Lens-Artist Weekly Photo Challenge: Magical Light

“Light! More light!” – last words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Was Goethe, the celebrated poet and scientist and author of The Theory of Colors, crying out his final request in an effort to quench his thirst for enlightenment of the mind, the soul, or the eye? Or all three?
I am sure they are all interconnected.
Coincidentally, his deathbed wish became the motto of Lawrence University in Wisconsin, where I sent my oldest child to college. 

Three things converged earlier this week to illustrate to me the power of light and its affect on my soul.

First, on Sunday, we switched our clocks back from Daylight Savings Time. The sun slips further away from the Northern Hemisphere, and daylight hours are noticeably diminished. Nights fall early, and mornings are dark.

On Tuesday, the U.S. had midterm elections. An ominous gloom has settled and hung over this country since our last election. I am anxious for my children, the planet, and the future. I feel the grip of darkness in my soul.

I suspect that I am susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. I feel physically drained, deeply depressed, cold and vulnerable. Cloudy, dark days bring questions of personal survival to my mind. And then, Thursday night, temperatures dropped and the first snow fell. 

Fortunately, the next morning I was scheduled to volunteer in a Nature Center class of fourth graders. I drove carefully through the falling snow, noticing changes all around. The minute I arrived in the parking lot, I saw a small child lifting her face to the sky with her tongue out, hoping to catch a falling flake. Her face was lit with joy.

Light from the souls of the children flooded my day. Snow angels, snowball target practice, a hike through the woods to the river, and the emergence of a distant but brilliant sun made my mood by the late morning sparkle. There is magic in light, in warmth, in proximity to the energy of our home star, the Sun. The magic brings life to every living thing. I am aware of its sustenance and my dependence on it. And I give thanks for it every day. Thanks, also, to Amy for inviting us to share the magic with this Photo Challenge! 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Blending In and Standing Out

The environment. Ecosystems. We are in them and of them and we are them. We are interconnected with everything around us. We blend in and stand out simultaneously. 

May all beings appreciate their surroundings, their selves, and the relationship between all things. May this appreciation grow into respect, affection, and peaceful harmony. 

Thanks, Leya, for inviting us to see the ways things Blend In and Stand Out. Enjoy your forest!

Big Is Beautiful

Who’s afraid of the big Badlands? Not me and Steve! 

How about big ungulates? No problem! 

Or big dinosaur bones?

And big rocks? The bigger the better, and more beautiful than a camera frame can take in. 

And all these big, bold, wonderful things can be found in our National Parks. Preserving them is our biggest, best idea ever. 

Thanks, Tina, for this Lens Artist challenge!

New Photo Challenge: Lens-Artists “Look Up”

I have been suffering with Photo Challenge withdrawal symptoms, but it’s good to know I’m not alone and that new challenges are always out there. The Lens-Artist group is posting weekly challenges on Saturdays, so I’ve signed up. If you’re interested in joining, HERE is more info. 

This week’s challenge is to “look up”. I just got back from a trip to Badlands National Park, where we enjoyed a marvelous sunset from atop the crest of one of the many ridges. Looking up at the sunset while looking down into the layers of colored rock was a sort of “mirrored” view. 

Thanks, Pati of Pilotfish Blog, for this challenge!

Full-on Summer

After a week of cool, wet weather with low temperatures in the 50s overnight, the Midwest summer has hit Wisconsin. My garden is thick with arugula, and the tomato plant is growing at the rate of a jungle vine. The heat index today is in the danger zone with a high temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at 78%.

I refuse to turn on the air-conditioner in the house; I have none in my car. I rely on all those passive techniques my mother taught me when we were living in the 1875 Victorian in the Chicago suburbs. I don’t have an attic here; this is a Lannon stone ranch-style house. I open all the windows and the front door at night to let in the cool air and shut everything up when the sun rises in the morning. I have a box fan in the living/dining room, no ceiling fans.

Steve converses about Buddhist mindfulness. What does it feel like in this weather? Without judgement, accepting what is, what do I notice?

The trees are swaying outside my window. As hot as it is, there is a stiff breeze. I see a million shades of green. I hear the hum of the fan. Birdsong woke me at 4:40 a.m., before I shut the windows. I noticed smells inside the house after I shut them. Melting soap in the bathroom. Coffee. My body feels slow, swollen, lazy.

I am trying not to dread the fundraising event I am working tonight. The dress is “formal”. The open bar and silent auction are outside, on the patio. My dress is made of an unfortunately synthetic material (long story). I imagine I will sweat. I fear social embarrassment…and I do not. I don’t really care that much. I like myself. I do fine work. The rest is unimportant. I will practice being gracious and compassionate, and I will come back home to my cool stone house at the end of the evening, strip down and lie beneath an open window, waiting for a thunderstorm. All will be well.

Outside, the butterflies and chipmunks, the birds and deer and Charles the woodchuck go slowly about their summer growth. I imagine that while they may sweat, they do not fret. I aspire to learn their wisdom.