Photography and other pleasures

Abstract realism, minimalism, reflected light, crows, florals, solo trees, and water.
Music and occasional musings.

My soul lies twisted on the shards of dreams I could not imagine how to make breathe. Yet I awake this morning determined again to make new ones.

Curious, At the Edge

Curious, At the Edge
At the end he called himself “Hellebore”. He lived on the edge of the garden, off center, in the shade, outside the sun. Color and form subdued and head hidden, down, not far from the ground. The old women loved him, and the thoughtful ones, and some children. First brilliant, then forgotten.

I have always enjoyed the comfort and safety of solitude. When I can be alone, without companion or concern, centered in the quiet of some place without others, I feel peace so comforting I do not wish to describe it. I can find this solitude in many places—on the basalt flows into the Pacific at the Oregon coast, in a stand of piney trees under a waning moon in the pine barrens of South Jersey, imagining a crocodile constellation from the stars visible from the Bondi beach near Brisbane in Australia, or from my little garden at home, back up against the sitting rock, staring at the moon at 2AM as others sleep, watching the stars move across the night sky, peering through the nitida bamboo and fir canopy that hides this garden from others.

This winter night in Ann Arbor invited me out. Winter in Ann Arbor was always cold and often windy, but this night brought a blizzard—snow falling, beating itself onto the ground, temperatures well below zero, 20 below in fact, with strong winds gusting from a steady 20 knots to peaks of 30-40. Snow and wind had conspired all day to drive us inside, to enjoy the warmth and coziness of extra blankets and hot drinks, tea or cocoa, both strong and sweet, to slip into easy lovemaking, slow and thoroughly warming, inspired by the sound of furious wind to merge comfort and power for languorous release followed by luscious yawning and a bear’s deep sleep.

Except that at 2 AM I woke up again, listening to the sound of this wind, knowing how cold it was, realizing that in the midst of that storm I could find solitude if I wanted it. And I did. I got up and I dressed for the cold—cotton long johns, both top and bottoms, Levis, a cotton flannel shirt covered by a wool sweater, with a hooded sweatshirt over that, an L.L.Bean wool lined parka as the outer layer, windproof and wet proof. I also tied low cut ski boots over heavy wool socks. And I waxed my Tubingen skis for the icy snow I’d encounter as I left our place on Dewey Street.

I came out of the house and stepped onto my skis. The wind was still strong and snow continued to come down, hissing across the nylon shell of the parka as the wind whispered close to me, already some 18 inches on the ground, tough for skiing. Still, I set out from my house and skied about half a mile until I reached the University of Michigan golf course, a splendid course designed by Jack Nicklaus, though I suspect no one intended much play under the conditions of that winter storm.

I skied onto the course in the middle of the night. Nothing had disturbed any of the snow. I could see the luminous glow of the pale light of moon shining through dense cloud and driven snow. This light illuminated the convex contours of sculpted icy drifts formed up on bushes and small trees. It invited me to venture further onto the course, something my childhood would not have let me do, especially with the No Trespassing signs reminding me of Mr. Gruber’s holdings and my duty to obey those rules.

Still, I skied further. I skied until I reached a copse of young pines, maybe fifteen to twenty feet tall, standing together at the top of a small hill. I entered this tight stand and I took their shelter. Here, while the wind blew strong and steady, sighing and straining into the trees, pushing snow sideways into everything, I stood quiet and alone, completely alone, in solitude, in the comfort of that winter storm, in a place where no one would come, where most could not imagine going at 2 AM in the middle of a blizzard in the city of Ann Arbor, to a place of peace where the energy of God is palpable and the heat of life surging through me brought forth silent shouts of joy.

I watched this winter storm play itself out over the next hour, sheltered by the pines. It was easy to keep warm out of the wind, even though it was so cold. I stood there for maybe an hour, listening to the wind in the large, soughing and surging across the fairways and through the trees, and listening to the wind in the small, sighing snow across my parka and hissing snow through the evergreen branches jostled and swaying in the ebbing strength of the storm. Had I been fifty at that place, I would have been aware of gratitude for the storm and the solitude and its gifts. But I was just twenty six so the feelings of joy I felt for that solitude in that quiet place with the strength of that storm pulsing around me made me smile a small smile and yawn again, spent with the pleasure of solitude, with the comfort of being alone in a world of benign and joyous power.

Then I skied home and crawled back into bed with my beloved, her warmth yet another measure of the blessings I’d enjoyed this winter night in Ann Arbor, skiing on Jack Nicklaus’s golf course in the middle of a blizzard in the middle of the night.
Morning Stillness

Morning Stillness
I look for or create beauty because it is the only thing that holds back the anger and the melancholy that creates it. Luckily for me, the world seems full of beauty.
Sunset Softly 1

Sunset Softly
Abstract | Autumn Watercolors

Abstract | Autumn Watercolors
Time Is the Only Difference

Time Is the Only Difference
You notice it come upon you the way you notice shadows moving below cloud on a cold day. And like the cloudless shadow it stays with you for some time, stitched at the heel, and knowing that the sun will return cannot stay its relentless chill, life leaching from the soul in small gasps.
Beach Grasses in Night Fog

There remains beauty despite the deepest fog, even after the light is gone.
His two sons saved him again, though they do not know it. It's 3 AM, and the crushing sadness is upon him, stealing breath and, worse, will, and there seems but one way out. Thank God for those two sons, good men strong and kind, and capable of saving even one like him, without knowing it at all.
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