My blog post begins when I choose a photo. I never know what I’m going to choose unless of course I’m posting about a trip or something specific. But today, I flipped through files and just chose this photo. This was taken a long time ago when I lived on Wheeler Lake, a wide spot on the Tennessee River. I adored living there. The place was so dynamic, so charged with the energy of nature while at the same time offering respite from the busy-ness of Life.
This is where and when I became a sunrise photographer. Always an early riser, capturing a sunrise had never occurred to me until I moved onto the water. There, lake and sky enchanted me most mornings. Even cloudy mornings entertained with herons perched in trees, fish jumping, fishermen fishing, the thrumming of barges passing by in the fog. My senses were always happy there.
These days I’m grateful for the opportunity to live across the street from the Atlantic Ocean. The Cape Fear River is just a couple of miles to the west of us. We are on an island. A very slender island. The dynamics here are so different. On the river there were always boats to watch, fishing tournaments and bi-yearly bird migrations as we were along the Mississippi Flyway. The ocean is beautiful, but I’m no sun worshiper. I prefer early mornings and late afternoons/early evenings. Rarely does a boat go by. Bird migrations do happen here, too, thankfully. My Best Friend continues to live at the river and she and I compare notes constantly. “What’s flying by today?,” I’ll ask. Or, I’ll send her a hurried text saying “The cormorants are flying north by the thousands!” Birding, photography, sunrises go hand in hand. And exploring new places. It’s time to go exploring.
Recently, I came across some images I totally forgot about. It was a product of mislabeling my file, nothing more. I was astonished. How could I have forgotten about these images? This sunrise? It was such a beautiful, perfect morning. We had friends visiting us and these sunrise images were nestled among photos of their visit, so the file was basically labeled the date of their visit and their last name.
The sunrise was one of those truly remarkable ones with towering, glowing clouds. Apricot skies with blue and purple; these colors reflecting upon the ocean’s surface. The cloud you see in the image – the long horizontal one at the top – was slowly twisting and pieces of itself were falling down. I’d seen this once before, long ago at Wheeler Lake in North Alabama. I’m sure there’s a meteorological name for this type of cloud behavior.
Interestingly, the one at Wheeler Lake was the same color. I’m sure that’s just coincidence.
When I first arrived at the beach the cloud was more purple, and as the sun began to rise through the cloud city the cloud began to glow. Embrace Nature’s gifts. And be careful how you name your files.
“The thing to do, it seems to me,
is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.
Somebody who may not look like you.
May not call God the same name you call God –
if they call God at all.
I may not dance your dances or speak your language.
But be a blessing to somebody.
That’s what I think.”
So I scrolled down, down, down to see what I’ve been posting and I’m embarrassed to report that the few times I’ve posted I’ve only been quoting other’s words with my images. Granted, they are wise words. They are even beautiful words all strung together in such a way as to remind me of Christmas lights. Beautiful and illuminating.
But you know that’s what I’ve posting because, well, you’re here aren’t you? So I’m snapping out of it, starting anew and blogging my own thoughts. I had to quote Ms. Angelou today because of the rainbow and in hopes her genius would jumpstart some sort of original thought in my head.
I’ve been … not me, for quite some time. A couple of unexpected deaths in the family the past couple of years had me reeling with travel and duty and paperwork and grief. Thankfully, I’ve a reprieve! I’ve had time to breathe since January, when my father passed away. It’s still raw, and unexpected emotional pain still surprises me from time to time but that’s normal. I’d be surprised if that DIDN’T happen, wouldn’t you?
So thanks for hanging in there with me, if you’re still here. If not, maybe you’ll come back when I have something interesting to share. Take care and tell folks you love ’em.
Happy birthday to Galen Rowell, my visual and photographic mentor. He once said “The combination of pictures and words together can be really effective, and I began to realise in my career that unless I wrote my own words, then my message was diluted.”
Lately, I’ve not been writing my own prose but instead sharing the quotes of others. I used to enjoy writing my blog, sharing my own experiences and prose. Life kind of turned off that creative flow for a bit but I’m hoping to get back into it. My visual and photographic mentor, Mr. Rowell, has now added to his resume as my prose mentor. Thank you for everything, Galen Rowell. I hope this image I chose for your birthday makes you happy.
“O our mother the earth, O our father the sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you gifts that you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness,
May the warp be the bright light of morning,
May the weft be the bright light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow,
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
O our mother the earth, O our father the sky.”
Tewa Pueblo Prayer
“I wash my hands
of those who imagine
chattering to be knowledge,
silence to be ignorance,
and affection to be art.”
“It is neither wealth nor splendor;
but tranquility and occupation
which give you happiness.”
(I might add, equal pay for equal work…)
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
“I refuse to accept the view
that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight
of racism and war that the bright daybreak
of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality
… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Martin Luther King Jr.