Love That Weekly Photo Challenge

This weeks’ Daily Post Photography Challenge is “Love”.

At Pike Place Market in Seattle, a smile speaks volumes of love for a bundled up pet.

Flower market workers appear lost in the love of beautiful spring bouquets. I know I may be romanticizing – they’re probably underpaid – but I suspect they do love those bright flowers.

Caught behind a protective plastic tarp, these flowers express love more lyrically, to me anyway, than all the pretty bouquets displayed in the aisles.

A pianist’s fingers may be bandaged, but he plays long and hard. For money, yes, but if you could hear him you would know it’s also for love.

And I see love here, even without color.

All photographs taken at Pike Place Market, Seattle, in 2012.

Many more renditions of Love, from all over the world, can be found here:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/weekly-photo-challenge-love/

What a Difference a Year Can Make

This week I will celebrate my first 365 days in the Pacific Northwest. These images, photographs of places I frequented in my old home town and places I’m been exploring here on my new home ground, bookend the year.

Last week I drove up Cougar Mountain, outside Seattle, to the so-called “Million Dollar View”.  We had been stuck in a weather inversion that produced nothing but thick fog day and night. It’s easy to rise above it though – a thousand or so feet up and I was out of the mist. Foggy cloud banks rested gracefully across the valleys and Douglas firs cast soft lavender blue reflections on the lake below. Over a hundred miles north of where I stood, sunlight graced the flanks of Mount Baker, one of the snowiest places in the world and the site of extensive volcanic research.

Exactly a year before that day I met old friends for coffee at Think Coffee near New York University. Walking past an alley in Soho later that afternoon I came across this softly lit and surprisingly quiet scene:

A few days later I took a break from packing to spend an hour in one of my favorite places – the Conservatory at Snug Harbor Botanical Garden. A Bird of Paradise flower provided all the scrumptious candy color I craved on that cold, dark New York winter afternoon.

Exactly a year later I was looking for a diversion from winter’s dreariness again. This time a  handsome horse named Diamond trotted over to see what I was up to as I walked beside a fenced field where she boards. Realizing I had no treats for her, she turned and broke into a wild gallop in the mud with another horse. She’s clearly well cared for, and what nice digs she has in the foothills of the Cascades. (How do I know her name? Because a guy on a four wheeler zoomed over to tell me I shouldn’t be trespassing. Before walking back to the road I asked about the horse, who he said was Diamond,  “a real show-off.”)

The next day, I was watching the sun set along a back road that follows a meandering river ten miles east of my house.  I had spotted a Great Blue Heron in a wet field a mile down the road, but here the only sign of life was a lone, out of season frog calling from its hiding spot in the tangle of grass. I wondered how old that barn is, and what they grow here, and I was glad for the small farms that somehow manage to survive so close to my new home.

Just a year ago I was on the water in New York Harbor, taking this photograph of the MOL Endurance, a container ship making its way towards port. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, connecting the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island, spanned sparkling blue harbor waters that morning. On a good day the light and spaciousness of New York Harbor trigger ideas and possibilities in my mind – where did that ship come from, what’s in those containers, and what adventure awaits me in a few minutes, when I walk off the ferry to Manhattan?

Two late January sunsets complete my coastal seesaw – one taken a year ago from my old apartment above New York Harbor, looking over snowy rooftops to the soft glow of lights at a container terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey. The other sunset is over the Snoqualmie River, just outside the little town of Duvall, Washington:

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Themes seem to repeat on both sides of the country: landscapes seen through the filigree of tangled grasses or branches, colors and textures that make me want to reach out and touch, and foregrounds giving way to distant views. A lot has changed in a year, but my central concerns in photography – the love of nature and of ordinary, everyday life – have just shifted their expression a few thousand miles to the west.

Beyond

This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge is “Beyond”.

In the fall of 1934, a young Californian turned his back on city life and set out into the wilderness. As he traveled he wrote vivid letters to family and friends,  and carved block prints of his surroundings, mailing them whenever he crossed paths with a post office. Sometimes he sold his prints for supply money.  A profound restlessness led him to explore deeper and deeper into the wild. In the Sierra Nevada he abandoned himself to the “utterly, wildly, tumultuously effervescently joyful” mountain scenery, and in Navaho country he learned to speak the language and sing the songs of people who had lived on that land for many generations.  Though he appreciated the stimulation of Los Angeles and San Francisco, he chose the hardships of traveling alone in the wilderness over the intellectual company of his  city friends. A true mystic, he often sensed “the brink of things”.  Every day contained surprises as he reveled in magnificent wastelands, unnamed canyons and long summer days in the high country with no people in sight.

His final trip, at the age of 20, was into the deeply wild, desert high country of southern Utah. He found his way into the small town of Escalante by trekking over the mountains without a trail. He saw a movie in town and shared venison with locals around a fire. He wrote that riding into the red rock country was like coming home again.

The last letter anyone received from him was dated Nov. 11, 1934 . He spoke of dwarf, twisted pines and towering orange yellow cliffs, a rough country of sage and brush and canyons so steep his burros could hardly stay, lest they all tumble. He wrote of strange tinges of unreality on what seemed like “the rim of the world.”  And he warned that there would be a gap of months between letters, because  “I am exploring southward to the Colorado, where no one lives.”

He was never heard from again. The gap was permanent, but Everett’s dream of going beyond lives on.

For close to eighty years people have tried to find him but every clue turns down a blind alley. He leaves us letters and prints; many are collected in a small, wondrous book by W.L. Rusho,  titled Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty, 1983, Gibbs Smith, Inc.

Finding Everett Ruess by David Roberts, Broadway, 2012, is a newer biography of Ruess.
Ruess truly went beyond during his short life, and though many have tried to find some physical trace of him, he has moved beyond us.  But he is not beyond us in spirit.

These photos were taken in the general area where Ruess was last seen. Please forgive the poor quality – these are scans of old snapshots taken with a small camera when I visited southern Utah. If you have a chance to go there, do. If you have been there, you must know of the deep spiritual release that Everett Ruess found in this extraordinary country.

More about Ruess:

http://everettruess.net/about.html

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The WordPress Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/weekly-photo-challenge-beyond/

Sunday Post: A SIMPLE STORY OF…

…your making.  Jake’s Weekly Photo Challenge subject  is “Simplicity”.

The simplicity here isn’t necessarily in the form or content, but in the context. The context seems to be a story that weaves in and out of everyday settings at home and beyond. It’s a simple story that I invite you to narrate.

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Shells probably from India; moon shells from East Coast beaches;  bed in a small cottage in Connecticut; cream pitcher made in 1998 and signed HP; boats in New York Harbor; curled skunk cabbage leaf at Mercer Slough, Bellevue, WA; aprons at Hains House, a Baking School and B&B in Olympia, WA;  Tateuchi Viewing Pavilion at Bellevue Botanical Garden, Bellevue, WA; aloe leaf in the Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle, WA; the flowers are Forget-me-nots.

More responses to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge are at:

http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/sunday-post-simplicity/

THE LILY’S MANY FACES

They are a large and gorgeous group, the lilies. Fragrant, elegant, sturdy, and cleanly symmetrical.

A hothouse Asiatic lily from the store, this beauty is big.

The same lily from a different angle  –  desaturated, with noise (graininess) added.

This time I used a long exposure while zooming the lens and intentionally keeping everything out of focus.

And another grainy, softly colored rendition of the lily from behind.

Outdoors, the natural light on a rain-and-clouds-and-sun kind of day lays evenly across this botanic garden spider lily.

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From above, little wild fawn lilies (Erythronium columbianum) on Echo Mountain in Western Washington nod their lovely heads musically.

Another wild fawn lily, Erythronium revolutum, is naturalized around a lawn at the Kruckenburg Botanical Garden in Seattle.

Lilium columbianum, the wild Tiger lily, growing here in the Snoqualmie National Forest.  We took a short hike on the Lodge Lake Trail, where we met through hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail – that means they were intending on traveling all or most of the 2,650 mile long trail that stretches from Canada to Mexico. Lodge Lake Trail is a tiny portion of the PCT. Happily for the through hikers, wild berries were abundant that August day and civilization (re-supply, showers, beer!)  was close. Happily for me, no one had bothered this beauty as it stood proud alongside the trail.

A Martagon lily at Bellevue Botanical Garden is ready for pollinating. This one smelled like a tangerine candy – fantastic!

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A black and white study of spider lilies (Crinum asiaticum) at Snug Harbor Botanical Garden in Staten Island, New York City.

A poem –

The Lily

The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,
The humble sheep a threat’ning horn:
While the Lily white shall in love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.

William Blake

and a proverb –

This Chinese proverb gets translated differently, but I’ll stick with this version because it goes so well with today’s post:

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.

ILLUMINATING AURAS and PINPRICKS of LIGHT: WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

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This week, The Daily Post at WordPress challenged readers to post photographs on the subject of illumination. Here are  illuminations of scenes that brightened my day: subtle auras surrounding hothouse orchids, a crescent moon rising over New York harbor and twinkling lights screening a landmark building in the making.

The first two pictures were taken at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle. It’s warm, humid conditions contrasted sharply with dry, frosty January air, and it felt good being surrounded by orchids and tropical plants, basking in radiant sunlight that’s in scarce supply during the Northwest winter. Our winter color palette plays the deep greens of Douglas firs and sword ferns off soft grays and browns, but inside the greenhouse, hot colors soaked up the sunlight, casting tropical candy auras around the voluptuous flowers.

At Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, a November sunset created an unusually quiet moment at the edge of the city that never sleeps.  The street lamps, reproductions of posts dating back about a hundred years, seem to tilt because of the wide angle lens, leaning in towards the distant Statue of Liberty. Smudgy gray clouds almost conceal a crescent moon and a plane heading up the Hudson River.

On a cool fall evening in Lower Manhattan, tiny lights threaded through the trees of Zuccotti Park cast pinpricks of light against the still incomplete One World Trade Center.  Over ten years ago this park and surrounding blocks were severely damaged by the 9/11 attacks. New York politics has prevented timely completion of the Twin Towers replacement – you can see a construction crew elevator ascending the corner of the building –  but it is almost finished.  Zuccotti Park also was the site of the recent Occupy Wall Street Movement; on this night, the delicate filigree of honey locust tree leaves against a soft blue sky belied the unrest of the past.

Illumination, along with those light bulbs constantly popping with ideas behind my eyes, allows me to create photographs that I can share with you. Thanks for visiting!

The challenge:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/lights/

THE SUBTLE COLORS OF JANUARY

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Photos taken at Markworth State Forest, Carnation, Washington, and on Cherry Valley Road, Duvall, Washington, on two frosty, early January afternoons.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved: No Resolutions

THE FACT THAT IT’S JANUARY means

nothing – my perennial urges

at “self” improvement (those vague

promises hovering just beyond daylight’s reach)

don’t correspond to calendars.

And it’s a problem of

time – twelve months stretch farther

than I can imagine: no,

there will be no New Years Resolutions here.

—–

I can promise, though, that I will

attend

to the spirit of the moment,

more and more.

And I can promise that I will

try harder

to show you

what I find.

—–

Pretty –

or not.

Photo taken 1/3/2013, in a field off Cherry Valley Road, Duvall, Washington. This Canada goose was likely shot by hunters and then thrown away. There were hunters shooting in the field when I took the picture. Between mid-October and late January, four geese may taken a day, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, in King County.

To me, hunting is not a “good” or an “evil” activity.  I recognize that very few people – at least where I live – need to kill to eat.  So it’s tempting to make that grounds for refraining from hunting.  But of course we condone hunting of a sort when we eat meat.  A long tradition of hunting here is integrated with country life, and hunters have supported the land and wildlife in many ways, even as they take life.  So it’s complicated.  But nothing about this frozen Canada goose, carelessly tossed at the edge of a field along with another goose and a few ducks, seems  morally comfortable.

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This post is part of the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, and more responses to “Resolved” can be found here:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/weekly-photo-challenge-resolved/

INSPIRED BY GRASSES

Yes, absolutely. I love grasses – something about their linearity, and the swoop and curve of a blade’s path through the air…

In a mass, all of the fine cross-hatching’s are as delicious to my eye as print on a page.

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Enchantment

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A grass can embody the prettiest, frilliest, curvaceous dance…and other times it can be a spear, crisply delineating space.

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Absorbing light as easily as it accommodates a breeze, or reflecting light every which way, like water sparkling on a lake –

…blades catch sun and fling it back into space.

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Heavily textured, stiff and dry,

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or soft and feathery,

a field of grass can shimmer in summer heat like an ocean of sunlight.

Coated with frost, every stalk stands apart, each fuzzy outline adding crunch and texture.

Bamboo, prince of the grasses and always elegant, is dignified and somber at dusk.

And in the dead of winter, a common marsh grass seems to grasp its neighbor to forestall the inevitable.

Photos taken at Bellevue Botanical Garden in Bellevue, Washington; at Snug Harbor, Staten Island (NYC); at Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland, Washington; in a Duvall, Washington field; at Snug Harbor, Staten Island (NYC); on Mount Magazine, Arkansas; at Mount Loretto in Staten Island (NYC); on The High Line in NYC; at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington; on Topsail Island, North Carolina; in an upstate New York field; and at Ancient Lakes in Quincy, Washington.