43 thoughts on “Just Before Sunset

    1. My goodness, yes. I haven’t thought of pipe cleaners in a very long time, but they were a staple of our art supplies, weren’t they? As for the children, you’ve reminded me of a tale Martin Buber told:

      Rabbi Mendel once boasted to his teacher Rabbi Elimelekh that evenings he saw the angel who
      rolls away the light before the darkness, and mornings the angel who rolls away the darkness
      before the light. “Yes,” said Rabbie Elimelekh,”‘in my youth I saw that too. Later on you don’t see
      these things any more.”

  1. Wonderful lighting – – I’ve taken a lot of photos of poppies (we’re kind of obsessed with Memorial Day in my town) but haven’t been satisfied with any of them, this is excellent. Boy those stems almost look like they’re crackling with static electricity!

    1. Then I’ll bet the paper poppies still are sold in your town. I was happy last year to discover Veterans selling them at some local groceries. There were a few years when I couldn’t find them, so it was good to be able to enjoy that tradition again.

      I was wandering a friend’s garden on Friday night when I realized some late light was coming through the trees and the poppies were beginning to shine. Dare I say the stems were lagniappe?

  2. Stunning. The stems do actually capture the feeling of pipe cleaners,but the similarity ends at the top where the brilliant flower opens. I love the way you captured the light on some of the edges of the blossoms.

    1. Thanks, Kayti. I’m glad the flowers please your painter’s eye. I visited a place called Wildseed Farm last weekend, where there were great fields of red poppies. But the day was gray, and the wind was howling, and while the blocks of color still were impressive, I was happier to catch these volunteers showing off in a hidden corner of a garden. Obviously, some late afternoon sunlight helped — and a little less wind.

  3. Such a gorgeous photograph, such intense colors, and an attractive composition. What’s not to love about poppies, all of them? These do seem to be sufficient unto themselves, pairing well with the quote.

    1. My favorite is our white prickly poppy ( Argemone albiflora ), but I’ll willingly admire all poppies. When I lived in California, the spring bloom of their gorgeous natives was a highlight of the year, although I wasn’t enough interested then to know that there were such places as the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve. There’s always something new to discover.

      1. There is! I love the line, “I’ll willingly admire all poppies.” I’m with you on that – even opium poppies. My son was deployed to Afghanistan and I have great photos of him in Marine gear, holding beautiful poppies. I think there was one with him in his helmet, a red poppy in his teeth, too.

        1. I have this image of your son, all geared up, with that poppy in his teeth. How wonderful!

          I wasn’t certain how opium poppies differed in appearance (answer: not all that much) and in the process of looking around, I found this glorious photo of the plants growing in — Dorset. Yes, that’s Dorset, England. They’re being grown to be transformed into medical morphine. I had no idea.

  4. Oh superb! Both the bloom and of course matching it with wonderful Mary Oliver.
    An image to be proud of.

    1. I’m so pleased that you like it, eremophila. I was wondering if you had any native poppies, and in the process of searching made one of those interesting discoveries. A relative of my favorite white prickly poppy, the so-called Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone mexicana) has been declared a pest in your country. I suppose it’s the botanical version of “one person’s trash is another one’s treasure.” And, vice-versa, of course.

    1. I would have been pleased with a little more sharpness, but I was pleased enough at being able to get the camera, change the settings, and take the photos before the light faded.

      When I was looking for some information on these poppies, I noticed how many online entries referenced Anzac Day and other New Zealand and Australian observances. I remembered Gallivanta mentioning that poppies are part of their tradition, too. At Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg, they have signs posted next to this year’s red poppy fields, dedicating them to those who perished in war. The poem is mentioned there, too.

        1. I mentioned to Judy that some articles say Letts’s best (or at least best-received) work was published in 1933. Maybe she’d just said all she had to say. There certainly isn’t much biographical information to give a clue about all those years without further publication.

      1. I’ve never heard of Winifred Mary Letts. Clearly, her experience in WWI informed her poems. I wondered if her themes, or her tone, changed in her latter years. It’s interesting that one of her best received works was published in 1933, and then nothing after 1938. Maybe she’d decided to rest on her laurels, or maybe she’d found another interest. “The Spires of Oxford” apparently was one of her most popular works.

  5. Oh, Poppies. I love poppies. Mary Oliver knows how to get straight to the heart of the matter with an almost surgical precision. That first bit, though, is so, so important.

    1. That paying attention is part of the beauty of your small stones. The tiniest bit of reality can reward the right kind of attention. I’m not sure how many ways Oliver has tried to tell us that, but she’ clearly doesn’t intend to stop.

    1. Thanks, Gary. It’s certainly a good antidote to our gray days, isn’t it? On my way home, I noticed that the highways in Matagorda and Colorado counties are thick with lemon beebalm. They’re just starting to show color — before long, we’re going to have brand-new treats to enjoy.

    1. Thank you very much. I found much to enjoy on your blog, too — including that little hedgehog. One of my readers, who lives in England, rescues them, so I’ve developed a bit of fondness for them. Your photo was delightful.

  6. I know how much you love poppies. When you saw this I can just imagine the joy. The sheer joy of it — perfect bloom, perfect lighting. I hope you have this enlarged very big for your home!

    1. Actually, Jeanie, I’m out of wall space — and shelf space, too. You’d come in and say, “What are you talking about? There’s all kind of room in here!” but you know me. Simplify, simplify. Besides, it’s enough for me to look at my own images digitally. If I’m going to hang something, it will be someone else’s work.

      Speaking of simplification, I hope your Easter’s a good one — even without the scalloped potatoes and “Life of Brian”!

  7. Such incredible detail, Linda! I love how these beauties look like they stuck their stems into an outlet, ha! I planted some poppy seeds earlier this year, but I doubt they’ll come up (at least I haven’t seen signs of life yet). I imagine the cold snap we got did them all in. Sigh.

    1. What a great description, Debbie: electrified stems. That’s just perfect. I did look up what the experts have to say about your area, and you may be too soon discouraged. I read that the seeds should be planted in early spring, but that they don’t bloom until later in the spring and early summer. If you really want poppies, you might invest in a bit more seed. It would be wonderful to have them in your yard.

      1. Seriously?? Oh, wow, I’ll try to rein in my impatience then and see what happens. I put them on the sunny south side of the house, so there might be hope yet. Thanks for the info!

    1. A garden’s delights never can be predicted, can they? Until the rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) blooms, there won’t be any roses in this garden, but already the salvias, crossvine, sages, lantana, primrose, and persimmon are abloom. Before we know it, summer flowers will be here.

      After all the beauties you’ve offered us, it was nice to offer you a poppy in exchange.

    1. There wouldn’t have been those nice, parallel stems earlier in the day. I didn’t curse the wind, but I came close. There’s nothing like 25 kts to make things interesting. Honestly, I’d never realized how hairy those stems are. Poppies are such dramatic flowers, it’s easy to focus on the petals, and ignore the rest.

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