10 May 2008


The Northwest certainly isn't the only part of the world in which rhododendrons grow (the middle stretch of the Appalachians, I understand, has some particularly nice groves), but they do seem to disproportionately common in gardens here. Presumably this is because our climate mirrors that of the Himalayan foothills where the greatest diversity of wild species occurs; whatever the reason, rhododendron blooms are perhaps the most spectacular symbol of spring in this part of the world (a fact that Washington has recognized by declaring a native species, Rhododendron macrophyllum, the state flower). On the premise that there are few better subjects out there on which to test my "new" camera's macro function, I spent an hour or so today in the gardens at Eugene's Hendricks Park photographing rhododendrons. The result is the slideshow below (which also includes shots from my trip to Seattle a couple of weeks ago); I'm no Ansel Adams, but if you've had a hard time believing that spring has actually arrived, I hope these photos do their part to get you in the spirit.

07 May 2008

Happy Music Day!

Today marks the 184th anniversary of music's acme. On May 7th, 1824, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was premiered in Vienna. The Ninth and it's signature Ode to Joy (based on a work by poet Friedrich Schiller) has routinely been recognized as the greatest piece of music ever written, and I'm not about to second guess received wisdom in this case (especially when you consider that Beethoven was stone deaf when he wrote it). The same concert also saw the premier of Die Weihe des Hauses and Missa Solemnis, both brilliant works in their own right. If that weren't enough, today is also the birthday of two musical giants, Johannes Brahms (whose eponymous lullaby you've heard many times even if you don't listen to classical music) and Peter Illych Tchakovsky (long a personal favorite of mine). So if you, like me, regard music as something near a religion, I hope you had a chance to enjoy what would undoubtedly be one of the faith's high holidays.