Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: History

When I saw that Patti’s challenge to us this week was History, I knew just where to look in my photo files — Old World Wisconsin. I was a historical interpreter for this 480-acre living history museum for three seasons. I interpreted 19th century life in Wisconsin dressed as an Irish immigrant, a German immigrant, and a church organist in a settler’s Village.

When I was allowed to bring my 21st century camera on site, what I wanted to capture was the simplicity of that life and its harmony with nature.

The ideas of “progress” and “technology” were quite different in the day. I used to ask school children if they saw any technology being used, and they always said, “No.” What I quickly pointed out was that there was plenty of technology, just a different kind – mechanical or hand tools instead of electronic ones.

It’s important never to neglect or abandon the simpler items in our tool kit. It’s quite possible that we may depend on them again. In fact, the U.S. military sent a division to the museum to learn how to use 19th century farm equipment so that they could assist in re-development projects in Afghanistan. Watching them walk down the dirt roads of the Village dressed in their desert camouflage uniforms was mind-boggling.

The lesson of history is that wisdom takes a long view.

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: Architecture

I’m so impressed with Amy’s beautiful challenge post of the architecture of Machu Picchu with the accompanying audio that I’m going to have to go in a completely different direction for my post so as not to invite comparison.
After the sublime…the ridiculous.

And the humble.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Close-Up

Thanks to Ann-Christine for this week’s challenge, and for including those of us who don’t have a macro lens. I love close-up shots and have longed for a macro lens, but just haven’t spent the money…yet.

Getting a closer look proves a few things:

1) There’s endless fascination in the world of detail — pattern and form emerge in astonishing places.

2) A change of perspective is eye-opening and stimulates the imagination.

3) You can never exhaust the discovery of something, even something that you think is commonplace and familiar.

Getting close up invites us into a world of enhanced appreciation. There’s so much to enjoy with our vision…even without fancy gadgets. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Nature

“Measured against the agenda of human survival, how might we rethink education? Let me suggest six principles.

First, all education is environmental education.” — David Orr, What Is Education For?

 

I actually met and spoke to David Orr at a conference near the Aldo Leopold Foundation Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin a few years ago. He is a fascinating speaker, a person who has clearly thought a great deal about how humans fit into the natural world.

Yesterday, I spent the morning volunteering in a homeschool class at a Nature Center. The children, aged 6-8, shared their journal entries during snack time. They each had spent time in a “Secret Place”, observing the natural world around them, drawing pictures, writing sentences using vocabulary words, and playing. I was so pleased to see this, and told them that they were following in the footsteps of Aldo Leopold, Henry David Thoreau, Beatrix Potter and many, many others — very important thinkers and learners.

What do we need to learn from Nature? So much. I have a page on this blog called “Spiritual Lessons from Nature”. Click on the link just under the header if you’re curious about them.

Some things I’ve learned about Nature: it’s powerful and deserving of respect. 

It’s complex and autonomous.

It’s vast and largely incomprehensible.

It’s older than anyone can imagine. 

It’s more detailed than anyone can see. 

Humans are just one small leaf on the great Tree of Life.  That’s always good to remember. 

Thanks to Patti for hosting this challenge and for sharing stunning photos of Fiji.

Lens-Artists Challenge: Shadows

Tina at Travels & Trifles illustrated her challenge with a beautiful opening photo of shadow that evokes spaciousness, loneliness, and the passage of time. As the Earth turns and the Sun’s light falls at different angles, shadows lengthen, shade increases, and cool darkness creeps over stationary objects.

There’s something mournful in that, although it needn’t be. Change is not all good or all bad.  Monochrome isn’t really black & white.  It’s gray.

  
In the end, shadows cast depth and perspective on our view of our selves and our little lives. They keep us humble.