All my life I have had the tendency to “go with the flow” and follow the path of least resistance. After a lot of years doing things this way I am finally beginning to learn that when I make things easy on myself I often learn less and get inferior results.
Take photography for instance.
Diane Arbus once said that when she takes a picture, “I work from awkwardness. By that I mean when I stand in front of something instead of arranging it, I arrange myself.”
I take that to mean she tries to let her subjects and their environment dictate what and how she photographs. She doesn’t walk through that all too easy barn door of composing things to suit herself.
Leaving yourself open to the lessons your surrounding can teach you is VERY good advice….and hard to do.
When we walk around the bird ponds at Shollenberger Park I usually take photographs of the many waterfowl found there. Ducks, geese, stilts, sandpipers and their kin throng to this area to nest and feed.
What I have never really talked about is that, while this area looks for all the world like a wildlife sanctuary, it is actually there thanks to the farsighted environmental planning of the Ellis Creek Water Plant. (Note: Back east we would call it the Petaluma Sewage Treatment Plant.)
The different wording here sheds light on how differently municipalities can approach the same problem. Back east we’d approach it as merely a sewage treatment problem. Here in California they approach it as water reclamation opportunity.
Hooray for the western approach.
Here is a link to what I am talking about. Enjoy!
In this ever connected world we live in it is becoming increasingly obvious that we are becoming more and more addicted to our digital devices. This young lady was totally absorbed with her cellphone, oblivious of the comings and goings of the world at her elbow. A runaway cement truck could have been coming careening down the sidewalk straight at her, air horn shreeking and she wouldn’t have looked up.
In the sky over my head a vulture is flying. Circling silently on the winds of a gathering storm. It’s waiting to feed on the helpless, the dead or the dying.
This big black bird is an omen of the harsh end that come to creatures whose luck has run out. On the ground up close, it looks ugly and cruel as it gorges itself on rotted, bloody, fly specked flesh. In the sky it is darkly graceful gliding patiently back and forth….waiting.
The vulture doesn’t care how much money you have.
It’s what you make out of things that count.
I have implied in earlier posts that I am increasingly interested in creating black and white photographs. However here is an example of what a pinpoint of color can do.
As we were walking our usual 2 mile loop around Shollenberger Park yesterday, Sarah pointed out a small red soccer ball that had floated up onto the marsh bordering our path. One tiny dot of red sitting in the middle of a murky sea of grass and driftwood.
The image would be totally uninteresting without that speck of red. (It’s not that terrific even with it but the power of color in the right place is certainly brought home.)
And expanding this point a bit, a quick smile or a pat on the back from a friend can be just the tiny bit of “color” we all need to brighten our day.
If you are an aspiring writer or “of a certain age” before you do another thing click on this article in the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine. New Yorker
Roger Angell is a famous writer of course. His baseball books are probably the best ever written. He has been called that sport’s poet laureate. He has written best-selling fiction and been The New Yorker fiction editor for the likes of John Updike, William Trevor, and Woody Allen. So the man had impeccable credentials, wordsmith street cred if you will.
The recent New Yorker piece is by turns profound, graceful, funny and self-deprecating, but more than that it is wonderfully uplifting for those increasing numbers of us who must confront what it is to be old. Angell is an example, a happy warrior mentor issuing a call to arms to those of us who still want to howl at the moon and get on with living this god damn confusing life the best we can.
Thank you Mr. Angell
At about 6:30 this morning the heavy clouds outside our window were, here and there, broken up by the sun. It had rained all last night and tonight it’s going to rain harder still, but for a moment the sun struggled into supremacy and the day brightened. We’re still in for a patch of rainy weather here in Petaluma but, aside from the occasional unconscious tourist who will bitch about it, we need every drop we can get.
Walking along the main street into town a few days ago I saw this young magnolia hard by the edge of the much travelled roadway. Cars were streaming by a few feet away, totally unaware of the plant’s lovely blooms.
It reminded me of people, we all know them, who always seem to manage to radiate goodwill and happiness in personal circumstances that most of us would find far from easy.
My wish for today is to remember these flowers and stay mindful of this planet’s bountiful loveliness and pass some of it along.
There are many ways of seeing things. With intellect, with imagination, with love and as one gets older, these ways invariably take on the patina of age.
That’s not a bad thing really.
In fact it’s helpful.
While old age may take away the sharp, brash clarity of youth, in return it softens ones field of vision and allows the myriad shades of gray to add themselves to the picture. There is better balance that way.