Lens-Artists Challenge: Around the Neighborhood

Tina’s photo challenge post showcases the birds that live on the barrier islands of South Carolina. The birds in my neighborhood include sandhill cranes…

These majestic migratory birds mate for life, returning to the wetland area behind my house to nest and raise their young each year. Last weekend, I sighted a pair in the sky just south of the Wisconsin border. I wait with anticipation the sound of their raspy bugle cry over my neighborhood. There is snow still on the ground, but today, the temperature is finally above freezing and a light rain is falling. I hope for the joyful return of the mating couple. I hope that they will not lose any chicks to a late snowfall like last year. I hope that I don’t see another colt hit by a car before he learns to fly. And I hope to see at least three begin the long flight to Florida when the leaves lose green and turn to gold, red, and brown.

Wild turkeys are also neighborhood residents.

They stick around all year. In early spring, Tom comes into the yard with his fully fanned out tail, herding hens like some slow moving Zamboni back and forth on the melting ice. When the grass is a nice spring green, broods of up to a dozen little brown chicks scurry through the tall shoots, barely visible around their mamma’s legs. By the time the greens turn brown, there are flocks bustling about all day, roosting in low branches in the evening.

I love these feathered neighbors. Their antics are always fascinating, and I’m so lucky to share this place with them. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Landscapes

Amy at “The World Is A Book” has invited the Lens-Artists to share Landscapes this week, and has given us absolutely stunning examples from her own albums.
This is my favorite photographic subject.

When I was just 10 years old, I got my first camera – a Kodak Brownie Starmite – so that I could take pictures on our family vacation to Hawaii.  I had seen mountains for the first time just two years prior on a family vacation to visit cousins in Colorado, and felt engulfed by a deep awe. I wanted to take the scenery home with me to Illinois, but had no camera then. I soaked in every vista, eyes and arms wide open. I was so excited to be able to take my own photos when I got to Hawaii.

I remember feeling a crushing disappointment when I discovered that the little printed picture didn’t quite take in all that I wanted to fill it. I still feel that way, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying.

What do I love about landscapes? Long views give me a sense of freedom, a sense of the vast beauty of the world. 

When I was a kid, my parents took me to the Field Museum in Chicago to watch travelogue presentations. I would emerge from the hall bounding like a gazelle. I loved the open spaces filled with natural wonders, like an alpine meadow of wildflowers begging me to run through them.There is nothing as exhilarating to me as a panoramic view of Earth.

It’s so difficult to get all that BIGNESS into a two dimensional frame. 

I wish I had a lens that could do it justice. 

There’s that “pinch me, I can’t believe I’m here” excitement of actually feeling the space around you in a beautifully large setting that’s impossible to get into a photo. 

But I keep trying because I don’t want to let go of that feeling…ever. 

I think I want my soul to be a huge landscape. 

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!

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. 

Lens-Artist Challenge: 2018 in Review

Best of the month: January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

This has been an eventful year in my life. My son’s wedding, my daughter’s graduation, trips to Badlands, California, and Oregon — I have so much beauty to remember, so much to be grateful for. My personal calendar of photos reflects my little world of favorite things to look at: my loved ones and the view of Nature around me.

I also think of all that these photos do not show that has occurred this year. The world is a mixture of joy and suffering, always. The lens of compassion is the one that I hope is always in my mind’s eye. 

Thank you, Ann-Christine, for inviting us to reflect on the year that is past and to look forward to improving in the next. 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Seasonal

Winter in Wisconsin can be very monochromatic. I do tend to feel SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and remind myself to take Vitamin D and get outside on any day when the sun shines. The challenge is to embrace this fact and celebrate it. So then why not embrace all the seasons in monochrome? It seems counter-intuitive, for the colors of the rest of the seasons are, I think, their most spectacular features. But a challenge should be challenging. Can I find visual interest in photos of all the seasons without color? Let’s find out.
Here we go…WINTER.

SPRING…

SUMMER…

and FALL. 

You know what? That was pretty fun. I do mourn the loss of color, but without it, I appreciate form, texture, and contrast all the more.
Thank you, Tina, for hosting this seasonal challenge!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Happiness Is…

I see trees of green…

…red roses, too…

…I see skies of blue and clouds of white…

…the bright, blessed day…

…the dark, sacred night……and I think to myself, “What a wonderful world!”

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky…

…are also on the faces of people passing by…

I see friends shaking hands, saying “How do you do?” They’re really saying, “I love you.”

I hear babies cry; I watch them grow…

They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world!”

This wonderful song always makes me cry. In my mind, I hear the voices of Louis Armstrong, David Attenborough and the Barrington Childrens Choir expressing these words of appreciation. I feel myself dancing to it with my daughter at her wedding. It is my song of happiness for the best the world has shown me…the Earth and Sky, loving People and my children. It is truly a wonder-filled world, and I am forever happy to be in it.
Thank you, Ann-Christine, for challenging us to articulate all our reasons for happiness.