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Archive for October, 2012

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as fallen leaves
drift down the stream
I wonder
where my days have gone
in the flow of time

 

 

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I climb round and round close to the outside wall, to avoid the railing as the stair treads narrow about their central post. A semi-circular platform rests high above with glass windows that provide a sweeping view. Counting the last few steps I finally reach the top of the Moreton Bay lighthouse, where I gaze in awe at the ocean below.

the rising sun
an endless pathway
of molten gold

Outside the lighthouse lamp is rotating. I disengage it as there is no need for its warning light. Now the bold red and white stripes of the lighthouse itself will become the beacon. I study the turbulence of the deep waters churning the rocky shore below. The subtle changes in the wind, waves and tides are entered in my log book—these brief markers of the ever transforming seascape that surrounds me.

 ebb tide
a foot print shelters
one tiny crab

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simplicity
the elegant curve
of a single line

 

 

 

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like sky rockets
the eucalypt forest
bursts into bloom

 

 

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 Ikebana (living flowers)  is the Japanese fine art of floral arranging. This includes far more than placing flowers and foliage in a container. Ikebana is also a disciplined art form with a spiritual philosophy – one of living with simplicity in the present moment. It is believed that when a person works with flowers and plants, this action will cultivate a deep appreciation of the natural world.   

The practice of Ikebana flower arranging began in China during the 6th century. Initially it was practiced by Buddhist monks as a means of creating offerings for temple ceremonies. When the Japanese monk, Ikenobo, became highly skilled in this discipline, he carried it on to Japan where Ikebana flourished as a cultivated art form.

By the 14th century only men had been allowed to practice Ikebana. The Samurai class of warriors arranged flowers to calm and focus themselves before a battle. By the 19th century both men and women were openly practicing this art form as part of the tea ceremony. Beautiful floral pieces were regularly created for display in the tokonoma, the alcove near the front door of a home, as a way of formally greeting and welcoming visitors.

Most Ikebana arrangements favour one of two traditional styles. The first is Moribana, in which floral materials are arranged together in a shallow container, within a needle point or pin frog  holder. The second style, Nageire, composes flowers and foliage in a tall vase.                    

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Ikebana requires the following items: a container, a kenzan (pin frog) and a hasami (small sharp scissors). Three stems or plant pieces of varying lengths make up the triangle that defines the boundaries of the design. The tallest stem representing heaven is called the shin. A medium-length stem characterizing humanity is the soe, and the hikae, the shortest line of the triangle, relates to earth. The display can also be set off with some filler floral material and a single focus flower. While plants are lovely just as they are, with human help they can be effectively arranged to become even more beautiful.

Because Ikebana is created for a particular time and place, it must be appropriate to that setting. If used where people meet or gather it becomes hospitality. When placed in a sacred  environment, Ikebana becomes a gift of the faithful that expresses their devotion. And as flowers soon die – the impermanence of nature and all life is represented.

Creating Ikebana will allow the practitioner to become calm, by living in the moment. It will also assist one to identify with the beauty found in the natural world and within all art.

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colours, textures
in endless variation –
nature’s design

 

 

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The Fassifern Valley nestles within Queensland’s Scenic Rim, close to the border with New South Wales. This peaceful agrarian landscape of fertile farms, green pastures and gently rolling hills is highlighted by the counterpoint of towering mountain peaks. Australia’s Great Dividing Range borders the area and stretches away as far as the eye can see.

Within this contrasting panorama lies the Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm. Here a variety of Italian and French lavender plants flower for most of the year, and as we approach the air fills with its rich scent.

Lavender (botanic name Lavandula) is one of a species of flowering plants in the mint family. Lavender is widely cultivated in temperate climates throughout the world for ornamentals in gardens, and for the extraction of its essential oil. Lavender oil was first adopted as a healing agent by the early Egyptians when various plant oils were utilised in the treatment of wounds, for improving circulation and in relaxation massage.

In 1928 the French Chemist, Gattefosse, burned his hand during an experiment. To ease the throbbing wound he plunged his hand into a pot of lavender oil standing nearby. Much to his surprise the pain diminished and his burns healed rapidly. He and others began to experiment with essential oils, many of which they identified and categorised. Gattefosse’s classic book on aromatherapy was published later that same year and it still serves as a reference today.

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Lavender has many uses. Its flower spikes are valued in dried floral arrangements and the fragrant purple flowers and buds often find their way into potpourris. Dried and sealed into pouches, lavender flowers are placed in drawers and among clothing to impart a fresh scent. Lavender is also a popular ingredient in soap and perfume making.

As a flavour for food it lends a floral and slightly sweet flavour to baked dishes and desserts. The best fudge I ever tasted was made from chocolate infused with lavender. Sadly I’ve never come across it again although I’m still looking. Yes, in all its guises I love lavender – Nature’s remarkable gift.

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