Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Shade and Shadow

Saturdays, holidays, easy afternoons
Lazy days, sunny days, nothing much to do.
Rainy days are better days for hangin’ out in-side
Grainy days and city ways make me want to hide
Someplace cool an’ green an’ shady.

Find yourself a piece of grassy ground,
Lay down close your eyes.
Find yourself and maybe lose yourself
While your free spirit flies.
— John Denver

It’s early June, and already there have been days of record high temperatures here in Oregon as well as other parts of the U.S. My adults kids live in apartments without air conditioning…who would have thought you’d need it in the northern part of the country? The fear of another summer of wildfires is palpable. We seek out shade and water while we live in the shadow of hubris-driven climate instability.

Light and shadow are opposite sides of the same coin.
We can illuminate our paths or darken our way.
It is a matter of choice.
— Maya Angelou

Thanks to Ann-Christine for hosting this week’s Lens Artists challenge. Stay cool and kind and be safe!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Special Moments

“It only takes a moment
To be loved
A whole life long”
― Jerry Herman (from Hello, Dolly!)

Since moving to Oregon from Wisconsin last summer, I have had numerous “Pinch me!” moments when I can’t believe the everyday beauty of this place. I live in a studio apartment over the garage of a big house in a forest in the foothills of the Coastal Range. Travelling into town, I pass orchards and wineries and tree farms. My mailbox is .6 miles away. The creek is a few hundred feet downhill. It is quiet, secluded, wild in places, ever-changing, and constantly stunning. 

“The moments of happiness –
We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning
Restores the experience in a different form
Beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness.
The past experience revived in the meaning
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations.”
― T. S. Eliot (from Cats)

I often find myself in a moment of profound awareness of the beauty of my surroundings here. I have dreamed of living near mountains ever since I was 10 years old and traveled from the flatlands of Chicago to Colorado to visit my cousins. I was so envious of the views from their home and their proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. I lived in California for 15 years, but always in a heavily populated area. Here, the mountains are forested and human dwellings are few and far between. It’s peaceful. It’s slow. It’s quiet.

“Let the moment go
Don’t forget it for a moment though

Just remembering you’ve had an ‘and’
When you’re back to ‘or’
Makes the ‘or’ mean more
Than it did before
Now I understand
And it’s time to leave the woods”
― Stephen Sondheim (from Into the Woods)

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Glimpse into Your World

A Glimpse into your world’. Show us the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy. – Sheetal Bravon, host for Lens-Artists

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
― Mother Teresa

“I can wade Grief—
Whole Pools of it—
I’m used to that—
But the least push of Joy
Breaks up my feet—
And I tip—drunken—
Let no Pebble—smile—
‘Twas the New Liquor—
That was all!”
― Emily Dickinson

“You are not a drop in the ocean; you are the entire ocean in a drop.
― Rumi

My joy at being reunited with the ocean and with my adult children approaches delirium. These loves are far bigger than myself and help me to expand in appreciation and generosity beyond myself. They are a world of life and the life in the world.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Sanctuary

Home is where the heart is
No matter how the heart lives
Inside your heart where love is
That’s where you’ve got to make yourself
At home” – Sally Fingerett

On the first day of this month, I moved into a new home, a quiet sanctuary surrounded by tall evergreens nestled in the foothills of the Willamette valley in Oregon. My four children were all on hand to help me move my belongings upstairs into the studio apartment above the garage.

“Between every two pines, there is a doorway to a new world.” – John Muir

This is actually the first time that I have lived by myself with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and dining room that I share with no one else. The residents of the main house generously share the laundry room, patio, and garden with me.

“A home is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world, a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

But sanctuary is more than just a place to be. It is also the shelter of connection and hospitality. My daughter-in-law hosted a welcome picnic for me on the shores of Fern Ridge Lake. 

And so I begin the process of “coming home to a place I’ve never been before”, and settling into the sanctuary of being myself, connected but independent. 

“Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse

Moving cross-country during a pandemic is an enterprise riddled with uncertainty. There is no way to predict the outcome of any encounter along the way. I figure that the best practice is to exercise reasonable precautions, be kind and courteous, ask questions politely, and be grateful for what the Universe offers. My anxieties have been offset by unprecedented delights. I am surrounded by beauty and acts of loving care. I wish these blessings on all travelers on this globally historic journey.

Thank you to Lens-Artists challenge host Xenia for inspiring this post with a timely theme.