Tuesday, August 26, 2014

London bits & bobs

Five days in London. Glorious weather--low 70's, just a bit of rain, so I spent a lot of time outside.
The river path along the Thames is a beautiful way to see the city. (Thanks to Petra for the suggestion.)

Riding the bus is another great way to view the city.
This is the only cat I saw in London.

English English.
Boot sales, wellies, lorries, elevenses, whip rounds
and summer tidys.

It seems a gentler language than American English 
where boots are trunks and wellies are boots.

Another peek at the glorious flower market.

The amazing food markets. I went to the Borough Market twice in five days.
I wish I could have taken some of these home to my sausage loving sons.

Kew Gardens. Deserves a post of its own.
(prepare for an abundance of roses and water lilies)

 Street art, East End.

Really my favorite thing to do in a city is walk.
See the various neighborhoods, watch the people,
look for the small things that give a place character.

Browsing the used books stores on Charing Cross.
(Here, gifts for the son who loves classic mysteries
and the one who loves language and politics.)

A Turner sky

and a Turner painting, at the fantastic Tate Modern,
which also deserves its own post
(maybe on the other blog).

Best sign ever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

London flower market

I slipped off for a long weekend in London.
The Columbia Road Flower Market stole my heart.

A narrow charming street in London's East End
packed with flowers.

The call of "Two for a fiver" and "Three for a tenner"
echoing down the street

                                                        like a choir in a cathedral of flowers.

I agonized over what to buy, to brighten my hotel room,
and settled on purple stock, yellow freesias, and thistles.
Three for a tenner.

Great people watching too.
The sight of all those flowers made me giddy, 
but watching the interactions, choices, conversations,
listening to the wonderful range of accents
made it that much better.

 One day I'd like to tour England's gardens, flowers shop and markets.

Is it surprising that in a city of great historic sights and museums
one of my favorite things is the flower market?
What sorts of thing light you up when you travel?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

weeding, reading, and wildflowers

  Summer feels compressed this year. Spring was late, and
all my flowers seem to bloom two weeks past their usual time.
 Already people are talking about autumn.                                  
 Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that I was photographing peony buds?

Summer evenings are  a joy, reading on the porch, watching robins and rabbits 
through twilight, the sounds of neighborhood children playing outside after dinner.

 My flower bed has gone from being calm and distinct 
to a weedy tangle, and somehow I missed the transition. 
It's been many years since I've done much gardening.
 When my children were young and my life overfull,
 tending a garden went from pleasure to chore. 

But now it's becoming pleasure again, in small bits. 
For one thing, I've been weeding in the evening. 
Many people do their gardening in the early morning, 
but I am not a morning person, and if I try to force it, well, it becomes a chore again. 

But my evenings are mostly my own, and these days I spend them reading.
 So I take a break from my books and weed for a while.
 It's quiet and shady and sometimes even meditative. 

Best of all though, are the wildflowers in the country.

They don't need weeding,
and their petite charms are beyond anything I could cultivate.

I hope that you are enjoying summer (or winter if you are on the other side of the globe).

xo, Jen

Sunday, August 3, 2014

a visit to Bow Street Flowers (and a poem)

Bow Street Flowers is in Somerville, MA. near the Cambridge border,
where there are always fun things to see.
On this visit a car covered with floppy discs. 
Remember those? Time warp. And it wasn't that long ago, in real time,
but in virtual time it is ancient history.

But we still have flowers. Right outside the shop, as I walked up,
I watched a woman come out and put her flowers in her bike basket.
I was so enchanted by that sight, I didn't even notice her fabulous pants 
until I looked at the picture she kindly allowed me to take before she cycled away.

If you've read my other Bow Street posts (here and here) you know that there is
much more than flowers in that small shop. Shelley has created a place 
of beauty, warmth and whimsey.
Every time I go there I say I want to live there, and that it's like
walking into a story book. Because it is.

I had one of those childhoods where I wanted to be part of
everyone else's family. I was always looking for a home. And now,
I have a lovely home (two, in fact) and a dear family,
but that lonely child hovers.

There are places that fill me with longing and love.

A little shop with rabbits underfoot

and flowers galore makes me feel complete.

I bring some of that home with me,

 flowers, enough for two arrangements.

Aji supervises.

I smile all day. It's the flowers, and more.


A ladder sticking up at the open window,
The top of an old ladder,
And all of Summer is there.

Great waves and tufts of wisteria surge across
        the window
And a thin, bleated blossom
Jerks up and down in the sunlight;
Purple translucence against the blue sky.
"Tie back this branch," I say,
But my hands are sticky with leaves,
And my nostrils widen to the smell of crushed green.
The ladder moves uneasily at the open window,
And I call to the man beneath,
"Tie back that branch."

There is a ladder leaning against the window-sill,
And a mutter of thunder in the air.

                   --Amy Lowell (1874-1925)