on my mind

Over and over again, I see evidence of the forces of good in this life. And maybe this is because I am actively looking for goodness.

On my Saturday morning bike ride with my fitness friends, I spied the red wheelbarrow on the trail. I made a mental note to come back to make a picture.

I returned to the trail today, hoping the red wheelbarrow would still be there. Lucky me. Still there. Taking picture after picture from different angles, I got lost in the work. When I finally stood up to stretch, I found a young man standing alongside me, grinning from ear to ear.

You like that wheelbarrow?

Yeah, I think it will make a beautiful picture.

Still grinning. It’s mine. I left it here the other day. I was hauling a 12volt battery in it, trying to get my car running again.

Any luck with the car?

Nah.

And the conversation went on just like that for a while. He introduced himself as James and we talked about how much we both love art. He likes to draw, he says. I do my best to encourage him.

I thank him for leaving the wheelbarrow, and for letting me take his picture.

I wonder if this counts as getting out of my comfort zone, this circling back and talking to strangers and risking making a fool of myself. I hope so.

the poetry of place

It’s funny the things we inherit from our parents
Whether by nature or nurture

my mother wrote kind and thoughtful messages in every card
with nary a period in sight,
always with dashes —
making her writing mimic her talking,
like a stream of conversation
where the dashes marked listening and waiting
for what might come next —
breath held waiting
for a fish to jump in the marsh
or a dragonfly to swirl around
or the bumpety-bump of the tires across the old wooden bridge

It’s funny how much like her I am.

empty nests

I recently met with my friend Joni to talk about finishing up my photo book project. She borrowed the book, partly because she cares enough to give me honest feedback and partly because she knows I need to step away from the book for awhile. Distance and time give perspective.

Visiting Joni at her design studio is always a treat and on this day she greeted me with news of a found treasure.

“Hey, wanna take a walk? I found a bird’s nest around the corner. You might wanna take a picture.”

Within a few minutes we were brainstorming ideas of next projects for me.

Nothing like a new project to take your mind off the old one.

"It’s a social function to have an idea.
In conversations you get ideas and you draw
on history, you draw on your culture.
This sort of Beethoven-y individual, an isolated
genius — that’s not how ideas happen.”
— Randy Cohen, former writer for
David Letterman’s Late Show and creator of the Top 10 List

Just talking through the idea out loud often reveals possibilities I might have dismissed, overlooked, or never would have considered.

Not exactly sure where this project will lead me, whether it will be small or large, finite or ongoing . . . but it’s fun to have work for my mind. Most of these photographs were staged and it was a nice change of pace. But photo styling is lot of work and it can quickly become stressful. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems the styled and staged look requires props and rearranging my home and searching for a model (who is usually me). Still it was good creative practice.

I think this collection would make a beautiful set of photo note cards. Great gifts for friends.

It would be worthwhile to continue to add non-traditional views of nests. And I can envision an artist statement crafted to tell the truth about relationships, love and freedom once the nest is empty, whether after kids have left home or care giving for aging parents is completed.