Friday, April 27, 2007

Fairlawn Cemetery

I spoke of Fairlawn in a post about George Kessler. I have dabbled in some of my genealogy, and walked through a fair amount of cemeteries. The cemeteries in the area are generally laid out in grid form, a simple gate, a few large monument type stones and family tombs.

I found Fairlawn to be a beautiful cemetery. The entrance is lined with similar family tombs of famous names like Overholser. A WWI obelisk memorial marks the end of the first oval. It is offset, but fits well in the standing family tombs.

It is an Oklahoman treasure--check it out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunshine Nursery

You don't have to be here in the Metro area and ask about native plants and people working with Oklahoma hardy plants and Sunshine Nursery always comes up. I've not been out there yet, but it is on my Spring trip. They have a great list of elms and list of plants that I would assume to be hardy for the Metro area if they can grow them at Clinton.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Alice Harn Park

Close to 13th and Shartel, Alice Harn park is a great little pocket park. Most notably is the simple and clever little amphitheater. Its design is simple and elegant using native stone, probably from the WPA era. It is one of Heritage Hills little treasures.

Travelling up Grand from I-35 West, it is apparent it could use some of these same details. It is apparent that a center island of trees and a walking boulevard is not sufficient enough to raise property values. Grand has the potential to stimulate and encourage a thriving community that would increase property values and could stimulate commercial ventures. The greenbelt is already there, now it just takes the initiative of the community.

Spring flowers

Richard Allen has a nice little gallery of Oklahoma wildflowers.

Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium albidum)

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa)

The spring rains have come this year and the Indian Paintbrush and Blue-eyed Grass are in full glory. There is also a large colony of vibrant Ironweed on hwy 9 at the pharmaceutical plant. The little Blue-eyed Grass needs to be planted more. Blue is such a rare flower, and this is such a dainty and delightful bearer of Spring.

The Iris

There is a reason why the humble iris was so loved by my grandmother. "Common" they say. I say resilient, hardy, forgiving and in bloom decadent as dark chocolate and fine espresso.

I cannot look at the iris and not remember her garden of iris, and her carefully quarantined blossoms that held the hopes of an improved color, shape or vigor.

I am sure I owe some of my obsessive behavior to her and her iris collection.

(click the picture to enlarge)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Sublime

The following is an excerpt from my history journal. I include it here because the exploration of Oklahoma's sublime landscapes are worth pursuing. As the semester continues to swallow my time, I look forward to pursuing some of these thoughts when I have more time.

The Sublime in the Modern World

April 21, 2007

I wonder if our modern notions of the sublime have changed. We have ferreted out the myths of the deep forest. We understand the brooding of the sky, and we have neutralized the natural cycles of the earth with air conditioning.

I have sat on the edge of the Pacific in winter. Storm clouds eminent and imposing, I have walked to the edge of the sea. Dwarfed by the expanse of beach and sea that recedes into the unknown, I have walked on the sea shore at midnight. The sublime still exists. Reading “Richard Haag Bloedel Reserve and Gas Works Park” edited by William S. Saunders furthered some of my thoughts on this. I have been to Bloedel Reserve. I was in my late 20’s, but well before I headed back to college to get my undergraduate degree. I probably didn’t even know what sublime meant, but I could experience it.

Growing up on the West Coast, I don’t think that the giant trunks of the fallen first growth forest have the same impact as someone that is unfamiliar with them. I remember visiting cousins in the Snohomish and Pilchuck valleys and giant trunks could be found through out the forest floor. Traveling up Steven’s Pass, old trunks littered the roadsides and public parks. Haag’s use of a tight carpet of moss in stark contrast with the immense trunks did not leave a lasting impression. As I look back at the pictures, I see the statement they say. As a lay person it was the large expanse of meadow that contrasted so sharply with the Puget Sounds suffocating forest. Roads of the Pacific Northwest do not seem to have elbow room. Even the long stretches of six lanes of I-5 can have a tunnel effect with the trees tall enough to overshadow the road.

Interchanges off of the wide expanse of freeway to the more narrow side roads are dramatic. I would say even sublime in areas. Saunders refers to our sense of technology as having the ability to threaten and cause subtle terror. Exiting the wide comfortable and occupied expanse of I-5 on to a mere four-lane that disappears into a shaded curve can give a soft sense of the terror and wonder. The road grade lifts softly and the peaks of the snow capped cascades loom. The deep forest green of the fir and hemlock branches grasp the ground and reach for the road. The brazen alder and maple step out of the forest edge and warn of the impeding stampede of vegetation should man hesitate or blink.

At Bloedel the sublime is much more controlled. As an insider that understood the great man power required to maintain such a garden, I was not fooled or overly awed by the moss garden or the reflection pool. I could see that man was in control, and by stating that I am implying that man having control of a situation is at odds with the concept of the sublime. However, stepping through the clearing, I will not forget the sense of diminutiveness and grand scale. The Bloedel Estate is not small. It is a large estate. But it is dwarfed in scale and grandeur by the extensive view off the end of Bainbridge Island. Although I would not say that the weather or the water imposed any immediate threat, there was a feeling of vulnerability. The view is beautiful and grand. I felt very insignificant when even the large Bloedel House seemed dwarfed by the scale of its surroundings.

Haag’s attention to the sublime at Bloedel and Gas Works is notable. It makes me look around to see what in Oklahoma could inspire. The Wichita’s with their unusual rock mountains and large expanses of prairie could incur a feeling of vulnerability and isolation in the middle of great beauty. However, I think it is the tremendous thunderheads that appear on the horizon, march across the prairie and loom at such tremendous heights invoke the greatest feeling of the sublime.

Some Landscapes has a great website that explores some of these issues. The picture I previous posted of the truck with the dust storm over taking it is not a landscape that should be pursued. However, there are some more opportunities to be explored.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Crunch time

I'm way to busy to be posting right now. School is a downhill slide from here until the first week of May. However, I run across a website that needs mentioning.


Master Naturalist


It is worth checking out if your interested in Oklahoma.