Friday, August 7, 2020: If Roses Were the Only Flower

by ag

As longtime visitors know, I’ve dreamed of publishing a book of my photographs for many, many years. That fantasy fell away with the creation of my website, Alighting, a showcase for 730 images at last count, and a surprisingly satisfying alternative to print.

Fast-forward two years and a book with my photographs has now been published, rocketing to the top of the NY Times Best Seller list in only a few days—just kidding about the last part :) The seeds for If Roses Were the Only Flower were planted back in March or April when I began playing around with some modest poetry I thought would make an excellent children’s book about racial tolerance. I was hoping to find an artist who could do the illustrations until I realized that my photographs could serve that purpose just as well. By then, it was also apparent that my audience was adults. I’ll let the preface take it from here:

[My] inspiration was the doctrine of signatures, an ancient belief system I was introduced to many years ago, that examines the physical characteristics of a plant, e.g.,its shape, color, size, texture, etc., for clues about its healing properties in treating different ailments.

Although the doctrine of signatures has been largely discredited by the scientific community, its emphasis on the value of straightforward observation holds a certain appeal to me—perhaps because I’ve been a professional photographer for most of my life. This book, with poetry that is part Joyce Kilmer and part Dr. Seuss, and photos selected from my personal and commercial photographic work, grew out of the conviction that one can draw lessons about the human condition just by making note of the natural world around us. It focuses largely on one of Mother Nature’s most compelling attributes—the astonishing diversity she displays wherever we look.

As I hope you’ll discover in reading though, that’s not where the story ends.

If Roses Were the Only Flower is available for purchase here. You can also buy it directly from me in which case I’ll add a personal note. Payment however might be a bit more tricky so please email me at if you want to go that route.

(Click on image to enlarge.)


Imagine a world where apples were the only kind of fruit:

We’d certainly have variety

To fill our fridge from A–Z,

And ask of Eve’s historic nosh

Was it Honeycrisp or McIntosh?



We’d have no watermelon seeds to spit,

Nor sundaes named banana split.

No orange marmalade on scones,

A treat to make us ditch our phones.

No cantaloupes that are so ripe,

Or berries that are worth their hype.

No dates or figs as good as candy,

Or pomegranates for the randy.

If Jello came in just one flavor,

I would not call that a favor.


Anyone new to self-publishing who would like to hear what my experience was like is also welcome to contact me to arrange a chat. In a nutshell, the creative part was great fun; getting the files ready for the printer though was a nightmare that needn’t have been. It got so bad at a certain point, in fact, that I lost all desire to do another book. That lasted about three days fortunately and I’m already at work on another much longer one where my photos will have the starring role, not just a supportive one.