Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In the Weeds

If I hadn't seen the two undergrads casting on the opposite bank, I'd not have walked around; and if I hadn't walked around, I'd not have seen their path through the tall grasses and weeds; and if I hadn't seen their path, I'd not have been brave enough to get close.

To them I owe my thanks, and to this Slaty Skimmer for returning again and again to cardinal flowers very nearly in reach.

(I just hope I don't wake in the middle of the night to chigger bumps.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


J has a new foster, but I think that Gracie may become her very own dog.

I hope so because she's sweet and photogenic.

See what I mean?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sun Again

It's good to walk around the lake again in full sun, especially in relatively mild weather. I counted 16  species of odonates eating, warming, and mating (Eastern Pondhawk, Blue Dasher, Eastern Amberwing, Wandering Glider, Black Saddlebags, Green Darner, Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Common Whitetail, Swift Setwing, Calico Pennant, Banded Pennant, Halloween Pennant, Swamp Spreadwing, Fragile Forktail, Double-striped Bluet [I think]); I watched countless skippers and bees and flies at work in the grasses and wildflowers; I stared at the swirl of chalk-white clouds in sky of different blues, high and low; I chatted with a friend about her recent surgery and together we found and relocated a swallowtail caterpillar.

But what stopped me was this.

Cardinal flowers, lilies, water, sun reflections. I couldn't stop staring and snapping.

After needed rain, everyone and everything is grateful for beauty.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

More Rain

Make yourself at home.

Stay a while.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Seeing the Self in Others' Writing

Two essays, read today, both personal -- but both about some interior part of me that I have recognized at isolated moments throughout my life.

In "David's Ankles: How Imperfections Could Bring Down the World's Most Famous Statue," Sam Anderson writes about the first time he saw the David in person:

"I stood there in my filthy Birkenstocks feeling a sense of religious transcendental soaring: the promise that my true self was not bound by the constraints of my childhood — by freeway exits, office parks, after-school programs, coin-operated laundry rooms at dingy apartment complexes, vineyards plowed under and converted into Walmarts, instability, change, dead dogs, divorce. No. The David suggested that my true self existed most fully in some interstellar superhistorical realm in which all the ideal things of the universe commingled in a perpetual ecstasy of harmonizing trumpet blasts. If such perfection could exist in the world, I felt, then so many other things were suddenly possible: to live a perfect life creating perfect things, to find an ideal way to be. What was the point of anything less?"

I know about that "interstellar superhistorical realm." In Italy, I felt it, not from standing before the David but from standing in the Cornaro Chapel before Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa and in the Galleria Borghese before his Apollo and Daphne, The Rape of Proserpine, and David (see here and here and here). For me, it's the same heightened experience I feel at times (not every time) that I walk with a camera, especially in nature.

Writer Katherine Towler says this in her essay "Why Do Writers Love Birding So Much?":

"With birds I have found another way of being in the world. The time devoted to watching birds is about nothing but what is right there in front of me. I am released from myself instead of sent deeper within. I am immersed in the senses, and freed of turning that experience into a narrative. Until I went out looking for birds, I did not understand how much I hungered to leave the self-consciousness of the writer behind."

I am not a writer or a birder, but if I remove those specific references, I recognize my own leaving "self-consciousness" behind in the fugue state of looking at what I have never before truly noticed. At essay's close, she writes,

"On a summer day, the song sparrow in my back yard gives his sweet, loopy song over and over in a repetition that is insistent. Listen to me, he says. Look out the window. Feel the sun on your face. I lived in my house for more than ten years before I noticed and identified the song sparrow. It seems inconceivable that he was calling to me all that time and I did not hear him, but I’m listening now."

Substitute seeing for listening and that's me. That's why I walk with my camera. That's why I lose all sense of time in an art museum or beside a pond. That's the state of suspended of deep knowing I am lucky enough to experience from time to time, the flow that relieves the mundanity of otherwise ordinary living.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Challenge of Leaving the Kitchen


The sound.

The spent leaves

The long-awaited rain.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Challenge of Walking out of a Parking Lot

If yesterday was a challenge on a walk, today was even more so.

I went to the hospital to see Boo. As soon as I parked my car, I realized two pairs of Wandering Gliders were busily ovipositing on top of the shiny blue car right next to mine.

Let's call it Lake Ford Escape.

Here's what I watched till they finished; then I finally went inside.

Created with flickr slideshow.