Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A River Runs Through It

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

The Wisconsin River runs through Rocky Arbor State Park

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

The Green River flows through the Dinosaur National Monument campground

“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”
― David Brower

Gunnison River, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Heraclitus

Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, Michigan

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.” Khalil Gibran

The Green River, Kentucky

“Daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River, where Paradise lay. Well, I’m sorry, my son, but you’re too late in asking. Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.”
― John Prine

Wyalusing State Park, where the Mississippi and the Wisconsin Rivers meet

What does Nature teach us when we stand beside a river, ever flowing, ever changing, where life and death coexist in a dynamic dance?
Pay attention. We are one with the river. We can accept its flow. We can steer toward the depths. We do not conquer it. 

Thank you, Amy, for inviting us to contemplate and visualize rivers. They are great teachers. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Chaos

Perhaps presciently, Ann-Christine chose the theme of CHAOS for this week’s Photo Challenge even before the pandemic was declared.  

What an interesting word – indeed, an interesting concept. I suspect that only human beings, with their big brains and their social biology, even experience chaos. I imagine chaos to be attributed to a situation that evokes a kind of fear, but on a more complex level than a fear for one’s basic survival. 

Social chaos, for example.

Probably most of us have experienced the confusing disorder of emotions and associations that might be described as social chaos. Where do I fit in? How do I connect? Do my feelings mesh with anyone else’s? These thoughts can be quite unsettling to me, but I don’t imagine spiders or starfish or blue jays dealing with that kind of survival anxiety.

Some humans believe that we have a superior gift for bringing order out of chaos. I look at homeowners blowing those untidy leaves off of their driveway in the fall, and I wonder if they imagine they are making the world more orderly while forgetting that our suburban consumption creates chaotic waste in much greater proportions.  

 

If chaos provokes a kind of fear or discomfort, then each of us probably has a different threshold of tolerance for it. And each of us can probably reset that threshold with a bit of work. How comfortable can you become with disorder, ambiguity, or uncertainty? I have to admit that I found parenting to be a great exercise in adaptation to chaos. There were plenty of times that I wasn’t in control of the situation, but I survived, and I certainly learned a lot…and I actually enjoyed it. 

There is plenty to learn in the present climate of global chaos in the human family. There are certainly many questions with unknown answers. There is confusion and ambiguity and anxiety about how we fit together, how we feel, and how we ought to act. And this is going on at a very high level of cognitive function. It is a situation that is created in our big brains. 

At the same time, in the world outside our big brains, Nature is functioning as usual. Organisms emerge, populations respond, life and death dance together in fascinating rhythm. I find this incredibly peaceful, a perfect antidote to chaos. Breathing in the assurance of Nature’s presence, I am strengthened for the work of being a human. It’s not easy work. We have a lot of responsibility. But the first responsibility is being aware of who we are as a species. May we be humble. May we be kind to every being on the Tree of Life. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Special Spot Shots

This week, Ann-Christine gives us a tour of Diocletian’s Palace in Croatia and invites us to share our own Special Spot Shots. 

My special spot is not an exotic location far away. What makes it special is that I wake up to it every day, in every season, in all kinds of weather. It is a parcel of land measuring about 56 acres, including woodland, wetland, and prairie habitats. I rent a house here from my employer, the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation. Recently, it was opened to the public as the Joan M. Pick Nature Preserve. 

I have been extremely fortunate to have called this place my home for 3 years. I am planning to leave in another 6 months, and I know that I will miss its many facets and familiar charms. Here is a gallery of photos that I’ve taken of this property. 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Pick a Place

Tina at Travels and Trifles hosts this week’s challenge with an invitation for us to pick a place to which we’ve traveled and feature it in our post.
I have not traveled abroad since the death of my husband 11 years ago, but I have done a bit of traveling throughout the western portion of the United States. I am particularly fascinated by canyon country, places where the geology of the place takes center stage an overwhelms the senses, leaving you awestruck.

“When your spirit cries for peace, come to a world of canyons deep in the old land, feel the exultation of high plateaus, the strength of moving waters, the simplicity of sand and grass, the silence of growth.” — August Frugé 

 

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Sand Canyon, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado

Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado

“Beauty in front of me, Beauty behind me,
Beauty Above me, Beauty below me,
Beauty all around me,
I walk in Beauty…” — Navaho prayer

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

Gunnison River, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Taking a Break

I just came home from a walk along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to check on the photo challenge theme for this week. Our host, Tina, encourages us to slow down and focus on rest and relaxation. Taking a Break” for me is also “Restoring My Sanity” by being out in nature.

Nothing restores me to a grounded pace as well as hiking in a natural area where the presence of people is the exception to the rule.

Look around. Breathe. Listen. Feel. Birdsong and running water do wonders for the soul. 

An outdoor walk helps me take a break from sitting down at a computer screen…something I spend far too many hours at every day.  And if my feet start to swell and feel hot, dipping them in a cool stream is the perfect antidote. 

And if walking tires you out, you know what to do…

Taking a break is quite natural, of course. (If you can’t tell, that’s a bat sleeping in a tree).

Thanks, Tina, for reminding us to take it easy. It’s a long road, and it’s not a race. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Seascapes and Lakeshores

Amy chose a topic for this week’s challenge that is sure to make a splash! She coaches us:

In Jim Hamel’s “Top 10 Features to Bring Your Seascape Photos to Life”, his list includes piers/docks, lighthouses, sunrise and sunset, rock formations, patterns in the water, animals, powerful waves, people, reflections, and clouds.

I am lucky to have lived near some of the greatest coastlines of the U.S.A. I was born in Massachusetts and lived for 15 years in California. However, for the bulk of my earthly years I have lived in the Midwest near Lake Michigan, one of the 5 Great Lakes that together hold 21% of the earth’s surface fresh water.  Here’s the western shore of that great lake. 

Lake Michigan

My father’s family built a beach cottage on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, and so far, four generations have enjoyed its recreational opportunities and sunsets.

Just before I entered High School, my family moved to the Bay Area in California. I got to explore the West Coast while I lived there and as a visitor returning to see my family. The drama and diversity of the shores of the Pacific Ocean is something that I never fully captured in photography. I was more often just looking around, overwhelmed. 

I have to say that some of my best shoreline photos were taken along the smaller waterways of the Midwest. 

I like to remember that my first shoreline experiences were on the Marblehead Neck, jutting into the Atlantic. I moved away from Massachusetts when I was four years old and probably never took a picture. But I did get a chance to go back for a visit. My daughter snapped this shot in Plymouth.  

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Detail

Patti poses an interesting challenge this week: when the scope of a scene is visually overwhelming, choose to focus on a detail that hints at the grandeur of the whole.
For me, that sense of overwhelming wonder is always present when I am outside in Nature. I love the Earth. I work for a Conservation Foundation, and I am often dazzled by the beauty of the land while I am also stunned by the complexity of biological interactions and the enormity of the task of preserving ecosystems that are under constant threats of degradation. I believe that showing people the accessible beauty of the world around them can engender the kind of affection for Place that will motivate them to protect it, to safeguard it for the future.
Have you ever looked at a common plant up close? Or gazed into the intelligent eyes of an animal?  There are details all around you capable of blowing your mind with the immense and intricate magnificence of Life. I invite you to become a Lover of Life — a Biophile, if you will.