In her book, For the Time Being, Annie Dillard writes keen observations about anthropology, religion, culture, death…and clouds.
She quotes written observations of clouds from centuries ago. It seems that always, humans have looked up from their lives in wonder, trying to make sense of the shifting vapor, what it might mean for the present, for the future, how it all got there in the first place, and how it can be ever-new and unpredictable.
The unique atmosphere surrounding beloved Earth supports everything we know as Life. How much do we really know about it?
“I really don’t know Clouds at all.” — Joni Mitchell
“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” — Anne Frank
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” — Thich Nhat Hahn
“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“One can enjoy a rainbow without necessarily forgetting the forces that made it.” — Mark Twain
“There are a thousand ‘greatest’ melodies, just as there are a thousand ‘greatest’ poems and a thousand ‘greatest’ pictures, because there are a thousand moods in the mind of (a Person) when a certain note rings with the most clarity–when a certain design is most sharply silhouetted against the changing curtain of (their) mind.” ― Beverley Nichols, A Thatched Roof
Our host this week, Sofia, writes, “I challenge you and myself to think of mood, how to convey and create an emotional reaction to your shot. That can be accomplished by capturing situations or occasions, photography styles or people and their feelings.” Visit HER POST to see a variety of techniques for expressing mood in photography.
The following two photos were taken on the same day, while I was walking with a group of friends. I am always fascinated by the changing moods of the ocean…and of people.
I’m tempted to say that my driveway has moods…but it’s not the driveway at all. It’s the Place, the environment. My driveway just provides a fixed point of comparison.
It’s really amazing to consider how my own mood affects everything I perceive and to know that I can illustrate that in my photos as well.
I am amused to think of “hashtag MOOD” as a shorthand of popular culture. It is a humorous way to acknowledge our common human experience as shifting landscapes of emotion. How wonderful to recognize and resonate with each other as we share our Lens-Artists posts! I look forward to seeing yours!
“The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.” – Leonardo da Vinci
This week’s photo challenge comes from Ann-Christine, who writes, “Backlight is a versatile instrument in making pictures really come alive, even if they are only silhouettes or very dark. For landscapes it can be magical.” I find that especially true when water is part of the landscape, adding reflection, glow, and sparkle. I am really happy that the rain in Oregon has let up, and warm sunshine is bedazzling the Coast. I had a glorious day there yesterday, and will return soon!
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau
For this week’s challenge, Tina of Travels and Trifles asks about our preferences for our Environment and reminds us of the story of the City Mouse and the Country Mouse.
I happen to love tent camping. The first photo in the gallery was taken two years ago on a backpacking trip to the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness in Oregon; I was a month shy of 60 years old. The last photo was taken, I believe, in Acadia National Park in Maine; I was three years old. I didn’t take those photos. All the others were taken on various car camping trips in the last ten years. The smell of wood smoke and the crisp feel of fresh air make me feel more alive than any other environment. To me, a baked potato raked from the coals and covered in butter and salt and pepper can taste as heavenly as a gourmet meal at a 5-star restaurant. (It helps to be ravenously hungry!) The feeling of self-reliance and freedom that settles around me as I’m making camp in a spot I’ve chosen for its magnificent view is priceless. It makes me feel like I belong on this Earth, just as I am.
Others can have their cities of man-made majesty. I’m a happy camper in a cathedral of tall trees.
“We too can repair our cracks with gold And glow again. Crazed by life, More beautiful than ever before.” ― Scott Hastie
Glowing moments, those incandescent peaks of joy and warmth, are precious in the present and heart-breaking in the past. I suppose the trick is not to look back on lingering light so much that you miss the approaching sunrise.
“…We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time…
…Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning;
…At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall…
…And the children in the apple-tree…
…Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea…” ― from “Little Gidding” by T.S. Eliot
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl
“…Just think—no one has ever seen inside this peanut before!
It is hard being a person.
I do and don’t love you—isn’t that happiness?” ― from “One Boy Told Me” by Naomi Shihab Nye
New experiences occur with every breath, every heartbeat. Each present moment is new and not repeatable. The gift of being alive can be wrapped up in so many different ways. I love the idea of “Beginner’s Mind” – it makes a new experience of everything, allowing a fresh perspective. It is a worthy challenge to cultivate this break with habit and sameness and taking-for-granted. I really enjoy hanging out with young people and watching them discover and exclaim over so many things that I have been seeing with dull eyes. I look forward to volunteering as a Teaching Naturalist for some school field trips coming up this Spring.
Anne’s challenge this week has inspired a lot of exciting posts about travel and adventure, but it has inspired me to look at the exhilarating experience of finding joy in my local environs. With warming temperatures and emerging life, it’s a whole new world out there!
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy? …
“Come with me into the woods where spring is advancing, as it does, no matter what, not being singular or particular, but one of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.” ― Mary Oliver
When have I ever NOT needed Spring when it was ready to arrive? Winter in Wisconsin, and winter in Oregon, does its job of cold and dark and cloudy to the point that my soul is so ready for the ‘YES!’ of new life that I can barely contain myself. I head outdoors to feel the sunshine on my face and see what transformations are going on with its return. I listen for the return of friends: frogs, blackbirds, cranes. I measure the emergence of daffodils in hours, not days, too exuberant for patience. I can’t imagine whether I deserve Spring or not, but I am certainly grateful that I cannot stop it. Thank you, Sofia, for inviting us to share what Spring means to us with this week’s Challenge.
“Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh
The challenge this week centers around a metaphor: the road most taken on your photographic journey represents your preferred style or genre. In looking at my portfolio, it became obvious that road I take most often with my camera is a walk in the weird, wonderful, wide world of Nature. The unexpected, the unexplained, the unusual, and the astonishingly beautiful never fail to catch my eye. Pattern, color, life, texture, phenomenon – it’s like performance art: everything, everywhere, all at once. I can never get enough!
“The Earth is so beautiful. We are beautiful also. We can allow ourselves to walk mindfully, touching the Earth, our wonderful mother, with each step. We don’t need to wish our friends, ‘Peace be with you.’ Peace is already with them. We only need to help them cultivate the habit of touching peace in each moment.” – Thich Nhat Hahn, Touching Peace
“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is a wonderful moment.” – Thich Nhat Hahn, Being Peace
Tina’s challenge this morning is the perfect sequel to Ann-Christine’s “Alone Time” challenge last week. Finding peace in the present moment is a beautiful thing to experience, to savor through a photograph, and to share with others.
I absolutely love this photo challenge from Ann-Christine, and I admire her beautiful post giving us a glimpse into the outer world she’s created to express and host her inner world.
I deeply resonate with the story of finding the significance of Alone Time. When I was young, I didn’t much value alone time – it reminds me now of how being sent to spend time alone in my room was used as a punishment, and felt as such. As one of five siblings, I didn’t get my own room until I was 14. By then, I was ready to appreciate it. I went from a college dormitory straight into my honeymoon apartment, and had four children in the next seven years. As the mother of a large family, alone time became HIGHLY valued, and I found it in solitary walks into the green spaces around our suburban home. I found myself craving time to write alone as well. As my children were leaving the nest, my husband died. Suddenly, I had more alone time than I knew what to do with and the pain that came with it felt very much like punishment again.
“On my own, pretending he’s beside me, All alone, I walk with him ’til morning…” – from the musical Les Miserables
Two and a half years ago, I moved into a studio apartment and began to live entirely alone for the very first time – during a pandemic, which of course added to the isolation. I am emerging from the narrative that frames alone time as a negative consequence and beginning to really cherish the autonomy, the quiet, the slow pace, and the creative freedom that comes with having my own space and my own time. Here in my studio, I explore creative self-compassion with intention in a way I never had the opportunity to do before. I practice music, memorize lines, write, process photos, listen to music, dance, do yoga, meditate, dream, feed myself, read, and learn, alone in this very private 700 square feet of space. Somehow, while photographing it this morning, I chose monochrome. I like the clarity and simplicity it evokes. I like how ‘mono’ means alone. There is a quiet joy here, even if there’s a somberness to it.
I hope, Friends, that this challenge inspires you to invest in your inner life and in the most important relationship you will ever have: the one with your precious and unique Self.