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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

This past week has been one that I knew would need more than my standard relaxation rituals to lay to rest. A morning of books and hot tea on the front porch just wasn’t going to cut it, this time. And my trusty side-kick had spent far too many days in a row left cooped up in the house. We needed to get away, if only for a morning.

Being reluctant travelers, I decided on one of my spots close to home where two socially unacceptable females can wander untethered and leave their nervous energy lying somewhere in the mud; a place of my own that I haven’t shared with another human soul. It is a trail of the sort that leaves you covered in delicate webs, and you don’t mind because this means no one bigger than a spider has occupied this space in quite some time. It is a trail that ends at a small body of water, that leads to a bigger body of water, along whose banks I have discovered many tracks, but only once another shoe print besides my own. It is a trail unexpectedly beautiful, at times passing close enough to civilization that we can see the gleam of commuters on their way to another Monday morning. Do any of them have an idea that beyond that blur of trees there are entire fields of sassafras? Do they wonder if a kingfisher, bold and beautiful, will swoop unexpectedly from the trees, passing breathlessly close to the surface of the water, and cause their heads to turn because they can’t possibly look away? Do they suspect that here lies a path, a human-made path (which human, I will likely never know), and yet the beech trees that grow on top of those hidden ridges are not riddled with the initials of passers-by? That whimsical things can still be found here?

Selfishly, I hope these thoughts never enter their crowded minds, because I want this space for myself. And on days like today, I need it.

Bryn and I spent the morning meandering through the woods, stopping to meditate our senses on anything. We crunched through thickets. We got just a little bit lost. We examined shells and pebbles and everything that caught the light just so. We found things we weren’t expecting. We ran back and forth on our own personal beach. We got the shock of our lives when Bryn suddenly discovered that she could swim. We tramped home hours later, cold and dirty and sandy and smelling like a river.

We both had huge smiles on our faces.

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What if you knew that you would live to be 100? Would that change your Here and Now?

Not long ago, I decided that I had reached the half-way point of my life. My parents had both passed away, having barely reached their seventies, and I thought, why should I desire to last any longer? Life at the time seemed much too long already. I had struggled for over thirty years, and in my mind the struggle stretched on beyond me for far longer than I could care to comprehend. In fact, planning to live to 70 was a huge concession: an admission that optimism might actually have a place in my life — I might actually continue to survive the drudgery of life for as long as I had made it thus far. Not that it seemed like such an exciting thing to aspire to, but at least I had a plan that involved having a future to speak of.

Since then, by some mysterious circumstance, my outlook seems to have changed. I find myself happy, most days, and at least capable of avoiding despair on those days that are not so enjoyable. Life begins to have a meaning that I never understood before: simply to live it, perhaps even enjoy it. By whatever miracle my brain has settled into a state of positive vibration, wanting to see and experience and enjoy as much as possible. So this is what chemical balance looks like! So this is what a well-functioning mind can bring to the table. I find myself wanting to create more and more. I want to learn. I want to work more cleverly and come home satisfied in a job well done. I want to spend my leisure time soaking in every sound and every peaceful moment, knowing that they are made of gold and that I can have billions more to glean, if I so choose.

And so I find myself very recently thinking: what if I weren’t at the half-way point? What if I were still somewhere just near the beginning? What if, instead of feeling calloused and jaded, I realized that I have seen so little of what life has to offer? Yes, I would be inviting a greater risk of sorrow and trouble into such a lengthier lifespan, but what if that weren’t a bad thing after all? What if those misfortunes were seen as giving birth to the happy times? I find it difficult to find the words to express what I am coming to realize. And yet: I now feel no urgency to find those explanations, because I could have several more decades to explore this very idea! I could spend a lifetime — a long lifetime — just searching for a way to explain to my young self that a hundred years is not such a bad thing after all.

I could think that I have seen all the good and all the bad that life has to offer, but I would be dreadfully wrong in so many ways. To think of it: I could be just beginning. I could finally decide, at 85 years old, that I am ready to settle down and get married. Or perhaps I will move to France in the year 2045. And perhaps, in just fifteen years, I will decide to return to school and gather more degrees to my name. Maybe I will end up with a career that I had never before dreamed of. Maybe I could read 5,000 books in the course of my lifetime. If I live to 100, I can do just about anything yet. And if I can do anything yet, then I am freed from the burden of trying to control where my life must go in this year, or in this decade. Where do you see yourself in five years? Who is to say? I can try to control that, but it discourages me to worry over it. Now, where do I see myself in 70 years? That is the much more exciting question to ponder! I could be anywhere, and I could be anyone. I could be a different person, one that wouldn’t recognize the self that was so very young but also so very ill in the beginnings of her life. I feel as though I am just being born. I feel young, but without the impatience of the young. I feel fresh, but no longer easily bruised. I feel a hope and a wonder for life that I have never, ever felt before, even in my actual physical childhood. I feel a child again, and yet one just barely precocious enough to know that she has nothing but potential before her. Anything is still possible for me. Happiness, as I have come to find out, is actually possible for me. And who knows: I may find that I have another 100 years of it to enjoy. Because now I know that anything is possible, and now I look forward to it. And now I know that life — even a difficult life — can be an enjoyment. Let’s see where this one takes us.

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It is said that  a man’s eyes are the windows into his soul. Might it not also be said that a person’s windows are the eyes of his or her soul?

I have always been fascinated by windows: what can be seen through them from the outside, the view from indoors — but also the windows themselves: the dressings, the objects placed thereon, the construction, the utility, the apparent warmth and security afforded by a nearly invisible plane of glass. The idea of the window could (and does) afford many a subject for artistic and philosophical expression. I am only the latest to consider it.

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I recently had the wonderful opportunity to visit Claude Monet’s home In Giverny, France. Having studied a great deal of art history during high school and college, I was well acquainted with Monet’s works, and had passed through the inevitable “Impressionist” phase that any art student must experience at some point in their educational development. Several weeks ago, at the mention of Monet, I might have shrugged my shoulders and acknowledged that he was an accomplished and prolific painter, and insisted that my mind had moved on to more complex contemporary movements.

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To visit a person’s home, however, is to come to a radically new understanding of that person. A home is often an extension of the soul that lives therein, and as I toured the rooms and grounds of Claude’s abode, I found myself coming to a much greater appreciation of his life’s work. To see the waterlilies nestled among the reflections of blue sky, framed by the branches of weeping willow on all sides— it was stepping into the pages of Gardner’s Art through the Ages and letting it come alive.

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Monet’s house in itself is a work of art. Each room painted in bright colors, and each of the many windows affording a breathtaking view onto the surroundings that inspired this man’s joyful paintings. After glimpsing through so many panes of glass framed by delicate lace curtains, peering out onto a sunlit landscape, from an almost equally sunny interior space, I can understand the inner space of an artist who wanted to bring the peace and happiness of Giverny—and of his own soul—into the world for all to see.

But enough of my ineffectual words. Let’s let the windows speak for themselves.

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Last week I had the opportunity to fly to Oregon to visit with family. I brought along my trusty Nikon Coolpix S6800 because I knew there would be no end of photo opportunities in what is arguably the most beautiful and ecologically diverse state in the country.

It didn’t take me long to realize that my little camera was no match for Oregon’s sweeping landscapes. Every time I tried to capture the stunning views of picturesque barns nestled among rolling pastures and pine forests, I was invariable disappointed in the results. Even the photogenic coast couldn’t be captured satisfactorily. I can’t fault the camera, though: any image is no match for the experience of seeing the beauty of the place in person.

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What I did end up capturing were just a few of the many details that combine to make Oregon the spectacular environment that it is. And when it comes to detail, my little Coolpix is king.

This friendly traveler was pleased to pose with an ocean backdrop, but I think he was disappointed when we didn’t offer a tip.

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Another coastal visitor is unaware of being photographed, but creates a great view nonetheless.

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Amazingly, these barnacles can be heard, clicking and clacking, living and breathing, even above the constant roar of the tide.

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Perhaps one of my favorite characteristics of Oregon: there is no shortage of amazing trees everywhere you look.

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Photo by Theresa Brown.

Photo by Theresa Brown.

The coastal life is nothing less than profuse.

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I feel as though I could spend a lifetime trying to capture Oregon’s details, and it would never be enough to portray the wonder of the place. You just have to see it for yourself.

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Until next time…

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Some of my most favorite moments involve spending time out in the yard with my animals. When the weather is warm, there’s typically no place I would rather be.

In today’s photo shoot Tiny Mushroom returns, and brings with her the lovable Moose and his foster brother Moose 2 (aka Slow Mo, aka Donegal). Also appearing is the three-legged wonder of Llewellyn the beautiful black kitten, and the wise old Farmer Ollie.

The other half of the family was sleeping peacefully indoors.

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Mushrooooms

😀

Happy Caturday.

 

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Nearly four months ago, on a frigid evening, a tiny ball of fluff was placed into my hands. Rescued that very day from a bad situation, her body temperature was ten degrees below normal, her eyes were blinded with infection, and she didn’t have the strength to hold up her head. Already brokenhearted, I took her home that night and hoped beyond hope that she would at least make it through the night with some help.

The next morning I was overjoyed to see that she had made it. We started calling her Tiny Mushroom.

The next sixteen weeks were a whirlwind of medications, treatments, emergency trips to the vet, bloodwork, belly taps, coddling, an overabundance of hope, and to be honest, a healthy dose of resignation.

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Today, despite my best efforts, Tiny Mushroom is still sick. She has never experienced a fully healthy day in all her short life. All the tests and professional opinions have done little to explain her condition. Perhaps we will never know. What is certain is that we have poured a lifetime’s supply of love into Tiny Mushroom in these past few months, and regardless of her future she has never gone a moment since that cold February day not cherished. And she has never wasted a single moment to live her tiny life to its fullest extent.

She sits beside me as I type this, worn out from her evening in the garden chasing bugs, catching drops of water from the hose, helping me keep the garden tilled, hopping from one garden bed to the next, and in general just looking completely adorable.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoy every day that I get to spend with Tiny Mushroom. She truly is a special treasure.

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