There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

spring in bloom

THIS SHOULD be a glorious spring. Signs of new life are everywhere—from a crocus peeping through the snow (in the North) to the first daffodil showing its sunny face (here in the South). 

IT HAS been an unusually wet winter in Atlanta, and the trees will soon paint the sky with broad strokes of freshly-watered yellows and pure chartreuse. The warmer weather and longer daylight hours are more than welcome this year. The older I get, the less I can endure cold weather. I like the cool feel of new grass underneath my feet and the riot of pastel colors that seem to be transported from a Monet painting—all assured signs of the return to spring.

THE RITUAL of the decorated tree has its roots in summoning spring's return along with an evident promise of renewal. The lethargy of winter loosens its hold and gives way to the budding of new life. Spring is my favorite time of year because it symbolizes rebirth in the natural unbroken circle of the seasons. It's not too hot, not too cold and the winds seem to blow in an effort to softly lull the earth fully awake again. And green—in any shade—is my favorite color.

FLOWERS ARE  undoubtedly the sex symbols of the plant world. Not only for their fresh beauty, but their proud sensuality. Those decorating trees are obviously a celebration of all of this, whether real or man-made. Although you'll see all sorts of flowers year-round, it seems that this seasonal rebirth of nature asserts their fresh colors and graceful beauty. A rare tree will be decorated with fresh flowers (usually sufficiently enough in nature alone), but luckily there are many forms of artificial decorative flowers. With an Impressionist pedigree like the glitter-edged fabric and beaded ones you see in the photos here,  clipping a few to a branch can rush the season. Are they roses? Lilies? That's the point, they're not too carefully constructed to be anything other than an impression, which starts a lively dance.

ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS  and trees are just that. Although often approximated, there's nothing like the texture and feel of a a budding branch from a slumbering tree directly from nature. A man-made flower or tree should only give an impression, not try to recreate the unparalleled sensory bounty of nature. I'm amazed at how realistic some artificial flowers and trees can look, but ultimately, they're only an illusion. They are frozen in time and only collect dust, not memories. I don't understand the point to them. I'd rather invest in a few real twigs or blooms—ephemeral as they are—than a vase full of silk flowers. Nothing compares to what mother nature produces. Beauty can be found in something artificial only when it creates an impression, because it is something altogether different. Their reasons to exist should't try too hard to mimic the rich complexity born to the natural world.

IF ONE CAN'T indulge themselves with flowers bought at the market or brought in from a garden, the year-round option of a book of photographs can be quite satisfyingly up-close and intimate. My friend Barbara Bordnick's  three volume series of flower portraits capture a moment in time of the life of a flower, so that you can return to it again and again. The books are all appropriately named Searchings and vividly capture "the secret landscapes of flowers." These books were published several years back, but they are still available—especially the last two volumes. I am lucky enough to have a personally signed copy of Volume III (published in May 2005). This volume explores the enigmatic simplicity of the color white. White flowers have a language all their own that isn't readily seen, except in amazing up-close photographs like these. Barbara describes this in the third volume of Searchings: 

"I began to photograph, and once I got past the lull of their serenity, I encountered an infinite variety of color, texture, and personality. While demure, I found them to be the most seductive and audacious. They just dared to call me in a little bit closer, requiring more of my time before moving on. No longer acquaintances, it became time well spent with intimate friends. Perhaps of all the colors in Nature's palette, none is more beautiful—or holds more secrets—than her whites."
DECORATING WITH flowers, whether included with other ornaments on a tree or in their natural form in a single bud vase, is the ultimate form of celebrating the life brought forth in spring. And their singular faces always turn to look toward the warm light of the sun.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | (Top, right and middle, left) Impressionistic beauty can be found in artificial clip-on flower ornaments like glittered fabric roses and seed-beaded flower forms, all from the 2009 Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's

REAL BEAUTY | Veteran New York photographer Barbara Bordnick's series of books, all named Searchings capture intimate portraits of real flowers to enjoy all-year-round (all three volumes shown together, above, right). When she turned her lens to flowers, she captured a secret landscape rarely observed. To purchase signed, limited edition prints of her work, contact her here. I've been fortunate enough to work with her on a few occasions. She brings a Zen-like quietness of respect to the set, no matter how imposing a client can be. It's no wonder that she became fast friends with flowers and these books were published to rave reviews. A closer look is a celebration in itself.

photography and styling by Darryl Moland,
Searchings book covers ©2010 Barbara Bordnick

No comments:

Post a Comment