Tag Archives: blossoms

Appreciating Difference

I love my macro lens!  What I like best about it is that it makes me slow down, breathe deeply, and pay attention to the smallest of details…things that I didn’t even realize I couldn’t see.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time at our local botanic gardens, offering a wide variety of plants in different ecosystems from deserts to rain forests to native plants of our area.  They also had a section of the gardens that was all fruit trees…a variety of citrus, figs, persimmons, guava, and more.

When I saw this delicate guava blossom, I had to stop and take out my macro.  I just knew that it would take a close look to really see and appreciate the beauty of this ethereal bloom.

guava blossom

And once I got started, I couldn’t stop myself.  Each variety offered its own unique beauty. Here’s one variety of fig.

fig blossom green

This is a different variety of fig…and perhaps at a different stage of development.

fig blossom red

I was surprised by the center of this lime blossom.  I knew it was a white flower, but I hadn’t noticed the center before taking this photo.

lime blossom

And this lemonade lemon tree had the prettiest pink blossoms getting ready to open.

lemon blossoms

I’m not sure which fruit tree this blossom came from, but I love its crazy red fringe!

fruit blossom

As I looked closely at these fruit blossoms I found myself thinking about how much diversity there is among them.  Even varieties that are closely related are different from one another. Which got me thinking about my students…and students in general.  As teachers (and parents too), we need to slow down, look and listen closely, and pay attention to the diversity among our students.  Even when students are all the same age, they have vastly different personalities, learning strengths, and interests.  I often have the privilege of teaching siblings…sometimes even twins and triplets…and what I know is, despite having the same parents and living in the same environment, each child in the family is different from the other(s), highlighting the complexities of DNA, personality, behavior, and more.

And in spite of these differences, we all have so much in common:  the need to be loved and valued, to be nurtured and supported, to have others assume the best and help us learn from the inevitable mistakes we will make.

That macro lens offers insight as I look closely at the world of plants, noticing features and details I might have missed without it.  I don’t have a macro lens to use with my students, instead I have to use the lens of mindfulness to keep myself attuned to the individuality of my students and take the time to notice and learn from them and about them.  I don’t just teach a group of children, I teach a classroom full of diverse individuals and to teach them well it’s important for me to know that and take their differences into account.  And for me, that’s the beauty of the classroom, it’s a room full of teaching and learning opportunities as we all bring who we are into the mix.  Our differences are the best part of our learning community as we help each other slow down and see the world in new and different ways.

Up Close

It takes time to get close, to people and to flowers.  You have to pay attention, using all your senses, in order to really see.  Sometimes the prickly spines are the first things you notice, and you move away.  But then you are likely to miss the beauty and the unique qualities only visible when you get up close…nose to nose.

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.
Georgia O’Keeffe

Whenever I get my macro lens out, I think of Georgia O’Keeffe and her flowers.  I love the way she captured the inner beauty of flowers rather than the view most people see.  My camera helps me do that.  You may notice that I have a tendency to photograph the same thing over and over again.  I notice it…a fascination that keeps bringing me back to a particular subject.  It was definitely like that with dandelions.  (When I searched my blog for dandelions, I came up with 6 posts!)

In the past few weeks it’s been prickly pear cactus that keeps catching my eye.  Prickly pears are common in these parts.  And mostly they are ordinary flat round green pads with sharp spines. Some people like to deface them by carving their initials in them, scarring the plant for a very long time.  And right now, they are in bloom, sporting beautiful yellow and pinkish blossoms and they’re beautiful!

prickly pear yellow blossom

So each time I see a prickly pear blooming, I find myself capturing a new photo.  I watched a bee dive headfirst into a bloom over the weekend…and seem to disappear deep inside.  I noticed yellow and pink blossoms on the same plant.

prickly pear and torrey

And then I got up close.  Using my macro I leaned in close and got to know this magnificent plant in new ways.

blossom with spines

Each angle revealing something new.

pink prickly pear blossom

I looked from the outside in,

outside looking inand from the inside out.

inside the cactus blossom

And even this dried up blossom, well past its prime, displays the hints of past glory in its dignified demise.

dying blossom

Getting up close to the prickly pear reminds me of my students in the springtime.  They are blooming too.  And I’ve had all year to get up close, beyond the spines, and get to know them and support them as learners and people.  And I wonder if nobody really sees them either…they are so small, as Georgia O’Keeffe points out.  And the abilities of children are often underestimated.  It takes time to get up close and really see each student as a complex, beautiful, unique individual who will bloom on her/his own timeline.  Luckily, I get that chance in my classroom, even without my camera!