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Posts Tagged ‘blue’

Young Blue Jay

It’s not easy to get near a Blue Jay.  Though they’re common visitors to bird baths and feeders, unlike Robins and Chickadees, they’re reluctant to let humans get too close.  Perhaps it’s because they’re fairly slow flyers compared to other birds their size and need more lead time to flee from predators.   However, this week we had the unique opportunity to see a young Blue Jay up close.  It had flown into the front window and lay on the grass recovering for a few minutes before flying off to the woods.  Its plumage was spectacular.

Blue Jay Tail Feathers

Blue Jay Wing Feathers

 

Blue Jays are strikingly beautiful birds to see at any distance, but up close, their feathers are remarkably awesome.  Their tail and wing feathers are the bluest blue. 

Blue Jay Back Feathers

There are four sub-types of Blue Jay in North America, but the ones we see in Nova Scotia are among the brightest in color. 

A Blue Jay’s feathers appear blue due to light refraction.  This process depends exclusively on the integrity of the feather’s structure.  If a feather is crushed, it cannot refract light and consequently will lose its blueness.  A dull grey feather is the result. 

It wasn’t long before this little creature was on its way.  Though we feared it may have broken a wing, it had no problem flying off on its own to the safety of the woods.

For more information on Blue Jays, see  last year’s post on Blue Jay Feathers

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october vines

Overnight winds have pulled many of the leaves off the trees and beaten the vine leaves repeatedly against the bricks.  Many are now on the lawn.  It won’t be long before November’s bareness sets in.  But not yet.  There’s still time for one last look at October’s stunning palette of colours.

vine palette

I’ve taken squares of colour from the photo of vines above to create a palette of hues representational of this time of year.

colour wheelIn art theory, red and green are considered opposite one another on the colour wheel.  These are known as complementary colours.

Some of the vine reds appear purplish and there is also some yellow present.  Purple and yellow is another complementary combination, as is the combination of orange and blue.

blueorangeblueWhether it’s a light or bright blue,  October’s sky contrasts beautifully with orange tinged leaves.  Their warm and fiery hue manages to balance the crisp coolness of the clear blue sky, making autumn seem less chilling.

complementary pairs

When unmuted complementary colours are placed next to each other in a painting, the line between them may appear to vibrate.   Despite the mutedness of some of October’s colours, the juxtaposition of pairs of complementary leaf and sky colours in the landscape still produces a visually vibrant liveliness that exudes warmth and excitement.  No wonder this time of year can inspire so much awe among onlookers.

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vine and sky

You can’t hide your true colors as you approach the autumn of your life.

maple leaf mandala in blueIsn’t it odd how the colors of leaves turn warm just as the weather cools?  In art, it’s known that warm colors like red, orange and yellow advance, while cool blues, greens and purples recede.

Could the warm colors be nature’s way of bringing leaves to the forefront so that we can examine and appreciate them one more time before they’re gone?

I’ve often wondered what autumn would look like if the leaves turned cool in color instead of warm?  How would the landscape look with leaves of icy blue and turquoise instead of fiery red and orange?  Perhaps the combination of cooler weather with cool colors would be too much of a shock to us after months of warm summer weather.  The warmer colors are nature’s way of easing us into the cold winter ahead.

sky blues

Unlike the leaves, autumn’s skies turn bluer than usual at this time of year.  Above are excerpts of three of the bluest skies I’ve photographed in the past month.  Each one is such a unique hue.  Who would have thought there could be so many versions of ‘sky blue’ to be found at this time of year?  Nature’s true colors never cease to amaze me.

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license plate

Along with an image of the Bluenose schooner, our Nova Scotia license plates have ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’ written on them. Water is everywhere here: in the sea that surrounds us almost completely, the lakes that dot the province inland and the misty bogs that are found in the spaces between. To live in Nova Scotia is to know water. Our history and lore is full of fishermen, sailors and privateers, men who made a living at sea.

But you don’t need to be a Bluenoser to know water. You just need to live on the planet. Water is everywhere and where it is most rare, there it is also most precious.

water water

Water images from our recent scavenger hunt reveal the variety of ways water infiltrates our psyches.  Jessica from The Magical Mundane offered that “Water is a feminine, flowing element associated with patience and quiet strength, but it can also generate fear with its power.”  Dawn‘s image at centre, of a fish in water, is from Australia, where water resources are highly vulnerable to climate change.

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Water’s colors range from bright aqua to the darkest of blue-blacks with everything in between.  It is also transparent.  Fluid and adaptable, water conforms itself to whatever shape will hold it:  crystals in snow, or droplets in clouds and rain, fruits and flowers and swimming pools.  Water also makes up most of our human bodies.  We are water itself.

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

~ Loren Eiseley

License plate photo credit:  woody1778 at Flickr

Water images photo credits:  A Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt

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red leaf

Five elements are thought to exist in Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of interpreting environments.  These are:  earth, water, fire, metal and wood.  Colors are also believed to represent these elements.  In the image above, a blazing red leaf gives the impression of fire. Its fire quality is emphasized even more by its triangular shape which is reminiscent of the tongue of a flame.

stones

Brown garden stones, shown supporting one another above, represent the earth element, a symbol for wisdom.  Along with browns, yellows and oranges also allude to the nurturing earth.  Square shapes emphasize this element even further.  

green stems

The wood element, which symbolizes growth, is ubiquitous in a forest landscape where it is revealed in a variety of greens.  Yet, even near the ocean or in the city, green growth is not difficult to find.  The branch shape in the green floral stems above, found along a salt marsh, underlines the wood element in this image even further.

grey rainbow haven

White, grey, silver and gold reveal the metal element in nature.  Positively, this element can communicate strength and solidity.  Negatively, it can suggest sadness, as in the image above, of an overcast and rainy day at the beach.

Blue Flag Iris

Water can be represented in a landscape by a pond or stream, but also by the presence of cool, dark blues as shown in the Blue Flag Iris at left.  A bed of black tulips planted in the shape of a meander would be especially representational of the water element.

Like nature, color can be both simple and complex.  It never ceases to amaze or arouse wonder in those who seek to understand it better.

This post is written to provide further insight into the relationship between the elements and color in nature, as first introduced in my earlier post about a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
~ Georgia O’Keefe

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periwinkle

The weather has been warm enough for the periwinkle fairy to do his magic.  Periwinkle flowers  are in bloom on the east side of the house.  Though some leaves die from year to year, the majority remain evergreen.  Thankfully they aren’t appetizing to slugs, so they’re content to grow among dead ivy leaves until I can get in there and clean up the bed.

periwinkle fairyI was first introduced to periwinkles on a visit to the Royal Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, a settlement established by Samuel de Champlain in 1605.  The flower is also known as Myrtle and is a North American native.  It has many uses in folk medicine.

Periwinkle is also a shade of blue that’s leaning towards violet, similar to lavender blue.  According to Crayola, its personality traits are serenity, purity and infinity. 

The image at left was taken from a tiny book called Flower Fairies of the Garden that I’ve had since the 1970s.  It contains poems and pictures by Cicely Mary Barker.  A beautiful website featuring all of Cicely’s fairies can be found at www.flowerfairies.com

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bluejayNothing brightens up the Canadian landscape like a Blue Jay.  The brilliant hue of these clever birds from the Crow family makes them easy to spot regardless of the background or the season. 

feathercloseupFour sub-species of Blue Jays exist in North America, each distinguished by different colouring or size.  The lavender blue Northern Blue Jays found in central Canada are paler than the bright Coastal birds found here in Nova Scotia.  The Inland jays found in the United States are a darker blue that contrasts sharply with their whiter underside.  Florida Blue Jays are of the smallest size yet are similar in colour to the Northern variety.

Light refraction causes a Blue Jay’s feathers to appear blue.  This process depends exclusively on the integrity of the feather’s structure.  If a feather is crushed, it cannot refract light and consequently will lose its blueness.  A dull grey feather is the result.

Below are some of the Blue Jay feathers I’ve collected in my yard over the years.  They’re patterned with black, white-tipped, or just showing blue on one side, depending on which part of a Blue Jay’s body they fell from.  Each one caught my eye as it lay on the ground.  It’s amazing how much of the colour has been retained, as some of these are more than fifteen years old.jayfeathers1

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