Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Cityscapes

Cities. Hm.

For a Nature Girl like me, this photo theme is a challenge. I often see cities as centers of human oppression on the landscape. While I agree that it makes sense to concentrate habitation and share resources, being in those places is a bit overwhelming for me. I often feel anxious in cities, on the alert, distracted by a trillion attention-grabbing bits of light, sound, and movement. I do feel it’s totally worth mustering my energy to visit a museum, hear an opera, dine at a fine restaurant, absorb some of a unique culture, meet a favorite person, or participate in a social event. I’ve been to some world-class cities — New York, London, Paris, and Rome — and enjoyed each trip. However, I’ve never lived in a city and really come to see one with the affection needed to photograph it really well.

I lived in Los Angeles County for about ten years, and I lived in the Chicago suburbs for 29 years of my life, but I haven’t a lot of photos to show of those cities. 

I guess I’m just not the city slicker type. 

Ancient New World cities fascinate me. The strategic use of resources and geographic advantages seems necessarily brilliant, the way of life deeply connected with the land. Hovenweep…

Mesa Verde…

… Cahokia, Aztalan, Chichen Itza, Tulum. 

The artistic and scientific innovations borne in the crucible of those civilizations are admirable…

And the abandonment of those places is humbling. 

Thinking of cities makes me consider issues of civilization and sustainability, our relationship with the land and our ways of living — what we use, what we use up, and what we leave behind.   All worthy things for continual contemplation.
Thank you, Patti, for hosting this Cityscape challenge. 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Curves

Curves are everywhere in Nature. I can’t think of any example of truly straight lines in Nature, with the exception of crystals. Even pine needles are gently curved.

I love the graceful elegance of curves. I’ve always envied people with naturally curly hair and marveled at the possibilities that medium allowed. I would arrange my youngest daughter’s hair for hours…if she’d let me. 

In appreciation of Nature’s curly hair, I will play with botanical images. Like yucca…

…and fern……and redwood bark, believe it or not,…

…and the beautiful, slender curves of grass. 

I have no deep desire to make the curvy straight, the rough places plain, nor to inflict geometrical precision on the surprising and unpredictable. I want Life to be unfettered, loose and free-flowing — at least in my head. In daily behavior, though, I’m still a straight-haired practical person. And I still envy my daughter’s hair.

 

Thank you, Tina, for hosting this week’s Challenge. May you find graceful, natural curves all around!

Present Moment, Beautiful Moment

Today marks 35 years from that January 7th when I got married.

scillagrace

January 7 – past and present

1984 – It’s my wedding day.  The weather is chilly and foggy in Northern California.  I am too excited to sleep late.  I have a date with my fiance for a morning meeting.  He comes to pick me up at my parents’ house.  My grandmother is aghast that we are seeing each other before arriving at the church; it’s just not done.  But we know what we want.  We want to focus on each other, on the meaning the day has for us personally before being caught up in the ritual.  We park the car under some oak trees in the foothills.  We decide it’s too damp and cold to walk, so we sit in the car and talk.  We are calm and happy.  He drops me off at the house.  The next time I see Jim, he is standing at the altar, grinning. …

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Lens-Artist Challenge: My Travels

I met Steve eight months after I was widowed. In the tumult of grief and transition, he offered me something that was transformational – a chance to go camping. My husband and four kids and I did not camp together. I hadn’t been camping for years, but I consider myself a lifetime Girl Scout. Getting back into the outdoors, practicing self-reliance and adaptability, and surrounding myself with the beauty and non-judgmental, non-moral embrace of Nature was just what I needed to consider Life worthwhile again. Steve’s style of camping has a distinct difference from mine: his motto is not “Be Prepared”. His motto is “Be Open”. My instinct to make lists and consult maps was challenged at the very outset. We spent the first hour of one of our early trips parked at the curb outside my house in a deep philosophical discussion of what it means to be on an adventure. 

Steve also introduced me to the wonder of the National Forests of the U.S.A. There is no fee for camping in the National Forests, but there are Leave No Trace rules. A world of freedom opened up for us when I discovered we could easily make camp, cook, clean up, sleep and deal with personal waste (!) outside of crowded developed campsites.

We have, however, depended on either his former Toyota or my late husband’s Honda to transport all our gear.I would love to be able to experience the freedom of going into even more remote wilderness areas, either with a 4-wheel drive vehicle with higher clearance or a backpack. (The latter would be more realistic if I were ten years younger and in better shape…)

We have enjoyed the diversity, the grandeur, and the autonomy of places not dominated by human impact. I find those sacred spaces truly inspiring… and extremely photogenic.

(I had to include that last photo just to prove I’m not kidding about the Girl Scout bit…)
I thank Amy for sharing her inspirational Travel stories and for inviting us into this Travel Challenge.