zwieback • \SWEE-back\ • noun
: a usually sweetened bread enriched with eggs that is baked and then sliced and toasted until dry and crisp

Hmm. I don’t even know what to do with this word, except to look up a baking recipe! Even then, we all know how I sometimes fare in the kitchen – and this might be a bit too ambitious. Besides, I have said “ta ta” to carbs…

Instead I will share with you the story of Lotus with Bee, which is actually a photo taken by my father at Longwood Gardens, a botanical estate in Kennett Square, PA. For the past several years, my parents have frequented the grounds, atriums, and greenhouses – my Dad snapping pictures of the flora – orchids, tulips, and the like. The most recent trip to Longwood included a view of the water botanicals – lilies and lotus abound.

I always enjoy receiving the links to his photo albums – especially the ones from Longwood. The closeness of his pictures evoking what I often aim to do with my writing – find the complexity, the extraordinary, in something that seems so simple… so, well, ordinary. What Longwood does with Botany is not ordinary in any means – but flowers themselves are mainstream. You find them everywhere – roses on every city street corner. This year, at the Global Spa Summit in Istanbul we had to import tulips from Amsterdam even though the flower itself originated in Turkey.

I am mildly obsessed with this picture, Lotus with Bee. The striking elegance of the symbiosis reminiscent ever so slightly of my own relationship with New York; smothered and overtaken; a wee worker feeding off of an energy source which is stark and sufficient, surrounded by an environment which proves dangerous, daunting, and debilitating at times.

In 25 days I begin my time as a graduate student, and I am so incredibly excited to begin anew my creative writing craft. This note brings me back to Dad. He’s a smart man. “Find your passion” he said to me, when I headed to undergraduate school, when I headed to New York. He didn’t need to say it this time when I applied to the master’s program at the New School. I think what makes this photograph so special isn’t the lotus or the bee, but my Dad’s understanding, and respect for the creative craft of the camera and his passion for what the lens captures.