RETRACING MY STEPS

As much as I like novelty, there is something deeply satisfying about the act of retracing my steps through familiar landscapes. Walking the same trails repeatedly can slowly turn a place into a sanctuary. I may say to myself that I’m going out to see what has changed since the last walk but in fact, I’m nourished as much by following my usual pathways as I am by discovering a new flower. Every path has a rhythm: ups and downs, bends and straightaways, enclosed and open spaces. These rhythms sink into the grooves of my soul, digging pathway echos that support me in some obscure way.

Walking the trails, I pick my way over rough rocks and twisted roots, my feet turning just so to fit the dirt-filled pockets where countless feet went before me. I sniff the air, inhaling the warm scent of sun-baked fir needles or wrinkling my nose at the pungent odor of rotting piles of sea lettuce left by the tide. Casting my eyes from side to side as I walk, I listen as Song sparrows throw bright melodies across fields and eagles pierce the air with sharp, quickly tumbling whistles. My knee twinges as I climb a steep section, trying to keep my weight centered. My eyes alight on visual anomalies: “Hmm, is that interesting? No, not really. Yes – there!” I try to keep my intentions loose and inchoate so I can welcome everything. There’s no reason to narrow my experience by adhering to an agenda. It’s enough to simply be here. Again.

Here’s a collection of photos from a few familiar places that I frequent.

1.
2.
3.
4. March storm clouds brew up some drama over the Salish Sea.

5. The bark of the Madrona or Arbutus tree makes sunset colors.

*

7. Winter is a good time to focus on mosses and lichens. The ropy moss at the top is probably a Seliginella, the black-spotted lichen is a Peltigera and the pale, branched lichens are Reindeer lichen, a kind of Cladonia.

*

9.
10. Someone is lucky to live there, on the edge of the Park. What a view!

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12.
13. The picnic tables are bare on a Tuesday afternoon in June.
14. Another Madrona tree.
15. Quiet skies over Bowman Bay on an early May morning.

16.
17. Straight reality – nothing augmented or artificial about it. Good stuff.

***

It’s the Fourth of July in America, a day to mark the independent thinking and action of a group of idealistic people that led to this country’s freedom. As we celebrate, let’s not forget our interdependence with one another and with earth.

***


80 comments

  1. “Attention to detail” always sound kind of dreary, something in a productivity lecture by some strait-laced managerial type, but in your case, we’ll make an exception, your details are just great, real celebrations. That picnic shelter, with the idealized Hollywood backdrop in the windows, is very cool, the jewelry store displays of pebbles, and the terrific aerial topographic shots of sand and rock, and the cloud snagged in the dead branches of a tree, what a great taking off point for a fable or fairytale. Celebrating the people with an independent streak, who think their own thoughts, resist the simpleminded drumbeats of the mean-spirited and the reactionaries, and definitely, feel the interdependence with humanity and our earth. (Yep, I’ve set one of those logs on end for a stump speech!) Hurray for the 4th!

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    • Yes, let’s take the dreary associations out of “attention to detail” and celebrate it. Your own associations with some of these photos are really fun for me to read about – e.g. a jewelry store – yes, those pebbles are like that! Please get up on those stumps anytime (before they turn into nursery stumps, that is) and speechify away. You put it better than I could. Thank you once again!! I hope you’re having a fun 4th today. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • That blue surprised me – it’s almost metallic, cold. So many colors in nature! I did #13 in black and white – great minds think alike – I think I put that on Flickr…yes, it’s there. Black and white didn’t look right in the post this time. Thanks!!

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  2. I really enjoyed your written piece along with the photographs. ย An almost poetic reflection of your experiences while out walking and taking photographs. ย The part about retracing our steps is also perhaps about how we gain a sense of belonging by valuing our immediate environment. ย Our relationship changes from one of simply being familiar to one where seasons, cycles and changes are observed with a feeling of continuity. ย Over time it maybe helps us feel more of the whole and connects us to the natural world in a way that visiting somewhere new may not. It is nice that you can appreciate how those familiar trails nourish and support you in some way. ย How when we fully allow things into our consciousness, even small and simple things, they can be an important part of our wellbeing. ย When speaking about my photography I have said many times that the experience of being out with my camera is sometimes perhaps more important than the photographs I take. ย I love to get a great photograph but I also like how being out with a camera (and I never go out without one!) helps me to focus (excuse the pun) on the world around me differently. ย Seeing that tiny flower that I might otherwise have missed. Having a long conversation with a total stranger because they are curious about why I might be taking a photograph of something seemingly unexceptional! Feeling my hands go numb as I watch the sunrise. ย Hearing the birdsong while there is no one else around. ย I could go on but I know you get the picture (ha, another unintentional pun). ย There is a wonderful scene in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty where Walter eventually catches up with the photographer Sean O’Connell (played by Sean Penn) who he has been trying to track down. ย I won’t say too much and spoil the scene if you haven’t already seen it. ย Sean plays the scene with a great sense of gravity and what he says helped make it one of the best scenes in the whole film. ย Almost worth watching just for that! ย (Now I’ve probably over sold the moment!). ย Anyway I’ve rambled on too long. ย 
    Once again your photographs are a true delight and an evocative feast for the eyes. ย I enjoyed each individually and as a series. ย I won’t try to comment on each of them or I really will be here all day. ย Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photographs. ย Great work ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Such a wonderful comment, thank you! You said far more than I did and made me wish I’d gone into a little more detail. But the important thing is that you understand and you’re inspired to begin a good discussion. Thank you for that. You make some good points about the value of observing your environment closely, in all conditions. And how the benefits of being out with your camera extend well beyond the photographs. I saw “The Secret Life…” long ago and don’t remember that scene but will look for it if/when I see the movie again. It takes time to deepen these connections to our world, time that is so enjoyable. I like to bring that enjoyment here, to pass it along. It’s good to know it’s happening – thank you again, I really appreciate your thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Your photographs and words are an inspiration ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜€
        When Walter finally catches up with Sean Oโ€™Connell he is high in the mountains with his camera and telephoto lens set up to take pictures of the rare and elusive snow leopard and when the leopard is first seen the exchange between them is:
        โ€œWalter Mitty : When are you going to take it?
        Sean O’Connell : Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
        Walter Mitty : Stay in it?
        Sean O’Connell : Yeah. Right there. Right hereโ€
        I like that despite the objective of his photographic assignment as a professional photographer he hasnโ€™t lost enjoying the beauty of nature and being in the moment. A little life lesson that I enjoyed greatly. Sean Penn is a great actor and I think the fact he delivered the lines added a degree of gravitas to the moment. He only delivers a few lines but they are some of the best in the film. Iโ€™m sure the director chose him with care to play that role.
        In another exchange:
        โ€œSean O’Connell : They call the snow leopard the ghost cat. Never lets itself be seen.
        Walter Mitty : Ghost cat.
        Sean O’Connell : Beautiful things don’t ask for attentionโ€œ
        Again the sort of quote you donโ€™t get in many films and could perhaps only be delivered by the character of a seasoned photographer.
        On the quote about staying in the moment I had a conversation with a local professional photographer about it and he said it is actually a quote from a real photographer and he named them. Naturally I immediately forgot who he said! ๐Ÿ™„
        I may have said before that I am not on any other social media and enjoy the inspiration I take from my limited engagement on WordPress. How people keep up with the demands of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram TikTok or whatever else they have to distract them is beyond me!
        On WordPress I follow a few photographers and have no memory of how I came to find your site but Iโ€™m glad I did.
        If I donโ€™t always comment on your work it doesnโ€™t mean I am enjoying it less๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜€ Itโ€™s the real world calling me away๐Ÿฆฅ๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ’ซ
        Photography has its own language which we all see and read differently. That you share your images here Iโ€™m sure brings inspiration to lots of people. Keep on keepinโ€™ on as they sayโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ“ทโœจ๐Ÿ›

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        • I bet that’s a great scene, thanks for telling me about it. It’s good to remember what it’s all about, right? It’s not about accumulating images. Insights like that one are best delivered with the fewest words possible. It’s especially fun to me because the scene was about photographing a Snow leopard. Peter Matthiessen wrote a really wonderful book called The Snow Leopard that has many similar insights, and I made his acquaintance a few years after he published that book. What a storyteller he was! If you haven’t read any of his books, I recommend them.
          I hear you about keeping up with social media. I’m not active anywhere but here, though I have a Facebook account (where I can keep up with very old friends who live far away). I tried Instagram and didn’t like it. I’m on Flickr but I don’t post there often and don’t keep up with the social aspects of it. WordPress satisfies me – people can take their time here. You’re exposed to people from all over the world. I’ve met several bloggers from the US, one from the Netherlands, and three from Germany (when I was in Europe). Blogging has been a great way to improve photography and writing skills. Thanks for all your good words – it’s nice to know a little more about you.

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        • I hope my film quotes didnโ€™t act as spoilers! You mentioned that you had seen the film so I thought it was ok to put them in my reply.
          Peter Matthiessen is new to me and Iโ€™ve investigated the Snow Leaopard book and it is now on my list for my next book order. Itโ€™s great how your photographs and writing have led to exchanges that result in a book recommendation! ๐ŸŒ€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘

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        • No problem at all about the quotes. I hope you enjoy the book when you get around to reading it – I know about long wish lists and stacks of books. Cheers! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. I realy loved this collection. The mosses and lichens are beautiful and the house at the edge of the park is awesome. I also could live there ! ๐Ÿ™‚ The 16th shot has something magical in it.

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    • Yes, that house…well, we can fantasize. ๐Ÿ˜‰ That spot in #16 is a really beautiful place, and quite magical. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. Have a good week!

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  4. Dear Lynn, as you know, I like it a lot to follow your walks. Even more, if they become sanctuary to you. #13 to #16 are my favorite recordings of your views. They caught my eye, resting a while, enjoying the light patterns and slight abstraction of forms. Excellent! Regards – Karl

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    • We like following each other’s walks. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe someday you’ll visit the West Coast and see these places for yourself. Meanwhile, thank you for joining me and letting me know your thoughts – it’s always good to hear from you. Happy Summer!

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  5. Good pictures, Lynn, especially 2 and 5. 13 is excellent; another crop would be just the central window and table + seating, more minimal – just my opinion! But what’s the gull in 9??? It looks like a Lesser or Greater Black-backed Gull, but it may be something else again on your side of the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you caught me sidestepping the question, Adrian! Gulls are a little tricky here (I never was good at them anyway, tell the truth). There are two species that hybridize here. This should be a Western gull or a Gaucuos-winged…and those are the two that hybridize. As you can probably see from the expression, this guy or gal was hanging around the place in the park where people tend to eat, hoping for a free lunch. We had the Black-backed gulls in NY – they’re quite handsome! Not that this one is a slouch, mind you.
      I can see the crop you’re talking about. Maybe this way is best for this post but a more minimal crop would be great in another post. So many possibilities….
      Thanks for commenting!

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  6. And the post ends very well, because the future and hope is in the current youth. But the actions of today’s adults will also dictate a lot this future of independence, freedom and respect for everyone and everything around us.
    Just as when we go through the same place we always find something new and unseen, also in this passage through the days of life we โ€‹โ€‹must continue to be very attentive to this “interdependence” that links everything and that needs to be taken care of. This attention will dictate the future.
    What a great task for all of us!!
    As always, beautiful photos that delight any eye!
    I hope that the 4th of July, despite the restrictions that still exist, was well spent in this “new time” of your great country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Let’s hope the attention of the younger generation hasn’t been changed too much by digital media. You’re right, it’s a task for all of us and as usual, you summed it up very well.
      Our small town had its traditional Fourth of July parade this year and it was really fun. There were some rather oddball groups, like some mermen (like mermaids only men) dressed in fishtail, with beer bellies, lounging on a trailer being pulled by an old car. And a wild, fun-loving group of older women called the Twisted Pixies who were dressed in outlandish costumes and danced down the street. It was quite a party! Thank you for asking…have a great week, Dulce. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Your first lines here are a good piece of literature. It reads like the beginning of a novel. Very nice. I could go on reading ๐Ÿ™‚ What I love most about your post this time are the atmospheric images like 10,13,16 and 17. I love them! They are so very out of the moment, if I can say so, or better in the moment? I think 13 and 17 are my favorite. 13 is more than the picture. It is like an invitation to a dream, a story beyond the lookout. Maybe I just wish to be there now ๐Ÿ™‚ And you got this beautiful moment in Nr. 17. Good stuff – so true! Of course I like the pebbles, the lichen, the rusty metal and structures in the sand too.
    There is something reassuring about our well known trails, right. Something we feel comfortable and at home about. You talk of the rhythm. I think we talked about it before, the Songlines of the Aborigines, that “sing their land”. Maybe it is a bit different here, but somehow you build your own songline, you “sing” your route about stones and over roots ๐Ÿ™‚ I like your openness that invites us to new and familiar moments at the same time. Thank you for taking us with you!

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    • The light was nice coming into the windows of the little picnic shelter. It bounces off the water and is quite strong but it was late in the day, so not too strong. An invitation to a dream is a wonderful way of seeing it.
      The little boy and his dad were cute but as you know, that’s not the kind of picture I usually take. I have to tell myself, “Do it!” and then I might be too late. But luckily not that time. There were more people there that day than I like but it worked out OK. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s funny, that place (those two photos are both from the part of Deception Pass called Rosario Beach) can be very busy in summer and completely deserted in winter.
      Yes, the idea that I”m building my own songline – not exactly but something like that – is great. Why didn’t I think of that? Thank you!

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      • It is true, this is actually not your kind of photos, but I felt a special intensity about them and they all were special moments. I am glad you could convince yourself ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think I said it, the madrone tree is wonderful. I love those colors! Have a good week and more nice findings ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. Poem about paths and trails and becoming one with America’s beauty. How well this fits to 4th of July, dear Lynn, looking for the things surrounding you every day and become part of your home by being visited over and over again.
    And a bit, all these places and impressions have become familiar to us by being shown again … even though we are limited to our eyes, you make us take part in sounds, smells, touches by your poetic words.

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    • That’s a nice thought, that walking these trails over and over again relates to the birth of the nation. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad these places are becoming familiar, too. Describing what I see, hear, smell, and feel when I’m in these places in words is something I think about often. I don’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to do that but now you have encouraged me. I think what I need to do is to bring a notebook and record some observations on the spot instead of trying to remember. Hmmm, more things to carry! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for your thoughts, Ule!

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      • Why not use your mobile phone for recording thoughts, Lynn? I assume you take it with you anyway, and they all have a sound recorder on board.
        As to your writing abilities I see no reason for lack of confidence. I love your way of putting impressions to words ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. Thank you for this wonderful wander on your daily walk. So much beauty, and I’m entranced as always by the detail you capture.
    Your for first paragraph says it for me too – walking the same trail daily – it’s comforting somehow. I let the familiar wrap around me at the same time that I notice all the changes. And the song birds!
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • Birdsong is such a gift, isn’t it? Before we know it they’ll be quiet again…let’s appreciate it while we can. Thank you, Alison, I’m glad you enjoyed this. I bet you’re enjoying this stretch of good weather, too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • When we moved west in 2012 we found a place close to Seattle, where the work is. We used to drive up this way regularly and when we retired, we knew this area was first choice. It was just a matter of looking, looking, looking, and then pouncing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We enjoy it every day. Thanks, Howard, I hope all’s well with you.

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  10. I love this: “I try to keep my intentions loose and inchoate so I can welcome everything. Thereโ€™s no reason to narrow my experience by adhering to an agenda. Itโ€™s enough to simply be here. Again.” Your compositions are always so beguiling, reminding me again and again of the artwork and complications inherent in nature’s structures — the bend of tree limbs, the pattern in sand, the juxtaposition of neighboring mosses. You’ll know, of course, that #7 is my favorite of this post as I am in love with moss and lichen! Hope this finds you healthy and safe in your woodsy journeys.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Randall, it’s especially gratifying to see praise from someone who knows the area. I didn’t remember your love for lichens and mosses – me too! I find they’re hard to photograph well because there’s always so much going on. Thanks too for your words about my words. Have a good weekend!

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  11. So you’ve got a blue-eyed Mary and Texas has a black-eyed (or brown-eyed) Susan.
    There’s a tidy geometry in your picture of picnic tables and windows.
    What’s not to like in those close abstractions that make up #11?
    As often as we hear the term Independence Day, I don’t recall hearing of anyone but you refer to the founders’ independent thinking. You did well in emphasizing their independence of mind.

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  12. 2-3 You do have the most colorful pebbles! Where mosaics come from.?
    5 more surprises from the Madrona… such strong earthy color.
    6 I love this little vignette. It reminds me of my 1st winter in Oregon after a hefty NW storm. Driving down our rural road to find a tree fallen across the only road to town. Luckily there was a pickup with 2 loggers who jumped out, grabbed their chainsaws and cut the tree up as you’ve shown and we were shortly on our way! Welcome to the Pacific NW. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    8 Your Camas Lily is blooming in summer? Ours is one of the 1st to pop out in the spring.
    12 Made me smile. Love them trees helping to hold up the clouds.
    13 which makes the views all the more enticing
    15 & 16 the stillness resonates (esp 16) where I could just sink right into that feel of the water and distant clouds

    OMG… how did this from the 4th slip by me. Time sure seems to fly these days. ๐Ÿคจ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Time must be flying because you’re having a great time watching all the goings-on outside your windows. ๐Ÿ™‚ What fun to read your story about storm-tossed trees. I had to clamber over that one a few times before it was cut and it’s bigger than it looks. We had SO many trees come down this winter, but now across the road, at least not that I ran into. Re the Camas, these photos are from a different time of the year, the idea being that I go back to these places over and over again and there’s always something to discover The Camas are long gone now, as are all the spring flowers, but the Rattlesnake plantain orchids and Rein orchids are getting started.
      Yeah, good thing the trees hold those clouds up, otherwise we’d never see the sun, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Thanks, Gunta, no worries about timing!

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      • For sure… time is breaking all speed records. Then there are times when I drift off into some other world and haven’t a clue about time… Not complaining! ๐Ÿ˜Š
        Perhaps a tickle to that cloud might release a few drops of rain. I try not to think too much about how long it’s apt to be before we see the rain again. It’s been relatively cool down here, but dry and news of fires popping up over much of the state and surrounding ones. Here’s a wish… we could skip over these dry hot months and go to when the moisture returns and refreshes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I hope the Bootleg smake stays away from you. But I wouldn’t want to skip over these dry months – it’s so much a part of what makes the area unique. As long as we don’t breathe smoke the whole time…

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  13. The struggle to rip away from familiarity, but to crave it simultaneously as a homely anchorโ€ฆ Balance is overrated, because beauty, and appreciation of beauty, is created or found in between clashes of conflicts. Thanks for the post and the beautiful pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right, we need those opposing forces, don’t we? And contradictions, which keep us alive. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts – I really appreciate it. I’m glad you enjoyed the post – have good week!

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