Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dogwood (Cornus Florida)

The Dogwood trees are now opening and gracefully revealing themselves. 
I have been photographing them over the past two weeks. It has been a beautiful study. 
These buds were forced indoors and opened slowly, but when they did unfold, it was quite a treat. 

The little sweet cardinal was photographed two days ago on a morning walk on Hog Creek Road in the Springs. I made several layers of images including a Dogwood as I felt it conveyed energy of Spring. 
These trees always make my heart sing. 

What appear to be 'flowers' are actually called 'bracts'. The true flowers are inside the white or pink bracts that are often referred to as petals. 

The Dogwood was used by Native Americans as a remedy for malarial type fevers that were intermittent. A tea or infusion was made of the white bracts, the green leaves and the interior bark. I do not use this as a remedy in my practice but researched its medicinal properties as I was curious about the historical uses of this tree in medicine. 

These pictures were taken in the afternoon light of the Springs. 

Above is a cardinal with the overlay of dogwood flowers from my back yard. 

Below are Dogwood flowers, Agate, Malachite and Amethyst. 

Wishing everyone a lovely Spring.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Louse Point, East Hampton

Dreamy foggy morning. 

Mysterious and beautiful light today at Louse Point.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Reflections on Nature

Today the most amazing gift arrived in the mail from a beautiful and thoughtful friend,
a book titled Four Elements, Reflections on Nature by John O'Donohue. I fell in love with it the moment  that I opened to the first page. The Forward was written by Pat O'Donahue, the author's brother. The first sentence reads:

"As we journey from the womb of the sea with our gaze of longing fixed on the stars, we have stopped off this earth for a short spell of belonging."

These gorgeous words went into the center of my heart and filled my breath with joy. This sentence beautifully sets the tone for the rest of Mr. O'Donahue's poetic book.  I am now savoring each page like a piece of exquisite dark chocolate. Mr. O'Donohue writes of the elements, nature, folklore and even mermaids! 

"One of the most amazing shapes that water takes is that of the ocean. The presence of an ocean is so huge that it resembles the divine, its constant movement and soundings signal a powerful inner life".

In my recent walks along the waters edge, I have been appreciating all of the amazing secrets and gifts that the ocean has for us if we are willing to take the time to sit with them and listen to their stories.  I have been photographing these treasures at my kitchen window in the new light of Spring. I gathered these specimens at the end of Springs Fireplace road and the bay beaches of Amagansett, creating little vignettes of these magnificent life forms. 

The following excerpt is from Mr. O'Donohue's chapter titled 'The Ocean As Immense Divinity'.
I love his description of the sea and the seashore.

"One of the most ancient conversations on the planet is that between sea and seashore. This conversation is a sublime metaphor for expectation. The land is trapped where it is. It can never move anywhere. This zen-like stillness and thereness of the land makes it vulnerable; it cannot get out of the way. But the ocean has a fluency, it can travel anywhere, even deeper into its own self."

Thank you my beautiful friend for this perfect gift. 

With love and appreciation. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Welcome Fragrance of Spring

Today my heart skipped a beat as I saw this beautiful purple crocus peek out from under the leaves. I photographed it in the afternoon light. The presence of this beauty reassured me that Spring has indeed arrived and that from now on, more beautiful colorful flowers would appear in many different shapes, sizes, and fragrances. 

Over the winter, I created many scents that I recently poured into sample vials that are now for sale. These precious perfumes have been melding for quite a while. My Pink lotus and Vanilla perfume took me two years to get to the point where I was happy. I also created a Hay and Rose liquid  perfume, and Pear and Pink Lotus. These are just a few. Within each recipe I use between nine to fifteen botanicals. These liquid perfumes are created in very limited quantities.

 I have recently completed several custom scents for clients in different parts of the country, mostly in the form of solids. I love how the process unfolds as I work with each botanical and explore how they behave with other oils, concretes and absolutes. There is a beauty to the alchemy of matching botanicals to the desires of the client. The most popular combinations this winter have included Cistus, Lemongrass and Chinese Rose. 

In honor of Spring, I am now working on a Saffron and Ylang Ylang perfume. The Saffron is from India and the Ylang Ylang is from Madagascar. The stigmas, or threads are what are dried and used for the spice saffron. 

These threads come from a variety of crocus known as Crocus cartwrightianus, believed to be a native to Asia and Crete. It is also a member of the Iris family (Iridaceae). It is one of the most costly spices in the world. In perfumery, it has a rich buttery flat scent and is a deep red color that is employed as a top note. Combined with the Ylang Ylang, it tells a new and curious story, about a far away and exotic place. The two together compliment one another and now I will explore new combinations to see how I can translate this into something beautiful to wear. 

Wishing everyone a very happy Spring!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Wisdom

  As we are now experiencing a true Winter, I have been exploring the Classics of Chinese medicine through the translations of Claude Larre and Elizabeth Rochat de la Vallee. I am currently reading their book titled, The Kidneys, which discusses the element of water, and the energy of seasonal stillness. 

I just came across this passage which so elegantly conveys my understanding of this season. It contains beautiful instructions for how we should live during this time of year. 
On these beautiful snowy days I have been taking pictures that reflect the mood and energy of the winter light.

This translation is from the Su Wen, Chapter 2. 

'Three months of winter
are called closing and preserving.
Water freezes, the earth is broken up,
there is no longer any communication with the yang.

One goes to bed early, one gets up late,
doing everything according to the light of the sun;
exerting the will as if buried or hidden,
taking care only of oneself,
falling back on oneself, in possession of oneself.
One must avoid the cold and seek the warmth, 
letting nothing flow out of the layers of the skin
through fear of losing qi. 

This is the way that is natural to the qi of winter 
which thus corresponds 
to the maintenance and preservation of life. 
To go against this current would injure the kidneys
causing weakening in spring
through insufficient contribution to the generation of life.'

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


As a child, I was gifted many little envelopes and preciously folded pieces of paper filled with seeds from my grandmother Isabelle who was a botanist. 
It was not until I read Seedtime by Scott Chaskey and heard his interview with Stefanie Sacks on Stirring the Pot that I had a full appreciation of the many gifts that my grandmother had given to me. 

It was as if a light bulb went on in my head and my heart. I saw my grandmother's legacy in a completely new light and my appreciation for her presence in my life deepened. 
Seedtime is a similar gift, but it is for all of us. This is an important book that we must share with our friends, families and communities. It is deeply meaningful and masterfully written by a luminary in the fields of organic farming, poetry and botany. 

Last year, Scott asked if I would be interested in submitting some of my work to Rodale Press for his book on seeds, and as I recall, I said "yes!" in the blink of an eye.
I am deeply honored that my photograph of a milkweed seed is on the cover of Seedtime. The seed came from a pod that was collected at a nature preserve along Accabonac  harbor in the Springs, East Hampton, N.Y. It was photographed in natural light on a precious piece of black velvet in the Winter sunlight. 
This book is a beautiful and poetic exploration of the history, husbandry and promise of seeds. It is a celebration of the very essence of the cycles of nature. As I read each page of this book, I felt that I was going on a journey through time, from the ancient tombs of the world to the current accounts of GMOs and how they are impacting our agricultural industry.

The very first sentence of the first chapter reads…

"Encapsulated in each seed is a story, a story held in a state of rest until released. Only with significant patience and effort can we interpret this language, which gradually is revealed as the cotyledons, or first leaves, unfold from a seed's invisible center."

In this book, there are many gorgeous and poetic sentences that ask for us to put the book down, if only for a moment, to relish in the cadence of the words and take in the magic of Scott's vision and lyrical expressions.

There are many curious and amazing historical details about ancient seeds, Native American traditions and the evolution of seeds through time. Scott masterfully weaves personal stories, personalities of plants, along side important information about botanical history. 
I have been deeply moved by the sincerity and the depth with which this book was crafted and published.
Rodale Press did a lovely job in the design and printing of this book. It is a book that you want to hold and read with time so as to savor the depth and richness of the words.
Thank you Scott for sharing your magic with us!
This book may be purchased locally at Canio's book store in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

It is also available through Amazon books.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Winter Beauty

The winter light helps us to see the simple beauty in nature.