Daybreak Over Tulips

April 11, 2016

“Distinctive realms appear to us when we look and hear by poem-light.”
— Jane Hirshfield, Ten Windows:  How Great Poems Transform the World

Daybreak with fog, Skagit Valley, Washington

Daybreak with fog, Skagit Valley, Washington

Dawn in the Skagit Valley

Dawn in the Skagit Valley

My niece and I drove to the Skagit Valley this weekend to see the tulip fields in bloom.  She is a photographer, like me, and therefore was willing to hit the road in the dark hours of early morning so that we could be in place as the sun rose over the farms of this region.  We had lovely weather, and the beauty of the breaking day was just awesome.  Knowing that these golden minutes were fleeting heightened their beauty.  I think that Jane Hirshfield’s word, “poem-light,” perfectly captures the dawning day.

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“A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn.
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.”
— Emily Dickinson

Structure visible

Structure visible

“January and February are my favorite months.  I like the bare branches of trees, structure become visible, and the subtle colors, all sorts of varieties of browns and grays that are seen only at this time of year, brought into focus by the pellucid light that is as close an analogy as I know to the silence out of which my work emerges.”
— Anne Truitt, Prospect: The Journal of an Artist

Here are some of the beautiful grays and browns in my Seattle landscape this February:

Chinese red birch bark

Chinese red birch bark

Fern

Fern

Foggy February morning at Green Lake

Foggy February morning at Green Lake

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Green Lake in winter

Green Lake in winter

 

 

January, the Hardest Month

January 13, 2016

Foggy winter morning at Green Lake

Foggy winter morning at Green Lake

“Is not January the hardest month to get through?  When you have weathered that, you get into the gulf stream of winter, nearer the shore of spring.”
—  Henry David Thoreau, from Winter:  The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, February 2, 1854

 

Impressionistic Photography

November 28, 2015

Foggy morning, Columbia River

Foggy morning, Columbia River

I’m finding it fun to experiment more with my photos, taking time to make a beautiful impression from some of my duds, those photos that I would ordinarily consider too blurry to keep.  I use an app called Photoshop Express to edit my images — crop, tint, color saturation.  I try to create more expressive, subjective, abstract images.  I am pleased with the painterly quality of the resulting photos.  Don’t you agree that they are beautiful?

This is a more natural view of the Columbia River, the morning after Thanksgiving, as the early morning fog was dissipating.

This is a more natural view of the Columbia River, the morning after Thanksgiving, as the early morning fog was dissipating.

This is a more impressionistic take on the same view.

This is a more impressionistic take on the same view.

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As much as I yearn to find time to paint, I still love to take photos.  And it feels very satisfying to push myself in new ways with my photography.  Experimenting makes me feel alive.  I don’t think I will ever set aside my camera for my paintbrushes.  I want time to play around with both.

 

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Jello molds with spider web

Jello molds with spider web

While I was in the Skagit Valley, I took a quick side trip to walk the flower fields at Jello Mold Farm.  It was a foggy morning, so instead of photographing in the morning light, I worked under white/gray skies.  But there was a surprising amount of color in the fields this time of year, especially in the dahlia beds.  Our warm weather has extended the growing season.  Here are a few photos from my fall visit:

Dahlia

Dahlia

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Monk's hood with spider web

Monk’s hood with spider web

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Of All the Splendors Here

September 20, 2014

Foggy dawn near Chehalis, WA

Foggy dawn near Chehalis, WA

In a New Dory Downriver to Home

Alone again,
I see the silence still has
a home for me.

Of all the splendors here
the best is I own nothing.

The cat-tails belong to the blackbird,
the willow belongs to the beaver,
the mud belongs to minnows and frogs,
to ducks and herons,
to everything that needs to go untroubled
to live and die with grace
unshaken
and thriving to the very end.
— from Notes from Disappearing Lake: The River Journals of Robert Sund, edited by Glenn Hughes and Tim McNulty

“The day, water, sun, moon, night — I do not have to purchase these things with money.”
— Plautus (254 – 184 B.C.)

Fog along I-5 near Chehalis

Haunting fog

Fog along I-5 near Chehalis, WA

Fog along I-5 near Chehalis, WA

I Wonder as I Wander

December 19, 2013

Foggy morning at Green Lake

Foggy morning at Green Lake

I feel misdirected these days, as if I am wandering in a fog.  So my postings are likely to be sporadic until I figure out what I am doing and where I want to be heading with this blog.  I am ambivalent about how I want to use this communication tool.  I still view it as a sort of online journal, but I am sometimes tired of doing the same things with it.

When I started blogging, I had hoped the posts would be a day-to-day reflection of a Pacific Northwest year, and I think I accomplished that.  I’ve used the blog to document the small, ordinary moments in the life of an ordinary middle-aged woman, and I think I’ve done that as well.  So there have been lots of posts about nature, and cooking (with recipes), walking, books I’ve read, day trips, and some longer journeys.  I’ve used the blog to show my slow, gradual growth as a watercolor artist and to show the photographs I like to take.  If I revisit certain themes again and again, it’s because they reflect my interests, which don’t change that much over time.

But sometimes I don’t feel that I have anything to share.  I need to live a more interesting life to have interesting things to blog about day after day.  That’s not always happening, of course.

So I’m questioning how I want to manage this blog in the future.  I’m finding myself getting tired of documenting and writing about my daily activities.  I want to spend more timing actually doing things, and less time reporting about them.

I’m questioning my photography, too. Just this week I read an article in the Wall Street Journal called “I Snap, Therefore I Am.”  The article talks about the widespread practice of taking photographs with camera phones, a proliferation of picture taking that has become almost an addiction.  I feel this way, too.  I take photos many times so that I can illustrate a blog post, but the photos are often neither fresh nor unique.  I want to be more selective about making photographs, to approach photography with artistic intent instead of merely taking pictures to show that I’ve been there.

I sense that it is time for a new approach, new practices, more time just for me and not always shared in a blog post.  There may be gaps in my posting as I work through this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Winter

February 8, 2013

“February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.”
— Shirley Jackson, Raising Demons

Foggy, gray morning at Green Lake

Foggy, gray morning at Green Lake

Lamplight -- beacons in the gray

Lamplight — beacons in the gray

Gray pierced by a car headlight

Gray pierced by a car headlight

Jogging in the fog

Jogging in the fog

Twin echoes, tree silhouettes

Twin echoes, tree silhouettes

The color of our Seattle winters is gray, gray, and more gray.  I long for sunshine.

Seattle winters teach endurance.  Not a bad lesson.  The challenge is to keep from sinking into melancholy and to find moments of brightness to cheer the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

Every Day Rain

December 18, 2012

A foggy, rainy December morning at Green Lake

A foggy, rainy December morning at Green Lake

Weather Report
by David Budbill, from We’ve Still Got Feet

The weather is horrible here on Judevine Mountain.
It’s dark and cold all winter.  Every day rain and snow

beat on your head.  And the sun never shines.  Then
it’s spring and more rain and ice and mud, too.  And

after that, the blackflies eat you alive and then the
deerflies and then the mosquitoes and then it’s fall

before you ever noticed it was summer.  Then there
might be a couple of weeks of decent weather and

then it starts to rain and snow again.  It’s just awful
living here.  I don’t think you’d like it here at all.

You better go find your own miserable place to live.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a farmer’s daughter, or if it’s because I was raised in Minnesota, but talking about the weather is a normal part of my day.  (Here’s a video clip about “How to Talk Minnesotan” on YouTube.)  We are in the darkest days of the year, so it can be  a challenge to find something positive to say.   Winter in Seattle is almost invariably rainy and gray, cold, but not freezing (most of the time).  It’s true that if you waited for good weather to do some planned task, you’d never get anything done.

And if not the weather, it’s something else.  This is life.

“There are seven or eight categories of phenomena in the world that are worthy of talking about, and one of them is the weather.”
— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek