Monday, May 12, 2008

Second Trip

Six days after my Beltáin visit, I more or less took the same walk. While May 1st had been sunny, it was only in the upper 50s (F), and while I was by no means the only person out enjoying the weather, the crowds were a little slim. May 6th it was substantially warmer, which meant many more people were out. Here's another shot I took of Midtown; I think it gives a much better sense of the crowds, the traffic, even the noise perhaps. I swear to god I didn't notice the guy in the light blue shirt with the nice shoulders until after I had uploaded this image to my computer, but he's a nice bit of scenery too, isn't he.
One of the aspects of Spring that surprises and delights me every year is how quickly things change. I'll admit I was bit sad to realize the violets were already their way out, but there was something new happening, something I don't remember ever noticing before. See those seed pods in the photo to the left? They were the cause of it all. The type of tree they come from lines the main drive in Central Park starting at the south entrance. As I walked in, there seemed to be a silvery rain falling everywhere. I tried to get photos of it, but was never successful. The image below comes the closest; if you look at the dark green of the bushes, you might notice some white flecks. That was the best I could do. It does nothing to give you a sense of how full the air was of them, how beautiful the shimmer was as they fell, conjuring up rain, snow, and something completely magical. I don't know what kind of tree they come from. My tree and plant expert people? Are any of these shots clear and close enough to tell you what the tree is? (See image of seeds still on the tree, below)

The shimmery rainfall was only part of their charm. They were on the ground in such numbers (seriously I don't remember seeing ANY evidence of them a week earlier) that they piled up in drifts; when the wind blew them, they'd skitter across the tarmac making a sound like rain on a rooftop. Several times they made little dirt devils too. The image above is the closest I came to capturing one of those. Considering how central these things were to my experience that day, they certainly don't lend themselves well to photography. Or at least they don't to my level of ability. Video might come closer, but I bet it would still flatten the whole experience.

I'd say at least a third of the violets from the previous week were gone. Thanks to friend Greg I now knew how to get my camera to do close-ups. In the image at left, look at the blossoms just up and to the right of center; they come closest to being the right color, though they're still a bit too blue. Other than using the macrofocus, I didn't do anything differently, so I don't know why these get closer. Is it as simple as them being in sunlight rather than shade? The photo that best captured the color is also a close-up, but is very blurry. I still can only get so close if I want the camera to focus. Intimacy issues, apparently. But are they mine or the camera's?

This one also gets closer to the right shade, but is still not quite right.

Leaving the violets, on my way to the lilacs, I was once again stopped by the lemony, intoxicating scent I mentioned last time, though now I couldn't see any blossoms causing it. In my search though, I found this single blossom. No idea what it is either (it definitely was not providing the scent), but I loved how tiny it was. That's why I put my hand in the photo, to give you a sense of scale. Apparently my focusing abilities deteriorate once again when using the camera one handed. I ask my nature experts, any idea what this is? I'd say it was not planted deliberately by humans, it definitely has the look of being a volunteer.
Below is a picture I took of the lilacs, just because I forgot last time. My camera has no difficulty with this shade of purple; this color matches my memory quite well. Yes, I think sunlight might be the big difference. That reminds me of another realization I had re: violets. One of the reasons I'm fond of them is that they're shade lovers, like me.

For a third time, I ask anyone who knows to tell me what this flowering vine ( upper right) is. I see it on the sides of buildings in Manhattan occasionally. It gives off a strong, heavy scent that I don't find appealing, but I bet it works a treat at getting the plant propagated. Here again the camera captured the color accurately, I would day. Maybe it just handles the blue scale better. Is it wisteria? I suppose I could go look that up. It's something like that, I think. I knew the name of it once. This is the sort of flower I would expect to love, musky scent notwithstanding. Extravagant blossoms in the purple range, exuberant growth, yet I'm largely unmoved by them. Weird. Nothing against them, mind you, they just don't excite me the way lavender, lilacs and violets do. Or crocuses for that matter, though I think part of my appreciation for them is rooted in the knowledge that when they show up, violets are not far away.
Two more times before I left the park I smelled that wonderful, mysterious, citrusy scent. I still have not identified what it is. I'm bad at describing scents, not sure lemony or citrusy is the way to go, but I'll stick with that for now. I briefly wondered if it was simply a whiff of lilac coming from a distance, but I don't think so now. Just not the same scent. I'll have to go back again soon, since presumably whatever it is won't be around much longer. Perhaps that's my final question; does anyone know of something in season right now that has a light, bright scent, not too sweet, not too cloying?


Anonymous said...

It looks like Wisteria...

Java said...

The only one I know is wisteria. I really like the scent of wisteria, as long as I'm not too close. It is pretty powerful. Gardenias don't do it for me. Pretty little flowering bush, but the smell is too cloying.

I have no idea what those seeds are. They look fascinating. Wish I could have seen them myself.

Thank you for sharing your walk with us once again.

Marc said...

Those violets are actually brunnera. The flowering vine with the not-so-great smell is indeed wisteria. Looks pretty, is a pain in the butt to keep under control. No clue on the seeds or the scent you mention.


Butch said...

What a beautiful day you had and all the colours to enjoy. Beautiful pictures.

tornwordo said...

I'm bad with all the names. To me they are pretty flowers.

somewhere joe said...

The little one looks vaguely like a sweet pea, though I don't think it is. I think I've seen them growing wild in the woods down here too.

And what is that swinging from Blueboy's hip?

somewhere joe said...

OK, I photographed this little darlin' in a local preserve. They're not identical, but I think there's a family resemblance.

Patrick said...

I enlarged the original photo to see if it would reveal what Blueboy's got swinging from his hip. I still couldn't make it out. My best bet is the end of a really long belt, but that seems odd. Funny that I didn't notice it at all until you pointed it out, Joe. I guess I kept getting caught at the shoulders. Not sure what that says about me. Or you.

I do see a resemblance between our two blossoms. Is the one at your preserve tiny as well?

Greg said...

Sad about your violets fading--everything's happening so quickly out there in the Green. I think the blue comes from the shade. (I got one in some nice early evening light that seems to match up well, color-wise.)

At first I thought that little flower was going to be cow's vetch, since the growth habit and leaves match my memory...but the flower's all wrong, so I'm going to go with (since it looks similar to Joe's) some kind of wild pea.

As for your mystery scent, are the locust trees in New York blooming yet? I always having trouble describing that one, but I rather like it.

Right. He just "happened" wander through your screen. Sure, okay.

Glad he did, tho!

somewhere joe said...

What it says about you is that you're an artist and sensitive to the human form. What it says about me is... nothing good.

Greg's postulation prompted me to google wild pea/image. Yes, it looks like our two creatures are variations of the same species.

Patrick said...

Now Joe, I'd say even a casual perusal of some of your photos would tell us you're an artist sensitive to the human form; maybe our eyes just start perusing at different points.

Nice to have that mystery solved; thanks for the detective work. Any thoughts on the tree seeds? I might just have to look for a tree that has the name posted on it, as so many of them do in Central Park. Good excuse to head back there. Yes, google would be easier (if I had a clue what to look up), but not as much fun.

somewhere joe said...

I haven't a clue from what kind of trees those silvery, papery pods come, but I remember them. Light as confetti.

Ben said...

Ever notice how difficult it is to describe a scent with words? I'm just happy any time a description doesn't include the phrase "like a latrine."

Anonymous said...

My guess on the scent is honey locust - actually, the leaves of the blossom you're holding made me think of that before I read your scent description. But I'm not sure if that plant was a tree or shrub. No idea about the seedpods in the tree.

Patrick said...

Ben: yes, I was wondering if scent is something that can be described in anyway other than simile or metaphor... but then I guess that's true of most descriptions, isn't it. I imagine trying to describe the color red to someone who had never seen it, for example.

Has "like a latrine" come up a lot in your life? It certainly conjurs up a very specific scent though, doesn't it.

Anonymous: thanks, you and Greg agree it might be honey locusts. At first I was inclined to disagree, because I found a blooming honey locust a few days ago, and the scent wasn't quite right; it actually smelled like honey to me. But I have to keep in mind that scent changes as it spreads on the air; maybe what has been captivating me is the scent of honey locust at a distance. I got some nice whiffs of whatever it is again yesterday.

Gillian said...

All this talk of Blueboy has got me thinking.
I went back up, to scan the man again. And yes, I've come to a conclusion.
Keys. The long thing swinging from his said hips is a keychain, the kind with the long looped rope/ribbon thing, for ease of use.
And he caught my eye too, Patrick, I thought you had purposefully photographed him. See how generous the Universe is to us sometimes?
Wisteria, one of my faves. Beautiful, but not so smelly. In a nice way.
Surely you must love purple pansies, no?

somewhere joe said...

Gill, you may be right. What I'm seeing now suggests the keys are in his pocket, isn't that a key ring, and the loop is hanging out. But now I wonder why he's wearing it that way. The mystery deepens.