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Posts Tagged ‘prose essay’

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The sun feels warmer on our backs and the days are spreading out. Its time now to get adventurous and enjoy the delights of the early summer. Toowoomba, one of Australia’s garden cities, is located west of Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane. A university and cathedral city, Toowoomba’s residents also enjoy its 150 spectacular parks and gardens. Situated high on the crest of the Great Dividing Mountain Range, with its cooler climate and rich volcanic soil, ‘Absolutely everything will grow here,’ say the locals. By way of celebrating their love of all things horticultural, a Carnival of Flowers is offered every year during September.

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   To savour the delights of this festival, our first stop includes the magnificent grounds of the Laurel Bank Park. Here an incredible free-growing meadow has been planted. Visitors wander amongst a cacophony of colour as they stroll through tulips, daisies, pansies, and an arbour festooned with lavender wisteria.

laurel-park-wisteria

   Our next stop at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, leads to a room where landscape and botanical paintings from the gallery’s collection have been hung. Scattered among the pictures are stunnng sculptural works, created by members of the Toowoomba Ikebana Group. Decorated in the Japanese style, each piece showcases fresh flowers, leaves, and branches – all appearing in their individual beauty.

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   After a tasty lunch and a strong coffee, we decide to spend the rest of the day in the city’s heart. Here lies Queens Park, Toowooba’s premiere site. This key landmark is the focus for the 176th Carnival of Flowers, its Flower Market, the Food and Wine Festival and a Live Concert Series. Many activities are happening here.

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   We enter  the park through a lovely cherry blossom walk into the expanse of a typical 19th century Victorian park land and botanical garden. It has been styled as a parterre garden, presenting an arrangement of ornamental flower beds in various sizes, shapes, and colours. All are contained beneath a canopy of stately trees and between areas of expansive green lawns.

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   During the 2015 Carnival of Flowers, 100,000 visitors flocked to Toowoomba from far and wide. It was a delight to see so many with us again this year, absorbing the beauty and peaceful ambience of the park. Cameras and smart phones were snapping away in every pair of hands as the children roamed and played freely among the parterre beds. The weather had also been kind as the day was warm and sunny. We finally left the park on a botanical high, and next year we plan to do it all over again.

  queens-park-tulip-time

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Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, (1889) oil on canvas
Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

who can count the stars
gleaming on night’s dark curtain
in the infinite shining heavens

        “This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the North Star, which looked very big.” Van Gogh penned these lines to his brother, from Saint Remy in France. After gazing at the vision, van Gogh later produced this painting. Rooted in his imagination and memory, Starry Night—with its thick sweeping brushstrokes and swirling energy—embodies the inner and subjective expression of the artist’s response to nature.

During my early years in Minnesota, I was also fascinated by the night sky. Its stately procession of constellations circled through the year beneath the North Star – that fixed point located at the top of the heavens. The winter skyscape was enriched by the presence of the Big and Little Dippers, the mighty hunter Orion, his faithful dog, Sirius, at his feet, Taurus the bull, and the exquisite open star cluster of the Pleiades. Imagine my surprise when after moving to Australia, it was the summer sky that held these heavenly wonders, and all the familiar constellations now appeared upside down.

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Stars and Galaxies, image courtesy of NASA

Writers and musicians also draw inspiration from the vastness and beauty of the night sky. The 19th century Irish composer, John Field, first wrote a peaceful and lyrical set of piano solos that he entitled, Nocturnes. In the following generation, these night songs reached their culmination in the hands of Chopin. All of this evocative music is enjoyed as pianists continue to play these Nocturnes along with the many others that are still being written. Relax and dream of the night as Irish pianist, John O’Conor, performs John Field’s, Nocturne Number 1 in E Flat.

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