The Taste of Summer

This week’s theme for the Daily Blog photo challenge is “Summer“, and how the reader expresses their meaning of “summer” through picture.

Fire up the taste of summer!

In my family, “summer” means “grilling time”.  Now, while we are known to occasionally fire up the grill on a cold, wintry evening in December, the summer months are when our grills see the most action.  There’s just something about cooking a brat or a steak over an open flame that makes it taste that much better than when preparing it over a stove or inside an oven.  This year, my summer started much earlier than it normally does, kicking off at the end of April instead of the beginning of June.  To me, this means more sunny days to laze about on the patio, more opportunities to enjoy spending outside of the house instead of in, and more excuses to cook supper outside on the grill.  Here’s to summer!

(By the way, the dog you see in the picture’s lower left-hand corner is my dog, Dayzi.  While she enjoys the summer, she is a far greater fan of the winter; she is quite the connoisseur of snow drifts and icicles!)

“Flowers of Spring” Haiku

Today marks the first day of May, and with it comes an introduction to yet another talented word artist, Onitsura.

“Eyes, back and forth,
nose, up and down–
the flowers of spring!”

— Onitsura (1660-1738)

The Beginning of a Journey

For this week’s Daily Blog photo challenge, I chose the following picture to represent my interpretation of the word “Journey“.

The beginning and ending of a journey.

This nest is empty right now, awaiting the new tenants the spring season will bring. Infant birds will be hatched here, fed here, and cared for here. It is from here that they will take their first shaky flight, and begin their journey into an unknown world. And maybe — just maybe — it is here that they will return to after winter’s end: the starting point of their ongoing journey through life.

A Haiku For Every Season

April has just begun and spring is most definitely here (it may even stay). What better way to celebrate this than with an introduction to yet another talented haiku artist and a rather fitting example of his craft?

“Cherry blooms are falling–
and now between the trees,
a temple appears.”

Buson (1715-1783)

An Unnatural, Natural Arrangement

The moment I discovered the name of this week’s photo challenge theme (“Arranged“), I knew what pictures I would use for my challenge response.  During my last trip to Chicago (the same one in which I took the photos of the telescopes in the Planetarium), my friends and I decided to eat lunch in Chinatown.  Now, one does not simply go to Chinatown solely to eat – after all, there are plenty of gift shops to go bankrupt in, architecture and statuary to admire, and, in spring, beautiful pear tree blossoms to photograph.

A careful arrangement of nature in the midst of the urban jungle.

In this picture, it is easy to spot the numerous pear trees so carefully arranged within the median decorating Cermak Road (otherwise known as the Chinatown Main Street).

A pear tree in full bloom.

This photo of a single, blooming pear tree was taken during our sojourn through the open market off of Archer Avenue.  Smaller pear trees, such as this one, can be found periodically dotting the walkway through the open market, all tastefully arranged to appear as an oasis of beauty and peace – or as much of an oasis as can be found in as busy a city as Chicago.  I find it ironic that for one to “escape” the feel of the man-made city, one is expected to lose themselves in the nature present within its borders – despite the fact that it was both planted and arranged by human hands.  Nature is not the only force capable of “natural” arrangements anymore.

…Most Unusual

My post today is in response to the Daily Blog’s weekly photo challenge, with the word of the week being “Unusual“.  The included two pictures are my interpretation of this week’s challenge theme.

Daffodils blooming before Memorial weekend...imagine that!

Almost eighty degrees? In March?!?

So…what do a thermometer and daffodils have to do with the word “unusual”?  While many parts of the country might not find it unusual to celebrate the beginning of spring and the onset of warmer temperatures in mid-March, I do.  Typically, Chicagoland weather has a tendency to not follow this trend.  We usually see regular snowfall – and freezing temperatures – through the month of April (and sometimes even into May), and the daffodils in front of my mother’s house never actually bloom until Memorial weekend.  Not so this year, it seems.

With such unusual weather patterns on the rise, I find myself lurking every chance I get on the Weather Channel’s website – checking the forecast every day to see if this warm front is actually here to stay.  I really should have expected this, though.  After all, our ever-reliable Illinois groundhog did not see his shadow this year.  Therefore: spring must be here to stay!

I Can’t Find My Jeep! A Tale of Distortion, Winter Style

The word of the week is “Distorted“, according to the Daily Blog’s weekly photo challenge.  What does “distorted” mean to me?  This week, it means this:

Not bad - for a few hours worth of accumulation, that is.

…and this:

Got to love Chicago winters!

In the first picture, you can see a half-foot of snow covering the ground (as well as a good portion of my Jeep).  Snow is falling in the background, ‘whiting out’ the scenery and distorting the view – both the observer’s view, and the view of anyone attempting to drive on unplowed roads.  The second picture is of my backyard, and at first glance looks like a simple photo of a yard hidden beneath ample amounts of snow.  However, the photo is slightly distorted by the flakes of snow dotting the foreground, hampering an otherwise clear view of our weekly snow accumulation.

As April looms closer, so does the anticipated beginning of the spring season.  Despite that fact (or maybe in spite of it), winter continues to distort my view of spring, covering my vision with a blanket of white precipitation and hiding those much sought-after signs of life blooming anew that each year brings us.  Of course, considering how much I love the snow, I would have to say that this is a “distortion” well worth experiencing!

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