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/

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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?

Weekly Challenge: Happy

A weekly Challenge set by The Daily Post  (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/weekly-photo-challenge-happy/) asks us to share our images of “Happy” using a gallery – collage format that’s new on Word Press. Too bad the gallery format didn’t work for me, but it doesn’t matter – here, some images of happiness:

This glass sculpture spins atop a pole in the grass next to a lake, where its’ bright colors catch the light: pure joy!

More happy:  a bouquet of wildflowers that I just picked along deserted railway tracks.

Family and pets…

And art in unexpected places…

Inside a huge old tree someone has put together a mandala of found objects.

Sometimes the art isn’t a surprise, but the view from underneath it is…

Seen from underneath an Alexander Lieberman sculpture, Seattle’s Space Needle echoes the bold curves – a happy surprise .

Another unexpected scene that made me happy: taking a walk and happening on a mock battle on the lake. (These are the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain, trading cannon fire on Lake Washington, WA.)

Friends make me happy, but they probably don’t want their pictures in public view.  This guy, however, clearly doesn’t care who takes his picture or where it might end up – he’s too busy for those worries:

I cannot see a Great Blue Heron without feeling happy, and thankful. They are my totem birds, and whether standing at the edge of a small pond in New York farm country, stalking crabs in a marsh on an island in New York City, or flying overhead on deep, wide wing strokes, they always give me a thrill.

Weekly Travel Theme: White!

Beached…Gulf Coast, Florida

Toppled…Rainforest, Pacific Northwest

Hung…PS 1, Long Island, New York

Blown…Somewhere in Upstate New York

Exalted…Everglades City, Florida

Wrapped…Pike Place Market, Seattle

Washed Up…Your humble Photographer, reflected in a beach bubble on Topsail Island, North Carolina

Shadow Play

Late summer wildflowers, angled northern light, fallen petals, an old book, an empty frame…

An empty frame collects flower shadows, their reflections, and reflections of sky and trees beyond.

                            Half  Hours in Field and Forest by the Rev. J.G. Wood,  NY 1886.

This image is less about shadows and more about framing the bouquet. Most of these wildflowers were picked along an unused railroad track near home. The Buddleia, or Butterfly Bush, has escaped cultivation, springing up along roadsides and other neglected spaces. Same with the California Poppy. Fireweed (Epilobium augustifolium) is a native whose seed fluff was used by indigenous tribes here in blankets & mattresses. The tansy is an introduced weed – I can see why someone would “introduce” the tansy, with those bright yellow button flowers and its herby scent.

Here’s the whole lot of them in an old dented silver pitcher that belonged to my grandmother.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

Free Spirit

I don’t know who took this picture but to me, it fits this week’s topic. It’s my son, living the conundrum of free spirit US Marine. He’s on deployment in an opium poppy growing region of southern Afghanistan (last year). Yes, those are fresh-picked opium poppies, in case you didn’t know.  And no, he didn’t get hurt, but he lost a good friend (RIP Sean Callahan) and now, on his return to the states, he is struggling and failing to fit into the military mold. But whatever trouble he gets into, it’s good for me to remember the beautiful side of his essential free spirit, something I know I encouraged from day one.