Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Follow Your Bliss

“The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you really are happy — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call ‘following your bliss’.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

On Thursday, I headed out with my camera and a friend and spent four hours walking a forest trail through the William Finley Wildlife Refuge. I was surprised that so much time passed! I was also surprised that the rain never got heavy enough to make me think of heading back to the car. In the temporal rain forest of Oregon, there is so much to see, such tiny worlds of biodiversity everywhere that I find contentment in just keeping my eyes open and letting beauty wash in!

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
― Confucious

“We have to look deeply at things in order to see. When a swimmer enjoys the clear water of the river, he or she should also be able to be the river.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”― Albert Einstein

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive…”
― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

My new Oregon home is the perfect place to immerse myself in the beauty of being alive; of seeing Life all around me; of connecting my body, mind, and soul to the ongoing experience of living – from spore to plant to decomposing matter and back to spore. In the face of global instability on every level from climate change to species extinction to social structures, it is bliss and contentment to turn away from fear and toward Nature, and to feel again the circle of Love that is Life.

Many thanks to our guest host for this week’s Lens-Artist Challenge, Lindy Low LeCoq. I am so glad she got her inspiration from one of my favorite authors and thinkers and invited us into bliss! If you would like to participate, click on her name above and follow her lead.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Shapes and Designs

“Nature’s constantly screaming with all its shapes and scents: love each other! Love each other! Do as the flowers. There’s only love.” –  Octave Mirbeau

“The whole of nature is an endless demonstration of shape and form. It always surprises me when artists try to escape from this.” –  Henry Moore

“Art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes.” –  Kahlil Gibran

There is no way to encompass or exhaust the variety of shapes and designs in Nature in one blog post! (And why would anyone want to try?) I offer just a small sampling from my photo files and encourage you to look with new eyes all around you and capture a few of your own favorites. If you’d like to join in the challenge and share your finds, visit our host’s blog HERE for how to do that. You’ll see on Patti’s site some wonderful examples of design in natural and man-made art.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: A Day of My Week

A day of my week: Sunday. A day in the Wheel of the Year: October 31. Halloween. All Saints’ Eve. Samhain (saa-wn). Halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. The beginning of a darker, wetter time in Oregon. The last day the marsh trails are open at the William Finley Wildlife Refuge before the over-wintering birds are given the privacy they deserve. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon, and my family joined me for a walk along the marsh and past the historic buildings. Here’s a gallery of shots from today.

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them— The summer flowers depart—
Sit still— as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.”
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My days are often spent just musing on Nature, the seasons, and the activities of flora and fauna. I have a lot of time to sit still, since I’m unemployed/retired. Most days, I don’t bother to bring a camera with me wherever I am, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see beauty all around me. I hope that you can say the same about the ordinary days in your week. Thank you to Amy for hosting this week’s prompt. Please visit her site and join in. Click HERE to find out how.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Weird and Wonderful

This week’s challenge is hosted by Ann-Christine and invites us to find captures of the weird and wonderful. My thoughts center around defining what is sufficiently odd to be ‘weird’ and what arouses wonder. The subject of most of my photos is something in Nature, so then I become conscious that there’s a difference between ‘natural’ and ‘weird’.
In my mind, human beings push the boundaries of ‘weird’ more than any other species. And it becomes something of a wonderment how we celebrate the weird! In Portland, OR, there is a museum/novelty store called the “Freakybuttrue Peculiarium”. My 30-something kids find that kind of thing very entertaining, so we took a detour home from the airport to check it out.

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.”
― Robert Fulghum

I do love my kids, and I love their weirdness! And I am often in awe and wonder over things in Nature that I find unfamiliar and unique, and I find them beautiful.

Lake Superior sandy bottom
Badlands National Park
Boxwork formations at Wind Cave National Park

Fly your freak flags with joy, people, and gaze in wonder at the world around! Happy Weird and Wonderful Weekend!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: The Colors of Autumn

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
– George Eliot

I can never get enough of the breathtaking beauty of Fall color. Visit Amy’s post for exquisite examples and join in the photo challenge! Just CLICK HERE.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Going Wide

“Look wide, and even when you think you are looking wide
– look wider still.”
Robert Baden-Powell (founder of the Scouting Movement)

“Cleverness is like a lens with a very sharp focus.
Wisdom is more like a wide-angle lens.”
Edward de Bono

“Accept the terrible responsibility of life with eyes wide open.”
Jordan Peterson

I absolutely adore landscapes! I love to hike and have worked for a land trust protecting land. Just this morning, I was interviewed by a land trust in my new home state of Oregon for their annual appeal video. I was eager and honored to share my passion for an evolving land ethic to guide humanity into better harmony with the Earth and my gratitude for organizations that uphold those ethics.
This week’s challenge is about wide-angle photography. The truth is, however, I don’t own a wide-angle lens. I do have a Landscape setting on my Canon Rebel T3i, though. It provides a large depth of field and color saturation to enhance greens and blues. I use it extensively when I’m out in the wide open spaces of the USA.

Maybe some day I will invest in additional lenses for my camera. I encourage you to visit Patti’s blog to see some stunning examples of wide-angle photography and learn more!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Looking Up/Looking Down…on Fungi

“A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a ‘wood wide web’ of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous
amount of information and goods.”
― Tim Flannery

This week’s photo challenge is hosted by guest Sofia Alves. Her prompt encourages us to Look Up and/or Look Down.
In my photo library, I find fungus and mushrooms in Nature at many levels, high in the trees and underfoot. I recently watched the documentary Fantastic Fungi and was absolutely blown away by the intricacy and importance of mycelial networks and the beauty of a mushroom’s growth over time. I absolutely recommend it for the photography and the ecological information.
Autumn is the perfect season for mushroom spotting. I invite you to take a look at the variety of color, shape, and size in the mushrooms I’ve showcased here, and then go out and see what’s growing in your neck of the woods!

Nature doth thus kindly heal every wound. By the mediation of a thousand little mosses and fungi, the most unsightly objects become radiant of beauty.” – Henry David Thoreau

Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom.”
– Thomas Carlyle

“If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life: worms, fungi, microorganisms of all kinds … Given only the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for very long.” – Wendell Berry

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Keep Walking

“The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours …but it is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.”
― Henry David Thoreau

I must walk toward Oregon, and not toward Europe.
― Henry David Thoreau

“When you walk, arrive with every step. That is walking meditation. There’s nothing else to it.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

“I think I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and fields absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”
― Henry David Thoreau

A March morning is only as drab as he who walks in it
without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese.”
― Aldo Leopold

Walking is one of my very favorite activities – specifically, walking in Nature. From a very young age, when I’d walk to school and back twice a day because we allowed to go home for lunch, I’ve used walking time to process my thoughts and feelings. I remember splashing in puddles and kicking up leaves and singing to myself as I passed the houses on the way to kindergarten. I remember rehearsing conversations out loud walking home from junior high. I remember walking over a hill in high school, eager to meet up with my best friend. Now, in retirement, my daily walk is .7 miles down the dirt road to the mailbox. I also find a trailhead and take myself for an adventure several times a week. I am truly fortunate to live in an area with a LOT of trailheads! I don’t use a device to count my steps each day, but I strive to remember to be grateful for each step I take. I hope I will be able to walk for many more years.

Thank you, Amy, for hosting this week’s challenge and for sharing your walking stories and photos.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: It’s All About the Light!

Photography is the art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film.” – Wikipedia 

“Light! More light!” – Goethe’s last words

My sister Dharam lives in San Francisco. Summers there are dark, cold and foggy on the beach. Here in Oregon, the coast is often brighter and warmer. My sister LOVES the sun, and absolutely loved the light on the beach last Wednesday during her vacation here. We took plenty of photos together!

The amount of vapor in the air greatly affects the way that light is diffused in landscape shots. For comparison, here is the same beach on a hotter day with less fog.

And on a much cloudier, colder day in the winter…

Here is Newport Bridge in various lighting…

I hope you all are enjoying the last days of summer, noticing the splendor of August light. Thank you to Tina for hosting this week’s challenge and showing us such beautiful examples of the light on the “Other Coast” of the U.S.A.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Inspiration

Inspiration…that moment when you draw in breath, a gasp, an awe-filled audible inhalation, the desire to take in the spirit of something beautiful, breath-taking.

I moved to Oregon exactly one year and one week ago. I have been inspired by something about it every single day I’ve been here, I think. The natural communities are incredibly diverse and resilient and interesting and beautiful. Today, for example, I joined a work party collecting camas seeds. These little seeds are nestled in the dried flower petals like beans in maracas. They shake and rattle as you walk through the meadow grass. Indigenous people roasted the bulbs of these plants as a food staple, high in natural sugars, similar to sweet potato. When I returned from this adventure, I walked down my driveway and began collecting blackberries from the invasive Himalayan canes that grow as a huge, prickly nuisance to most landowners, a deliciously irritating problem. They are everywhere. Free food!

This has not been an easy year for me by any means. It hasn’t been an easy year for most people. On top of the universal griefs and fears, I am new in town, isolated, unemployed, and missing my mother who died in October. There are always mornings when I find it hard to get up and get on with my life. But when I look out my window at OREGON, I find motivation to join the young hawks and the gentle deer, step outside and breathe in the rich scent of Douglas fir.

In such a setting, I feel like I belong to the Earth, like a tree taking root and creating a tall, strong life. I’m grateful to have this new inspiration in my life. If you’re curious about previous explanations of my blogging inspiration, visit THIS POST. Thanks to Patti for creating this challenge and sharing her beautiful photos.