251: Pulchritude

(Dragonfly and pond lights)

Pulchritude has to be one of the oddest words for beauty I have ever seen or heard.  There are so many other words that I think say it better, and I often wonder if anyone ever uses the word pulchritude and if so, what would be the occasion for using it?  It’s all a matter of perception, I suppose.  There are some out there who probably adore the word pulchritude.  Beauty is, they say, in the eye of the beholder.

Brief digression:  When I first saw this dragonfly photo on my monitor, I was reminded of a photo I took back in December with the frozen pond as a background.

Flashback to December and the cold days of winter

They’re not so very similar, now that I see them together this way.  Still, there is something about them that makes me want to pair them with each other.

According to Dictionary.com, beauty is defined as:

the quality present in a thing or a person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind…

Other words for beauty include comely, fair, lovely, polish, grace, style, harmonious, pretty, resplendent, and winsome, just to name a few.

Beauteous: Rhododendron in full bloom

One of the many lessons I have learned during the almost three full seasons of my outdoor commitment is that each season brings its own beauty.  I have also learned that beauty is not always what you might think it will be.  I found as much beauty in the dying and decaying plants and flowers of autumn and winter as I do in the new life of spring.  And even though I whined a bit (a lot??) about the cold, the ice, the snow, and then the rain, there was a lot of beauty to be found in all of that as well.

I have noticed that there comes a point in each season when I feel awed by the beauty of nature, and that is when I realize I have fallen in love with the season itself.  I seem to have reached that point with spring.

Comeliness: Peony opening to the sun.

I stared at this peony for the longest time yesterday, admiring its delicacy, its grace, its vulnerability, and its opening to life and light.  It was as if I had never seen a peony before, and it’s possible I never have.  Not in the same way as I saw it yesterday.  There was a moment when I didn’t recognize it as a flower or as a peony or as any other name or label.  I don’t know how to explain it.  It was there.  And I was there, too.  It was more than just the peony.  It was the light, the sounds, the scents, the textures, the breeze.  It was a moment of oneness.

After a while, I spent time with another peony.  Only two have opened so far.  I did, of course, get up close, lean in, and inhale the wonderful perfume of the peony.  You should not only stop and smell the roses.  You should stop and smell the peonies, the wisteria, the locust tree blossoms, and all the other lovely scents provided by nature.

Resplendent: Peony in full bloom.

When your inner eyes open, you can find immense beauty hidden within the inconsequential details of daily life.  When your inner ears open, you can hear the subtle, lovely music of the universe everywhere you go.

~ Timothy Ray Miller

Bright buttercups in a dark green meadow

Tell me, can you see beauty?  Can you let it renew your commitment to life, every day?  I don’t want to wait for death to be near to receive the beauty in my life.  I want to be awed every day by the truth — pretty or painful — and let it open me to the beauty that surrounds me and draws me deeper and deeper into my own life.

~ Oriah

Dazzling damselfly. (You may have to click on this one to see it better.)

The thing which we speak of as beauty does not have to be sought in distant lands…  It is here about us or it is nowhere.

~ Allen Tucker

Rich raspberry blossoms

A cold front moved through early this morning, or so they say.  The temperatures were in the lower 80s today instead of close to 90.  We didn’t hit or tie the record high yesterday, but came close.  The most noticeable feature about cold fronts this time of year is not so much the temperature drop but the fall in humidity.  It’s nice not to feel as though I’m swimming through the air.

Charming red clover

There is a wonderful breeze blowing.  If you stand under the locust trees, flowers petals from the trees come floating down, filling the air.  It’s warm-weather snowfall.  The breeze and the dry air have conspired to finally dry up most of the boggy areas that are not usually boggy areas.  The garden area, however, could use a bit of rain.  (Do I sound as if I’m never satisfied?  I’m not complaining.  Truly.  The garden really could use a bit of rain.)  The whole garden area is dry, weeding is difficult because the ground has hardened, and we had to water it yesterday (and will have to do so today too, most likely).

That’s about it from the Bogs for today.  Thank you for dropping by.  I’ll be back with another edition of Life in the Bogs tomorrow.  😀

Today's view of the pond and this gorgeous, blue-sky, sunny day

Almost any intense emotion may open our ‘inward eye’ to the beauty of reality.  Falling in love appears to do it for some people.  The beauty of nature or the exhilaration of artistic creation does it for others.  Probably any high experience may momentarily stretch our souls up on tiptoe, so that we catch a glimpse of that marvelous beauty which is always there, but which we are not often tall enough to perceive.

~ Margaret Prescott Montague

39 Comments on “251: Pulchritude”

  1. starbear says:

    Love the simplicity of the dragonfly!

  2. Reagan says:

    Fabulous coloration and light.

    & the bokeh in the dragonfly picture is stunning.

  3. boatacrosstheriver says:

    Beautifully said, Robin:

    “I stared at this peony for the longest time yesterday, admiring its delicacy, its grace, its vulnerability, and its opening to life and light. It was as if I had never seen a peony before, and it’s possible I never have. Not in the same way as I saw it yesterday. There was a moment when I didn’t recognize it as a flower or as a peony or as any other name or label. I don’t know how to explain it. It was there. And I was there, too. It was more than just the peony. It was the light, the sounds, the scents, the textures, the breeze. It was a moment of oneness.”

  4. I love the first composition! The dragonfly and the bokeh are stunning!

  5. SWK says:

    That peony is beautiful.

  6. A cold front in the 80’s !!.. Are you sure !!… lol… Send some of your cold fronts this way please, as they’ll make my summer rather pleasant.. 😉
    Love that dragonfly shot too, and the rest, and I’ve learnt something new too, although I have no idea when or where I’d use such a a word either..

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Brian. 🙂

      As for the cold front in the 80s, well… It’s not typical for this time of year. It *is* typical for July and August, and since we seem to have gone right into summer after a chilly, rainy, spring, this might be the new typical. I’m a big fan of cooler weather so I will see what I can do about sending the 80s your way. 😀

  7. Ha! I just got your comment on my blog 🙂

    These are amazing, Robin! The dragonfly in the first one almost doesn’t look real, with its beautiful blue body (looks like glass!).
    Absolutely love the buttercups, they remind me of home (Germany), I haven’t seen those around here. The red clover, too. I’ve only noticed the white here and there.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Michaela. Capturing the dragonfly that way was pure luck. I had one shot at him, took it quickly, and was lucky to walk away with that one. 🙂

      We have the white clover here, too. I think a lot of the red clover may have been planted since most of the land around here used to be a farm. The farmers plant red clover as cover crops to fix nitrogen to the soil.

  8. Kathy says:

    Deep bows, Robin, for the way you dropped everything to become one with peony. Moments like those are precious, indeed.

  9. I don’t think there would be a single soul who would not be moved by your descriptions of the nature you have seen, photographed and been as one with today, Robin. Your words were absolutely mesmorising. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, as you are learning to appreciate each new season. I am learning to appreciate so much more also, by reading your words and seeing the beautiful area you live in. 🙂

  10. Your description of the peony was amazing, Robin! You captured that moment both visually and verbally–not easy to pull off! Congratulations!

  11. dragonfae says:

    I too was moved by your description of your encounter with the peony. It very much reminded me of some time spent in one of my favorite places on Earth. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, DragonFae. 🙂

      Now I’m curious. Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?

      • dragonfae says:

        Generally anywhere near Mt Shasta, but your words reminded me specifically of Panther Meadow. It’s at about 10,000 feet on the side of the mountain and is still used by the local Native Americans for periodic rituals. It is an amazing place where earth, water, air, and fire all are very present and in balance. I had the pleasure of sitting next to the spring that runs through the meadow one sunny, breezy afternoon and the energy of this place is just phenomenal. 😀

  12. ladyfi says:

    All your shots are wonderful but you have outdone yourself with that first one! It’s magical.

  13. penpusherpen says:

    I could almost taste the scents in the air Robin, from your descriptions. I wonder if insects have a greater, therefore delicate sense than ours, if so they must get so much pleasure flitting from plant to plant, and Pulchritude? (I had to copy and paste as I knew I’d spell it wrongly) .. is a word I’ve never used, in fact I would not have been able to tell you it’s meaning if you’d offered me a thousand pounds (or dollars)… Mind you, I’d have given it a good shot though!! 🙂 … Wonderful, wonderful photo’s and added to your words a marvellous and totally uplifting read. xPenx

    • Robin says:

      I’m kind of hoping to see you use that word in a poem, LadyP. 😉

      Thanks, Pen. And you should go for the pounds, not the dollars. They’re worth more. 😀

  14. Anna says:

    Amazing post and photos, Robin, as I enjoyed it very much. I learn something new every day as I didn’t know the word ‘pulchritude’. I love learning new words and new ways of seeing. I just love first two photos. 🙂

  15. Eden says:

    That is one of the things I am really enjoying about photography: you find beauty in places you would normally just skip over. That December shot is super cool!

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Eden. 🙂

      I know just what you mean. Beauty seems to be everywhere if you’re looking for it, and sometimes even when you’re not, as long as you’re out and about with a camera.

  16. Preston says:

    I think the connection between the dragonfly and the December shot is the enchanted background. The sparkles give it a magical/Disney look. I understand your appreciation of the pulchritudinous of the peonies and of the pulchritude of the decaying as well. (By the way, I love the idea of introducing a new word).

  17. mimo khair says:

    The first shot is breathtaking, all others are wonderful too!

  18. Barbara says:

    Your moment of oneness with the peony reminded me of this quote:
    “I held a blue flower in my hand, probably a wild aster, wondering what its name was, and then thought that human names for natural things are superfluous. Nature herself does not name them. The important thing is to know this flower, look at its color until the blueness becomes as real as a keynote of music.”
    ~ Sally Carrighar

    I have a thing for dragonflies so the dragonfly and pond lights and dazzling damselfly shots made my day! Stunning photography, Robin!!

  19. […] some point in each season, I had not only learned to appreciate the season, but came to love it.  Here is where it happened in the spring.  I ran out of time looking for the autumn and summer posts.  […]

  20. […] peony is not a repeat.  I’m keeping an eye on them, waiting for them to open.  It was the peonies, among other things, that helped me see things a little differently during last year’s […]

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