Weeds examined: violets

I seem to be photographing a lot of flowers lately – more so than usual.  I blame spring.  All sorts of lovely surprises are popping up in my own little back yard that grab my attention and demand a photo session.  Of course, being 37 weeks pregnant makes photographing these treasures a lot more enticing.  They stand still and I can prop them up to eye level – no bending over, which by now is pretty much impossible for me. 

That said, violets are one of the first harbingers of spring in my yard.  They hide in the grass that’s slowly turning green and starting to grow again.  I didn’t plant these, despite how much I love them – they’re purely volunteers.  Funnily enough, although violets are more of a shade plant these grow quite happily in the middle of the yard with the full sun beating down on them.   

It’s funny how the little things bring back memories.  These tiny violets remind me of my childhood – a time when I knew where the wild yellow violets bloomed down by the creek, and where to find the rare solitary trillium and clumps of bloodroot and wild dwarf iris.  I made little pilgrimages every spring to see them bloom, a tradition I kept as I grew into a teenager and went for walks when I needed privacy (a big deal when you’re a teen with an older brother and younger sister.)  To this day, I can tell you where to find those same spots, although I have no idea if the flowers are still there.

One of those violet memories brings back the sense of pure discovery and delight – if you’ve ever seen the seed pods of a violet you would understand what I’m talking about.  They look something like a tricorne hat – a three-petaled rounded pod that contains hundreds of tiny poppy-like seeds.  The pods pop  when they’re dry, sending seeds shooting into the air like a gun.  No wonder the things spread so easily!

As much as I keep trying to photograph these violets, I’ve decided that they’re just too awkward of a flower to photograph well.  I’ve already discovered that the images don’t translate well to cyanotype – the texture of the petals just doesn’t work.  But, despite my pitiful attempts, I can still show you guys the tiny details that make me love the flowers: the exquisite purple lines leading into the throat of the flower, the tiny petals, and the wonderful furry throat that bees love to investigate.  It’s a weed – and it’s lovely.


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