Lens-Artist Challenge #119 -My Hideaway

I have been missing my weekly early morning outings out in the country with no destination and no agenda. Just photography gear in the back seat and friend Julie along for companionship. Two women, both very comfortable with silence, communing together with whatever we saw on the horizon or along the road. Long lengths of quite time just being with the sounds, smells and sights that are experienced away from the human world.

I knew what I enjoyed about it but I don’t think I totally understood the significance that this solitary time in nature had for my very being. I seemed to know it was important but not just how important until I no longer thought it possible to find after some changes and losses. The pandemic continued, social issues peaked in importance, politics became crazier and my craving became more intense. Jim and I went out several times but I wasn’t able to get in touch with what I needed because overshadowing the outings was someone waiting for me, maybe getting impatient, maybe thinking I had spent enough time. He would deny it but these thoughts were still impacting my focus on what I was (or wasn’t) seeing.

On a sunny day last week I decided to go to the Hidden Lake Gardens by myself. This garden has lots of walking trails through woods and meadows and around kettle lakes but there is also a driving trail with lots of pull-offs through the acres of hills and woodlands. This trip felt much safer for a women who is alone than going down dirt roads. I wish it weren’t so but I believe I need to be ever vigilant about where I am and the potential threats. I learned this very young with no actual conversation taking place.

I started this outing with a plan taking into consideration my safety and time needed and side trip for a piece of fabric for a quilt. As I drove I felt the tension of getting to where I wanted to be, thinking about what I wanted to capture on my memory card for future posts. I thought about how I could use my trip to this garden as a post for the current Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #119: Hideaway. I thought about how I wanted to stop at the Liberty Mill Pond along the road south from our home because it looked so interesting the last few times we had driven past. And I felt the tension in my neck and the pressure around my temples. I felt the sadness in the back of my eyes. This isn’t what I needed nor wanted.

Liberty Mill Pond

Then I reached the pond just as the sun was coming over the trees that edged the pond. People fish this pond so there is a little pull-off created by people stopping, not county officials making it. The air was still really cool but there was no wind. Heavy frost covered the swamp grasses on the near edge where the sun hadn’t hit and there was a mist rising from the warmer waters. The water was perfectly smooth except for the lily pads and mist that broke the reflections of the surrounding trees in full fall color. The sun made diamonds of the melting frost on all the grasses and leaves.

See the guardrail and the rainbow? See the mist?

I would never think a hideaway could be somewhere in plain sight. I wasn’t hiding from the drivers who slowed their cars for my car parked on the edge and the old woman taking pictures. But they weren’t a worry for me and neither was the coronavirus, or the election in three weeks. I was focused on the world of nature in the very process of creation and recreation. I seemed to be in an effortless, easy being in the presence of my Creator to whom I belong, as much as the natural world belongs to the one who created the blueprints. I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is just what I need.

How wonderful to find my hideaway in a place that I can take with me, can recreate anywhere I am. How wonderful to have a platform for sharing my experience and having an archive for future visits when my brain gets foggy and I forget where I need to be and why. Thank you for being with me and I look forward to reading about the ways you find distance between yourself and those things that seem a bit toxic.

Please stay safe, and wear your mask in public places so others stay safe. Please don’t shoot yourself in the foot by making mask wearing a matter of style, masculinity, or personal freedom. See it as a responsibility we are all willing to take on for the greater good of society.

Kinda Sad…

Naples Botanical Garden – Asian Garden

I’m kinda sad because we normally would be on the road today, probably getting close to our winter home in Florida. This is such a nice time to be there because most visitors haven’t arrived and the weather is delightful. I also miss my fell snow-bird friends although my neighbor, a year around resident, said no one is coming down yet. I sent an e-mail to our Canadian neighbors today because it is their thanksgivings. They won’t be going down until the travel ban is lifted and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

I also am eager to get back to the botanical garden to photograph the lush vegetation and exotic flowers. The benefit of not going this year is that we get to experience the brilliance of the northern fall transition from summer to winter. For some reason the trees are turning sooner this year than in the past 10 years. We are near peek here in southern Michigan.

Color view from my window

I’m hoping that the sunny days happen this week when I don’t have appointments so I can get out for some fall color drives down back roads at my dot on the map.

This post was kinda inspired by Becky’s “kind” squares.

Quiet Moments

_DSC0018-2The Lens-Artist Photo Challenge this week is to illustrate how we find a quiet moment as we are staying home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I had to give this some thought because with just two people in our home my days are very quiet. I don’t need quiet, as in the lack of noise; what I need is quiet in the sense of gentle colors and order. What makes for a quiet moment is a focus on where I am in the moment while blocking out all thoughts of chaos, death, sickness, meanness, killing, corruption, hate, and destruction.

_DSC0039I have been mostly staying home and not in the mood for photography. My friend, Julie, and I used to go on weekly photo shoots down dirt road within a 50 mile radius of where we live – until she moved 120 miles away. My heart aches from missing these hours of being quiet and apart, together with a good friend. I miss making time to see, really see what is before me and explore the simple, looking for how to capture its greatest beauty.

_DSC0029I have been going through old photography files, sometimes just to remember, sometimes to find pleasure in photos I love, and occasionally to find the perfect photo for a post. Sometimes I even clean out photos that I am confident I will never use and tag the keepers so I can find them again. This activity brings me pleasure when I need order within our social disorder.

_DSC0021These photos were taken at an Audubon Sanctuary on a foggy August morning in 2018. As I meandered my way through the file I knew these were the perfect photos to illustrate what I need in my quiet moments during these times of fear and rage.

_DSC0040I hope you will join me as I walk the wildflower-edged paths once again, looking for beauty during our quiet moments. I promise not to make any noise to distract you from whatever you are focused on. And I’ll save my words about change and social injustice for another post.

Please take good care of yourself and practice appropriate safety measure when you are in contact with others.