Walking on clouds

A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn’t see the clouds at all — he’s walking on them.

~ Leonard Louis Levinson

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Moon of Ice

thin wall —
with the moonlight comes
the cold

~ Issa, 1824 Read the rest of this entry »

The spirit is willing

Locust tree against the sky

But the flesh?  Not so much.  It all started on Monday…

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286: Sky

Under the locust tree

Yesterday’s sky was so pretty that I set aside a few shots for today’s post.  The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Sky.  It’s been a few weeks since I participated in a WordPress photo challenge.

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186: Dazzling in blue

(A single cattail.)

I cannot think of a better word for today.  It is dazzling.  The sky is an amazing shade of blue.  The sun is providing incredible light.  It’s just… dazzling.

(Ripples and willow branch reflections on the pond.)

Has it warmed up here in the Bogs?  No.  It has not.  It’s not any warmer than it has been for the past week or so.  But my attitude has  changed, and I have once again acclimated to the cold.  Layers on, hat on, mittens on, and waterproof boots to keep my feet dry and warm.  The t-shirts, shorts, and other bits of summer apparel will have to wait.  The weather folks are saying we won’t be warming up anytime soon.  It’ll be at least a week or more.

Bird's nest

I like the way the blue of the sky comes out in different shades depending on where I point the camera in relation to where the sun is positioned.  Or something like that.  I bet it sounded like I knew what I was talking about for a moment or two.

A bird near the nest

I am surprised by how boggy it continues to be.  The persistent, steady, cold and dry north wind should have pretty much dried things out by now.  I tried to make my way through the woods, but once I started down towards lower ground, it got muddy and mushy.  I would have been slipping and sliding (and probably falling) all over the place if I had continued.

Old tree in the woods

The vegetable garden area, which is on slightly higher ground, is almost dry enough for tilling.  That also means it’s almost dry enough for me to start to work on cleaning up the asparagus bed.  It will, however, be a while before we can consider planting anything.

I stayed out for over an hour today, enjoying the light, the blue of the sky, and even the chill and fresh scent of the north wind.  It was invigorating, on many levels.

Today's view of the pond from the timothy grass meadow

Old Man Winter may think he’s got a grip on us, but if you look closely you will find that Spring has not been completely halted in her mission of growth, rebirth, and renewal.

New life popping up

I think those might be the day lilies.  The area where I found them is the right place for them, and I can’t think of any other flowers that might be growing there.  We’ll see, as time goes on, how good my memory is.

Catkins against a blue sky

Going outside on a daily basis is easier and much more enjoyable when I give up the whingeing, and go out with a sense of adventure and discovery.  So go ahead, North Wind.  Bring it on.  It’s not going to keep me indoors.


Fire in the sky -- last night's sunset as seen through the woods

I’ll find other ways to keep warm.


183: Photography as meditation

(Willow stump.)

Yesterday, Kathy asked:

Here is a question, Robin. Do you find it easy to meditate with a camera? I find it a distraction many times, because the mind gets active watching for a possible shot, figuring out how to frame it, always moving outwards. I would like to learn how to meditate with a camera–but it hasn’t happened yet! Any advice?

Kathy’s question is so interesting to me that some of the neurons in my brain that fell asleep over the winter months awakened and started firing like crazy.  Little firecrackers in my head, going all active.  My brain is awake.  Yay.

I started to answer in comments but my answer was so long that it turned into a blog post. I will try not to turn this into the longest blog post ever.

And that desire — the strong desire to take pictures — is important.  It borders on a need, based on a habit:  the habit of seeing.  Whether working or not, photographers are looking, seeing, and thinking about what they see, a habit that is both a pleasure and a problem, for we seldom capture in a single photograph the full expression of what we see and feel.  It is the hope that we might express ourselves fully — and the evidence that other photographers have done so — that keep us taking pictures.  ~ Sam Abell, American photographer

Photography is often described as capturing a moment.  That’s true.  A crocus pushes up through the snow, a camera with a person attached to it (in some way) records it.  The moment when those tiny little bits of green show through the snow at that exact position in time is gone except for the photograph recording it and the photographer’s memory of it.  It becomes another moment, a personal moment, when someone else views it.

As I’ve noted here (I think) and in guest blog posts, photography puts me smack in the moment with a heightened awareness that I often find difficult to describe.   Perhaps a better description is feeling as if I am connected with everything.  I am present in the moment.  When I walk with my camera hanging around my neck, I rarely pay much attention to the camera itself.  I know it’s there in the same way I know my arms, hands, legs, and feet are there.  I feel it.  I am aware of lifting it, looking through the viewfinder, and taking a shot, in the same way I am aware of my feet on the earth or my arms and legs moving.

Here is a shocking bit of information about me:  I do not compose my shots.  I know.  It’s weird.  I do not consciously look at a scene and think about how I would frame it.  Subconsciously, maybe I do.  The thing is, I already see in frames.  I attribute that to having worn glasses most of my life, but I suppose it’s possible that’s just how my brain works.  I don’t believe there is anything mystical, magical, or highly artistic about it.  It is just the way I see and think.  I am fortunate in that there is a way for me to express the way I see and think.  Whenever there was a camera of any kind for me to attach to myself, I’ve taken advantage of it.  I borrowed cameras when I didn’t have the money to buy one of my own.   Taking a walk without a camera feels odd to me.  I do it once in a while because I think it’s healthy to take a break every now and then.

Although I am aware of the camera and the motions involved in taking a photo, I just don’t think about it.  At all.  I point, I shoot.  Sometimes I barely stop to do it.  The camera is, in many respects, an extension of me.  It is my way of seeing the moment as well as the world.  I am often surprised by what I find when it’s time to look at the photos.  I see things I could not have otherwise seen.  There is a drawback, though.  The camera doesn’t always see the way I see.  That’s why I’ve become more and more interested in fiddling with (processing) the photos in various programs including Photoshop, Picasa, and Picnik.  I’ve sometimes used all three for one photo to come up with what my “eye” (soul) observed.  It’s not merely an observation for me, and I think that is the difference between what I see (feel) and what the camera captures.

Photography is meditation for me in many respects.  When I am out walking and taking pictures, my mind often becomes quiet, relaxed, and present.  I’ve been known to use photography to help me through fear when hiking in high places (or on an airplane).  I lift the camera to my eye and the fear fades as my focus changes, physically and mentally.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rules of not composing, and photography as meditation.  If I go out with purpose (“today I am going to shoot This”), then it is not as much an extension of me as when I go out without expectations of any kind.  Taking photographs with intention is different than when I’m out on a hike or walk.  There might still be a meditative quality to it, something similar to a guided visualization as I usually try to map things out when I’m shooting with intention.  The other exception is shooting in manual mode, something I’ve been doing more of lately in an attempt to get the photo right in the camera so I don’t have to fuss with processing it later.  (Side note:  Shooting in manual mode has started to make me slightly unhappy with the auto modes.  That’s probably a good thing.)

As for advice, I’m not very good at that sort of thing.  You should do what feels right/best for you.  I think it may be different for everyone.  🙂

Today’s outdoor adventure

It’s another chilly day here in the Bogs.  Low temps in the teens, highs in the 30s.  At least we have sunshine, and the wind is still gusting occasionally but not quite as blustery as it was yesterday.

Today's view of the pond

I didn’t stay out any longer than I had to in order to meet my commitment.  It is just too cold.  I don’t think I whined this much about the cold throughout the winter.

Grackle in the locust tree

The birds don’t seem to be minding the cold too much today.  They’re active building nests or, in the case of the ducks, swimming in the pond.

The trees continue to bud, and the flowers have (so far) survived the cold nights.  The crocuses have shriveled a bit, but they might have been finished for the season.  The hyacinths are budding nicely.  If it continues to stay dry, I might get out in the garden soon to clean up the asparagus bed.

I should get some seeds started soon.  I’m not sure what I want to grow this year.  Tomatoes, of course.  Lettuces.  Maybe I’ll give rapini or swiss chard a try.

How about you?  Do you have a vegetable garden?  What do you plan to grow this year?

145: Sky dreaming in colors

(A celebration in the sky.)

The heart is always the place to go.  Go home into your heart, where there is warmth, appreciation, gratitude and contentment.

~ Ayya Khema

(Heading home for the evening.)

The sun and sky threw a big party yesterday evening and they invited almost all of the colors of the rainbow to join them in their celebration.  It was a stunning sunset.

A flock of geese flew by, adding their music to the celebration.  Just as I thought it couldn’t get any better, it would.

This morning’s sunrise was almost as stunning.  I was in the kitchen just after my early morning yoga/meditation practice, heating up some water for tea, when the sky lit up in a multitude of colors.  I stood and watched.  It was one of those times when I wanted to be in the moment rather than capture it (with the camera).

(Wide view of the pond and the sky.)

You’ll just have to take my word for it (regarding this morning’s sunrise).  Have you ever noticed that sunrises frequently have a similar look and coloring as the previous night’s sunset?

Today’s outdoor time was all about errands and chores.  The wind has been all bluster and noise for the past 24 hours, with gusts up to 45 mph.  A cold front is moving through this afternoon, and the temperature has been dropping.  We’ll go from 40s to the teens by tonight.

No music so far today.  I’m in the mood for silence.  I will pop in a CD later.  Something soothing, I think.  It’s not a day for harsh sounds.

(Just before darkness settled in.)

That’s about it from the Bogs for today.  Here’s a little something to celebrate the day: