Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Patina of Age

As I was walking through my flower gardens yesterday, I was disappointed to find that many of the summer flowers were winding down.  My first thought was that it wasn't very pretty; heat, lack of rain, and time had taken their toll.  Perennials that had produced lavish displays of color all summer were finished blooming, leaving brittle dry stems and faded flowers that were going to seed.  But as I slowed down and really looked, I began to see that a transformation had taken place.  They were still beautiful; I just had to look at them differently to see it.

The colors are muted, with more variation in tone than before...

grays and browns are mixed with soft mauves and peaches...

 ...with petals dried and curled until they look like crazy dancers in a windstorm.

They embody the Japanese aesthetic quality called wabi-sabi. Put in simplest terms:


Wabi is the beauty that comes from the right kind of imperfection,

and Sabi is the beauty that comes from age.

And aging means changing...


...it's a different kind of beauty...


 but beautiful, still.  I can see that now.


  1. hi, i'm new to your blog, found by noodling around blogger. i do like the third and the last photos. the twists and turns of imperfection and age are what life is made of. nothing stays the same forever, thankfully!

  2. You have captured that beauty and I learned a new term. Thanks so much for calling attention to the changes in season and comparison to life in general. Very lovely post.

  3. Oh I recognize your colours, Sharmon. Lovely images especially the last one.

  4. For me this is the true art making when the artist sees the subject in a new and different way...a new kind of seeing. These are astonishing in their fading beauty!

  5. Yes, lack of rain surely is sending my coneflowers to seed a bit earlier than usual, it seems... though that's when I get lovely little flocks of Golden Crowned Kinglets, Goldfinches and Chickadees flitting from seed head to seed head... a different kind of color splash!

  6. oh you have captured it so well!! I have been trying to find the way to say goodbye in my journal, I miss my garden so much in the winter... but you really nailed it down, bittersweet beauty....

  7. Beauty comes in many forms... Lovely pictures...

  8. Sometimes finding beauty is just a question of adjusting our point of view, it's true. I am happy to have found your blog and look forward to seeing more of your work and viewpoints. Thanks for visiting over at my place.

  9. Yes, beautiful, all of it and all of your shots hold lovely images in the falling away of one thing so we can have another. The last shot is a gem.

  10. I am sooo connecting with this Sharmon...a compassionate reflection on the blessings of change, growth, aging, transformation. I have been thinking similar thoughts of late looking at our garden...a mirror really. How do we see ourselves? Can we love who we are becoming? For me the answer is yes. May it be so for all of us.

  11. You are truly gifted with that special way of seeing.

    Thanks for this - I have a better appreciation now for what I'm seeing in the mirror in the morning.

  12. Yes, the wabi-sabi aesthetic is the change of season. I do love autumn, because within the color changes there lends itself to more depth, more interest..

  13. Hi Standing, and welcome! I guess sometimes we all wish things would stay the same, but you're right- life is change, as it should be.

    Healing Woman, Robyn- thank you; I'm glad something in the post resonated with you- that's what I always hope for.

    Hi Mary Ann- Seeing things in a different way is indeed what art is about. Thanks for pointing that out- so true!

    Don- thanks for visiting, I'm so glad you liked it!

    Hi Valerianna- I have been seeing little yellow birds eating the seeds, but thought they were goldfinches. But maybe they're not; I'll have to check that out!

    Thanks Cat- Bittersweet beauty is a wonderful way of putting it! It makes Spring seem all the more miraculous when it comes, doesn't it?

    Thanks for the kind words, Dianne, and thanks for visiting!

    Louciao- adjusting my point of view is my goal right now- but sometimes easier said than done! Thank you.

    Thank you, Annie. Most people seemed to like that last shot, which makes me feel much better about my Photoshop attempts. Maybe I did capture the feeling I was going for!

    Laura and Don- the garden is indeed a metaphor for aging, something I'm trying to come to terms with. Sometimes, though, I still look in the mirror and go, Yikes!

    Jayne, I agree; the colors of Autumn do have a depth you don't find in the other seasons- I love those colors.

  14. so very true Sharmon, and well said. I had gone out into our garden, intending to do some dead heading of the exact flowers pictured here, until I saw several gold finches swooping in and clinging to the stems, plucking the seeds from those round dying buds! Now I have a garden full of seemingly dead, feeing a lot of life :)

  15. belle réflexion , la dernière image est magnifique!


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I'm happy to reply here, but may not always have time for individual emails.