Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning!

It’s all about the initiation.  The beginning.  The sun rising in the east and making the western sky rosy.  The fog lifting. The commencement of new sound breaking out of silence. The birds, the frogs, calling back and forth. Another day, a new opportunity  for life. 

intricate 2

Looking at the effects that nighttime sunlessness has left on the world and realizing that other changes are still to come.  The frost will melt. The air will warm. 

early morning frost

It’s all about the sun. It’s come back again. Whatever we wished or feared, held in hope or anxiety, we have been given another day to work, to play, to love, to dread, or to be free. Continuation is the gift…or maybe the rule. What will you make of it?

renewal 2
Morning

Photography 101: Mystery

I can think of no better icon of mystery than the sky.  The heavens in “Big Sky Country”, the American West, give plenty of fodder for pondering mysteries of all magnitudes, from “Do you think it’s going to rain?” to “Are there other life forms on those twinkly planets?”  I wish that I had the proper equipment to photograph the night sky in New Mexico.  The number of stars visible to the naked eye is astounding.  We had a new moon night with a view of the Milky Way that was indeed mystical.  It put my own life into a different perspective.  Here’s a gallery of some mysterious skies:

Photography 101: Warmth

Hmm.  The sun does not seem to be cooperating with Word Press today.  The skies in Wisconsin are a flat gray, and I’m in bed with bronchitis.  Warmth is going to have to come from some stored files.  Let’s start with early morning, shall we?  There’s nothing like a cat for finding the sun’s first warming light.  This is Portia, my brother’s cat:

California Cat

California Cat

California boasts some dazzling sun.  I found that challenging when taking pictures in the middle of the day.  I took several shots of a fallen redwood; its roots were spread out like a sunburst.  The texture and lines were amazing.  In high contrast, it’s rather like an acid trip. (Not that I’d really know…)

California trip

California trip

Seriously, that’s not my style.  I am a Nature Girl.  Here’s a more natural look:

California roots

California roots

At the end of a day of dazzling sunshine in New Mexico, the sun slants in at a low angle, warming the red rocks:

Setting warmth

Setting warmth

Finally, the sun lights the clouds a brilliant fuchsia at its departure.

Waning warmth

Waning warmth

Hey, the sun came out!  Guess it’s time to get out of my sickbed and make some breakfast.  I hope your day is warm, whether from the coffee in your mug or from the sun itself. 

P.S. Later that afternoon….hey!  What’s that flaky stuff floating down through the sky?  Is it?!  Yup!  It’s snow. First of the season, too.  🙂

Re-inventing Advent

Two years ago, when I first started blogging, I ran a series of posts every day in the month of December.  This series was in lieu of an Advent calendar, which had been a big tradition of my family.  Back then, I had only a handful of faithful blog followers, instead of more than 400.  So, I intend to re-gift these entries.  After all, I am in the resale business! (Check out Scholar & Poet Books – there’s  a link in the side bar.) For my family and for Helen (God bless you!), these will be repeats.  For the rest of you, I hope you enjoy opening your daily presents!

‘Tis A Season

When I was a kid, I always had an Advent calendar to count down the days from the first of December until Christmas Eve.  I had the same tradition with my own kids.  The secrets hidden behind each door were often Scripture verses.  It was important to tell the story of Jesus’ birth and make sure my kids knew that was “the reason for the season”.   There are other little treasures we could open each day, though.  When my son was taking German in high school, they sold Advent calendars with chocolates in them.   My father used to make us calendars out of magazine pictures and various old rotogravures with fortune cookie strips for the daily message.  We made our own calendars for each other, too, with simple crayon symbols behind the cut out doors.   The season has multiple images in my mind, and now I’m trying to figure out what it means to me at this point in my life.

I will always have respect for Jesus and the Christian story.  They were supremely important in my life for many years.  My spirituality was formed around them.  I think it is good to examine and re-examine beliefs, though, and strive for genuine and authentic expressions of experience.  My experience is expanding as I age, and I want to include more of those experiences in my belief system.  I want to include respect for other cultures, other religions, other parts of the planet and the universe.  I have a sister who is Sikh, a son who identifies with Buddhism and Native American spirit stories and a father who once taught science.  There is a lot going on all over the world in this season.  What do I want to acknowledge or celebrate?

My youngest daughter has always loved this season.  She used to go to the local Hallmark store in the middle of the summer to look at the Christmas village set up there.  What was that about?  Sparkly, pretty, cozy, homey, yummy expectations of treats?  Possibly.  Peace, love, joy?  Possibly.  Emotions?  Definitely.  Why not focus on pleasurable human senses and emotions?  Up in the northern hemisphere, we are spinning away from the sun and plunging into a cold, dark time.  Light becomes more precious, warmth becomes holy, food is life itself.  Why not celebrate that dependence?  We are sustained by the sun and the producers of this planet that make food from its energy.  Evergreen trees remind us of that.  Gifts remind us that we receive from the producers; we are consumers.  Gratitude is the attitude of the season.  Giving is the action that sustains us.

Vernon Marsh, sunset (click to enlarge)

I sent a text message to each of my kids this morning saying that the gift for Day #1 this season is sunshine.  The sun is shining here, showering us with Vitamin D and all kinds of other goodies we need to be healthy and happy.   We are blessed, saved, sustained, given life in this universe by an amazing set of circumstances that we did not originate.   However you acknowledge that and whoever taught you to acknowledge that deserves attention.  May you be happy as you think and act in awareness of this.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

“Lights are functional — everyday objects in our rooms and on our streets. Yet lights can be powerful symbols: signs of life, curiosity, and discovery. ”  So goes the challenge description for this week.  My first instinct was to think of the photos I took New Year’s Eve of candlelight at the table.  I’ve been experimenting with low key lighting and how to bump my camera settings to accommodate that.  But I’ve already posted some of those.  My next thought was to post one I took yesterday, and I think it’ll be my choice.  True to my own natural preference, the light I’ve chosen is the very essence and source of life, curiosity, and discovery – the Sun.  At this time of year, we drift farther away from our sustaining Star.  A gauzy shroud interferes.  We are in a state of indirect, ethereal contact.  Our longing is enhanced and unsatisfied.  We pause to ponder the diminishment.  Physically, we may suffer on a cellular level. Emotionally, we may avoid or embrace this spiritual journey into greater darkness. 

I was walking through the Arboretum at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  I came to the crest of a hill from the north and descended towards the Visitor Center when I saw this tree lit from the south by the winter sun.  I hope you like this interpretation of Illumination:

Winter illumination

Winter illumination