SCATTER

What does “scatter” bring to mind? An image of objects thrown about chaotically? Someone being called scatter-brained?

That’s never a good thing.

But look around. The world tends to fall out of order, scattering is everywhere.

And often, the disorder is beautiful.

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Wildflowers and grasses scatter across summer fields.

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Shadows and reflections scatter over the water’s surface.

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Paint peels, leaving old things looking scattered and tattered.

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Rocks are scattered over riverbeds, trees topple and scatter through forests and fields.

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Petals scatter when they fall to the ground, reminding us how close we are to earth.

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Clouds and shadows scatter among the mountain tops.

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Maybe even mountains scatter when they’re thrust up over the earth’s crust.

The tumbling horizon that carries our thoughts away may seem orderly, but isn’t it a scattered path?

Unpredictable energy.

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We try to contain the disorder, but our efforts are only temporarily successful.

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Sometimes we invite chaos, we entertain disorder.

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Above, a shelter at a public garden with a scattered pattern of colored glass panes, being overtaken by equally scattered vines.  Below, a pair of flower part “scatterings” I threw together from bouquet leavings.

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No doubt there is satisfaction in ordering one’s world, but the act of scattering, whether it happens in nature, in the built environment or in our minds, brings unexpected relationships forward. That in turn, offers an opportunity to see the world (and maybe the self) differently.

The next time you’re compelled to put your environment in order, taking a minute to find something interesting in the scattered disarray might be worth your while.

*

From the Cambridge dictionary:

scatter                                                                                                                                                    

verb                                                                                                                                                                                             to move apart in many directions, or to throw something in different directions:
We grew up in a small town, but now we’re scattered all over the country.

scattered                                                                                                                                 

adjective                                                                                                                                                                                    There will be scattered showers throughout the afternoon.

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40 comments

    • And you are too kind…anyway, thanks very much. It’s fun to put together a post like this once in a while, some of it just falls into place and other parts require more effort.

  1. Wonderful post, the two paint peeling and fence and barn are my favs! Sometimes there is a hidden order in observations we perceive to be random, scattered. We don’t see it because we don’t understand, or we just don’t take the time required to understand.

    • You like the black and whites, and the color peeling paint – it’s always interesting to find out what appeals to people. We’re geniuses at finding order and patterns, I think. Some more subtle than others. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Thank you for this fine lesson of English language and the many meanings of scatter, dear Lynn.
    It makes me think about my relationship to order and disorder too, and it’s impact on creativity. Maybe I should give disorder a second thought more often.
    Your photographs are beautiful again, my favourites are the blooming meadow and the blue horizons over horizons and again.

    • Well, you’d best find someone else for English lessons! 😉 I often bemoan my own scattered mind, so it’s a subject i feel an affinity for, and it was fun to explore it this way. Also, I love fields with flowers, or just fields, so I’m glad you like the meadow. And as I mentioned to someone above, the mountain where I took that photo (Mt. Rainier) is a very beautiful place to be. As for order and disorder, and creativity, I’m sure you could mine that and come up with interesting observations. Thank you!

  3. Especially LOVE the first two images, and especially (again!) the off-kilter orientation of the top one. And then the wild greens of the water surface. And your words “We try to contain the disorder, but our efforts are only temporarily successful.” >>> that’s gardening alright, we try to convert Nature to our own whims but the thing with Nature is, it re-asserts itself 24/7, like a Terminator it never stops! I love your pictures, Lynn. A 🙂

    • You do have a thing for off kilter, I know. But I swear, that was just a steep hill, and an old, crooked fence. 😉 Glad you like those. Gardening, yes for sure, I’m very familiar with that one! I used to work on several estates outside NYC, trying to contain disorder. I liked it, but it’s hard physical work. Thanks so much for your good words, Adrian!

      • Yes, I really do think that off kilter has its place – I really don’t think its good to always be constrained (imprisoned?) by exact verticals and horizontals. 🙂

  4. The ‘blueness of mountain ranges is one of my favorites as well. I looked at the images yesterday before leaving the cloud forest and driving to the coast… and after three hours of driving in full sun, i entered an eerie stephen-king looking area just before the coast.. it was so hazy and thick, i ‘feared’ there was a big wildfire, but no, it was – i suppose – atmosphere/clouds clinging to the earth… but why? it was strange…. i reached the coastline, turned south, and though the landscape was not as stunning as your ‘tumbling blue horizon’ – it made a good sibling alternative!

    • Interesting – I know over here, the mountains stop the clouds that are coming from the west, and they pile up in front of them. Happens all the time. But maybe it wasn’t that. Fog is wonderful…glad you had a good scenic drive! Nature’s always full of surprises.

    • Thank you, Scott, we both love that dry, open look of grassy fields, and when there are flowers among the grasses, even better, right? I’m slowly learning how to process the photos for the look I want….

      • You’re welcome, Lynn…and yes, we do both love that dry open look of the grassy fields…with a touch of wild-flower thrown into the mix…absolutely. 🙂

  5. A beautifully arranged and poetic post, Lynn. For some, it is the act of creating order out of chaos that brings peace of mind. For others, it is acceptance that order doesn’t exist.

  6. So much freedom here in your gorgeous shots Lyn, mountains to climb and wildflower fields to run, hide in close your eyes open them back up and take it all in again. It’s good to feel the power of the scatter!

  7. You’ve made such a wonderful collection here, and the connections made have allowed me to think about each image differently. Love it. And some of the individual shots are breathtaking – the second seems so painterly!

  8. Very thought provoking Lynn. We tend to value order over disorder but aren’t these completely artificial constructs? And might one find order in disorder if only one got close enough or further away? What would a world be like that was totally “organized” — or totally “scattered”? Maybe in fact it’s both. Many questions that I don’t pretend to have answers for, but thanks for evoking them.
    Lovely set of images, btw 🙂

    • Ahh, you’re bringing it to another level, nice! I don’t want to go down the artificial constructs road because it’s too easy to dismiss everything then, and what’s the point of that, but…
      Yes, you might find order in disorder with a bigger view, or from a micro vantage point. True enough. I can go with both/and any day of the week, with a host of dichotomies. Always suits me better than either/or.
      And yes, it’s good to provoke questions – even to provoke thought is good in this climate! Literally in this climate, as we in the PNW droop and pant in unhealthy, smoke-filled air and unending heat.
      Thank you for your stimulating comments – maybe next time I’ll try to be a bit more rigorous, or explore a little deeper. 🙂

  9. awesome awesome photos and meditation on the word scatter, sending my thoughts a-scattering (which they are prone to do). Case in point, out planets are scattered around the sun (and galaxies scattered across space) – scatterings occurring within scattering within scatterings.

    I was thinking today as I was out wandering with my camera how I can’t take nature photos to save my life (well, occassionally i get a good one now and then), so I really appreciate those like you who can. I am partial to where nature and human construction / presence intersect, so the one with the caution tape and the shelter in the garden are particularly awesome. The caution tape speaks of whole tale, possibly the worst side of human nature, the shelter speaking to nature will always reclaim what we have built, nothing is permanent.

    • My thoughts are prone to scattering, too, and I’ll buy scattered planets – but mostly because it sounds poetic, and makes my mind expand. Another person might say they’re ordered though. All in the way we see, likely.
      How great to hear you’re partial to that human/built environment and nature intersection. When I lived in NYC I lived for the odd plants struggling through sidewalk cracks – I remember a small tree growing in shingles on a roof – and now the reverse, the caution tape in the field, I love photographing that. Nature reclaims our traces, even reclaims us, a comfort.

  10. I’ve been thinking about this, and I can’t quite convince myself that nature “scatters” leaves or clouds or stones, because scattering is both a construct we use to describe intentional and unintentional arrangements of everything from flower seeds to thoughts, and a human action.

    Still, I take your point. Your lovely photos of the wildflowers remind me of the Broadway cemeteries in Galveston, where some of the seven cemeteries allow wildflowers to scatter as they will, while others are trimmed and organized within an inch of their life. The free movement of flowers is so much more lovely than the disciplined trim — a perfect example of the pleasure that not putting the environment in order can bring.

    You’ve also reminded me of something I found among my mother’s effects after she died and I was cleaning out her apartment. Written on the back of a used envelope is a single thought — perhaps one that she read somewhere, or heard on the television or radio and wanted to remember: “Being disorganized is not a moral problem.” I think she would have found this post a word of permission!

      • I wasn’t thinking of nature as a force that intentionally scatters anything; it’s a way to describe what I see. Of course the concept of scattering one of a myriad of ways we construct our world, but it’s pretty hard to get away from human constructs – especially in a written blog! 😉

        The cemeteries in Galveston reminds me of something a garden designer I knew used to say: “There are no straight lines in nature.” She favored curves, not garden designs built around a lot of geometry. I think there are straight lines in nature, but really, who cares? The point is that she liked what she liked, and others like what they like. I’m with you on the wildflowers in cemeteries, no question, and she would be, too!

        Your mother’s note is very moving somehow. I bet you can craft a wonderful post around that. Thanks for carrying on the conversation.

  11. Wonderful details, colors that reinforce the message of the theme … I like this! But, I love this “complicated” scattered blossoms on the bubble foil …

  12. All pictures are beautiful. I like the leaves very much, the barn and the “blue” mountains and the picture of the flower bouquet ist very special for me too. Maybe because of the details. The closer you look to mother nature and her creations, the more wonders you find !


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