Tag Archives: Photography

Be the Light

I think most people like lighthouses.  They are very beautiful and each has its own uniqueness.  We also like the image of having a warning light, or a light that helps lead us through a storm.

This seems to me to be a very troubled time in the world at large.  When I’m out, I don’t see many smiles.  I don’t hear much laughter.  Happiness seems to missing in this fast-paced, hectic society.  And people won’t find happiness chasing material wealth or from any external source.

We all need to venture inside.  Find our spark.  Light up our own inner house.  Then venture outside.

When we do that, we see that happiness is contagious.  Just smile and watch the people around you light up.

Be the lighthouse.  Let your own light shine.  Be the guiding light.  The light of wisdom.

Cabrillo 5

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The Young Shepherdess

Art Gallery - William-Adolphe Bouguereau - The Young Sheperdess

William-Adolphe Bouguereau – The Young Shepherdess

I loved this portrait and really thought it caught the essence of the subject.  It truly amazes me that the artist has such talent.  While I love photography, there is something about a fine painting that is so much richer.

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Grandfather Sun

The sun sets over the bay.

Imagine what our ancestors thought long before the science of astronomy.  The Sun would disappear each day and you would not know if it would return.  This giver of light, of heat, of life, extinguished.

This is why so many early religions worshiped the Sun.  Gratitude for it returning each day.  The source of many creation stories . . .

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 Sunset Sail - 2

And we can all be grateful for our Grandfather, who cradles the Earth in its gravitational arms 🙂

Caged

A great irony of being in an urban environment is you’re able to see some animals, up close, that you would most probably never see in the wild.  They are caged.

In some ways this helps to preserve species – ironically protecting them from us.  In other ways it seems inhumane.  They should be roaming freely.

But when you look at all of human life’s modern entanglements, perhaps we are caged too 🙂

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Zoo 8

Urban Hiking

Yesterday, I was able to get in about 7 miles of “hiking” in an urban setting.  At some point I’ll put together a travel piece for that experience, but for now enjoy a little beauty I discovered along the concrete trail.

I still have to identify this one, as I do with so many other of my flower pictures.

Zoo Flower 1 +C1

The morning sun hit this one just right 🙂

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Cantognake

As writers we are continually on the hunt for words.  Words drive us.  Words are our souls.  And a couple of days ago I found one.  This one is from the Sioux language and I think it is absolutely beautiful.

Cantognake

It means to place and hold in one’s heart.

It can be used to describe a special place or person or persons or, for that matter, any soul or anything where ever you might encounter it.

I just recently left a place and souls I have placed in my heart.  Of course, there is already a collection of souls and places that occupy my heart too.  My heart is filling up.  It feels good.  Warm and glowing.  And even better to have a word to describe it.

Do you have a favorite word?

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Photo:  A lake shore from up in the north country.  There are so many pictures I could choose of locations and special persons and animal friends that I really couldn’t decide which to use for this post.  I might have to add an entire gallery under this same title 🙂

Photo Journal

If you had the chance to read my last post you probably noticed that I mentioned I was gearing up for travel again.  Consequently, I won’t always have the time I desire, at a given moment, to write out some of my stories.  At least not until I am settled long enough to hammer out some lines.

Also, there is a direct relationship, which could be graphed, between having adventures and writing about them.  Have to have them first in order to have something to write about 🙂

So I thought I would launch another category in the blog today – Photo Journal.  When I don’t quite have that next story put together, I can at least post a nice pic for the day.  Some positive energy.  Beauty without words.

I’ve noticed other blogs doing the same and they use the theme of being “Wordless.”  Makes sense and sometimes, as the old expression goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I have many pics of wildflowers that I haven’t had the chance to identify and this is one of them.  Maybe someday I circle back with a name for this one.  In the mean time, enjoy 🙂

Another White Flower 2

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Photo:  While I try to use all of my own photos for all of my posts there are times that I must seek out others to match the theme, but every post in this category will be one of my own.  I took this one on the trail yesterday 🙂

 

 

Hiking Through the Rhyolite

Many millions of years ago a volcano erupted with hundreds of times the force of Mount St. Helens.  Later the earth would push the remains upward leaving the volcanic rock exposed to all of the forces of erosion.  But the erosion was differential.  Softer materials washing away first. Leaving columns of stone.  Statues in precision alignment.  Sort of like the Moai on Easter Island.  Only here, they face inward to the center of the collapsed caldera.  Covered in desert scrub, it is difficult to imagine the explosive forces that once coalesced here.

The monoliths can also have disproportional heads where the boulders appear to balance mysteriously on much tinier pedestals.  All standing shoulder to shoulder like soldiers lining up on the parade grounds.

Chiricahua - 8-9-18 - 7

Before I enter these mountains, I sign in with the park ranger.  They need to keep track if people go missing.  Know whose body they may find days later if you don’t return.

They warn me that there is a high chance of rain, and the trails across the ridgetop I’ve chosen to hike will have me exposed to lightening.  But I don’t believe the Thunder-beings have any interest in hurting me.  They can be great messengers of the Earth and the source of replenishing energy.

I’m prepared for the 8-mile trek.  As much as I can be.  And as I wind my way through the monoliths I follow an undulating path.  Up and down, back and forth, snaking my way along switchbacks.  That image of the snake’s path accented by the mineral serpentine, mixed with green, blue and gold lichens, reddish rhyolites, and specks of glistening mica.  A colorful cacophony.  Discordant reflections of muted color that shift continually as the sun makes its daily journey across the sky.

Chiricahua - 8-9-18 - 13After a couple of hours, I reach the ridgetop.  Black char on skeletal trees, evidence of a fire from a decade ago, mixes with the light and dark greens of new pines and oaks.

 

Chiricahua - 8-9-18 - 8

All of the washes and creeks are alive with a torrent of water.  Small waterfalls offer the perfect intonations for meditation.  Worn trails fragment as you hit flat rock.  And segments of it vanish completely.

There was a flash flood the night before and if there had been foot prints or trail markers they’ve all been washed away.  Erased as if no person had set foot here for eons.  And no one is here today other than myself.

Chiricahua - 8-9-18 - 10

Often, I find myself in the wilderness where there are no other people.  But I’m never alone.  A troupe of Painted Redstarts moves through.  Lizards scurry away.  Butterflies seek out precious nectar from the red and yellow columbine that burst forth sporadically.

I come upon a pine totally splintered from a bolt of lightning, probably from the day before because its needles are still deep green.  No sign of this timber having dried.  Totally debarked with pieces strewn in a thousand directions.  I pick up a small piece of this now energy laden bark and place in my shirt pocket above my heart.  You can feel the energy throbbing.

I hit another point on the ridge where the trail has cloaked itself.  There are at least ten directions I could go.  Four seem more likely.  I climb up on a boulder to get a better vantage point and to my surprise a solitary white-tailed deer is right below me.  The doe doesn’t seem to know I’m there.  The wind coming towards me carries my scent the opposite direction.

I watch her quietly graze on low-lying tree branches.  Then she raises her head and sees me.  Stares right into my eyes.  But I’m surprised by her actions.  I expect her to panic.  To run away as most deer would.  She’s unconcerned.  Apparently feeling no threat.  And instead offers to help.
Chiricahua - 8-9-18 - 11She alters her path and circles back toward me and loops to my left.  We lock gazes, and I follow her.  Her gentleness lures me to the right path.  And then she’s gone.  In an instant.  A blink.  As if she wasn’t there at all.  Her spirit saves me the time I would have spent trying to find the right route.  Time is life out here.

Descending from the ridgetop, I make it to the center of the monoliths.  How long have these statues stood?  Holding this ground.  Carved by forces that no human sculptor could match.  They’ll be here long after my physical body has departed.  Silently keeping watch.
Chiricahua - 8-9-18 - 15I hear an Owl in the distance.  Its affirmation tells me I am safe.  I can take a break here. Take the load off my back.  Hydrate and take in some calories to replace those consumed.  Breathe in the surroundings.

Native Americans used to inhabit this place.  It’s sacred Earth.  I offer thanks for being allowed safe passage.  I’m not the top predator here, after all.  Black beer and mountain lions call this their home.

An injury here can mean death.  Can’t let your guard down even as you grow weary.  Pay attention.

I hear a noise, and a Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard perches himself on a rock next to the path.  He does pushups and flares his neck in a display of dominance.  I stop to observe.  When I start to take my next step, I notice a large stone in the center of the path.  I had not seen it before and if I continued unaware I would have tripped over this stone and have possibly been injured.

Falling to right would have landed me on the switchback 20 feet below.  Falling to the left, into the rock wall there, could have meant a fractured skull.  Falling forward, a twisted or broken ankle.  I thank the lizard for his warning.
Chiricahua - 8-9-18 - 17+C1

Such is nature.  Be attentive.  If your soul is open, nature’s spirits will speak to you.  Warn you.  Protect you.  Give you energy.  Keep you on the right path.

The hike complete, it is time to center and reflect.  There are always forces around us at work.  This day was my mother’s birthday.  She passed away last year.  And I can’t help but think that maybe she is watching over me too on this day.  Protecting me from all the dangers that surrounded this solitary hike into the wilderness.

As I drive home, Hawks, Ravens, and Turkey Vultures line the telephone lines.  All facing inward.  Like the monoliths, soldiers.  These are the protectors, the shape-shifters, the visionaries.  And they guard my route.  Almost like a salute to a journey well completed.  So many of them.  Their numbers far exceeding and mingling with their prescribed territories.  An oddity?

Thank you, mom.  Love you and miss you.

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Chiricahua - 8-9-18 - 14

Photos: I took them all with a cell phone camera as I hiked 🙂

Published ! Thrilled and honored that my story was published by The Urban Howl on August 29, 2018, under the title “If Your Soul Is Open, Nature’s Spirits Will Speak To You.”

The Warm Desert Wind

The warm desert wind swept up from the chaparral.  Wrapping around my face before continuing its journey into the canyon, the place where I was heading.  Another gust comes from the opposite direction, the canyon itself.  A see-sawing of wind.  A vibratory force.  Alternating current.  An invisible infinity symbol.  The Mobius.  Lightly whistling at times.  Ever-bearing weight at others.

I was tracking up a wash.  A magical place that appears bone dry but it’s surrounded by vegetation.  What feeds it?  At different elevations, the hidden aquafer emerges.  Clear, cool, running water, disappearing beneath the rocks a hundred feet above and a hundred feet below.  Feeding Mohave Lupine, Sky Pilot, Scarlet Gilia, the Mexican Silene. Manzanita, with its dark, reddish-brown bark.  Bordered by purple Fairy Dusters.  A scattered box of crayons, melting into the brown, dusty earth.

Miller Canyon - 8

As lush and diverse as the growth is here, one might wonder whether this should be called a desert at all.  But there are different types of deserts.  And this is not a desert like the ones I’ve encountered in the furthest southern points.  So harsh that the ability to adapt can be short lived, as will you be if you’re stranded there.

Those deserts are bone dry and barren.  Every plant a spiky throwback to the distant past.  Where evolution stopped.  They tear at your ankles as you walk.  Shred your pants. Gouge your skin.  Like a pack of hungry wolves, they go for your Achilles tendons.  To bring you down.  Cripple you for the kill.  The earth soaks up your blood with a never-ending thirst.  The dryness, suffocating.

But where I’m at there are multiple biomes.  Sky Islands, so called because of the diversity that lives in each mountain range.  Volcanic uprisings now differentially worn by wind and rains.  Rhyolite columns stand like ancient warriors in the altitudes above the lowlands, guarding the pine forests and their inhabitants.

Chiricahua - Hike Droping Out of the Rhyolite Columns 9

And at the base of, or threading through the canyons, Sycamore, Willow, and Cottonwood paint ribbons of green along creaks, streams or rivers.

San Pedro River - 7

At mid-altitude, there are Pinon, Juniper, and Mesquite trees, as well as Emory and Silverleaf Oaks.  And in between these islands can be grasslands.  Vast stretches.  Tan waves of vegetation below blue skies and billowing clouds.  The land undulates, alive.

AZ Vista+Crop 1

In other outstretching plains below the floating islands lie infinite reaches of scoured desert floors.  Fictitious trails through Saguaro cacti, like standing in a perpetual hall of mirrors.  Where do they all lead?

Here, the sun bearing down causes an evolutionary reversion to the reptilian form.  Just basking in that sun raises your heart rate.  Exhaling water vapor that’s evaporated before you can see it.  Your skin desiccates and takes on the shape of scales.  It becomes armor you will need in this battle.

To tread here you must do continual 360-degree spotting, take snapshots in your mind, tracing landmarks for the path of your return.  At some point, your memory banks are full and the terrain all starts looking the same, and you must decide whether to turn around or march into oblivion.  Blood and brain broiling.  Unforgiving beauty.

Saguaro Natn Park 15

Rising from that depth, the air cools again.  The humidity rises.  Plants flourish.  Bare rocks become canvases, covered with Petroglyphs from those who knew how to survive here, how to build a community here, how to chart the stars here.  The songs of their storytelling still echo through the canyons.

For now, I’ll tread through the scrub land, rising into the pines and I’ll sit with my friends.  The deer, the javelina, the coyote, the falcon, the hawks, and my brothers the Owls.  And we’ll share the tales of our ancestors, for just a while longer.

Madera Canyon - 5 - Looking South From Josephine Saddle

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Photos: I decided to include a few photos to go with my words.  Sometimes words aren’t enough to carry you there, to reveal the contrasts, the infinite beauty.