Pumpkins in America

Native American Indians used pumpkins as a staple in their diets centuries before the pilgrims landed. People have been making Jack O’Lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The original Jack O’Lantern tradition involves Irish myths such as the legend of Stingy Jack. Since pumpkins did not then exist outside of North America, ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland carved turnips on All Hallow’s Eve, and placed an ember in them, to ward off evil spirits. In England and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into (for example) turnips, potatoes, gourds and beets. Immigrants from these countries brought the Jack O’Lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, made perfect Jack O’Lanterns. And now, at the end of October, homes all across America display the pumpkin in various ways.

A Perfect Gardener and Perfect Neighbor

DSCF1664

Our next door neighbor is a gardener with unique skills. The diverse variety of plants and vegetables he grows each year thrive from early Spring until first frost. His blueberry bushes are thick and tall. The same can be said for his pear trees. Unlike most home gardeners he goes way beyond tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and other common vegetables for his annual harvest. How many people, for example, would grow Purple Hyacinth Beans (below) … the seeds being toxic if not cooked properly. How many would grow a special variety of hot peppers (above) to augment other spices and herbs that serve as “fillers” in and around other plants.

(Photos made with Fujifilm X-T100 camera with 50mm f/2 lens.)

DSCF1658

He is a natural gardener. No chemical fertilizers. No pesticides. He preserves much of what he grows, to provide “goodness” through the winter. One might say he’s a perfect gardener. Except for one minor fault. He never discards anything. Thus, his garden area will never win an award for order and neatness. I submit the following three compositions.

DSCF1661

DSCF1662

DSCF1663

The subject of this post came to me as I was wandering around his back yard, looking for interesting compositions. He has given me permission to make photos at will around his house and garden area. I think he’s actually happy I have an interest in what he’s doing. I note he is a retired, small town North Carolina lawyer. He is also a world traveler who will pick up and fly to Europe in a heartbeat. He favors the Mediterranean region. and has been there many times.  He’s told me how much he enjoys the variety of unique garden crops grown there.

So, that’s my neighbor. I could not ask for a better, or nicer, person to live next door to. However, it would be nice if he were to throw away some of his “collectibles” distributed liberally around his yard. I know he won’t because it’s not in his DNA to waste anything. And that’s OK.

A Different View of Anchorage

P1050585

My last visit to Alaska was just over one year ago. It was my fifth time there, but the first time we decided to “make our own itinerary” versus being a part of an organized group. Accompanied by our youngest daughter and her son for a week of beautiful weather and scenery, we used Anchorage as our center of operations, and drove our rental car to places within a 200-mile radius we wanted to see. The city is a special place for me, and I felt confident I knew my way around. But, I never knew there was a place where I could get the above totally non-tourist composition of the city. From Earthquake Park.

P1050595

While wandering around Earthquake Park, this city bus passed by in bright red color.

IMG_1091

The downtown area has this massive sea life mural on a smooth-sided building that was not easy to photograph because of its size.

IMG_1079

Beautiful summertime flowers are located all over the city center, and they were like a magnet for my camera.

IMG_1081

There are numerous places to eat and drink in Anchorage, but one stands out to me, mainly for sentimental reasons … Humpy’s. My wife and I first stopped here for lunch in 1999, and the Blackened Halibut Sandwich with a pint of Alaska Pale Ale was our favorite. For the following three trips to Alaska we always made a point to go there for lunch. On the last trip last year I made this photo while eating said Halibut Sandwich. True, its a tourist stop and often crowded but it remains a favorite for us.

IMG_1208

Lastly is the downtown shopping area. It’s common to see loads of people wandering about from store to store, but as you can see here, not on this late morning. In summary there are many sights in Anchorage, some popular with the average tourist and some not so much. I was looking for the latter.

At a Local Vineyard

North Carolina is known for many fine things, but one of those you may not be aware of is wine. Autumn Creek Vineyard is just a short drive after crossing the VA-NC state line headed south on Highway 220 toward Greensboro, NC from Martinsville, VA where we live. I’ve been there several times to take photos when the grapes are ripe. I’ve sampled the wine and it’s definitely good. At least for me. But it’s the photo compositions that keep me coming back every year.

DSCF1544

DSCF1547

The netting helps keep hungry birds away. This was not an easy shot to focus because the netting got in my way.

DSCF1548

 

DSCF1551

Each row of grapes is marked with a numbered post. I wonder if that’s to determine where bunches of grapes came from, The rustic shed is was what caught my eye, not the post.

Signs of Fall

IMG_1947

Small town Produce Markets displaying Pumpkins, Gourds, Potted Mums, and other seasonal items are now doing business in that regard. Like the farm market just two miles from where we live in SW Virginia. I saw this while driving past, and on my way back home, I stopped to make these photos using my iPhone 7 Plus Camera. Always handy and very capable.

IMG_1939

IMG_1937

IMG_1943

 

An Old Movie Theater

I enjoy making photographs of old, now abandoned structures. Such as this old movie theater in small town Eden, NC.

(Photos except where noted made with a Fujifilm X-100T with 35mm lens)

DSCF1483.jpg

Below is a low resolution historic image of how it once looked in the 1930s-40s. (Credit cinematreasures.org)

large

As you can see, it doesn’t look that much different today.

DSCF1482

DSCF1485

DSCF1486

Placing my camera lens against the clouded-glass ticket booth windows, I saw bright colors that made me wonder how many people over the years has stood in line where I was to enjoy the entertainment. How much did a ticket cost? From my youthful experience from the 1940s I guessed much less than a dollar for an adult, even less for one under twelve. The theater seated just over 400. What movies were shown there? Probably not first run. It’s questions such as this that keep me looking for and finding “history” around me in the Piedmont region of Virginia and North Carolina. Look for it.

Photo Sets

I enjoy making photos that relate to each other in some way. Here are several sets that do exactly that. (Photos made with Panasonic GX7 camera with 25 mm f/1.4 lens)

Set 1: Vegetation growing along a wall or on the ground.

P1060122

P1060129

Set 2: What’s inside that broken window to a vacant industrial plant?

P1060125

P1060126

Set 3: Something that might make you smile, while being “different” from the ordinary.

P1060132

P1060135

Set 4: Getting close to summertime flowers.

P1060141

P1060142

Set 5: Electrical power distribution no longer in use.

P1060123

P1060136

The Little Red Shed

DSCF1142

(Images made with Fujifilm X-T100 Camera with 15-45mm zoom lens)

Driving around Martinsville Virginia recently, I stopped at a railroad crossing and pulled off to an adjacent dirt road to explore that small red shed shown in the above photo. Below is what I found.

DSCF1136

DSCF1137

As I got closer I noted there was a plant of some kind growing inside, along with debris of various sorts. I’m not really sure what the shed had been used for, but I’m guessing it was to store paint and similar materials. The diamond-shape small window in the upper right turned to to be a nice composition when viewed through the one directly opposite.

DSCF1138

So, when you come to a RR Crossing (Look out for Cars), check around and if it’s safe to do so, pull over and see what you can see.

DSCF1141