I started a blog back about 7-8 years ago. It was my way of sharing how I look at things, sometimes directly, sometimes less so. Now I'm integrating it with my web site. Smart... Perhaps you'll find it interesting. If so, read on.
Walking on well-kept trails in dark woods, this is not a stump I’m inclined to rest on. The notch that guided its fall won’t make for a comfortable perch. I do stop to notice it, though, and to make up a simple story of its life.
With its attention devoted to sunlight far above, the slow, steady footsteps over the years must have registered little. Likely these increased over the years, perhaps more noticeable. Yet still it focused on sunlight. And what crisis brought its fall? Wind? Disease? People? I don't know. Yet as I stand here I sense that this stump didn’t give up easily. Seems to me that's in the nature of trees.
You wouldn't necessarily know that this scene is in a relatively isolated state forest. This meandering walkway sits on top of a small dam on Benedict Pond. Quiet in the morning, loud with day camp laughter during the warmth of the day.
The interplay of quiet and noise is echoed by the interplay of rippled water and rigid rails. There is much here to notice, even before the laughter begins.
Can there be drama in weeds, in the interplay of species or of light and dark? How can so much be going on in a simple slice of a hedgerow? How can there be such grace, such lightness?
I don't pretend to know. All I am sure of is the pleasure of looking; all I can think of is the blessing of being surrounded by such simple, satisfying beauty.
It is the time of gardens, gardens that are coming into their own after sun and heat and rain and chill have played across their faces. Walking through a well-loved garden is a blessing in July. Look carefully and listen and you may learn something about what sits behind the urge to plant and harvest.
Your looking will need to go deep – it’s not simply evaluating the beans or tomatoes, seeing how thoroughly the plots have been weeded. I love to look in the hidden spots, out of the well-tilled, well-travelled areas: where the compost is tended, where the tools are kept. And it’s as much about listening as looking.
Listen to what the compost might tell you about the garden’s future; listen to what well-used tools might whisper about caring and respect. This can become an exercise in observing devotion, a commitment beyond this season’s crop, an opportunity to connect with a cycle much greater than we are. All from a walk in a garden.
Photographs can partial stories. This one, for instance, doesn't document the crowd that just got off an in-bound trolley. Who knows where they were going; who knows right now, in this image, where they are? It is silent and people are absent.
Looking at this image, it would be wise to ask what happened just before or just after it was taken. Clean and quiet it is now; what is was or will be is the mystery.
Sometimes you see things that don't immediately resolve into familiar objects. I've seen lichen growing on concrete that looks like landscapes or tree roots that look like painfully distorted body parts. After the initial double-take, I can identify the object for what it really is. Which, for me at least, raises the question, what am I REALLY looking at? Which is the truth here: my first glance or my studied analysis?
In this case, the pattern doesn't resemble any familiar scene, at least nothing that comes immediately to my mind. (If you see something, do please let me know!) Yet the more I look at this, the more I feel it SHOULD be familiar to me. I can keep looking at it, enjoying the textures and color shifts and that small dash of yellow.
What it is, what it represents, that's somehow less important, the more I look. Hum...
Yes, it's small. Not far off the shore with billowing clouds overhead, a dinghy no more than six feet long. Calm waters, brilliant colors. Does the boat register, much less its occupants? Three souls out for an adventure, can you see them?
It helps me to notice what a small part of this planet we sometimes are, to see the scale of clouds and sea next to a dinghy. It helps me to remember perspective. I can imagine the laughter and excitement of those in the boat. I can imagine a natural world not the least concerned about them.
So on a calm day with bright sun, I am close to those on the water and those natural elements that surround them.
This hasn't been a time of much shooting. This year spring has been undocumented by me. This shot is from last spring. Dare I say that one spring looks much like another? Seems a bit cynical but then again leaves are leaves and they grow as they grow, much the same this year as last.
So this image will stand in for all the shots I've not taken. It will remind me that even without my documentation, trees pass through an almost infinite number of shades of ;yellow and green. They are a record of the diversity of colors and textures that make up a forest.
I will treasure that which I see but don't record with camera and endeavor to stay connected without recording everything!
How many years have I had the same reaction? How many times has March and then April disappointed me, professed to be the coming of the warm time only to have late rain and wind and sometimes even snow descend?
Yes, it happens with some regularity. New England, yes.
Yet eventually the warmth outweighs the chill, the miraculous buds transform into common leaves, so many of them. And we settle into humdrum summer. Yet let's slow down a moment and notice the array of colors, the beginning that prefigures the colors of fall.
It's worth slowing down and noticing, humbly, how quickly something that is truly extraordinary becomes common.
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