Several years ago Ann Marie and I spent a three day weekend on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. These days Chincoteague might not be as popular as Hogwarts, but kids have been reading about a pony named Misty of Chincoteague since 1947. I was one of those kids.
The term “Chincoteague Pony” is actually a bit misleading. The ponies live on Assateague Island, an island in the states of Virginia and Maryland. There are two herds of ponies, one living on the Maryland side of the island and one living on the Virginia side.
Also, Chincoteague ponies are more horse-like than pony-like. Legend says that the ponies are descended from Spanish horses that swam ashore from shipwrecked Spanish ships. The small size is probably due to the poor diet of the animals, which live on plants of the salt marsh covering much of the island.
Horse or pony, the feral equines of Assateague Island are quite beautiful. Every July, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department holds a Pony Penning Day. Healthy, older foals are auctioned to raise money for the fire department, and to keep the herds at a healthy level. Not all the horses purchased during the auction leave the island. Some bidders donate the money to the fire department and allow the horse to be released back into the herd.
During the last 30 years of his life, French Impressionist Claude Monet spent many hours in his garden at Givenchy. His eyesight clouded by cataracts, Monet created one painting after another of his beloved water lilies, producing around 250 oil paintings of the flowers.
I found these water lilies in the Rodin Garden at the North Carolina Art Museum in Raleigh. I love the quiet peacefulness of the garden and was struck by the beauty of the water borne plants. I spent a few minutes watching the little blue dragonflies touch down on a lily pad, only to take flight again a few seconds later. It was time well spent.
This ethereal work of two heads- a mother and daughter- by award winning Spanish artist Jaume Plensa was installed at the North Carolina Museum Park in April 2017. The wire mesh construction and size make it difficult to determine race or gender, creating a kind of universal portrait.
Plensa’s art has been exhibited worldwide, from Sweden, Spain and France to Chicago and, now Raleigh.
Art amazes me. I love the way the artist can make these 13-foot tall steel mesh heads feel fleeting and lighter than air. The expressions on the closed-eyed faces also impart a dream-like feel. Finally, due to the mesh construction, the sculptures seem to change as you view them from different angles. I never tire of looking at them.
North Carolina folk artist Vollis Simpson didn’t start creating his whimsical sculptures until he retired. Making use of his skills as a mechanic and using rigs he developed as a house mover, Simpson began creating huge kinetic sculptures out of scrap metal. The creations were based on weather vanes and handcrafted “whirligigs” that could be found on barns and in yards across the South.
Simpson’s art has been widely recognized. Four of his whirligigs were displayed in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympic Games. Museums from the North Carolina Art Museum to the Folk Art Museum in New York City have displayed his sculptures.
Simpson passed away in May 2013, at the age of 94. A month later the North Carolina House and Senate designated his whirligigs as the State Art of North Carolina.
The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park was opened in December 2017. The park has about 60 of the colorful whirligigs, which were relocated from fields of Simpson’s farm. It can be almost hypnotic to watch the many moving parts slowly rotate in the wind. We visited on a sunny day, but the park has special lighting so that at night the many reflectors attached to the sculptures catch the light and recreate the effect of car lights reflecting off the whirligigs as they drove past in the dark.
Lisbon is a beautiful city and the people of the city enjoy the many outdoor spaces scattered throughout Lisbon. Rossio Square has been one of the major squares and gathering places in Lisbon for centuries.
This photo of Rossio Square was taken from the Santa Justa Lift just before sunset. I used a graduated filter to color the otherwise grey clouds a bit. I like the way the touch of color in the sky ties in so well with the red roofs of the buildings.
For some, cemeteries can be very peaceful places. For other people, cemeteries are very creepy. I’ve always liked cemeteries. They’re quiet and peaceful, and full of history.
This photo was taken under bright skies, but using Color Efex Pro 2, one of the Nik Collection suite of plug-ins, I was able to manipulate the photo to create an eerie, otherworldly place. I especially like the way the statue on the left turned into a hunched cloaked figure who seems to be creeping among the graves.
This headstone, leaning against its base, seems lost and lonely all by itself under the tree. The photo was taken many years ago at a cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. Cemeteries can be very peaceful places for a walk.
The Cathedral of Lisbon has been a major part of the city since the 12th century. It has undergone many changes over the centuries and was seriously damaged in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. After the earthquake and accompanying fires, the Cathedral underwent a major reconstruction. What you see today was the result of this reconstruction.
I took this photo from atop the Santa Justa Lift. I love the colors of the buildings around the Cathedral and the way the Cathedral stands watch over the city.
I loved our time in Lisbon and, if we’re ever able to move to Portugal, I look forward to spending many days exploring this great city.
Sometimes it’s just a good thing to drag out the beach chair and sit quietly while the day fades into night.
This old gristmill was built in the 1820s to service a community of miners and prospectors. It survived the American Civil War and was extensively rebuilt in the 1880s. It’s in remarkably great shape for a structure of this kind. Sixes Mill is on private property, but you can easily pull off the road to take a photo.