It’s June, only 20 days away from the longest day of the year. The sun was still quite a way above the horizon at 7:30 pm when I took the picture above. In spite of this, last week we had a couple nights below freezing. The night it got down to 28 degrees, my new potato plants froze. They had just gotten above ground and were looking so healthy and strong. Everything else in the garden got covered with tarps and sheets and survived. It is light now at 5:15 am so maybe everything will grow fast and produce before the short summer is over.
I took several walks this week. It is scary how fast the trees went from bare to fully leafed out. It’s like they know they have to hurry. The wooded trails are SO BEAUTIFUL! My walks go slow because I am always stopping to take pictures, or identify bird calls. It all looks lovely to me and is like medicine for my soul.
Yesterday’s walk was past a beaver pond and a large marsh. I pushed through the bushes to get a view of the water and watched a family of ducks swimming. The cattails started rustling and moving and out of them came the largest raccoon I have ever seen. It had a grizzled white head and was prowling through the marsh, probably looking for nests with eggs. Later I saw a pretty box turtle digging a hole in the dirt for her eggs
It was a good walk. I am still counting steps – 13,000 yesterday and 10,000 today. The last two weeks I have been working on getting the garden going instead of walking, but even then it was easy to get 5,000 to 7,000 steps tilling, carrying mulch and fixing fence.
Suddenly, it is summer in this crazy, wild, northern place.
It’s been a harsh month, this August has. When I’m on an emotional roller coaster for days on end, this place where I walk is like a medicine for everything that is wrong with the world. It’s not long or strenuous, less than half an hour for most but longer for me. I never tire of stopping to look for the beaver, or pulling out my phone to check the name of a plant or flower. I know which direction to look for deer and usually see several. My walks in the evening are graced with sunsets and in spite of having lots of trees around, I can see lots of sky and clouds.
Each scene that I photograph is like a gift from God to me. For every one I capture there are dozens more that I don’t. In a way it’s special to be the only one witnessing these moments that are physical, but also spiritual in a way that is hard to explain. I guess it’s realizing how big nature is, how complex, how constant, and that it was created by someone bigger, more complex, and more constant. But it’s also wonderful to be able to photograph and share what I see. It is just too magical out there for me to be the only one that sees it.
My life problems line up differently after the evening walk. I’m reminded of a different perspective. I’ve been calmed, loved, amused and often surprised with some new discovery. Sometimes I look through the lens and see the scene take on a different look, even more awesome than I thought (although sometimes less awesome). I must share with you this evening walk.
Early morning is really a collection of my favorite things.
As night wears on I begin to ache physically from inactivity and wake frequently. I am always relieved and eager to get out of bed when I smell the aroma of coffee at 6:30. I program the coffee maker the night before because it makes me feel like someone has anticipated my need and has been in the kitchen before me. I am easily fooled.
Although I hear traffic in the distance, I know no one is coming to the door, or calling at this hour. I used to have to prepare for the day and travel to work. But I don’t do that now and the change is refreshing. On the average day, I have at least two hours before there is anyone in my world that I must deal with. There is a lot of peace in this.
I read things carefully chosen to remain in my thinking during the day. Sometimes I have the luxury of thinking about a passage long enough to memorize. I have rediscovered memorization and it is a joy, a challenging joy.
I write. I give it all up, in my journal. Once it is out, I know myself better.
I sometimes make a list. I love lists and they actually help me get things done.
I watch light appear magically, making the night go away. And then I see it is the sun. On days like today it stays oddly dark and there is thunder, but I know the sun is out there because it always has been.
It’s early morning and I am alive for one more day. There is purpose in that and I am eager to find out what it will be (almost all the time…).
*All photos private property, contact me for permission.
For this year’s A to Z Challenge I’m being Julie Andrews and going on about my favorite things. I suppose there are people young enough to have no clue who Julie Andrews is or when she did this. Seriously, you need to watch “The Sound of Music”. It’s part of classic movie knowledge. Remembering your favorite things will keep you from being afraid, and who doesn’t need some of that these days…
I am seriously in love with old barns, wherever I find them. I love their muted colors. I love their changing shapes as they age, sag, and fall. I love the stories that are hidden in their walls, stories of people working, of animals taking shelter, stories of changing culture and times past. When driving through the Midwest particularly, I have been known to brake suddenly and pull off the road to get a photo of a ghost of a barn so picturesque that I could not pass it.
One time visiting my parents in northern Wisconsin, my dad wanted to show me a barn he thought I would like. He didn’t know who it belonged to but it looked abandoned. And indeed, it was. Dad stood by the gate as I trespassed investigated the barn inside and out with my camera. The memory of that time will always be burned into my memory, with the help of those photos.
I think the fascination comes from my own childhood, growing up on a working farm, and gradually seeing the barn I knew well change roles. It contained the hayloft that was at once both the perfect playground and the source of my scariest dreams. It was the dairy barn where I learned to milk cows and hunt for new kittens. Later it was the storage place for furniture and machinery no longer in use. One section of it became the hen house for our flocks of chickens. As the leaks began and it leaned a bit, it was propped up with braces and attempts were made to put metal on the steep sloping roof. And then one night, in a storm, it went down completely. We weren’t ready for that and it was shocking.
One of my favorite barns is still in our family. It belonged to my grandfather, and is now a landmark in the greenspace surrounding my brother’s small housing development. Photographers sometimes pay to take pictures there.
Barns stand for a way of life that is becoming less common. People used to build their barn before they built their house because it was a priority. Now they are more likely to be adornments on the “gentleman farms” of the wealthy. I am afraid they will become extinct. And that is why I take pictures of these beautiful reminders of the past.
What part of the past do you like to photograph, to keep alive?
*All photos are property of Shirley Dietz. May be used with permission.
I am a big supporter of FOOD. I think it is absolutely remarkable that everything we humans need to live and be in health is found on this planet. It’s almost like it was made for us. In fact, it is exactly like it was made for us. There is much to investigate on this topic and although I have never been a food blogger, I have done a stint teaching nutrition for the University of Florida Extension Service. I learned a lot and it was fun. I think I can share that fun with readers.
I love to photograph food (I’m talking mainly about fruits, vegetables and ovo-lacto food items). The colors are often bright and exciting, and there are also unusual shapes and ways that food presents itself. And because we get to eat it after the photographs, there will be an occassional recipe or fun way to eat the food of the day. A lot of my subjects will be nutrient dense and so good for you, but since I also believe food should make us happy there will be a few that fall in the “comfort food” category.
Don’t think that this is an easy theme to alphabetize. Since I want to stick with healthful foods that are as close to unprocessed as possible, the choices are limited. There are tons of letter C foods, but try finding some of the others. I love finding unusual items that might surprise you and inspire you to EAT THIS! Hoping you will check in regularly.
Consider grass, the perfectly rounded tips of new blades, the translucent greenness as the light shines through. Consider the unseen numbers of tiny cellular factories actively converting the sun’s energy into growth. This far surpasses any technology we call “awesome”. Whoever is behind the idea of grass is the real “awesome”. Just sayin’…
I go to Alki Beach quite a bit at evening, as do lots of other people, but who knew that people wake up and go there in the morning too? It’s a couple blocks away from the house and I don’t usually want to wait that long for the first coffee of the day. This morning I practiced delayed gratification and walked to coffee. There are four or five coffee shops in the short stretch along the beach (because this is Seattle…) but I go to the one farthest away because my daughter would consider joining me later at this one. She gets coffee that comes from a particular farm in a particular country (more on that later) while I ask if they have Folgers.
All kinds of things were happening this morning, the most interesting being an open water boat race of some sort. I got there just minutes before the starting horn so boats were lining up along some imaginary line which wasn’t very straight. I guess they were going quite a distance so a few feet here and there wasn’t going to matter. Anything that could be paddled was eligible for this trek across the sound to a rock near some island and back again. Naturally, the scullers took off in the lead and the poor guys on paddleboards were bringing up the rear. It’s a cool, gray day with a light chop on the water and mist in the air.
Cyclists are out. Families with children wanting donuts are straggling in. Seattle dogs are out in numbers. The weekend is here. Happy Saturday everyone!
The rains have started to come in the afternoon. I am trying to get a walk in between showers because I’ve been stationary for several days – I just need to get out.
It is more than beautiful everywhere I look because it’s all been washed and refreshed. Little jewels of water sit on all the big leaves. There are at least a hundred different shades of green and they all seem to vibrate, glow.
This is a stunningly complex and gorgeous world. We need to look at it and let it say what it has to say. It’s not randomly beautiful. It’s that way on purpose. We’ve been given a gift and it makes me feel… well, loved I guess. Just sayin’.