We are in late summer, here in Michigan, in the lower third of our mitten-shaped state. Julie picked me up last week at 6:30 – before the sun had risen above the line of trees that is always on the horizon at this dot on the map. We were hoping to find that perfect country scene; interesting subject matter, a perfect angle to the sun, and the morning mist hanging over the fields. We felt the excitement of finding this photographer’s piece of heaven because we had stumbled upon them before.
This was serious, maybe because we know the season is short and maybe our seasons are numbered. As we drove we talked about how it would be good if we could scout locations before our outings. But our landscape is pretty homogeneous, no distinct mountain peaks – just rolling farmlands. Those magic photographic moments happen when we are at the right place when the sun and clouds and land/air temperatures all come together to create that magic moment. We know the local terrain and have been disappointed many times when we went somewhere thinking it would all come together for a perfect sunrise.
We were feeling the pressure of getting to that unknown magic place before the sun got above the skyline. We headed south, then west so we could see the illuminations of the rising sun on the landscape, then south again, going down dirt roads, going much faster than our usual relaxing crawl. It just wasn’t happening even though there was rising mist in many places, the sky was mostly clear, and the fields have their late summer beauty on.
And I realized that I wasn’t enjoying this mad rush to find the perfect experience. I don’t remember if I said as much, probably I did. In any case we decided to just stop because the sun was starting to shine through the trees and we maybe needed to let the joy of photography just happen within the situation we were given.
I hear my inner voice saying, “Listen up, Pat. There’s a lesson here.” I am going through another phase of growing (old) pains. I have been thinking about all the dreams I had, the opportunities I didn’t take advantage of because I chose different paths. I’ve been thinking of all the opportunities that I thought may have been possible for me but probably weren’t – even under the best of conditions. I have been thinking about all those ‘could of, should of, would of’ experiences. I have been thinking too much in an attempt to find meaning in my current retired life. My mind has been rushing down dirt roads trying to find the perfect image to capture the meaning of my life. And in the process I forgot to enjoy the memory of what was and take a gentle, open look around at what is.
It happened once again on last week’s photo shoot. When I stop driving towards the perfect ‘what if’, when I plant my feet firmly in the reality of today, when I take a deep breath and take in where I am at, using all my senses, I see the beauty of my now. But the fog hanging over last week’s fields reflects my foggy thinking about my life story. Do I believe in a God who had a plan for my life, who wanted to use me to make the world a better place, who still cares about me? Do I believe that I possessed an element of self-determination in the decisions I have made and can still make even though there are real limitations in what can be accomplished? These are existential questions, not questions that can be answered with scientific evidence. Although I have a mind that has been trained in scientific theory and I believe decisions should be based on a careful evaluation of scientific data, I am still a thinker. I still wrestle with the existential questions that can’t find resolutions from hard data – they need hard thinking.
I suspect I will be writing about these existential questions some more in the coming weeks. I just finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It awakened many of my existential questions and I plan on reading it again – at a slower pace while taking notes on my personal reactions to this story. If you are interested in reading/rereading it, maybe we can create a virtual book club by linking together our posts written in reaction to the ideas put forth in this novel.
Friend Julie is visiting and this morning we got up early so we could be on the road well before dawn. We wanted to get to the Everglades to see the sun rise over the grasslands, and maybe see some mist rising from the water. We stopped along the side of U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) to watched the sun rise as we listened to the birds sing and were lifted on the cool breeze. And there was mist rising.
Some of the grass is a reddish-gold color and the rising sun made it glow. This was a beautiful contrast to the white mist and the silhouetted palms and Florida pines. When we finished taking our photographs, we lingered because we knew our photos wouldn’t portray the whole experience. We wanted our souls to soak up the fleeting moments of early morning so it would always be a part of us.
To see more photos of “Misty” you can visit Ailsa at:
I hurried to get to the Naples Botanical Garden this week because it was a foggy morning. The fog provided a very different context for observing and experiencing the garden. It was quiet, inviting me to also be quiet. The normally sunny garden with bright flowers and foliage was now shrouded in a blue-grey veil.
Familiar walks were softer, and more inviting in an unusual way.
And as the sun tried to break through this veil of mist, it created silvery water.
The biggest surprise was the spider webs. They were everywhere, and probably always are. But this morning they were strung with crystals.
Two people stopped me to say there were lots of birds in the wetland area so I went in that direction. The lower water levels make these wetlands a popular place for the wading birds to fish. The fog produced an atmosphere of awe as I watched birds wade and skim the water as they moved from place to place.
The fog created in me an increased understanding of, respect for, the grasslands being their home and I was a visitor. As a birder said to me as he pointed out interesting specimens, it is all about the water in southern Florida. Water is our context.
Sue, who posts her interesting photos and stories at A Word in Your Ear, posted the word Context this week. You can check out how others interpreted this work at:
We had to close up canvas in a light rain which is never fun, but we were eager to move on to new adventures. We arrived at the Coupeville-Port Townsent ferry over an hour early. They waved us in line for an earlier crossing then reserved with time to get a cup of coffee and a bagel at the diner across the street.
Rain continued to fall lightly and fog and low lying clouds muted everything; one of those monochromatic days when the water, mountains, and clouds flow into each other. I have found if I don’t expect sunshine for my photography, I enjoy whatever comes my way.