Welcome to Patricia Youngquist, The Last Leaf Gardener's blog. I'm a photo-artist, bird-lover and urban gardener living in NYC. I'm also an author with a published book series, "Words In Our Beak." The stories are told by Cam, the bird pictured above. For info click on images 1-3 in the sidebar (L). My website (Patriciayoungquist.com.) mainly features my non-nature themed images (Black and White as well as Kaleidoscopic). Click on the 4th image in sidebar (L) to visit.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
The snow fell so hard last night that it actually woke me from a deep sleep, and when I looked out unto my terrace where I have my urban terrace garden and saw that, my SODA sign, which is at the north end of my terrace was almost covered, leaving only the top of the letters "O" and "D" ---nearly giving the impression of winking.
All my plants, herbs, and shrubs were completely buried except for a few brave branches from my Contius Coggygria or Smokey Bush (which you can see in the extreme left hand corner of the photograph posted above) peering out of the burlap-wrapped container which "houses" my Smokey Bush, and thatis tied with turquoise jute. This amazing shrub has served as an inspiration on many occasions, including "posing" for a photograph which was later rendered into a note-card which I have written about in an early blog entry. I've called this card Grace (Smokey Bush) becausethis shrub is fondly referred to as "Grace" or "Royal Purple" by growers.
The card is part of my single-sided petite card collection. This particular rendition shows this shrub's beautiful burgundy leaves trimmed — ever so discreetly —in a magnificent pink. Perhaps that's where the shrub's "common" name of Grace (and "Royal Purple') originated. Grace's leaves do turn from their March-April-May-June burgundy (or "Royal Purple") color.
to a July-August green (maintaining its discreet pink leaf trim),
before giving way to brilliant orange and yellow hues in late Autumn,
when its leaves fall off leaving behind exquisitely textured branches that are now "popping" out of the snow.
It is thechanging color of the leaves that never fails to fill me with comfort by reminding me, in my darkest hours, that all things are passing, but it is their branches that provide me with awe (as they did Joyce Kilmer when he wrote the poem Trees and made mention that they"lift their arms to pray"), and amusement.Althoughmy Continus Coggygria, is not a tree, and is a shrub, its amazing textured branches not only lifts their arms to pray, but it uses them to create cups for snow, which I call nature's snow cones, named lovingly after the treat —a treat that delights and unites the world.
A snow cone is a paper cup filled with crushed ice topped with flavored syrup, and stand apart from "ices" because they are flavored after they are produced, whereas ices are flavored while the treat is being made. The reason I say that the snow cone unites the world is that, in spite of all of the tensions over cultural differences, snow cones are loved by all.
They are known as a granzido (or copos) in Cuba as there they are named for hailstones. In Puerto Rican neighborhoods, they are called piragua, and they are named for their pyramid shapes and water (agua in Spanish). In Mexico and in the southwest of the United States, they are called raspados (which comes from the verb raspar meaning scrape). In El Salvador they are called minutas, in Venezuela, cepillados, in Pakistan, Gola granda, in India, chuski, in Gujarati, baraf no golo, in Chili they are called mermelada con hielo, and in Israel, they are called Barad; naming the treat for hail, as the Spanish cultures have done.
The list of snow cone flavors varies depending on the culture. Snow cones can be made with cinnamon and milk, or lemon and chili powder, or fruits and chili sauce, or even with cucumber. Some folks flavor them with a currant liquor, making a Kir snow cone or even with Frangelica, the hazelnut flavored liquor.
Whatever they are flavored with, and whatever they are called, snow cones represent joy, which may be why my SODA sign appears to be winking at my Continus Coggygria's snow filled branches which are so deligtful, I've rendered another image of them — in black and white as seen below.
ADDENDUM: I no longer actively produce event program covers, invitations and the types of greeting cards described on my website but arrangements might be able to be made under certain circumstances.
My focus is on the Words In Our Beak book series (pictured below)whose stories are told from the point of view of Cam, a female cardinal.
As of May 22 2018, I have rendered some images from these books into greeting cards and they are available on Fine Art America, please click here for more info.
Re my book series: Words In Our Beak’s goal is to open readers to a simple understanding of the winged world and their environment. Set in my rooftop urban garden in New York City. Words In Our Beak is directed to children and adults who are curious about birds, and want to learn about them from a unique perspective. The books include hundreds of images of flora and fauna, links to movies, as well as to informative narratives that have been created by the author.
At this moment, May 2018, both volumes one and two are in hardcover format (as seen below) and are available wherever books are sold.
*Here's the purchase info for the Words In Our Beak book series: