Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 64) – Vessels from Nature

24 August 2020


Dried Morsels of Nature Series, #1; All Rights Reserved 2020 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this image. Prints are available upon request.


This summer I upcycled multiple small opaque plastic bottles (5” high x 2” wide),  stripping them of their outer cover and converting them into small white flower containers. I place single flowers in them, arrange them in groups or singular displays. They’ve become symbolic vessels of creative recycling during lockdown, isolation, when I see the world as different as it is the same.

The bright faces decorate indoor and even outdoors spaces. My wildflower gardens provide an abundance of choices. Bright cheery colors line the edges of the landing outside my kitchen, connecting my inner world to the outdoors. But a second ritual of past decades emerged with vigor: collecting leaves, flowers, buds, herbs, seeds and samples of the seasons to dry. I’ve been drying flowers for decades. But during this bizarrely strange and eerie time, it’s become a semi-obsession, observing and rescuing a small bit of nature and preserving her extraordinary brilliance.

That brilliance (in the sense of magical emotional comfort and healing) is a metaphor for life and death that has transpired over the last six months. Each element of nature’s wonder becomes a memorial to this time of upheaval and constant uncertainty. Each time my attention is mesmerized by a sighting of a fallen leaf, a floret, a part of the wild that begs to enter my small world, I must preserve that discovery. And that discovery is infinite, and becomes a lifeline to instantly save me for a second or more.

The floor of my living room is lined with panels of black or white foam core. A spring and summer’s worth of samplings rest as they change their appearance, constantly pulling my attention to their continual metamorphosis.

One singular flower can become a storyboard, a narrative of the life cycle. As I arrange them on separate panels, they have become visual poems dedicated to a horrific and strange and troubling time in human history. These tiny visual reminders of the last six months are tangible proof of time’s erasure—time that has slipped through my memory with questions about its sudden evaporation, as though it never existed.

But these samples of nature also are symbolic vessels of omnipresence and omnificence in the natural world. Mother Nature brings a singular powerful strength into my days; she gives me grace and beauty and pause to consider the positive in the negative spaces of daily existence. The moments of sheer internal bliss that surface from this awareness always result in awe and wonder.

Each flower plucked, each leaf rescued is a reminder. Each morsel has its hidden charms. Each small life brings gestures of reflexive remembrance, and simultaneously builds memories anew. What I receive from nature’s bounty and offerings sustains my emotional well being, She keeps me afloat, a true lifeline.

My adoration overflows with reverence. That feeling is a thread that sustains one day into the next. And so as I tend my gardens, I tend my swollen heart. As I care and maintain my gardens, I give thanks for the decades of immersion into stewardship of the land. The gifts of nature are boundless and my gratitude is evergreen.

Nature influences me, helping me articulate who I am. She shields me, and protects me from the world—a world that struggles between an apocalyptic meltdown, and renewal of the democratic country our founders promised.


In the Lens section is an image that demonstrates some of nature’s gifts over the last six months.  I purposely gave it a shimmering patina, because even in their reduction of full life each morsel of nature continues to reinvent itself in our eyes and their place in the natural world.


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

28 Responses to Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 64) – Vessels from Nature

  1. I am lightened once again by your reflections on hope and nature’s ability to provide it for you each moment. Wishing you strength and peace.

  2. This is so precious. Really appreciate your devotion to preserving these pieces of nature. I also agree on the effects of the pandemic to our soul. When will it end? The uncertainty is claustrophobic. But we will survive, thanks to our plants and little hobbies, and other obsessions that the pandemic inspired. Stay safe and healthy and enjoy your garden.

    • Thanks for your comment and visit, hope that you can continue your adventures. Hope that what you have discovered during the pandemic helps you see the universe in new ways–ways that influence your life’s choices on you journey.

  3. Lignum Draco says:

    I like the ethereal nature of the image. It’s been a strange year but I sense the solace Nature brings you.

    • Hope that you are safe and well. Yes, the year continues to explode with layer upon layer of crisis and uncertainty. Mother Nature does provide a sanctuary for introspection and even sanity. See you

  4. Marsha says:

    Drying flowers sounds like such an art. Most of my cut flowers are partly dry by the time I can part with them, but they don’t look beautiful and fresh. Glad you’ve developed such a healthy obsession during the pandemic. Thanks for sharing this interesting and artistic photo.

  5. Amy says:

    So well presented and expressed through your lens and pen.

  6. Prior... says:

    The upcycle project sounds wonderful and I love the image with the spacing in the layout

  7. Tina Schell says:

    I love your image this week Sally – did you use a high pass filter, or did you achieve the look in a different way? Your pens section speaks beautifully of nature’s power to help us through difficult time. We must continue to believe that the world will find a way to right itself before all is lost.

  8. Good word, omnificence; it’s so much less common than magnificence and omnipotence that I’m not sure I’ve ever known anyone to use it.

  9. I agree with Cornelia. You have created something magical. The delicacy of life. Beautifully captured.

  10. Sally, this an outstanding image, it reveals nature in a mystic way and that’s what I love about it.

  11. Beautifully written and expressed!

  12. I like this image very much, Sally, and it has an Oriental quality about it. It sounds as if you’re making the most of your garden and your time. While most people are thinking of fall as a time of dying plants, in Arizona I’m thinking of a time when I might be able to plant and have everything I plant actually grown. It’s such a different place, one with its own beauty and schedule that are different from that in most other parts of the US. It gives me a new opportunity for learning.


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