Sometimes the Way Isn’t Clear

I decided to participate in Which Way Photo Challenge this week because I’ve been listening to people who have the experience to understand the mess our country is in (scientists and career public servants). I have been searching for those people who can give me hope that there is a way out of the climate crisis that is causing carnage around the world; the racial and ethnic inequality that has been the elephant in our history; the Covid-19 pandemic that about a third of the country, the third that is listening to our president, believes is no bid deal; and the upcoming election in a little less than a month that will determine the fate of our country and impact the world order. Is there a way out of this mess?

I listened to Joe Biden’s speech given at Gettysburg yesterday. For those of you in other parts of the world, Gettysburg is where a major battle in our Civil War took place, a war that was being fought to defeat the southern states that wanted to leave the union in order to maintain their slavery economy. The war being fought for the soul of our nation, and that was the message of Biden’s speech. I felt myself relaxing as I listened to him because he sounded very presidential, he talked about being the president for everyone – even those who don’t agree with his policies. He talked about wanting to hear everyone, and work with people on both sides of the isle in Congress. He talked about not having to think in either/or terms: We don’t have to destroy jobs to have clean energy – clean energy will create jobs under his policies. We don’t have to choose between law-and-order and racial justice – we can support our police forces while making the justice system and economy work for all people. It brings tears to my eyes to think of a time when people of color won’t have to teach their children how to be invisible so they don’t get shot or incarcerated. It brings tears of joy to my eyes to imagine Native reservations and Hispanic communities that are thriving economically so their people can be productive and live lives that are healthy and safe.

I am exhausted by the chaos created by this administration – the everyday defiance of common sense decency and integrity. It exhausts me to see our covid-infected president take off his mask before entering his residence where he could infect hundreds of career workers who serve him. I am livid that he tweeted that all Republicans should stop negotiations on another monetary aid bill that our families and small businesses need so desperately. I am exhausted by his lying and all the people who either believe him or don’t have the courage to call him out, who are afraid of him or think they can gain power and profit by allying themselves with him. This administration has exhausted me so much that I have a hard time keeping my faith that the other problems can be righted. Maybe that is their strategy.

But yesterday I did the most important thing that a citizen of a democracy can do – I voted. And this year, for the first time in my life (or at least in the past 30-40 years) I voted a straight ticket. Now all I have to do is hang on for the next month as we grope our way through the fog of pain, fear, despair, and anger along the road to a better way. We are a strong country and it is time for every person who cares about others as much as themselves to do what needs to be done. Make sure you vote for Joe Biden, even if you don’t agree with his policies. What you will be voting for is decency, honesty, and thoughtful/intelligent policies. And then pick a better candidate for the next election.

Kinda Fall Squares

Becky is enticing us to post square photos this month that relate in some way to “kind.” Thursday’s sunrise was showing bright in a clear blue sky so I decided to venture out on a photo mission to find some examples of fall. It has been the first time that I have ventured out on a photo taking excursion since the Naples Botanical Garden closed in February. I didn’t go out when we returned to Michigan in the spring, nor in the summer except when I took a few photos on outings with our travel trailer. Southern Michigan doesn’t get full color until late October but on the first of October there are kind-of hints of what is to come. For the past 10 years we have left for Florida before full color came.

We have been tidying up the garden getting it ready for the spring growth next April. It always feels like an act of faith, of hope for the future, when I cut back spent plants and pull up annuals with ideas of what I want to do next year. I convinced Jim that some of the fall flowers should be left for a little while longer – like the mums, asters (above), sedums, and zinnias. Cutting down blooming plants always feels very unkind to me – like cutting their life short.

Yesterday Jim pulled the giant marigolds by his shed. He was pushing them, roots down, into a large white cardboard container he uses to carry yard cuttings across the street. By the time he finished it looked like a 5 foot high bouquet in a white vase, bringing me some comic relief from the election stress. I thought the marigolds could have stayed in a few more days, but we all pick our battles and I know Jim wants to get his yard work done before the snow flies. Next week we will have several days of sun with temps in the high 60’s, perfect for finishing up my garden work. This year we won’t be going to Florida in the middle of October so we don’t feel the pressure of getting it done before we leave. And I will get to experience the full-on fall experience.

But for Thursday morning I had to be satisfied with mostly macro images of what are kind-of hints of what will be the full glory of fall color in the coming weeks. I headed for the wet-lands that are on Folks road and the Lime Lake County Park. This road is on the route I took to work for many, many years and every morning I turned the corner from Mathews to Folks road to breath-taking beauty. This morning was no different so I had to pull over.

It is an ordinary marsh, with marsh grass and other plants that like wet conditions covering all but where a small lake is. But there are always beautiful colors and movement and light at the marsh. And of course there is a lot of sky to see.

Thunder storms were predicted for early afternoon and I could see dark heavy clouds on the western horizon and directly above me there were hints of what was to come. I have lived here for all but two of my 76 years so I notice how clouds are different during different seasons. The clouds of fall are a combination of high, fluffy clouds of summer and and the heavy low dark clouds of winter. The dark heavy clouds to the west dropped hail on us as I was eating lunch when I returned home.

This square macro shows a hint of the color that will surround Lime Lake in the next few days or weeks. On this one relatively young maple tree there were red, yellow and green leaves. I kinda think this is a micro (or macro) of what we have here in my neighborhood during the first week of October.

Colorful Buildings

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Colorful Buildings

Buenos Aries, Caminita Neighborhood

And far to the north on the island of Newfoundland, we found these colorful houses.

St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada

If you want to see more colorful buildings, the place to go is here.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Symmetry

Symmetry

I’ve been going through old files looking for symmetry for this week’s photo challenge hosted by Patti. This is somewhat of a challenge because I tend to prefer asymmetry. Everything is a little off center and although balanced, there isn’t really symmetry. But I do have a healthy imagination so I began to see a “sense of symmetry” in most every photo I looked at – like the symmetry formed by centering this weight seen at low tide at a boat landing on Nova Scotia’s Digby Neck in Canada’s Maritime Provinces.

Or this sculpture of a fall leaf at the Hidden Lake Gardens (owned by Michigan State University) south of us here in Michigan, in the area known as the Irish Hills.

We took a ride through this wooded garden last Saturday but I forgot my camera – I know, how silly of me. The trees were just beginning to show color so this image from a couple of years ago is a great alternative to the symmetry of a real leaf.

My last example of symmetry is a photo from several years ago of morning glories blooming on my front porch railing. They are my favorite flower with their clear blue blossoms that look and feel like silk.

Yes, it is a bit of push to use this for symmetry but if you look hard you will see how the growth pattern is sort of a mirror image if you draw a line down the center of the middle growth.

The real reason I used this photo is that I have continued to plant morning glories in this space but haven’t had any blooms for the past two years. This year the plants grew so thick that they created a wall of green and every other day I had to cut off new vines that were threatening to take over my purple porch swing and grow across the entrance blocking delivery people from leaving my packages. But not a single blossom. I did some reading and realized that we had taken out three big shrubs that starved previous plants, and this year I wanted blooms so badly that I fertilized them. They thrive on neglect in poor soil. The perfect plant for me except in Covid years when I don’t have much to do but nurture the plants in my garden.

This has been so much fun that I just might keep looking through my photo files for other examples of almost symmetry. Thanks, Patti, for hosting this weeks challenge.