I have what I think of as a rather large vocabulary, but I have to admit that I only vaguely remember running into this word before, and I also have to admit that I had absolutely no idea what it meant. So thanks to Sgeoil, I have learned a new word. Pulchritudinous means “breathtaking beauty.”

As many of you know, I often find that I discover the most beauty in the every day. Not that I don’t catch my breath in absolute awe over the grand sites such as Yosemite, but I am constantly amazed at how beautiful I find something as prosaic as a fallen leaf.

So here is a photo of simple plants that grew opportunistically in a cut down tree stump. I find the contrast and intensity in the colors and textures to be pulchritudinous. I took the photo with my phone, and I have done no editing on the photo. This is as pulchritudinous as it was in real life.

Hannah Keene 2019

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt, RDP

Beauty In Surprising Places

Neighborhood: Glenview, Oakland                       Image:Zebras Child 2019

I was editing some photos whilst being tied to an IV for one of my immunoglobulin infusions. (For those of you new to Zebra’sChild, I get these infusions once every 3 weeks, and they take the better part of a day. But I am always and forever grateful for blood donors, as the gamma globulin that keeps me alive is ultimately obtained by many many filtrations along the flow chart getting from whole blood down to the isolation of gamma globulin. The infusions are hard on my body, and cause some severe side effects, but luckily over the years since I have been diagnosed (12 years, to be precise), the doctors, nurses and I have figured out some strong pre procedures drugs that keep me relatively comfortable. And with those in my system, I am usually able to doze or sleep for most of the time.)

So. I was editing some photos on my iPad, and one of the nurses walked by. I heard a quick intake of her breath, and then she said, “Oh, that is beautiful!”

“Thank you.”

“What? That’s yours? You took that?????”


“I didn’t know you were a photographer!”

“Well, I’ve begun to get serious about it again, and now I’m hooked.”

I showed her a couple of my other photos, ending with the one above. Her response was an incredulous “That’s amazing! I never would have thought that an opening to gas lines and some leaves on the sidewalk would even be pretty, let alone beautiful. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even have noticed. I would not even have thought of looking down. Thank you so much for showing me these.”

And that, right there, probably sums up as neatly as anything, why I take such joy in photography. It gives me a way to notice and zoom in (pun intended) on the everyday beauty of the world. I told her that I couldn’t help but notice things like the gas line and the leaves: the glint of sunlight on the steel gas cover next to the rusty brown of the accumulated leaves in the crack of the sidewalk was captivating. I can’t drive down a street without seeing at least 5 things I wish I could stop and photograph. Very few people even want to walk with me when I am walking the dogs because I keep stopping to take photographs. And it’s almost painful for me to walk by something beautiful without trying to capture the beauty on film. (Well, that shows you my age. I don’t use film of course, but somehow saying “capture the beauty digitally” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

For me, being a photographer teaches me how to see beauty, to see the unusual, even to see and empathize with pain. I find it almost impossible not to want to record that. And then I have the opportunity (which of course also involves lots of work) to take the recorded images and try to turn them into works of art. All of which feels like a gift.


Macro Monday

New growth on a coniferous tree                      Image: Zebras Child 2019

I’ve always been amazed that the new growth on a plant is a much brighter green than the older leaves.

Fun Science Facts

Did you know:

  • Some examples of coniferous trees: cypress, firs, redwoods, pines, cedars, spruces, junipers, etc.
  • The needles on coniferous trees are actually their leaves.
  • These leaves are adapted so that they survive better in harsher and colder conditions than broad leaves can.
  • There is a thick, waxy cuticle that waterproofs the leaves. This helps them retain more water than broad leaves, and also helps them survive in harsher weather conditions.
  • However, there are some species of pine that can absorb water through their needles and then transport that water to the roots of the tree where the water can then be properly distributed. This is especially helpful if these pines grow in a fog belt, as the fog itself can provide water to the tree.
  • The multitude of needles enable the trees to collect far more sunlight than broad leaves would. The sunlight is necessary for photosynthesis.
  • Some coniferous trees in North America can grow to be 75 meters tall and can live to be 500 years old.

Did you ever wonder how in the world a 75 meter tall tree can transport water all the way from its roots to the crown of the tree? My wonderful university professor for freshman biology all those decades ago gave us this answer:

Conifers have a vascular system just like our veins. In other words, the tree pumps the water upwards a certain distance, and then some small flaps come down, preventing the water from flowing back downward. When the next pump of water comes up, it pushes the higher water into the next chamber above and so on. This is just how our circulatory system gets our deoxygenated blood back to our heart for re-oxygenation.

And how super cool is that?