highlighted link.

Nature really is up against the odds. We humans are the oddest creatures.

Now, having written this down, I wonder what that woman was really looking for.

—-

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Scanning new horizons: WPC

In 2017, let me really appreciate where I live, decide where I’m heading, and take more memorable photos.

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I remember snapping this on the wall of  the Grille Cafe, Transport World, Invercargill, New Zealand …

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 Here’s to a peaceful, respectful and creative New Year. Thank you for reading my blog posts.

New Horizon

All text and photos by Meg.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Calm Crossings

There are some timeless places, where we can escape the often harsh reality of the world. Fine weather can help. We caught the ferry across Loch Linnhe from Corran to Ardgour one autumn Saturday.

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I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept. (Robert Frost)

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Worth revisiting – Frost’s poem I could give all to time.

  • The moving novel Wallace Stegner wrote, aged 78, his last – Crossing to Safety, reviewed on the ABC’s ‘Tuesday Bookclub.’ (Click the green link for the 11 min segment)
  • A.B. Facey’s unforgettable autobiography, ‘A Fortunate Life‘ is a much-loved, Australian classic about hardship and loss, friendship and love. Published in 1981, when he was 87, it shows his extraordinary attitude, despite terrible times, not so very long ago.

Sea and sky help remind me that I lead a fortunate life, in a world where so many, millions?, cannot cross to safety.

It’s good to have time to relax and read and think about life … but of course, it’s actually what I do that makes a difference … so I better get on with it.

………….

Relax
All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.