A Little Bit of This & That on Aging

We visited Mission Point Peninsula going north from Traverse City (the pinky part of the Michigan mitten) a few weeks ago. One of the stops we made was to walk around the lighthouse that used to guide ships to either the east or west forks of Grand Traverse Bay. As we were getting in the car to leave I noticed these sandals that some child took off but didn’t pick up when s/he got in the car. Someone had hung them on the tree sapling, a flag signaling to the parents who may return to the scene of the crime. A silent giggle worked its way up from my tummy and I took a photo. In post processing I decided to use an aged photo color filter that had a warm tone, reflecting the warm feeling this scene elicited of memories past. No wonder I sometimes have a hard time remembering a word I need to express myself, my brain is filled to overflowing with the memories that are woven together to make my life story.

We cleaned the deck today, scrubbing off an accumulation of dirt and green stuff growing where the sun doesn’t reach, rinsing away dropped bird seed and bird droppings. At first we scrubbed side by side, feeling clumsy and awkward as we almost seemed to be working against each other, no pattern or plan. About the time that I felt tired and thought I would have probably stopped if Jim wasn’t working with me, we seemed to settle into assigned tasks without saying a word. He continued on the rails as I scrubbed the floor. We worked, usually in silence, until it was almost completed – when we could look around and tell each other how good it looked. Our aging bodies had grown tired, pain building in my hips and back, and one of us said s/he was going in to rest for a while and the other followed. I am thankful that fifty-some years of marriage has resulted in a dance that allows us to glide through our life tasks with a functional grace.

I feel late summer in the air, and this week we have a delightful break from what could be the dog-days-heat of late summer. The daytime highs have been in the low seventies with a cool northern breeze and nights in the 50’s. Some of the annuals in the pots on the back deck are getting leggy or died from either too much rain or too much heat. Many of the perennials in the front garden are finishing up their blooming so I need to spend some time each day deadheading to keep things looking tidy so the fall blooming plants can strut their stuff to full effect. The front beds are pretty big and I’ve been wondering how much longer I will be able to tend to them. The beds are now planted mainly with perennials with a few bushes and shrubs for winter interest. I think I may start gradually changing the balance so there are more evergreens and flowering shrubs, with perennials as accents. But not this year because I added several new perennials and have some mail-ordered iris coming sometime this month. My aging strategy tends to be a combination of staying engaged to the extent my body will allow while planning for how I can make life simpler for when I have to give some things up.

One of my new coneflowers. What a delicious color.

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.