Weekly Photo Challenge: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Do you see something….unusual…in this photo?  

Blue ‘Shroom, I saw you standing alone….
It’s a lactarius indigo edible mushroom. The latex or milk that oozes from it turns from blue or blue/gray to green when it is cut open. I’ve only seen this one. 

And what’s wrong with this picture? 

Boys in shorts, green grass and blooming flowers, and…snow on the ground? 
Okay, I’m kidding. That’s not snow. It’s flower petals from the tree overhead. 

 

What about these? Anything ODD about this place? 

Yeah. It’s all weird. I don’t get humans. I’m sticking to Nature Photography. 😉  

Unusual

Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge

“Only connect.” – my mother

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.” – E. M. Forster Howard’s End

“True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that, you are no long caught in the idea that you are a separate entity.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Bridge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta

Δ Delta

“This week, share a photograph that signifies transitions and change to you… Explore the ways in which a single photograph can express time, while only showing us a small portion of any given moment.”

Time and change symbolized in a static, 2-dimensional image — not an easy trick. However, all around us there are clues to the way that Nature has changed things over time.  How about:
1) The resting place of the bleached pelvic bone of an elk who once wandered this tall grass prairie in South Dakota

2) The abstract art of calcite deposits left in a cave long after limestone has dissolved  

 3) The fossilized bones of dinosaurs that roamed the Earth some 150 million years ago, exhibited for present day tourists to see and touch

4) These stately forms of sandstone, layered and eroded over time 

5) The moment in time when light, air, water and Earth meet in a colorful conjunction, only to disappear in the next movement of the elements

Of these five examples, which one speaks to you of the joy in change and movement? 

Delta

Weekly Photo Challenge: Order and Chaos

My photographic focus is on Nature. Here’s an interesting question: is Nature ordered or chaotic? I grew up hearing that God brought order out of chaos when He created the world. What might that mean? Do we see that evidenced in the world? There are certainly patterns in Nature, but aside from crystal structures, I have a hard time thinking of anything in Nature resembling a straight line. To me, Nature is one thing after another and never exactly the same. I see this in many examples, like my 4 children. 

And speaking of crystal structures, what about snowflakes? No two are alike, we’re told. Is symmetry the same as order?Pattern and repetition, if not exact, can be a kind of order, I guess…or it can be a kind of chaos. Are feathers orderly? Even when ruffled?

Nature is complex. I think that order is a human attempt to simplify Nature into something less overwhelming and easier to control. Sometimes this simplification has benefits. Evenly and consistently constructed stair steps are much easier to ascend than canyon rocks. 

Somehow, even though Order makes my life easier and tidier at times, I would not say that it’s better. I would not even say that it’s Divine. It’s just….orderly.  

Order

An American Adventure: Part Four

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

I was 9 years old and seeing the mountains of Colorado for the first time the last time I was here. Frankly, the only thing I remember of it from back then is the name. It kind of scared me.

 

It is a National Park, a deep gorge, a wild river, a cross-section of geography, and a wilderness where humans are temporary visitors at best. From the Visitor Center parking lot, a glimpse of the scale of  its depth is merely a tease. 

 

After a good night’s sleep, we walked the canyon rim from the campgrounds to the Visitor Center and got a closer look. 

The early morning silence, the delicate frost in the shadows, the warm fragrance of juniper and sage, the glimmer of rushing water at the canyon floor…I had stepped into a holy sanctuary that Sunday morning and wept with awe and joy…and sadness.I feel the threat to wild land as a pain deep in my gut. The river that carved this place is running high this year and being “managed” and diverted and manipulated to provide irrigation and recreation and serve a host of human needs. I don’t know how all the demands are weighed on this issue. My desire is to listen to the place itself, to let it simply Be, and to learn what I can with my brain, my heart, and my soul. 

A volunteer guided us on a wildflower walk later that afternoon and introduced us to Western species new to us. Many of the Gambel oaks had just budded when that late snowstorm hit, and their tiny, crisp, shriveled leaves looked woefully sad. They are a hardy bunch and will hopefully recover, but the acorn yield in the fall will likely be diminished. The colorful blooms along the trail seemed to be not at all harmed. 

This plant tour proved very useful. We saw a lot of Oregon grape, which is quite common and looks a lot like poison oak when it shows up as just three leaves with a reddish tinge. However, it does get additional leaves and yellow flowers which make it obviously distinct.

The campsite we found later in the Manti-La Sal National Forest was covered with it. I was glad to know I wasn’t risking a poison oak rash every time I went in the brush to pee!

An American Adventure: Part One

We set out Friday, May 19 from Wisconsin at 5:00 a.m., sunrise behind us, tornadoes ahead. Crossing Kansas, the sky sat heavy and dark all around; the radio announced storm details for counties we couldn’t identify on our general road map. We drove perpendicular to them, it turns out, and emerged awed and unscathed into nighttime in Colorado. After two brief naps in the car at the side of the road, we met the sunshine in Pueblo and stopped for breakfast in Cañon City. The tourist attractions don’t impress us. We choose our town stops based on U.S. Forest Service offices. Picking up maps and asking questions is right up there with filling the gas tank and eating a meal. Although the office was not yet open, the kiosk outside was full of helpful information. After breakfast, we made our way up through Royal Gorge into the mountains toward Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. A late spring storm had dumped record-breaking inches of snow throughout the Rockies just two days before, and some roads were still impassable. We would see more consequences of that storm in the days to come. 

I try to be mindful of the adventure of traveling. It is so much more than the preparation and packing, the sights out the window and the passage of time. How do I respond to discomfort? To contrast? To expectations and disappointment? What am I looking for? What is important to me? What do I feel?

And then…how do I turn away from my ego and discover what this place is? What is its pace? Its scale? Its history? Its character?

Getting out of the car is a big step. Leaving a computer screen, a phone screen, and a windscreen behind opens up a new world. The Earth smells amazing. Heat and cold feel amazing. Being surrounded by living things is truly amazing. And that’s a good place to begin. I am amazed, humbled, ready to open up to new experience.