Tag Archives: tree

Ordinary Inspiration

The weather was gray and gloomy today, but that didn’t stop us from venturing out with our iPads and poetry notebooks in search of inspiration for continuing our poem-a-day challenge. Students were excited about the prospect of exploring the playground as a source of inspiration.  They had 5 minutes to explore and take one photo.  The next 7 minutes were spent drafting a poem.  After some sharing back in the classroom, they had 7 more minutes to revise.

Our school yard is filled with trees, palm trees and pine trees, and the kids love to play under them and around them.  And some were inspired to write a poem featuring a tree, like this one:


A tree that I’m looking up to

I see it in the distance

I call it my wishtree

It’s as high as the bright blue sky with big bushy leaves

Shining down to me

Calling me


My poem for today also features a tree–the iconic palm that stands in the center of the playground.

cardiff palm

The Cardiff Palm

Tall against the thick gray blanket of clouds

that blocks the sun.

Your crown of green fans out:

a home for birds

shade on sunny summer days.

An ever-present sentinel, standing watch

over generations of school children

listening to their playful shrieks

a backrest for tired athletes

a symbol of our coastal community.

Tireless palm

standing tall.

Douillard 2018

Some kids are still refining their poems inspired by William Carlos Williams.  Here’s one inspired by the Red Wheelbarrow:

The Rocky River

So much depends

upon the river.

The fish slither through

the river.

Tadpoles turn into


And birds fly over all!


And this one by This is Just to Say:

Easter Candy


I have stolen the Easter candy

that you hid in the cabinet


that you were probably saving

for after dinner


Forgive me

They tasted so good


The chocolate wafers

gave it away




Weekly Photo Challenge: In Search of the Ordinary

This week has been about looking for interesting, ordinary subjects for my photography.  I’ve been attentive to my surroundings, considering angles and frames as I look around.  This morning I was out on playground duty when the water fountain caught my eye.  I see this water fountain all the time, but today I saw it in a new way as I noticed the beads of water from the heavy, moist air.  I leaned in and took this shot.


And even before that, as I chatted with the early arriving students in my classroom, I looked down at the floor and noticed this enormous moth!  It was bigger than my outstretched hand…and in retrospect, I should have framed my shot including something to give a sense of size perspective.  But I do love the wing detail that is evident in this view.


I took the long way to my UCSD office this afternoon, noticing the detailed architecture of the buildings in the distance.  But my detour took me to a patch of mushrooms, a wall of fall-colored ivy…and then I looked up and noticed the angles of this eucalyptus (and a break in the cloudy gloominess of the sky, framing the branches in brilliant blue!).


As I headed back to my car for my trip home, the sea of cars in the parking lot below where I parked caught my eye.


Earlier in the week I couldn’t fight the urge to pull over to the side of the road to capture the beauty of the ocean and the sky on my way home from school.  The sun and the clouds and the sea and the train tracks created the perfect composition as the truck drove by.  (Feels like a perfect truck commercial!)


And trains and train tracks are a constant in the coastal communities here.  We can hear them from school and frequently have to stop and wait as the train rushes past.  I don’t always get a front row view…but I did for this one!


So go out into your everyday life in search of the ordinary.  What catches your eye?  You might have to kneel down, lean in, or stop and turn around to notice those things that you see everyday.  Try a new angle, look for different lighting, or pay attention to what a child or a pet notices. I’m sure you’ll find something magnificently ordinary!

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #ordinary for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

I can’t wait to see what you find through your lens when you take some time to search for the ordinary!