Warming up to 2009

Pantone recently announced their color of the year for 2009- Mimosa. I loved their choice for 2008 and I do really like this color but I'm struggling with the narrative around it.

"The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance......Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation."

I don't really see it as a yellow - it reads more as a yellowish orange to me which redirects the symbolism to something more energetic and ambitious. Even the word Mimosa doesn't seem right- I associate that flower with a much greener cast (freesias comes more to mind) and a Mimosa cocktail just doesn't jive with the sombre zeitgeist right now. A locally grown peach smoothie would probably be more appropriate, no?

In my image above I like the context, it was taken in the conservatory at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. A small burst of bold energy against dark unfamiliar perhaps threatening shapes. Just what we need for where we're at right now.

Shadow Features

Its cold and miserable here in NYC. The streets are wet and slushy, and all that pretty white snow is going through the ugly city snow phase. It didn't even go through a photogenic phase- it snowed when it was dark and its been gray and low light since. So I rummage through my photo archives for distraction and I find a photo from the Portland Japanese Garden of this beautiful shadow. Its like a lace fan, the circular shape echoing a clipped shrub near it. This then reminds me of another shadow photo I took at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden- stripes from a stand of bamboo. I'm intrigued by shadows and often curious when I see great examples like these if the designer did in fact take this into account, as they should, of how powerful an effect shadows can have on the overall visual design. In both these images, the shadows are particularly pronounced on a man made surface- the road/tarmac. I also have some great images of shadows on walls which I will save for another day.

The Potato Eater

I'm a fan of potatoes as a vegetable, less so as a side starch. Come winter this vegetable definitely starts to feature more prominently on the weekly menu. I like it in stews, in curries and used to flesh out omelettes and fishcakes, rissoles and croquettes. Meet my three favorites right now, Yukon Gold, Purple Majesty and Mountain Rose. I love their colors. Waxy yellow yukon in a fiery orange curry, blue purple majesty stirred into an omelette, pink rose stained with red beets in a salad. I will try to grow them next year despite the miserable failures this year. I had some in a big container on my fire escape but the squirrels got them and I planted some late up in Mamaroneck and didn't return in time to see what happened to them.

Moon over Manhattan

This weekend, I saw the full moon from my bedroom window. If you lived in this city you would know that this is no small brag as the moon is usually a fleeting glimpse, a momentary view as it darts and disappears behind a building or a skyscraper. With nothing but a low school building between me and the Harlem river I got to enjoy this giant moon in fact the largest moon in the Nothern Hemispere in fifteen years fully and slowly. Sadly it made the skeletal branches of the oak tree look even more bare than it is having finally given up its last leaf.

Winter Greens

Right after the winter monochromes described in my last post, I leave the south garden to immediately come across the diametric opposite. An alley of trees with their feet, trunks and lower branches smothered in verdant green ivy and immediately after a still green lawn and what looked like miles of green hedge. I guess this is truly what gardening is about, the ability to create extraordinarily different outdoor spaces, a few feet from each other but practically worlds apart.

The Undead

Straying from our usual route that clings to the north west side of Central Park, the dog and I decide on a whim to loop eastward and come across the South Conservatory Garden. There was a swarm of gardening park people, busy as bees although I wasn't quite sure what they were all doing, some were digging, some engaged in deep discussion about the task at hand. I was distracted, mesmerized instead by the strangely haunting tableaux of dead plants. So beautiful was their range of color and shape that I found them to be not dead at all. So strangely coordinated in their range of monochrome shades of color and appealing textures were they that I found them quite undead.

Winter Lights

Stripped of the competition from brilliant hued autumn leaves, the red berries in Central Park are hogging center stage. Strung like brilliant red winter lights on bare winter branches they light up the drab landscape. Not everywhere, just here and there, surprising and delighting the eye. Above, Harlem Meer provides an icy blue backdrop for these natural seasonal ornaments

California Dreaming

I dug out an old external hard drive last night and unearthed a stash of old photos. The ones above are shots from the Mission area of San Francisco. I lived in SF for a year in a tiny cottage on Portrero Hill, close to the Mission which was a regular haunt. I loved the colors there like the teal wall behind the orange flowers and the sense of almost being in a different country with terracota pots and front yards filled with yuccas and warm climate flora. Seeing these photos again are a welcome tonic for the soggy wintery days here in NYC. The photos were also tiny, pre my megapixel camera days and putting them here on the blog makes me realize one of the great joys of keeping this blog is the ability search and go back and look at what happened last year or the one before.

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