My Dot on the Map: In Celebration of Ordinary

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Waterloo Bird Sanctuary

Southern Michigan doesn’t have many grand vistas – especially at my dot on the map half way between the Great Lakes to the east and west. Within a couple of hours I can reach Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie but even there the vistas aren’t the same as where there are mountain ranges, great gorges or vast deserts.

maple dale 045-2Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that friend Julie and I go out once a week in pursuit of the perfect photograph and we can’t resist dirt roads. We sometimes stop for barns – but usually we stop in the middle of nowhere and wonder off in different directions searching for nature’s wonders along the farmer’s fields or on the edges of the many small ponds and marshes. We always stop for interesting light.

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We get lost on these outings  – sometimes geographically, but always emotionally. Time slows down – there is no rush, nothing from the future calls me. I get lost in seeing new beauty in ordinary time. My eyes stop looking for the big picture and begin to focus on what is lost in sweeping landscapes.

Waterloo 150I begin to see nature unfolding in this moment, in this space. Simple beauty designed by the changing seasons instead of a person’s hands.

We don’t have to travel far to find new images to capture because the spaces we walk are always changing. There is always new beauty to celebrate.

I am feeling sadness today because tomorrow we are leaving on our winter migration south. I don’t think I’m quite ready to leave Michigan Autumn. My body will appreciate the warmer winter climate and maybe I will begin to recognize and celebrate the seasonal change at my new dot on the map in Southern Florida. I’ll be looking for it.

A Road Not Taken

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I am drawn to paths and lanes, and absolutely can’t resist going down a dirt road in Michigan. When our family was young and we camped in the Upper Peninsula, way up north of Houghton and Hancock, we would drive our station wagon down fire lanes in search of ghost towns.

I treasure these memories that can still elicit a quickened heart beat and the anxiety of wondering if the car could make it – and of course the excitement of finding them. We have aged a lot since then and our activities have changed with our bodies. We don’t want to jar our stiffening muscles and arthritic joints to the point where the price is too high. There are some roads that we choose not to go down, with no regrets because we had fun in the past.

We are finding new adventures that are consistent with what our bodies can do. Next week we leave Michigan for our Florida home, but on the way we are going to drive the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway through Virginia and North Carolina. As I read the guide books I bought I am a little sad that my body won’t allow me to do most the trails to water falls, but I notice that there are many that are close to the road. I am really excited about what we are able to do – and choose not to think about what I can’t do. We are slowing down but that gives us time to focus on where we are and the wonder around us. And of course I am focusing my camera where-ever I am.

How sweet it is to be older, to have the privilege to take as long as we want along the road we do choose.

Cee would enjoy seeing your interpretation of ways that we travel. You can get lots of ideas by checking out her post on “Which Way“.

Good Morning Tree

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I took my normal route to pick up Julie for our weekly quest to find the perfect image. We decided that with Fall we could actually get up early enough to catch the first rays of sun, and as I drove past the Lime Lake county park I glanced in that direction. The mist was rising off the lake and the sun was coming up over the trees on the far side.

After shooting several photographs, I started back to the car – and stopped. I had almost missed this beautiful tree silhouetted against the sun-rise mist.