Soulful Soccer

July 10, 2010

A recent New York times article featured a story about Jessica Hilltout, a photographer who journeyed for 7 months through Africa to document ordinary people playing soccer for the pure love of the game.  Her photographs are remarkable.  The New York Times writer calls the ones of objects, such as homemade soccer balls fashioned from plastic bags, rags, string, particularly “soulful.”  You can link to the article here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/arts/design/08photos.html.  I guarantee that you will find this photographer inspiring.

Her experiences reminded me of a couple of encounters with soccer lovers in Costa Rica.  One Sunday morning my husband and I stumbled upon a soccer game at a beach.  The men  were playing barefoot in the sand, with their families watching from picnic blankets under the trees.  One of the things we loved about Costa Rica was the way the Costa Ricans themselves enjoyed their beautiful beaches, which have not been overtaken by tourists.

During our drives we saw many children walking to school along the sides of the roads, often accompanied by mothers.  The children always wore tidy uniforms.  And one young boy carried a soccer ball with him.

Soccer on the beach at Manzanillo, Costa Rica (2008)

Young boy with ball walking to school in La Fortuna, Costa Rica (2008)

Life After Death

October 12, 2009

Grey-headed vulture in flight, Costa Rica (photo 2008)

Grey-headed vulture in flight, Costa Rica (photo 2008)

The scavenger vulture, Costa Rica (photo 2008)

The scavenger vulture, Costa Rica (photo 2008)

It’s most natural to me to feel an aversion to scavenger birds, like vultures, who feed on carrion and death.  I love how Robinson Jeffers’ poem turns this outlook on its heels.

Vulture
by Robinson Jeffers

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside
Above the ocean.  I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture
     wheeling high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit
     narrowing, I understood then
That I was under inspection.  I lay death-still and heard the flight-feathers
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red hood between the great wings
Bear down staring.  I said, “My dear bird, we are wasting time here.
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.”  But how
     beautiful he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in
     the sea-light over the precipice.  I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him.  To be eaten by that
      beak and become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes —
What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment; what a
     life after death.

Counting Sunsets

October 8, 2009

“Some of my favorite definitions of wealth include the number of sunsets the family sees each year.”
     — Mary Pipher, The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families

Sunset at the watering hole, Botswana, September 2007

Sunset at the watering hole, Botswana, September 2007

Marabou storks at sunset, Chobe Park, Botswana, September 2007

Marabou storks at sunset, Chobe Park, Botswana, September 2007

Sunset at the Villas Caletas, Costa Rica, February 2008

Sunset at the Villas Caletas, Costa Rica, February 2008

Costa Rican sunset, February 2008

Costa Rican sunset, February 2008

Seattle sunset

Seattle sunset