Country Road Barns

Barn in Spring

When I am living in Michigan I associate country roads with farm fields and barns. I have hundreds of photographs of barns, even after culling many that didn’t tell a story or weren’t aesthetically nor technically pleasing photographs. I used to have a weekly date with friend Julie for early morning photo shoots on dirt roads. I miss Julie and I miss our outings since she moved across the state. Jim and I have been on lots of country roads in Michigan since then and I’ve seen lots of beautiful barns but didn’t stop to photograph them. Jim says to tell him when I want to stop but I find it hard to jump out of the car, snap a shot, and then be off again. I long to slip into that single focus of mind between me and the my camera and the object of my focus. I long to linger on country roads, to feel safe enough to forget the world exists outside of what my photographic mind sees. I long to feel the environment of the flowers, fields, barns and fences I photograph as I listen to the birds and insects, feel the sun and air on my skin, enjoy the curves of fields and trees.

Before the Sunrise

I love the quiet of back country roads, especially dirt roads. I smile as I hear the distant cows in conversation with each other. I breath in the smell of vegetation warming in the sun and study the way corn grows in neat rows that wind around and over gentle hills. All the time I’m looking for the special composition that tells the story of what my soul is experiencing.

Amish Barn

The new metal pole barns don’t interest me; they are neat and functional but don’t have the scars and wrinkles of aging that suggests a story, a history.

Something that is totally absent on country roads are camels. But maybe there is a first time for everything. I am so happy that life continues to change as we age, that we can make changes in how we view and interact with the world around us. Surprises can be fun or produce anxiety. I hope I can see all surprises, all changes, as opportunities to find new coping skills and learn more about the world.

My photographs were chosen and my thoughts were stirred by this week’s Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Along Back Country Roads. May your life be full of back country roads, especially the dirt variety.

Sunset in Blue

Gulf of Mexico, Naples Beach, Florida

The month of “blue” is coming to a close and soon Jude will provide us with a new color for her Life in Color Photography Challenge. I happened across this photo in my files, taken with my previous Olympus point & shoot, a bit of time ago. I find it an interesting composition of typical sunset colors and blue.

A Seat at the Top of the Lake

I was going to title this post “Seat at the Top of the World” but I thought it would be misleading. It did feel like the top of the world because we were doing the Circle Tour around Lake Superior and were in Rossport, Canada at the very top of the lake. It was my birthday and we had lunch at a small restaurant in the front of a house, then walked around a little. It’s a small town and there isn’t much happening north of Lake Superior – you can lean more by checking out my recent blog about the lake.

We had gone into an artist studio/shop and noticed this garden behind it with a women doing a little gardening. I asked if I could take a look and take some photos. She was very eager to chat a while. It was the middle of August and all the plants looked fresh – including the poppies that grew in my garden in June. This is zone 3 so the plants that will be hardy are limited but they flourish in the cooler summers. And of course the yellow bench was a perfect touch and I would image much used.

Do you have some photos you enjoy of seats and benches? Join XingfuMama’s challenge of “Pull up a Seat

Trees of Winter

On this beautiful summer evening when the temperature is 80 degrees F, the humidity is low, and I’m surrounded by lush green leaves on trees and flowers blooming in my garden, it seems really strange – almost surreal, to be posting photos of winter trees. I have posted the trees of summer and fall for Becky’s July TreeSquares, now I am ready to post winter’s trees.

I love trees in winter, how snow collects on branches creating a stark contrast of white and black and the long shadows cast by the de-robed skeleton of trunk and branches by the low winter sun. I have emotional memories from childhood of being fascinated by the flicker of tree shadows through the car window as we drove down winter roads, like a 16 mm film. I am still intrigued by this magic of sun and shadow.

I don’t have much time to enjoy the trees of winter now that we spend most of it in Florida where there aren’t many deciduous trees. One of those trees is the bald cypress that I enjoy when we drive down the few dirt roads in the Everglades.

Getting Away

Our B&B at Son Kul, Kyrgyzstan

This week I was once again thinking about getting away. Not going far, not getting away from people, just getting away from a few small worries and responsibilities that I’m carrying on my right shoulder, making it sag a little. Sometimes we get away for a few nights with our camping trailer and that will be happening in early August. I’m also planning a longer trip to northern New England in September but right now that is feeling more like a worry of planning than an excitement of “getting away.” Usually I get that feeling of wanting to ‘get away’ that doesn’t have a destination, that is a close cousin to wanting to ‘run away.’

Mountain Pass to Son Kul that almost wasn’t passable in early June.

When I saw this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Getting Away I smiled, almost chuckled, because I think they read my mind – and maybe a few million other minds. I started thinking of all the little getting away trips, maybe even day trips, and thinking of all the “big” trips we have taken over the years. I even started looking at some of my photos but my spirit just couldn’t connect with my brain to bring on the excitement necessary to do the writing. This topic was too much fun to have it get delegated to my unfinished-posts-that-may-get-finished-before-I-die heap. During the past couple of weeks I have also been enjoying the photos I took in 2009 when I visited my daughter who was working in Kyrgyzstan. We took a private tour, with a Russian driver and a Kyrgyz guide, around the countryside, including going to Son Kul, a mountain top pasture and lake where farm families from the arid villages take their herds to graze in the summertime. This was a trip that was a whole different kind of “getting away.”

Taking herds over the mountain to highland pastures for summer grazing.
This truck is bringing another family, their yurts, and all they will need for the summer season.

The only infrastructure was two tire paths that were used only by the trucks that brought family members and their belongings up to their summer pastures. The only other vehicles were our van and a van of Swedish birders who went into the mountains during the day. Water was obtained from mountain streams and the lake, the only fuel would be dried dung from their livestock and a small amount of kerosene brought up from the village. There is no electricity or modern means of communication.

Neighbors communicating.

This is a place where getting away means getting away from all modern conveniences. These modern day nomads are there to maintain their livestock and care for their families – tourists are an aside that brings in a little cash but isn’t supported by an infrastructure. There are no gift shops, no grocery stores, no gas (petro) stations, no museums, no fudge shops, no tee-shirt shops. And no hotels or restaurants. We slept in a yurt that was like the one the family sleeps in and by chance (the birders didn’t want us to join them in the dining tent) we were invited to eat a simple supper and breakfast in the family’s living yurt.

The tour company had made reservations with a family for us to spend the night but when we arrived our tour guide couldn’t find them (did I mention there are no street signs or lot markers). They hadn’t arrived yet. Asermat (our guide) stopped at this site and asked if they could accommodate us and they graciously said yes, but the birders had the official reservation and they were there to talk birds, not socialize with unplanned guests.

Simple meal of soup and bread, with candy and cookies for dessert.
Ensuite, nomad style.

We walked here and there although the view was mostly the same. What I noticed was the silence – no motor noise, no mowers, no phones ringing and no wind blowing through trees or birds singing. Just a silence that somehow made the world seem larger than life. And I noticed how quickly I felt short of breath because of the altitude. As the sun descended behind the mountains and the temperature dropped we went to bed, with only the light of flashlights (torches) to help us navigate our bedtime activities of laying out bedding and deciding how much of our clothing we would keep on. We woke when light started coming through a small opening at the top of the yurt covered with thinner felted wool. That day it snowed.

Evening entertainment.

I wanted to know how they milked their mares so the next day our guide stopped at a group of yurts on the other side of the stream (no bridge) to ask who was milking mares. These were mares who were first-time mamas and they had just started milking them so all (horse and human) were skittish and it appeared to be a dangerous activity. They offered me the pail of fresh milk to try and I didn’t let this opportunity pass. It was very good.

Milking a mare.

This trip to Son Kul was much more than “getting away” to a different culture. It felt more like getting away to another world. You can read more post on my trip to Kyrgyzstan by scrolling to the bottom of this page, clicking on “choose category” and then click on Kyrgyzstan.