My 2012 in Images

I’m ambivalent about reviewing a whole year. I can’t possibly pare it down to a few images.

But I’ll do my best with the latest Weekly Photo Challenge. You can see what others are doing here:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/weekly-photo-challenge-my-2012-in-pictures/

(I can’t help thinking about what’s left out: how would a summary of the year look just from the vantage point of sound, or touch, or taste or smell? What about a summary of my feelings? They are all entirely relevant).

This is the first picture I took in 2011. It’s simplicity belies my state of mind at the time – absolute anxiety, frantic activity. In a month we would move across the country to a place we had been to only once, where we had no friends and just a handful of acquaintances. We would have no jobs waiting for us, and no family within thousands of miles. So many unknowns! No matter the worries and preoccupations – these shadows and shapes drew me in.

A quick overnight to Philadelphia in early January allowed me to say goodbye to some wonderful friends who had maintained my sanity while my son was deployed in Afghanistan the previous year. Was this statue telling me something about my future?

It was tough to say goodbye to these good people.

Soon after getting back home, I was on a plane to Seattle to find a place to live.  A generous acquaintance offered to put me up – I had a week to figure out where to live, but I had done the research and had good leads.  I secured an apartment within days, so I began exploring the area before the flight back home. One evening there was a spectacular sunset – maybe it was a portent, because the next day Seattle was hit with a big snowstorm – and in this part of the world, which doesn’t see a whole lot of snow, that meant everything stopped.

It sure was gorgeous though…

But planes were grounded and I waited nervously as flights were cancelled, and cancelled again. Finally I was good to go so I navigated the icy roads to the airport, turned my car in, and learned that once again, my flight was cancelled. I secured what appeared to be the last hotel room within miles, and the next morning the de-icers were out in force.

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I did manage to get home. There wasn’t much time left for goodbyes to favorite places – and people. A close friend from upstate came down and we had a great day hanging out in coffee shops and scouring a tag sale for finds (yes, a tag sale in Manhattan!) I walked the High Line in January cold and photographed my favorite Gehry building through a scrim of morning glory vines.

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And I was glad for sunny days. Oh, that skyline from the ferry. I didn’t know how I would live without it.

Two days before our lease was up, we muddled through a long day of watching and negotiating as movers packed our belongings and hit us with huge extra charges. We slept one last night on a couch we left for the landlord, and then turned our keys in and painstakingly wound our way through city traffic and out to JFK with our sedated sixteen-year-old cat and all the luggage we could carry. We climbed on board the plane and before long we were crossing the Rockies!

After one night in a hotel we took possession of our new apartment. I hung my beads at the window and we waited for our furniture, our clothes, our – everything – to arrive. For about ten days we slept on an air mattress and dined on an upturned box. Our netbooks became our lifelines at the local cafe. We slowly stocked the fridge and explored our neighborhood in a rental car while waiting for our own cars to make their way across the country. Yes! – we found a Trader Joe’s and plenty of good espresso joints nearby.

Eventually our furniture arrived – hardly anything broke!  Then one car, and eventually the other. The planning really paid off. One thing we could not control though, was our aging cat’s health. We found a good vet and they tried their best, but it was all too much, and we had to say goodbye to Pablo towards the end of the month.  It was a terrible blow, and we were dealing with it alone, in a strange place. The vet said his ashes would be spread at an apple orchard on the road into the mountains.  We were heartened by the thought of his body nourishing apples that might someday nourish us.  RIP Pabs.

We set about exploring the Pacific Northwest with a vengeance – rarely going more than two hours away – there were islands and mountains, a new city, interesting small towns, miles of shoreline and acres of farms.

Whether a distant view or a close-up, it was all looking good to me. And so different!

What are those weird things on the beach?

Bull whip kelp!  That’s like seaweed!  They grow everything so damn big out here!

When we weren’t exploring the countryside we poked around Seattle. Yes, there’s culture and yes, there’s art.

And MOSS. Moss everywhere! Even in the cold winter months it was brilliant green, coating branches like fur.

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And what a refreshing change the open space was. I discovered Duvall, a nearby town founded in 1913 (like that was a long time ago?) with a great sense of style.

 I found a conservatory that I could escape to on the endless gray days, as I waited for spring.

Eventually spring did start to peek around the corner, but it took forever to warm up.

I volunteered at a botanical garden to get closer to the plants I love.

In the woods there were wildflowers I hadn’t seen in years – trilliums seemed almost commonplace. Back east they’re picked clean, at least around metropolitan New York.

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I went up to see the fields of tulips and daffodils that are grown north of here. It was, of course, another gray day, but everyone promised that summer would be endlessly sunny.

I was getting tired of waiting for the sun.

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So I amused myself by joining a photography group and working harder on my photography.

Overcast days can make for lovely, even light, so I tried to understand how to take better advantage of the weather.

When we had time we drove into the mountains and hiked among the old growth – the giants – and I was humbled and full of love for them.

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Back in Seattle we discovered Georgetown, a photogenic neighborhood with an appealing funk quotient.

I volunteered for a court program that advocates for children. It was hard work but rewarding.

I read about a project that involves local people in making prints for the families of people killed on 9/11, and so I volunteered for that, too, and carved a block for a print.

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Summer finally came, and it was simply gorgeous – dry every day for months, never hot.

Up on the mountain passes there was beautiful fog to wander through, and plentiful berries in the fields.

Wherever I live I make it a point to find scraps of land with wildflowers that become my florists. Ten minutes from home I found an abandoned railroad track with butterfly bush, California poppies, fireweed, tansy, St. Johnswort…heaven!

We explored the working docks and shipyards of Seattle. Back in New York we used to watch tugs and container ships from our window, but here we can get close up to small crew fishing boats.

In August I began this blog with a brief post about a mid-summer day when I felt glum and uninspired, but after walking through fields and recording the amazing light on seed, flower, leaf and fruit, I was renewed. It was a good beginning to the blog that has become a rewarding way to express myself and be inspired by others all over the world who are doing the same thing.

In the fall we took a day trip back to Mount Rainier. When we visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 2011, our day at Mount Rainier was one of the most powerful experiences we had.  This time I felt sick all say but I didn’t let it stop me – there were plentiful wildflowers, and we saw bears!

A few weeks later we took an overnight trip to the Olympic Peninsula and caught a drizzly late afternoon chill on Hurricane Ridge. The infamous, quickly changing Pacific Northwest weather was demanding that we pay attention.

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In November we returned to New York for a wedding, a week after Sandy had devastated the region. We stayed with family on Long Island who had been out of power for a week already.  We tried to help untangle wires from the broken trees and huddled in front of a gas fire.

But oh, the food! And the pizza! The Pacific Northwest has great fresh food, but nowhere else, as far as we know, can you get anything like this slice, from an ordinary pizza place in Manhattan.

The wedding went off without a hitch. We had a day or so to see more family and revisit old haunts like the Rubin Museum, Battery Park and Financier Patisserie, and then suddenly the trip was over.

Back home, I talked myself into appreciating the drizzly gray days.

On  Thanksgiving Day those overcast skies cast a gorgeous silvery light on the sound.

I still scream “SUN!” when it peaks out from behind the clouds, but I’m more reconciled to the weather than I was the first few months. There is so much to enjoy here, and somehow, spending a week back in New York helped me feel more like this is my home.  We’re sure that the spirit of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest will engage our curiosity for a long time.

Whether expressed in something fashioned by human hands or embodied in a roadside field, I find a great respect for the land and nature here.

The other day we saw this:

a stretch of hundred-year-old brick road and

a lovely, eccentric woman

taking a walk with her miniature horse, named

“Surprise”.

We expect to enjoy many years of pleasant surprises in this corner of the country. We wish our families were closer, but we’ll try to rack up frequent flier miles for visits – New York and the east coast are great places to visit, aren’t they?


41 comments

  1. Just beautiful. As I looked at your Seattle areas photos I thought of all the changes this year will bring, and my daughter who will be going off to college and how one of the schools she has applied for is UW. What photos will I be taking come fall when we take her off to school? Boston, Seattle, the south or the midwest? Time will tell and your photos reminded me beauty will await her anywhere she goes, we just must make sure to open our eyes and see it.

    • Wow – she’s all over the map. And pretty soon you’ll know, hopefully. Wherever it will be, I know it’ll be fun for you to visit and explore. The beauty here is extraordinary.

  2. Happy Near Year, bluebrightly! What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing! I am sorry that you lost your feline family member! I had a cat just like Pablo. His name was Pumpkin. It broke my heart when he died at age 17. My big goal for the near future is also to move from the East coast out West, to the San Francisco area, IF I can afford it. And I am also a printmaker. So your story really touched me. Wishing you all the best for your future and lots of new adventures!

  3. i agree with life&ink; ‘just beautiful.’ there are MANY exceptional images, and your preface to each one adds so much to the post! i loved the beginning image as a pure art form, and then when i read that it was ‘the first image’ of the year, wow! how great! the wildflower arrangement is pure art as well – so very lovely! the 100-year old brick road made me lean forward and inspect it closer… the composition of ‘hurricane ridge’ is very striking… i really really enjoyed this post… can you tell!!!

    • Thank you – maybe (in my opinion) these weren’t the “best” images of the year, but they helped tell the story. I do like the first one a lot – you’ll love this – that rusty circle was found on a beach on Staten Island. We just had to bring it home and hang it on the wall…then I insisted on packing it, so now it hangs on the wall here, 2823 miles away. And thank you for noticing those details – I like to put the camera down on the ground and focus from there, and Hurricane Ridge has an otherworldly strangeness I was trying to capture. So glad you enjoyed it.

      • i have a wooden monkey that holds two candles, and it moves with me as well! it’s usually not the object that means so much but the memories that are attached to that object!

        sorry i’ve not been online much this week. we’re now int he rainy season.. power is out most mornings, and internet out with a hit and miss schedule, and i’m working on a painting!

        z

    • Wow, quite a compliment. I will try to keep it real! I’m enjoying your photographs too – it must be challenging sometimes to find something new in the flat plains of the midwest, but you always succeed.

  4. You have some beautiful photos here! I love the way a lot of them form a kind of “S” shape (the road, seashore, seaweed, etc.). It’s very soothing on the eye. Hope you have a wonderful 2013!

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to say that – specific comments are helpful. Composition is one of the hardest things, and too often I forget to be careful about it when I’m out taking pictures. So maybe I’ll try to remember what you said next time & take a little more time composing, so I get it right a little more often. (I’m just now getting back to your reply to a question I had ages ago about your work and will be reading more soon – thank you).

    • Of course we do! And you helped make it possible. The red brick road is a two mile stretch of a road that originally went to Yellowstone, and was one of the first cross country roads – you could travel from Seattle to Boston on it a hundred years ago. That stretch is called 196th St NE in Redmond, between Red-Fall City Rd and NE Union Hill Rd. It wasn’t hard to find. Best New Year to you all too!

    • Oh good, thank you – taken just last week nearby – I really like that photo too. It’s beautiful place where a few older farms still hang on, alongside a winding river – very low, wet land that’s often flooded. And there was SUN that day! The greenhouses in the fog are near there (previous post).

  5. What a year and such beautiful images to tell your story!!! I am sorry that you had to say goodbye to Pablo; the loss of a pet is always so difficult. Thank you for sharing your year with us.

  6. Your photos are phenomenal and your year looked like quite an adventure! I’m so happy you found your way to my blog so I could find my way to yours!! That photography group you joined will certainly benefit from your abilities, which I’m sure you will share with them. Your composition is wonderful. I used to live in the Pacific Northwest, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but it was long before I got into photography, so I’ll look forward to your continuing saga in that beautiful part of the country. 🙂

    • Thanks! I appreciate your confidence in my abilities. And though Idaho is, as you know, very different from this side of the mountains, I know there are similarities. It’s WAY more similar to the Pacific Northwest than Oman, for instance – or even VA. Best of luck on your journeys –

  7. Such an adventurous year for you, so much change. A few (read “many”) years ago my husband and I picked ourselves up and left family, jobs, friends and headed to the northwest of our province where we had never been, not even once, where we new no one, had no friends or even acquaintances, no jobs, no place to live … arrived when it was -25F under an incredibly blue sky the likes of which I would never see in the more cosmopolitan and industrialized south … and we stayed 22 years. The hardest part, for me, was raising my children without the benefit of extended family. It sounds like you are enjoying and exploring your new home – may you continue to find something new around every corner, and things to bring a smile to your face (even when that sun refuses to shine).


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