Kitchen garden

In the fantasy version of my life I live in a Jacobean farmhouse somewhere, with a lavender and pink rose border lining the path to the front foor, and herbaceous borders the lawns. And somewhere there’s a perfect kitchen garden, full of pretty vegetables and herbs and edible flowers. I’m not much of a gardener, truth to be told tho, so I will probably always keep indulging in this fantasy merely by visiting other people’s gardens…

Bug’s life


It’s been a long, dry and warm summer, and the both nature and garden seem tired somehow, the autumn decay setting in. The horse chestnut leaves are turning, since mid-July, weeks earlier than usually; whatever ails them is getting worse. In the botanic garden, the fruit are ripe and flowers past their peak. And everywhere there are insects of every kind; greedy and desperate bees getting drunk on the last of the summer’s nectar, while the soldier beetles are greedy for something else. Late summer, like late winter, has never been my favourite time of the year; certainly not late summer like this, when the air is still warm and sticky but the lushness of the midsummer is gone. I find myself missing the moment when the wind turns – that inexplicable moment when the autumn is suddenly in the air, when the air is still warm but not quite warm enough for short sleeves and the evening light has a white glow about it.

Flower portraits

*******************************************************

After investing on some high-quality new lenses last year, I didn’t for a long time touch my old MF 50mm F/1.7 lens. There was just something seductively easy about the smooth autofocus and wide angle of the Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8, and also about the zooming power of the 55-300mm F/5.6. But few weeks ago the trusty old fifty came out of the drawer, and has been in use a lot. In fact, I don’t know why I put it aside for so long – there’s a clean, smooth finesse to it that nothing can replicate, its sharpness as soft as it is brilliant. It does bokeh like no one’s business. The shallowness of its field of depth is magical – just look how this flower floats in the air, disconnected from its background (of shiny rose leaves) and even from its own stem, and how only the petals in the front are in focus, the rest of the flower simply rendering into shape and colour.

Cow-parsley meadow

All photos were taken with my old 50mm MF lens, with all but the bottom one with f/2.0. I love the dreamy textures the extremely shallow field of depth creates (demonstrated beautifully by the photo third from the bottom). Being manual focus, it’s somewhat stiff to use, and occasionally it’s difficult to see how well in focus the pictures are, but the end result almost invariably is worth the effort.

Autumn to winter

imgp7200 imgp7239 imgp7307 imgp7333 imgp7381 imgp7419 imgp7717imgp7798 imgp7703 imgp7708 imgp7918Three months bade wane and wax the wintering moon
Between two dates of death, while men were fain
Yet of the living light that all too soon
Three months bade wane.

Cold autumn, wan with wrath of wind and rain,
Saw pass a soul sweet as the sovereign tune
That death smote silent when he smote again.

First went my friend, in life’s mid light of noon,
Who loved the lord of music: then the strain
Whence earth was kindled like as heaven in June
Three months bade wane.

A herald soul before its master’s flying
Touched by some few moons first the darkling goal
Where shades rose up to greet the shade, espying
A herald soul;

Shades of dead lords of music, who control
Men living by the might of men undying,
With strength of strains that make delight of dole.

The deep dense dust on death’s dim threshold lying
Trembled with sense of kindling sound that stole
Through darkness, and the night gave ear, descrying
A herald soul.

One went before, one after, but so fast
They seem gone hence together, from the shore
Whence we now gaze: yet ere the mightier passed
One went before;

One whose whole heart of love, being set of yore
On that high joy which music lends us, cast
Light round him forth of music’s radiant store.

Then went, while earth on winter glared aghast,
The mortal god he worshipped, through the door
Wherethrough so late, his lover to the last,
One went before.

A star had set an hour before the sun
Sank from the skies wherethrough his heart’s pulse yet
Thrills audibly: but few took heed, or none,
A star had set.

All heaven rings back, sonorous with regret,
The deep dirge of the sunset: how should one
Soft star be missed in all the concourse met?

But, O sweet single heart whose work is done,
Whose songs are silent, how should I forget
That ere the sunset’s fiery goal was won
A star had set?

Autumn and Winter, by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Save