Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Symphony in Orange Minor . . .

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Just from this first image, can you identify the subject matter here, without looking further down ?
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For the anatomically minded among you (who can't help but be a little fascinated by anatomy, when confronted with the marvellously intricate workings of the natural world, including our bodies ?) the finely filigreed lace work of this structure may conjure up memories of distant biology classes, fractals, and all the studies of the most incredible designs that Mother Nature pulls out of her seemingly infinitely wondrous bag of tricks. And no, it is not a tomato behind a dried out leaf.
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Is it clearer now ?
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The wonders that surround us never fail to floor me. Just take the human eye, for example. Compared to the human eye, even the finest of digital cameras with their millions of pixels and an assortment of lenses from fisheye wide angles to super telephotos and everything in between, still cannot compare to what the human eye can capture. And in such a small package too. The lens opening and thickness of the pupil is tiny compared to the lens on any camera, and the retina with its most amazing array of color and light sensibility is still far superior to any film or digital sensor, not to mention the visual processing areas of our brain which leave the software in a camera back in the stone age. How lucky we are to have such wonders already pre-installed as standard equipment at birth, they don't even have to be ordered as options.
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Yes, these are the fruit of chinese lantern plants. (Physalis alkekengi) They showed up unannounced in our garden last year for the first time, maybe the gift of a passing bird (?), and this year there were even more than last year, so I guess they multiply themselves. Last December I did a couple of posts about them, here, and here. This past weekend I was poking about in the garden, and saw that this year's crop had already ripened, many had gone beyond ripe, and were already showing their skeletal structures. So it was well time to harvest them.
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What better favorite plant to decorate a blog called the Magic Lantern Show ? As I delved deeper underneath their wide leaves, I found more and more lanterns in all states of ripeness, many with their fruits visible within, some empty, though with no sign of possible exit for the fruits, leaving me wondering if they had been eaten by gluttonous little scavengers ? Apparently the fruits are good to eat, richer in vitamin C than lemons, according to one website I read today, and full of other therapeutic herbal qualities. If they are not only fun to look at but healthful as well, I may have to plant more of them !
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An autumn breeze blew in a cluster of red leaves around the lanterns that had piled up outside.
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Here they are back in August already well formed, but in varying degrees of advancement. Who knows what mysterious laws govern the transformation from green to gold to rich orange while the fruit seeds develop within ? Who wrote the notes that form the pages of that long slow symphony in orange minor ?
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Finally at the end of an afternoon spent contemplating their mysteries, they whispered to me, "Take us inside, place us in a safe place, enjoy our beauty through the coming winter..." What could I do but obey them ?
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So they have now taken up residence in pottery platter on our coffee table where one can sit and ponder over them regardless of the weather out of doors, where their fine lace forms will perhaps last longer than had they fallen to the ground in the autumn rains, and withered under winter snows.
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As I sat and watched them this November evening, my eyes became unfocused while listening to the soft strains of their gentle orange ballad, and a flowing orange dream took possession of my drifting mind.
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Orange winds blew me further out upon an orange sea . . . where orange waves lapped merrily. ("Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream"?)
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May your autumn days be graced with luminous orange bliss. (for those of you in the southern hemisphere, where Spring is well along now, replace "autumn" with "Spring", and gloat a little :-)
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56 comments:

Nathalie said...

Ah je comprends que le sujet t'ait inspiré, ces lanternes sont vraiment magiques sous ton regard. On est avec toi autant dans l'observation fine de la première photo que dans les rêves éveillés de la fin. Merci pour ce beau voyage !

K'line Bloom said...

J'adore, tout simplement...
Bises cher Owen :)

Owen said...

Merci à toi Nathalie... d'être accompagné sur ce voyage est le plus grand des plaisirs...

En espérant que les rues d'Avignon font un peu moins rivières à présent... ou sinon, que tu as pu investir dans des grandes bottes étanches, très hautes...

Owen said...

Hi K'line ! Depuis le temps ! Ravi de te voir reveillée en ce fin d'après midi... :-)

Et merci, merci, un grand merci... j'espère que toutes ces couleurs en oranges n'étaient pas trop éblouissantes... Mais je crois que la thérapie en couleurs a une importance, surtout avec le gris de l'hiver qui arrive là...

Steve said...

Wow. Had never ever heard of these until now. Bizarre, improbable, amazing and beautiful. But how do they taste?

Pastelle said...

Des amours en cage pour accompagner ton hiver. Ils t'inspirent joliment, en mots et en photo. J'aime ce glissement progressif vers la poésie pure... ♥

ampia said...

Wonderful ! Tant de beauté, de magnifiques couleurs, de magie... Quel talent et quel coup d'œil ! Merci pour ce festival d'orange qui illumine notre horizon...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

When I saw the thumbnail on my sidebar I thought it must be more rust:-) They do look like metal filigree don't they. Here we grow and eat one called Cape Gooseberry (Physalis edulis). They don't colour up like these but have a tangy flavour. I do see Chinese Lanterns in gardens too.
Would it spoil the magic for you Owen, to know that it is bioflavinoids that colour the plant world with its glowing oranges and purples and yellows and reds? And if Elwin were here he would remind me how and why they predominate in autumn, and how important they are to our own physical health as well. Beautiful AND useful.
I love the way you have captured with your camera, what happens when you gaze into something for a long time, drifting into reverie. This is like looking into flames.
Thankyou for your Southern Hemisphere wishes. Oddly enough there are plum trees in new leaf exactly the colour of your purple leaves. Rising Colour?

mythopolis said...

At first I took it to be the dessicated veins of an autumn leaf. I was delighted to see the Chinese lantern plant as I scrolled down. I tried, a couple of years ago to grow these. I had poor luck. Maybe the climate. Maybe the soil. I do love them though. If I could just get them started, I think they probably might re-sow themselves... if I could just get them started. Maybe I will try again next spring. I think it is a lovely plant.

Le Journal de Chrys said...

Une belle symphonie de couleurs automnales ce soir!!!! Très apaisant. Très doux. Une chouette idée ces flous pour terminer ton billet....

PS: j'ai fait deux trois photos de plus à l'usine à eau mais je ne suis pas convaincue par leur qualité... Voilà pourquoi je n'en ai pas mis davantage! (Il me manque un pied photo de qualité pour enfin m'éclater en lieu sombre!!!)

Céline said...

Un billet qui convient à merveille au titre de ton blog. J'avais déjà vu ces "lanternes" chez mes beaux-parents mais jamais sous leur forme filigranées, merci de combler cette lacune ! Orange is one of my favorite colors: believe it or not, I just wear an orange skirt today!
Bises cher poète !

linda said...

What GLORIOUS colors, especially the last several abstract ones!

These grew wild in our yard when I was a child. We never knew it was good to eat them, but I'm sure I tasted a few.
My father used to cut them when they started to dry, hang them in the cellar and use them for decoration from October until Christmas.

Nathalie said...

J'aime beaucoup ton idée de thérapie des couleurs. Avec cette symphonie d'orangés on prend une grande vague d'énergie positive !

ρομπερτ said...

they might indeed be able to provide dreams, to be eaten.


please have a kind and good tasteing thursday.

English Rider said...

Jewels of nature, indeed. It is hard to imagine that there isn't a nocturnal, fairy magic life that goes on with these after dark.

Owen said...

Hi Steve... blog and learn... actually, I haven't tried tasting one yet, but who knows, one of these days, after doing some more research. I'm still amazed at how these things just turned up in our side yard, they were definitely not there before last year, or I would have noticed them. The wonders of nature...

Owen said...

Ah Pastelle, et oui, ce sont des vrais coeurs en forme et en fond, ces fabuleuses lanternes, et on a besoin de toute l'aide possible pour affronter l'hiver à venir. Je pense que quelques tirages très grand format sur les murs de la maison pourrait aider à trouver des forces contre le froid et le gris. Certains des images abstraites à la fin, on les regarde un moment, et c'est comme si l'orange passe par les yeux et rentre direct dans le sang, et le sourire vient au coin des levres...

Owen said...

Dear Ampia, mais your horizons be illuminated always, in the bright orange tones of a magic lantern sunrise ... :-)

Owen said...

Dear Lady M., There will surely be more rust coming to these pages, sooner or later, one can't live without rust for long, just as one cannot live without bioflavonoids... And the very fact that man understands the biological structures and their importance in nutrition in no way detracts from the magic of it all. That so many good things to eat, which are also beautiful to behold, exist on this planet, is a constant source of wonder. That there are also poisonous plants, and animals even, is also amazing. Biochemical, biological wonders surround us... in this utterly fragile balance known as "life". May your plums and lanterns be abundant...

Owen said...

Hi Dan, I hope you'll have more luck with them next year... maybe if you could find the right potting soil for them and get them started indoors ? Looking at pictures on Google, it seems that people do cultivate them in fields, training them up small posts, and judging from some of the pictures, these plants can produce far more lanterns than ours did, but ours were low to the ground, no special attention given. Will have to work at them more next Spring... good luck...

Owen said...

Merci Chrys, suis content si ce bain visuel d'oranges t'a fait plaisir. Si seulement il y avait un moyen d'extraire du jus d'orange de ces images, ce serait formidable, il doit exister encore un alchemiste qui en serait capable, non ?

Et oui, un trépied pourrait être utile par moments. Je ne m'en sers pas énormément, mais de temps en temps c'est indispensable. Même avec les valeurs ISO plus élévées sur les appareils récents, un trépied permet de travailler tranquillement...

Owen said...

Bonjour Céline, tu vois, il y avait une raison si tu t'es habillé en orange ce jour... tu savais bien quelque part que ces lanternes allaient apparaître, n'est-ce pas? :-)

En tapant "chinese lantern plant" sur Google, il y a des dizaines et dizaines des images, certaines en forme filigranée, comme de la dentelle. Incroyable que tout cela se tisse naturellement...

Owen said...

Hi Linda, I guess a fair number of people use them for decoration, there is quite a lot of info on the web about them. Google returns over a million pages... the wonders of the internet, who on earth is going to read a million pages on magic lanterns ? That's nice that your father liked them...

Owen said...

@ Nathalie, very positive energy indeed, I've been floating on a cloud today, just for having played with these images and getting them onto the blog... :-)

Clytie said...

The Magic Lantern Show has outdone itself with it's chinese lantern plant pictures!!! Wow, what a beautiful show!

Of course, you must know what I see here ... lots and lots of HEARTS! If you look, you will see them too!!!

Owen said...

Hi Robert, orange music for our eyes and tastebuds...

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear E.R., I'm sure these lanterns are blazing brightly in the dark when no one is looking, to shed light for the dances of faeries and elves. I thought I heard some strange music downstairs last night, late... but that could have been our teen-aged daughter, also...

Owen said...

Hi Clytie, Thank You !!! These plants are all heart...

Mary Ann said...

Gorgeous, photos. Loved reading your musings too. Turns out orange is a wonderful color for a symphony.

Stickup Artist said...

I remember these from last year! They are so awesome and now you get to look forward to them each and every autumn. You were so right to gather them up and take them inside. I must research these and see if I can plant some, somewhere. I love all the photos; macros, groupings, and Rothko-esque colored dream clouds. How miraculous these Chinese Lanterns should deposit themselves at the very home of the Magic Lantern Show...

:: Karine :: said...

quel voyage owen adoré !
d'abord dans notre imaginaire (je dois avouer que je n'ai pas trouvé tout de suite) puis dans ton jardin, sur la table du salon et dans tes rêves !
c'est sublime ces petites lanternes et tellement bien mises en valeur ici :-)
il parait que le orange représente la confiance en soi et il est important d'en porter sur soi (bague, foulard, mouchoir ou autre du moment qu'il y ait du orange)
plein de bisous mon owen adoré et à très bientôt

Sandra said...

absolutely stunning and i have never seen them or anything like this. I want one is what i have to say. wow... gorgeous,

lgsquirrel said...

Thanks for highlighting the beauty in this humble fruit.

Owen said...

Hi Mary Ann, I've often thought that colors are musical in nature, these orange lanterns being particularly joyous, brighter than any fluorescent colored golf ball or what not, these catch one's eye from across the yard... funny how our eyes are programmed to notice such intensity in color...

Owen said...

Hi Stickup ! What was that song of Grateful Dead fame ? : "I need a miracle, every day" ! Am definitely a subscriber to that school of thought... along with Bruce Cockburn's fabulous song, which Jerry Garcia also covered : Waiting for a Miracle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRRedsaP-us&feature=related

I hope you can get you hands on some seeds, and get them started... afterwards, I think they propagate themselves... anyway, they did in our yard, with no care whatsoever. That's the kind of plant I love !!!

Owen said...

Chère Karine, I am content, content, de voir ton passage ici, et encore plus si tu as trouvé plaisir dans ces humbles fleurs joyeuses... quant à porter l'orange, tu sais, j'en ai sur ma tête tous les jours, petit, on m'appellait "carrot top"... tête de carotte ! :-)

Je coule sous tous ces bisoux, et je te renvoie plusieurs...

louciao said...

Summer's bright artifice falls away to reveal the juicy heart still beating within its autumnal cage of gilded lace.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Gorgeous!!!!! and you have portrayed them so well.. They are one of my favourite transformations...

Owen said...

Hi Sandra, well, apparently seeds are cheap... 100 seeds for $1.99 on this site :

http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/perennials/chinese_lantern.html

Which also says : How to Plant CHINESE LANTERN PLANT Seeds
Sow seed in cell packs or flats, press into soil and barely cover. Light aids germination. Kept at 70° F., germination is in 14-21 days. Transplant into the garden 12-24 inches apart after all danger of frost.

They also advise to leave space around them when planted outside so you can control them, because they spread easily. That's what they are doing in our yard; multiplying like rabbits, which is fine by me.

Owen said...

Hi Lone Grey, you are most welcome, and now I'm wondering if squirrels would find the fruit of the Chinese Lantern plant a tasty treat to nibble on ?

Owen said...

Ah, Lynne, indeed, indeed, and may those juicy hearts continue to beat for a long time to come !

"Summer's artifice, gilded cage"... spoken as a true poet, you certainly have a wonderful way with words ! Back already from your wanderings ?

Owen said...

Hi Gwen ! Would love to see the drawings you would do of them... Do you have some in your garden then ? It is really amazing how they fabricate those lovely orange lantern shells, hollow inside except for the much smaller fruit... one of Nature's fabulous folies...

James said...

Brilliant post! I wasn't able to guess what it was. :)

clo said...

Howdy cher Owen...
je vais finir ma petite balade du soir par une pause devant tes charmantes magic lanternes...
j'espere que ce soir mon comm ne sera pas ,comme hier ,absorbé par le grand trou noir qui avale les mots...
Je voulais te dire que ces alkékenges (leur nom est joli aussi ) sont tres bien presentés,tes photos tres reussies,j'ai fait plusieurs series sur cette etrange lampion chinois mais je n'en suis jamais contente..j'admire d'autant le travail de l'artiste :)..
je les aime particulierement en cette saison quand il ne reste que ce réseau capillaire ,et ce petit coeur rouge encore palpitant de vie..c'est ravissant...
Et que dire du vertige orangé dans lequel tu nous entraines ,un final flamboyant Owen..:)
Je t'embrasse ..:)et je te souhaite une bonne nuit..ou une bonne journée ,avec toi je ne sais jamais..:)

Owen said...

Hey James... it definitely wasn't an easy one to guess, I have the impression that these plants may not be all that widely known... but now the next time you see one, you'll know...

Owen said...

Chère Clo, How do ya ? (dérivant de "Howdy")

Suis bien content si ta promenade t'a amené jusqu'ici dans le loin loin grand nord. Comme une acrobate, tu as marché en équilibre le long de tous ces milliers de kilomètres de fils tendus du cyberspace, ne loupant aucun des tournants nombreux, passant par tunnels et fils suspendus sur d'hautes tours, à travers monts et rivières, jusqu'à la porte de la lanterne magique, illuminée ce jour par tous ces lampions qui brillaient pour aider les voyageurs et voyageuses à trouver le chemin.

Et une fois arrivée, tu me combles avec ce message...

J'adorerai voir tes lanternes chinoises, car même si tu n'es pas contente avec le résultat, je parie que les 999 personnes sur 1000 les aimeraient, car tu as une baguette magique dans ton sac d'outils qui donne que les moindres sujets sous ton objectif prennent des qualités insoupçonnées et insoupçonnables...

Et oui, les horaires, à prèsent, vers 02h00, c'est la fin de l'après midi pour moi, bientôt je songerai à dîner, et puis au lit pour 04h00 au plus tard... drole de vie, je sais...

Bon, j'espère que tu n'avais pas trop la tête qui tournait suite aux vertiges d'orange ! :-) Et que tu as pu retrouver la sortie ?

Un jour j'aimerais faire d'énormes tirages carrés de ces oranges abstraits, disons 10 mètres x 10 mètres, et assez pour faire un alignement des panneaux tout le long du Champs Elysées, des deux cotés, Place de la Concorde jusqu'à l'Arc du Triomphe, en plein hiver, pour égayer l'hiver parisien... Bon, peut-être un peu ambitieux, donc, pour l'instant je me contente d'égayer simplement quelques passants ici.

Bonne journée d'onze novembre à toi Clo ! :-)

Nevine said...

Oh, Owen... what a brilliant collection of photos you have here! I am especially fascinated with the last few shots... the blur... the ripples... the ebb and tide of colors. Oh, my! Thank you for these little gems. I feel as if I have been swimming inside a sunset... and I never want to leave!

Nevine

Dee Newman said...

Owen, they grow wild here at the Narrows. I've posted photos of them on my blog. This series of photos are great.

Patricia said...

This is perhaps my hands-down favorite blog posting of all time!

Roxana said...

i am lost lost lost, this is so stunning that i can't find words enough to tell of my delight and my joy... if this is a dream, an orange veiled dream of beauty and warmth, i never want to wake up... but then i want to, then to contemplate the little frail leaves and the small fruit enclosed there as the most precious of stones, or seeds, is equally magic...

ah thank you, thank you, this song of fire, perhaps the last one, before snow falls down upon us for an eternity of white...

David said...

Nice job on the blog - it's been a while since I've seen your writing. I'll follow more closely. You have a great eye!

nsrider.com

Nadege said...

I always look forward to those chinese lanterns since I discovered them at Trader Joe's few years ago, and I remember yours from last year. (As I was reading the comments, I kept on thinking that it is so wonderful that you are bilingual).

Catherine said...

wow what a wonderful colour sequence here - quite stunning - we are back to blue on the Riviera...

Joanna said...

I love these plants and you've reminded me that I MUST go and get some for my garden. This is a wonderful post with the photos that bring us in and out of different ways of looking at these amazing lanterns.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

A gift from Mother Nature to someone she knew would deeply appreciate them.

Jenny Woolf said...

I always like these because you they can be both transparent and reflecting, and seem both dead and alive.

Stewart M said...

The world is full of strange coincidences - I was trying to describe these flowers to somebody last week and failed utterly!

Today I visit a blog recommended ob WBW and there they are.

Splendid!

Stewart M - Australia