Tag Archives: photography

Dandelion Dreams: May 16, 2023

I admit it, I’m kind of obsessed with dandelions. There is something about the resilience and grit of this pervasive and well known weed that enchants me. I love that dandelions spring up in our lawn, in the cracks of rocks, right in the middle of an asphalt road, along the sandy edge of the beach… Last week I read my students the book Dandelion Seeds the World by Julia Richardson which follows dandelions across all seven continents. celebrating the multiple ways their seeds spread from floating on air to hitching a ride in the fur of animals…and even in their digestive systems! After reading and talking about dandelions…and the ways we make a wish and blow the seeds (which also helping them spread), we wrote about our wish for the world. Not surprisingly, at the end of the school year, they didn’t even need an example to get their pencils moving and write some important wishes. Interestingly, many were environmental wishes–about taking care of the ocean, protecting animals, preserving trees along with a couple of wishes about treating others with kindness and respect.

I always like to pair writing with some kind of art project. In the past I’ve done a variety of different kinds of dandelion creations…but for some reason was feeling uninspired by these projects. A colleague suggested the idea of black and white photography, a la Ansel Adams. Ah…a great reminder! And strangely enough, I hadn’t gotten to Ansel Adams yet this year. So, to get students started I read a favorite book of mine, Antsy Ansel, a picture book biography by friend and writing project colleague Cindy Jenson Elliott. I knew I wanted students to go outside to take photos of dandelions–we had just spent time talking about the dandelion life cycle and the different versions of dandelions they might find (puffball, yellow flower, tight bud…). I was a bit worried though. The gardeners at our school do a wonderful job of keeping the grounds well groomed–would we be able to find any dandelions?

But when I asked the students, they knew just where to locate some dandelions. Of course, the first place they mentions is the “out of bounds” area of the school grounds where they aren’t allowed to play! (And yes, I took them there.). So we set off with iPads as cameras, taking photos of dandelions in all of their stages. Our time was short, so we didn’t have time for any editing before we needed to head out for lunch. Luckily, I took a peek at some of the photos…and was greatly disappointed. They were blurry and ill composed. Hmmm… So after lunch, I showed students some of my own photos of dandelions. I showed them the ones I would discard–the ones that were out of focus, the ones that were too far away–as well as my better photos that were crisp and really showed off the dandelion. Then we tried again. Phew! They were much better.

Students picked their best image and inspired by Ansel Adams, transformed it into a black and white photo. They also cropped it to make it a square image (for the sake of my display).

Here’s a couple of examples:

My wish for the world is for people to use electric cars because gas cars invade the air with gas which is not good for us to breathe in.
People are throwing trash in the water, it is not only making our world dirty it is also killing animals.
My wish for the world is to stop cutting down trees because it is killing wildlife.

My own wish for the world is that this group of first graders continue to influence and inform the adults around them about the importance of taking care of our planet…and each other. What is your dandelion dream?

Errand turned mini-vacation: SOLC 5/2/23

Have you ever had a day where a routine errand turned into a mini vacation? After working all day, I knew I needed to fill my gas tank. Knowing that my husband prefers this little out of the way gas station, I headed home to pick him up before getting gas. Since the sun decided to make an appearance today after days of a pervasive, gray marine layer, I had an idea percolating in my head. So I proposed, what if instead of taking our usual neighborhood walk after we get back from the gas station, we stop by the beach near the gas station and walk there? Tides are always a deciding factor at our local beaches. If the tides are not low enough, there isn’t enough beach to actually take a walk–and you never, ever, ever want to find yourself walking too close to cliffs that are known to crumble, showering rocks–some of them quite large–and who knows what else onto the beach below.

I lucked out. The beach just a couple of blocks away from the gas station had a modest amount of beach available. We parked, walked down about a million stairs only to be greeted by a dazzling view of the ocean.

Next we noticed hundreds and hundreds of Velella velella (also known as By-the-wind sailor) washed up on the shore. These brilliant blue relatives of the Portuguese Man of War have been washing up on our shore for the last month or so, although I’ve only seen them a few at a time before today.

As we continued our walk, the sun warmed my back and the sea breeze tickled my nose. The whoosh-whisper of the surf provided a perfect back beat for my breath, letting the work day slip away with each step I took.

There is so much character along this stretch of the beach. The residents of the houses along the shore have created whimsical ladder contraptions to give them access to the beach from their homes perched on the cliffs. And since they want access to the beach, but really don’t want visitors from the beach a ladder sticking straight out over your head doesn’t even make you bat an eye! I decided to play around with my camera. What would it look like to stand under the ladder and look up?

While the beach itself was mostly empty, I did come across a solitary shore bird out for an early dinner. It was pretty unconcerned by me and my camera, at times looking straight into my lens.

So, the trip to the gas station turned into a lovely break from the work week routine, a mini-vacation where I was immersed in sun, sea life, sounds, and a fresh ocean breeze. What a way to spend Tuesday afternoon!

Haiku for a Gray Day: NPM23 Day 30

On this last day of National Poetry Month the weather dawned gray and damp–not unusual for May and June, but less usual for April (seems to have been re-named “gray-pril” by local meteorologists lately). But gray doesn’t keep us indoors–and to be honest, it’s not miserably cold–just gives out the “blah” vibes.

One of the things that I discovered about my own poetry by writing a poem each day this month is that I like to write nature poetry, science-focused poetry, eco-poetry. And on this last day of April that remains true. Kelp beds are a feature of our coast, a forest under the sea. I took this photo of Macrocystis Pyrifera, also known as giant kelp, looking down from a pier into the ocean below and let it inspire my Haiku.

Seeking Light: Macrocystis pyrifera

Floating undisturbed

While photosynthesizing

Famished by spring’s gray

What You Missed: NPM23 Day 15

Today #verselove prompt played on that question to teachers dread…did I miss anything? And I loved the opportunity to play with the idea of what was missed as I crafted a poem about my walk at the beach today. I hope my poem brings you along and gives you a taste of my energizing walk.

What You Missed

Today on the beach

you missed

the unfurling of tension

spooling from my shoulders

as I breathed in the briny sea air

that is still not quite spring warm

You missed

the tropical smell of sunscreen

on bared bodies

plunging into the too cold surf

laying on the too rocky shore

playing together in community

in this community treasure

You missed

the unending science lessons

as I studied the geology

of crumbling cliffs

and ocean-smoothed cobble

the biology

of velellas velellas

the not quite jellies

washing up on the shore

You missed

the pelicans

enjoying the low tide reef

and the pock marked rounded rock

a bowling ball for an octopus?


I took my camera along

so you can enjoy my beach walk with me

Life Cycle? NPM23 Day 10

An invitation to write a science poem–yes please! And the serendipity of our caterpillar sighting at school today made the perfect topic for the “whimsical science poems” at #verselove that Brittany prompted.

Life Cycle?

Caterpillar crossing

scrunch by scrunch

to the oohs and aahs

of its first grade audience

And then they notice the poop

on the picnic table and our eyes rise up

Fireworks explode

in a tree full of caterpillars


like tinsel

on a 1960’s Christmas tree

Will they be there tomorrow

or will they be

                bird snacks



into blossoms


egg laying

a new crop

of caterpillars

A life cycle continued

or broken?

Endings (in a sijo): NPM23 Day 6

On a bittersweet day, a heading home day, a too long on the highways and byways day, the poetry prompt at #verselove was to write a Sijo. Please don’t count the syllables too closely!


Senses fire, awake alert

breathing, gulping nature’s power

Around each bending slanting

slipping path, eyes hugged by mountains

Driving home in deep monotony

reflection stirs, awe cements

Water, an Offering: NPM23 Day 5

Today’s #verselove prompt was offered by Bryan–something he calls “poetic drive-bys” but I understand more as an ode–a poem of praise, of understanding and appreciating a person, place, or thing. I spent my day at Zion National Park–and had water on my brain…in all its forms.

Water: A Super Hero

It slips in and out of our consciousness

We crave it in scarcity

waste it in abundance

underestimate its power

Water shows us its superpowers

shape shifting with ease

from liquid to gas to solid

As liquid it carves canyons, topples trees, moves mountains

what looks like a calm river

can roar with ferocity and later gently lap the sandy shores

It’s mysterious as vapor

sometimes appearing to mask the view

other times rising to mound in voluptuous curves, ready to give birth to liquid again

Frozen it is rigid, sharp, unforgiving

breaking stone, cracking under pressure

encasing everything it touches in translucence

Stalactites, growing longer, pointier drip by drip

until they drop and shatter

or pierce the bubble of truth

Water we love you

want you, need you, worship you

and forget just how much power you wield

Thanks for reminding me!

Geo-Logic Logic: NPM23 Day 4

On day four, I found myself tasked with being grammatically ungrammatical and playing around with words. (Check out Jennifer’s prompt over at #verselove for more information). After another day spent with incredible geology filling my eyes at Valley of Fire, I decided to play around with some geology words. Here’s what I came up with!

Geo-Logic Logic

When boulders shoulder

Merging silica and limestone

Cross-bedding beehives of red

Sand dunes of dinosaurs

Mountain into fiery geometry

Geo-logical equations

Strata striate

Rainbows blasted in everpresent wind

Building hidey holes for whack a mole

Cryptobiotic soil

Gardens Cyanobacteria

Micro nourishments for life below the surface

Mind muddled, brain baffled

Geologic time unfurls

A spectacle of wonder

Time to Explore-A Haiku Sonnet: NPM23 Day 3

Today’s poem is inspired by a day exploring the Red Rock Canyon Conservancy outside of Las Vegas. Stacey over at #verselove suggested a Haiku sonnet composed of 4 3-line Haiku and two more lines. But of course, I couldn’t resist also turning my Haiku sonnet into a photo essay. Enjoy!

Time to Explore

Twirling and swirling

Hair soaring like sacred bird

Breath stolen by wind

Braving the wind

Define resilience

Windswept tree emerges from rock

Strength is surviving

tree rising from rocks

Scrambling. Rocks not eggs

Terrain fit for mountain goats

Will hike for ahhh, views

scrambled to this view

Rare desert water

Liquid gold, secret to life

Listen. It’s singing

the sweet songs of water

Glimpses, moments, stay present

Appreciate nature’s bounty.

manzanita in bloom

Come Walk With Me: NPM23 Day 2

On day two of National Poetry Month the #verselove prompt was to write a coffee share poem…a way to connect and introduce yourself. But after spending my day exploring Death Valley National Park, the coffee shop metaphor didn’t feel quite right. so instead, just come walk with me!

Come walk with me

I’ll tell you about the power of my friend camera

And how it’s changed the way I see the world

Noticing details of salt flats

Almost hexagonal frames surrounding minerals dried in the hotter than hot desert sun

Salt Flats at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park

Come walk with me

I’ll tell you how walking helps me explore

Taking me out of my head and into nature, even the nearby nature of my backyard

To hear the wind and birdsong and the steady beat of my own heart and feet

Come walk with me

I’ll tell you about the inhale

of hope and possibility that comes with time immersed looking, thinking, breathing

Don’t forget the exhale, breathe out stress and negativity

Make space for yourself

Let’s lace up our shoes

And head out

To walk and talk

Breathe and listen

Noticing the world together.