Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sooooo Seattle

by aleks
I usually have my camera with me when in the Garden, mostly to take pics of the plants for our plant list, and sometimes to record the events that take place in our Garden for this blog...  But I rarely take pictures for the sake of taking pictures, the way people who feel passionate about photography do, trying to capture a certain mood, or light,  or color,  or scene.  My camera usage is strictly pragmatical and since I'm yet to take a single photography lesson I resist the urges of trying anything else.

SJG • 10/23/13 Sooo Seattle

But last fall, when I went to capture some close-ups of maple leaves,  my eye fell on the WPA stone bridge and I saw a little girl about to cross it, amidst flame colored maples.  It was just such a beautiful sight,  'this is sooo Seattle' type of sight, that I couldn't help but click.   I kept looking at it on my computer, because it always made me smile.

This fall when Rumi, our events coordinator, was placing info about the upcoming Maple Fest at the Seattle Child Magazine, she was searching for some applicable photo to go with it,  and asked if I had something which might do: fall/kids/activities.  It wasn't easy because kids rarely wander into the range at which I take photos of the trees or flowers in bloom,  but I did find 5 maybe/possible/ pics and Rumi sent them along with her Maple Fest write-up,  for the mag's editor choosing.  Apparently 'soo Seattle' feeling was not mine alone, because the pic of a girl crossing the bridge was chosen to accompany the mentions about SJG activities for the October issue of SCM.

Yeah, I'm boasting, but it made me genuinely happy to share this pic with the people of the city I love, and an excuse to post it,  too.

Here is an on-line version of the Seattle Child where the pic went with a story about 7 Great Spots for Fall Colors and Kid Photos:
http://www.seattleschild.com/article/great-spots-for-fall-colors-and-kid-photos

And here is the paper version, where it went to Calendar Section, with Rumi's write-up about Maple fest:
http://www.journalgraphicsdigitalpublications.com/epubs/bermanllc/Seattle'sChildOctober2014/#?page=34

SJG • 10/29/12 - one of the NOT-chosen pics:  I was trying to get a pic of samidare maple,
but those two just seemed to have set down their roots there,  like forever.
I remember thinking: 'if they at least had a sense of dressing in green to blend-in!'
Now you know what I mean by 'pragmatical' pics.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Maple Viewing 2014

by aleks
SJG • 10/12/14

The trees are just starting to turn, so it will be a long and happy Maple Viewing: 16 maples now have labels underneath, which will stay in the ground under each tree till it has no leaves left.

SJG • 10/12/14 - Seattle Kokon Taiko performing in Fishing Village

You can keep coming this fall and enjoy the progress of Osakazuki Akame (by the WPA bridge on the E path)  and Omato (near the wisteria trellis) maples getting crimson red, Koto-no-Ito bamboo-like leaves (at courtyard's entrance) changing to golden yellow, Nikko (on the edge of the orchard, W path) turning stunningly vivid pink, Shigitastsu Sawa reticulated leaves looking like stained glass windows and fern-like green leaves of Aconitifolium getting sharp red edges before turning to its intense fall colors of orange, carmine-red and purple (both on the service road, behind the Tea House Garden)

SJG • 1012/14 - Naoko Fujii from Meito-kai, Japanese Calligraphy Association,
taught visitors  basics of  Japanese calligraphy in Tateuchi Community Room

This year Maple Viewing has opened on Sunday 10/12 in quite unusual way: with Taiko Drummers concert  and several hand-on activities. In the past we just let the trees speak for themselves, but having something else to do and see besides beautiful trees made it really a family affair with something for everyone. Thank you, Rumi Tsuchihashi, the Garden Stewardship and Events Coordinator, for inviting those exciting people and making the Maple Viewing opening truly memorable and special:

• Seattle Kokon Taiko (go to their informative website - they have classes upcoming October through January,  in the International District)
• Naoko Fujii from Meito-kai, Japanese Calligraphy Association, who taught people basic strokes of Japanese calligraphy and helped them to  sing it in Japanese
• Lisa Sanphillipo, school program coordinator the UW Botanic Gardens Education and Outreach Unit, who had brought dried leaves and flowers for visitors to make maple-themed cards.
• Daipan Butoh, who surprised visitors by appearing and disappearing while dancing on the paths.

SJG • 10/12/14 - Daipan Butoh Dancers 
When you come back to check on the trees, don't overlook our glorious, over 100 years old Japanese Lace leaf Maples (2 by the entrance) who are just turning smoky orange, or Samidare maple by the zig-zag bridge, which fall colors are varying blends of gold, crimson and purple - a rainbow effect quite unusual on one tree.


SJG • 10/12/14 - appropriately under maple, maple-themed art with Lisa Sanphillipo
of the UW Botanic Gardens; one of the Garden Guides, Sue C. is helping  with activities
And if you are really late in coming to see the maple show take a look at Shishigashira on the top N path, one of the last maples to change color with leaves turning scarlet or golden yellow burnished with red (during one of the recent public tours a visitor form North Carolina shared a picture of his own scarlet Shishigashira taken in his garden last December),  or note the interesting green stripes on the bark of Acer Capillipes (one along the connector path and two in the NE corner of the Garden.

SJG • 10/12/14 - maple-themed card in the making

Thursday, October 9, 2014

NOH in Seattle

by aleks
9/8/14 - Blood moon over Seattle

Last week I saw a NOH performance (ACT Theater) for the first time in my life and was floored, totally, by its beauty and simple execution.

About a year ago Keiko posted about the NOH theatre coming to Pacific Northwest for a rare appearance, and she explained that it is Japanese opera-like musical form, with a very long, dating to medieval times, tradition. I was highly interested, but, alas, the tickets for their limited performances sold out fast, and I lost one in a lifetime opportunity to see it, or so I thought.

What I didn't know was that when Munenori Takeda and his Noh troupe were here in 2013, he was approached by  Seattle's composer Garrett Fisher and the two of them agreed to collaborate on a musical project together.


9/8/14 - Blood moon over Seattle

Only a year later, the Noh theatre was back: not only with a traditional telling of a love story from Japan's epic The Tale of the Heike, titled Tomoe, but also with a Noh-inspired modern opera Yoshinaka,  which was the fruit of the cross-cultural collaboration between the two musicians, communicating across the oceans via flickering computer screens and through several back and forth translations.

Tomoe story is about a woman warrior of the 12 century famed for her skill in battle, and the traditional Noh performance is set after her death and tells of Tomoe's ghost's resentment toward her lord, general Yoshinaka, for refusing her to remain with him on the battlefield, where subsequently he lost his life.

The Act Theater had the Noh actors dancing on their small stage in traditional costumes and masks, and chanting the slow drama in poetic Japanese language with the English supra-titles. To my surprise, I found the tale very easy to follow and appreciate, extremely moving and breathtakingly beautiful; my surprise was probably steaming from anxiety that the culture of medieval Japan is really far off from my original european roots, therefore perhaps hard to understand + I had no prior Noh exposure.

Munenori Takeda,
picture from Garrett Fisher website

After the intermission we were treated to Yoshinaka, a fusion of Noh and modern American opera: an interesting music ensemble (including Taiko drums and Indian pump harmonium),  dance, beautiful singing and lights.  I couldn't tell in what language they were singing (opera often does it to me, and there were NO supra-titles for that part), but it was fascinating and hauntingly beautiful.

In this telling of the story both Tomoe and Yoshinaka were on the stage, also a Poet made it to it (Matsuo Basho, who in real life  asked his pupils to burry him in the same temple in Ootsu, where the gravestones for Tomoe and Yoshinaka are), and Munenori Takeda was now playing the goddess Shokannon who unites and liberates the once separated spirits of the two warriors.  I'm not ashamed to say that the opera's ending had me in tears of joy.

For some reason I can't embed it, but here is a link to a short interview (with English subtitles)  with Noh actor Munenori Takeda in Bainbridge Island, WA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RLGA-VhQ5w

Here is link to Beauty of Noh Seattle website for Tomoe and Yoshinaka - it has explanation about Noh and tells about the collaboration between Takeda and Fisher.

Link to an excellent Seattle Times article by Misha Berson Famed Japanese actor embraces Noh and the new...

Link to an article on Medieval Japan: An Introductory Essay by Ethan Segal, Michigan State University - it includes a mention of the Tale of the Heike and the times it was written...

And here a link to a bilingual book I just bought, titled Noh, by Matsuo Takahasi - it has 30 Noh masterpieces + photographs(!) - a great  introductory book to the world of Noh.

Since no pictures were allowed in the theatre I'm offering the blood moon over Seattle pics from last nigh (mere 12 hours after the eclipse the previous night).


• • • • • 
Reminder: This Sunday, October 12, Maple Viewing - all day (our star maples will be named and labeled!);  activities 11am-3pm
.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Moonviewing Haiku Contest Winners

Judged by:
Tanya McDonald, Michelle Schaefer, and Michael Dylan Welch of Haiku Northwest

SJG • 9/6/14


First Place:

67 years of watching
the moon move past my window
but loneliness remains

- Rodney Smith


Second Place:

black branches
and a young bat—
the moon's warm-up act

- Ellen Sieh


Third Place:

all ready for you:
people, music, koi and birds—
hurry up, moon!

- Aleksandra Monk


Honourable Mentions  (in no particular order):


SJG • 9/6/14
yes, it rains tonight,
and dark clouds cover the sky
yes, the moon is there

- Steve Lorton


floating on the pressure
of night, the moon escapes
the trees' folded arms

                                                                           - Jeff Collun


15th day—
the pond's koi
eating the moon

- Mikiko Amagai


forest shadows
fill the ancient pond
deeper
darker
still . . .
no(h) moon

- John Tillotsom


SJG • 9/6/14
we anticipate the moon's shimmer
candle light brightens
the festive moon appears

- Lisa A. Miller

new moon
goldfish reflecting
on the pond

         - Glenn Sassaman


lantern fire
breathing on golden dragon leaves
moonlit koi ripple a sudden greeting

- Hamai


flute wafting over water
     time and space
moon floats through cedar

- Jill Goodnight

SJG • 9/6/14
moon above
pond below . . .
night oddly normal

- Aleksandra Monk


beautiful beggars
the koi seeking kibble miss
the moon's reflection

                                                                            - Halim Dusky

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cont. Ed.: Ecology basics of our Pond

by aleks
Last Thursday Robert Pacht, our fellow guide who happens to have a degree in fisheries and work experience in marine biology, treated us to a lively presentation/discussion on who lives in our pond, where did they come from and how do they survive...

Our Pond. SJG 7/24/14

Yeah, WHO does live down there? Up to this point, I mostly ignored the pond in my garden tours, chiefly because I had no clue on the pond life aquatic, except for the obvious koi and turtles.  Koi rarely evoke inquiries while people are entertained by feeding them, and if they do, most are 'safe' question: 'how long do they live?' No, not 200 years, even if it such rubish was printed in New York Times... 'Are koi related to gold fish?' Nope, koi are carp... When we occasionally have a new school of tiny koi happily swimming around: 'Does that mean you will have hundreds of new koi soon?' Um, no, the parents or heron the fishery-manager (we call him 'Dirty Harry') will likely eat them soon...

Our turtles: NOT native, SJG 3/21/14

The turtles call for attention when they (poorly) compete for fish lunch cereal: 'Do they like fish food?' Apparently.  Or when they appear motionlessly stacked on the rocks to sun themselves up in neat army-like formatting: 'Are they sculptures or real?' Yep,  real.  'What kind of turtles are they?' Ooops: somebody told me a long time ago that they are Washington state native, and I kept repeating that fib, sometimes fortifying it with observation that they are in every lake around us (they are).

According to Robert, those turtles are as native as Himalayan blackberries here (classified as Class C noxious weeds in WA state).  The red-eared slider turtles are native to the southern United States and northern Mexico, but because of irresponsible pet releases they have become an invasive species in many areas, where it outcompetes native species. The red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegant, it's Polish common name is 'decorative turtle' and French 'Florida turtle') is included in the List of the world’s 100 most invasive species in the Global Invasive Species Database!  The worst of the worst and NOT native at all. As Sue put it on the subject:  it's good that our tours aren't recorded....

Red-eared slider turtle, SJG 3/21/14

From now on I'll be better prepared to answer questions about the pond life, although I still have to pay attention, find and observe some creatures there:  did you know we have crayfish?  Cara says she spotted them by the stepping stones.   Do you know what mollusks are? What kind of anthropods our pond hosts?  Despite the fact that our pond ecosystem is a closed one the life there is incredibly rich.

Here is Robert's syllabus:
Ecology basics of our Pond, Who lives there, where did they come from, how do they survive

Ecosystem basics
What is an ecosystem ?
- Marine vs aquatic vs terrestrial
- Closed vs open
- Immigration and emigration
- Natural vs artificial

Geology  and physics
- Before Lake Washington was lowered
- After 1916
- 1959 to present
- Physical forcing factors

Limnology 101
- Chemistry and primary production
- Eutrophic vs oligotrotrophic
- Phytoplankton
- Zooplankton, herbivorous and carnivorous
- Mollusks
- Arthropods
- Insects and nonplanktonic crustaceans
- Vertebrates
- Reptiles and amphibians
- Fish
- Terrestrial visitors

 Self-sustaining or not?  This is an interesting question Robert put forward on the end of his presentation: what would happen to the closed ecology of our pond if we, humans walked away?  Think about it...  And if you are as challenged as I am re: biology vocabulary, here is the handout form the lecture  - with pictures!:) (on google docs).

Thank You Robert Pacht for entertaining, informative and  lively lecture!  And thank you Cara, Mary Ann and Joan (did winter come to Toronto yet?)

* Crayfish gif borrowed from Mrs. Chastain's Third Grade - thank you, interesting presentation, Mrs. Chastain!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Moon viewing 2014 and upcoming events...



by aleks
SJG • 9/6/14 - Lantern at Laceleaf maple;
 foto by Nat Suyenaga
O-tsukimi, or moon viewing, dates back to 8th century Japan, when on the 8th month of the old Japanese (lunar) calendar aristocrats celebrated the beauty of the autumnal full (fool) moon with poetry and music. By the 17th century, the tradition spread to farmers and townspeople, incorporating elements of a harvest festival into the admiration of the moon's rays.

We had our usual attractions: tea ceremonies in the Shoseian Teahouse, Japanese music, butoh dance, haiku poetry readings and contest, and the Seattle Astronomical Society members ready with strong telescopes for people to view the rising moon in the mountain area of the Garden.

The moon DID appear in the full glory in the trees above the entrance gate.  Luminaries on the paths, lanterns on the trees and, at dusk, candle-filled boats launched on the pond completed the utterly magical night. It is one of the Garden's celebration I try never miss - it's so very special and one of the kind.


SJG • 9/6/14 - WPA bridge area at Moon Viewing; foto by Nat Suyenaga
SJG • 9/6/14 - butoh at moon viewing
SJG • 9/6/14 - the moon DID appear
SJG • 9/6/14 - Haiku writing station at Emperor's Gate

• • • • • 
Attention up-coming (open for everyone):

• Noh in the Garden - Thursday, September 25th, 6:30 pm. Tickets on sale now (206-684-4725), limited to 100; some chairs in the orchard will be provided, but blankets and tatami mat welcome; in the event of rain the performance will be shifted to nearby Montlake Community Center - noh-goers will be notified (email) by noon of the day of the performance.

What is "NOH"? Noh is the oldest classical dance-dramas in Japan. It was developed in the 14th century from religious sources and folk myths. It is a combination of drama, music, and dance (mai).  Noh is also one of the five major forms of traditional Japanese theater.

After 1374, Noh was patronized by the warrior class, whereas Kabuki (traditional theater) and Bunraku (classical puppetry) developed later for the common people. More here...

• Noh in the Act Theater (700 Union Street), September 26, Fri, 7pm, Sept. 27, Sat, 2 pm & 7pm, Sept. 28, Sun 2pm: The Beauty of Noh, Tomoe and Yoshinaka (for tickets go to the link below):

'The Beauty of Noh' will, for the first time, present a double-bill performance featuring Noh, the traditional dance-drama of Japan, alongside a modern Noh-inspired opera based on the same story.

The Noh opera 'Tomoe', based on the 'Tales of the Heike', is a love story about a woman, the famous 12th-century samurai warrior Tomoe Gozen, who is not allowed to die on the battlefield with her master, Yoshinaka.

The traditional Noh play 'Tomoe' will be performed by Munenori Takeda, one of Japan's most talented Noh masters, and the Takeda Noh Troupe. The Fisher Ensemble and Munenori Takeda will then perform 'YOSHINAKA', a modern opera based on the story of 'Tomoe' written by Seattle-based composer Garrett Fisher.


• • • • • 
 Attention up-coming (for the guides only): Do not miss Robert Pacht's informative and stimulating presentation Thursday, September 18:  What lives in the pond at SJG? An overview of the aquatic ecology of our little pond. 
Robert writes: "Who lives in our pond, where did they come from and how do they thrive?   An interactive discussion based on observations by Unit 86 docents, garden employees, visitors and myself. Our visitors are quite interested in this topic in my experience, and my philosophy on guiding is it's always about them and not about us.  The more we have in our tool kits the more rewarding we can make our tours for our customers.  I have not done and do not plan on doing any sampling so bring your observations with you as many of you have seen things that I have not."

SJG • 9/6/14 - Moon Viewing,  Entry Gate;  by Nat Suyenaga