Drawn by a giant

Drawn by a giant

The constantly changing perspective of Alice in Wonderland delights me. First she is tiny and the world is huge. All of a sudden she grows immense and everything around her has shrunk.

Her image has stuck with me as I take pictures, and it sometimes creates dizzying shifts of perspective. As I viewed this desert cliff side, I thought of her possible Southwestern counterpart.

Imagine, if you will, a gigantic artist, coloring this desert scene. He settles carefully into a cross-legged position in the arroyo, trying to fit in amongst the cottonwoods and alder trees.

Out of an immense pencil box he picks up a piece of charcoal and carefully smudges the vermilion cliffs with desert varnish. Then he selects a white pen and limns the outlines of the Octotillo, as it waits for the summer rains…

Imagination must be visited constantly,

or else it begins to become restless and

emits strange bellows at embarrassing moments. Ignoring it only makes it grow larger and noisier.
~Patricia McKillip~

The beauty of being thrifty

Moss patterns

It is always fun when Mother Nature shows you something you didn’t expect to see. Here, the moss patterns reveal the water currents, as clearly as if they’d been drawn with crayon.

And, as I looked closer, I recognized a pattern that I’d seen it before: it resembled the curve in the bark of an ancient tree, growing around the scar of an old, pruned branch.

Count on Mother Nature to be parsimonious. Why invent a new image, when you have one waiting in the wings to be used again!

All the vanity, all the charm, all the beauty of life
is made up of light and shadow.

~Leo Tolstoy~

 

An eye for rust

Artful decay

As an aficionado of texture, when I came upon this old shack, I was in seventh heaven. Consider that great rusty barrel, the rain-stained wood, the stovepipe hanging at an angle, that old window missing one pane, the tattered, rusting side-panels. It was perfect!

And then I discovered why is was perfect. It’s not real. This sheep herder’s cabin, nestled among a grove of eucalyptus trees, is a carefully constructed movie set. All that rust is man-made, as was the angle of the stovepipe and the metal patches about to fall to the ground. All were built with an eye toward illusion.

I decided I liked it anyway. How could I not admire an artist with an eye for rust!

And now we welcome the new year.
Full of things that have never been.
~Rainer Maria Rilke~

 

The road less traveled–recently

I discovered this scene in Zion National Park at the golden hour of sunset. What is special to me are the leaves scattered in the path. It appears that the route, although well-traveled in the past, hasn’t seen much action recently.

That, for me, makes it irresistible. What fun, to discover something of value that others may have ignored!

The earth seemed to move with me.
I found a new source of power and beauty,
a source I never knew existed.

~Sir Roger Bannister,
first person to run a four-minute mile~

Layers of water

Layers of water

I’m sure there’s a scientific term for the refractions and reflections present in water, but to me those layers of water are endlessly fascinating. Whenever I get near a pond or a creek, my photographer’s fingers get itchy!

Perhaps it is the paradox of something so clear and transparent being able to reflect light back into our eyes in such a striking manner. It’s like seeing something twice, or three times, or four.

I think it is very difficult to figure out
where things come from. The only explanation
I’m able to give is in one word. That is “energy.”
Sometimes it’s destructive.
Sometimes it’s beautiful,
more creative, more rarefied.

~Dale Chihuly~

 

The power of gentleness

Flowers holding up posts

I took this photo at a remote Inn near Abiquiu because I loved the rich golden hues of the peeled cottonwood posts in the saturated New Mexican sunshine.

But then the flowers drew my attention. Appearing fragile, they stretch out, holding the posts apart.

I am reminded that life, in its very gentleness, can be intensely powerful.

What happens every day is what’s surprising.
The treasure’s never where I look to find it, but where I simply look–the sky, the wind, a sunrise,
a silver arc, the moment’s chance.

~Ursula le Guin~

Doing the hard thing

Lake in New Hampshire

In the summer the sun rises early in New Hampshire. I knew there would be something to see if I set the alarm and rose to greet it. But I’d flown across country the day before and spent a good part of the evening catching up with family happenings.

I didn’t want to get up. Even so, I stumbled out and discovered this.

Beauty will sometimes allow us to share in its fullness if we do the hard thing, the one thing we really would rather not do. The reward becomes worth the effort.

We live in a moment of history
where change is so speeded up
that we begin to see the present
only when it is already disappearing.

~R. D. Laing~

 

Keep your eye on the sky

Sunlight behind the clouds

I had just come out of the grocery store. My mind was filled with eggs and celery and pork cutlets. Then I turned around and saw this.

I was transfixed, and so was everyone else in the parking lot. We stopped and stared. And then turned and nodded to each other, aware that what had transfixed us had halted others, too.

For one moment, we were united in a community of beauty. Water vapor and sunlight. Transformed just for us.

Happiness sneaks in through a door
you didn’t know you left open.
~John Barrymore~

 

Everything vanishes if you wait long enough

Picture of Coffee Pot Rock, Sedona, AZ

One of the most famous rock formations near Sedona, Arizona is called Coffee Pot Rock. It is shaped like one of those old-fashioned campfire coffee pots that the cowboy cooks always used to keep at the ready, of course. What could be more fitting for this Western town.

I took this picture from an urban trail, located right in the middle of West Sedona. Later in the day there would be sightseeing helicopters buzzing over head and packs of tourists taking selfies. But just now, with the sun early up and the light still golden-wonderful, it was just me and the red rocks.

Coffee Pot Rock isn’t permanent, though. Just as the Old-Man-in-the-Mountain granite profile in New Hampshire lost its nose a few years back, this icon is slowly fading away, too. What you can’t see from this picture is a neat slice off the back of the spout of the pot, now lying crumbling at the base of the cliff. Nothing lasts forever!

Glance at the sun. See the moon and stars. Gaze at the beauty of the green earth. Now think.
~Hildegard of Bingen~