Caleb and Linda Pirtle Names Best Flowerscape in Travel Photography Contest
September 26, 2012
CLAUDIA MITCHELL-ENGLAND’S PORTRAIT OF BIRD OF PARADISE FLOWERS AT WAIMEA FALLS PARK IN HAWAII WINS BEST FLOWERSCAPE IN THE VENTURE GALLERIES TRAVEL PHOTOGAPHY CONTEST.
The flowers were beautiful.
They reached out to her.
She touched them.
And they touched her memories.
Claudia Mitchell-England had seen them before.
Here she was in a land that explorers have called paradise.
It was and is a land of beauty.
Touched by the tropics.
Warmed by the sun.
Washed by the sea.
At the moment, Claudia Mitchell England, a long way from home, was leaving her footprints in the sands along the northern shore of Oahu.
Around her were the tropics.
Around her were the palm trees.
Around her was Hawaii.
She had been wandering through the Waimea Falls Park, taking the two-hour walk back to a lovely waterfall, hiking through foliage that, some have written, looked a lot like a scene from Jurassic Park.
She was immersed in flowers.
But Claudia Mitchell-England was startled. She was staring at something she had not expected to see. Some the striking flowers were nothing new.
Not to her anyway.
Hawaii called them the Bird of Paradise.
So did her grandmother.
Her grandmother had no ties to Hawaii.
But she had recognized the beauty that God had placed upon the good earth. The Bird of Paradise was known and revered in South America, in Australia, in Hawaii, and the species had been introduced to Europe at the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1773. They are an ornamental plant and the official flower of Los Angeles.
But her grandmother had grown them in the timberlands of East Texas.
Her grandmother had lived in a small little oilfield town known as Overton.
She resided back among the piney woods of East Texas.
There were no beaches in Overton.
There were no tropics among the piney woods.
But, as Claudia Mitchell-England recalled, her grandmother grew the Bird of Paradise in her backyard, not far from fields of cotton, in the shadows of giant steel oil derricks.
Claudia photographed the flowers in Waimea Falls Park – not because they represented a colorful glimpse of an Hawaiian paradise, but because they reminded her of home and a grandmother’s touch a long time ago.