Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (as Fortune Teller)

07 March 2016


1. Chenille-Plant, Acalypha hispida, Longwood Gardens; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Chenille-Plant, Acalypha hispida, Longwood Gardens; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Afternoon Shadows, Longwood Gardens; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Afternoon Shadows, Longwood Gardens; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Let me know which you prefer. Click on image to enlarge, which takes you to another page. If you decide to leave a comment, please return to this page.


The timing of the four seasons is becoming more and more unpredictable. Weather is without question one of the most talked about subjects, a sort of infotainment. This obsession may be a sign of the state of our planet’s health, or the result of its availability at our fingertips, or… Regardless, weather creates news, fills our heads, and plays havoc with our notion of normalcy.

Weather is synonymous with the seasons, yet one day drifts into the next and melts pass the past. It is a steadfast agent of change in our lives. Transformation is another element that filters heat, cold, wind, calm, wet, and dry through our days. Their presence reminds us about fragility and strength. How an arid stretch can devastate, or continual sunlight builds the landscape through nature’s abundance.

In the millennium’s infancy the world faces moderate to severe differences from a decade or decades ago. This relatively new uneasiness conjures anxiety and insecurity.

Everyone, every creature is affected by climate change. A flood of emotions rushes through me as I ponder the impermanence that has replaced what we presumed was permanence. And I know that the human animal is very much a culprit in this story. As Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us (Book by Walt Kelly).”

A prime example of this tenuous situation is the plight of monarch butterflies. Fortunately, a worldwide campaign has been waged to save this important contributor to the balance of life as we knew it. This scenario is mostly due to depletion of milkweed (monarchs depend upon this plant for survival), uncertain and warming weather patterns (recently, I read in The New York Times that almost 500 million butterflies died in the storms of 2002), illegal logging in Mexico, and use of pesticides. The World Wildlife Fund has announced that recovery is possible, based on this year’s butterflies that have been hibernating in the mountains of Mexico. That’s comforting, but it is not a given that they will rebound.

Yearly, I’ve been increasing the number of milkweed**** plants in my gardens, which is one way that each of us can do our part. The United States is hoping to plant 7.5 million acres to help replace decades of loss.

Gloriously, it’s two weeks until Spring. The crocuses have naturalized weeks early. Daffodils are inching their way toward blossoming. Tulip leaves have pushed through the frozen earth. These are not “normal” occurrences. Those observations and realities are part of the seesaw weather patterns, and continual redefinition of local habitats. Some results are swings in human emotions across one’s inner landscape.

Where I live, the decline in monarchs is evident. Last year I sighted one monarch and the prior year three. These delicately sumptuous creatures are a signpost of the relationship between nature and human nature. More importantly, they are a link to the future of farming and gardening, therefore, to our own sustenance. When I searched my archives of photographs, 2011 is the last year that I found an image of a monarch caterpillar (stage two of its life cycle: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult) feasting on milkweed during autumn in my yard.

Monarch; Copyright © 2011 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Monarch Caterpillar; Copyright © 2011 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

In the Lens section are two images taken at the turn of this year. A visit to Longwood Gardens’ conservatory always cheers my spirit and soul, especially in mid-winter. The sun was brilliant for hours, and then hid behind grey skies.

My images reflect changes in the skyscape. They also reflect the uncertainty of climate change and global warming (such as the amount of rain and sun available). Even as nature has become a fortune teller of more than the present, I have confidence that humanity will be the force that advocates for the health of our planet.

**** There are 73 types of native milkweed. I use Asclepias tuberosa spp, which is native to the Mid-Atlantic states and Delaware.

Tip of the Week:

The national parks are a century old this year, and its time to celebrate this centennial (officially August 2016). While I am hopeful that many of you in the United States and across the world know about this grand legacy, the birthday should encourage a greater awareness of land conservation and preservation. Across our expansive land there are 409 parks, which also includes territories such as American Samoa.

From the website: “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.” Click here to read more.

I have visited over forty parks, and that is a sliver of my country’s magnificent offerings. Yosemite National Park is by far the most captivating and humbling of my experiences. My plans are to raise the number of visits and be awed in the process.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

View other entries for this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.

If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

This entry was posted in Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (as Fortune Teller)

  1. badfish says:

    These are both lovely, again. I think I prefer the first, color, one…but I don’t know why.

  2. Maria F. says:

    We have the Chenille Plant here also. I think the texture is fascinating!

  3. Tina Schell says:

    LOL on Steve’s comment – we too own the National Parks $10 card – best value we’ve ever seen. Think we’ve been to at least a dozen parks with it. (My husband earned it, I’m still a bit too young!!)
    Yes the monarch situation is frightening Sally. They visit us here on Kiawah and are magnificent. We also saw one of their nesting places in California last year. Must have seen a thousand of them hanging in groups from the limbs of the trees. But they told us there were far fewer than in previous years.

  4. Monika B says:

    Very interesting pictures, especially the last one.
    Monika B.

  5. I gotta say the mood of the B/W shot is really lovely–I’ll choose #2!

  6. This reminds me of our bottlebrush bush we have in our yard…which I adore!

  7. Su Leslie says:

    A great post Sally. It is so important that we are aware of, and try to improve, the situation of so many species negatively impacted by we humans. On a bright note; I’ve seen lots more Monarch butterflies around my neighbourhood in the last few months than I have in years. I like both images, but am particularly drawn to the noir feel of the black and white.

  8. Suzanne says:

    Your first photo is quite mesmerizing – it has a magical quality. Here’s my very late response to this week’s challenge.

  9. phoartetry says:

    Afternoon shadow is my favorite.

    I live in a subdivision, and my neighbor and I have planted many milkweed plants in our yards we raise monarchs butterflies, from collecting the eggs thru releasing the monarchies. Last year, we released over one hundred and forty of them.


  10. The B&W is my favourite. 🙂

  11. Yes our impact on the climate is very sad. The decline of the monarch butterflies is but one of the negative outcomes. You raise an important issue, Sally. Thanks for doing so. I love both images, by the way. 🙂

  12. thirdeyemom says:

    Sally I weather has been crazy! It was in the 50s in December and today it is 68 degrees! Normally March is our snowiest month.

  13. restlessjo says:

    Both very appealing images, Sally. Can’t make a choice this week. The good news is that we are a little more aware of our impact on the planet. The not so good, whether we can redress the balance. If in fact it wants to be redressed. We can but try. Have a happy week! I envy you those parks. 🙂

  14. Indira says:

    I’m unable to compare. Both have their distinct beauty.

  15. Archita says:

    I love afternoon shadows more. Beautiful photographs, Sally.

  16. RMW says:

    I like the color and the light in the first shot. The second was rather eerie but interesting in its own way.

  17. I love your monochrome look – very mysterious. We are also trying to encourage the monarch butterfly here in New Zealand – Gomphocarpus physocarpus or swan plant is the most popular plant here

    • Raewyn. I’ve heard of the swan plant. That’s reassuring that there is an effort in your country to increase the plant that is native to your climate and draws the monarch. Thanks so much for your comment.

  18. Nato says:

    I adore the colors in the first picture and the mystery in the second. And the caterpillar pic, stunning detail! I have wondered about the erratic weather at times and how are human presence is affecting it. I think it great for us to become aware of how we can affect things, both good and bad. And if we all did something, even a little thing, maybe we can change the tides? Oh and state parks can be so amazing! There are so many more that I want to see, but the ones I have so far have been quite impressive.

  19. Allan G. Smorra says:

    The colors of the first photo and the graphic design of the second both “speak” to me today, Sally.

  20. Amy says:

    I love the lighting you captured for both. The colors of the first one are beautiful.
    I miss the Longwood Gardens…

  21. pattimoed says:

    I love the shadows in the black and white. Lovely shapes! And thanks too for the reminder about the parks system. What a treasure. My husband and I plan to explore some of the great parks when he retires. I can’t wait!

    • Patti, the national park system is such a treasure trove of nature’s bounty and humanity’s ability to work with her. It’s a role model for how we must progress in the future. Hope that you can start to plan your visits soon. Thanks so much for your comment.

  22. A good Monday morning to you, Sally. I’m just getting ready to head out for my park walk, today with my Nikon as well as my iPhone. Here the spring flowers are pushing their way into the world, a much-needed reminder that spring is on it’s way.

    I like your afternoon shadow shot with its feel of mystery. We love the national park system as well as all the local cities and counties that have parks and green spaces. What a blessing those places are in the midst of the rush and noise of the city!!

    Blessings on your week!


    • Janet, yes, urban centers are doing a better and better job of bringing nature into the heart and soul of its residents and visitors. Enjoy budding signs of Spring. Thanks so much for your comment.

  23. We have several native species of Acalypha in Austin. The plants are small enough, and the inflorescences more so, that most people probably don’t notice them, but a close look is worth the trouble:

    You may have meant skyscape, but skycape is an inspired term on an overcast day.

    Two years ago at Petroglyph National Monument I bought a lifetime national parks admission card for $10. That’s a good deal.

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