Sunday, April 29, 2012

Getting Around

A number of years ago I resolved to cut back on my use of gasoline. More specifically, I decided to stop digging into my wallet and handing over fistfuls of my hard-earned cash to the oil companies.

I remember that Exxon had just announced profits of a gazillion dollars, but what particularly struck me was that their company spokesman was whining, complaining that oil is a risky business with a lot of expenses, like exploration blah blah blah, and the spokesman said that, when you think about it, gazillions in profits isn’t really that much these days.

I did think about it...and I decided to try to drive my car less and ride my bike more.

Mind you, I’ve been a cyclist for over 30 years, but my riding had been largely for exercise and fitness. I rode to keep from getting fat, though not really for transportation. But when I heard about Exxon’s profits and was galled by their corporate whining, I decided that it was the oil companies who were fat, and I, in my little way, was going to put them on a diet.

I looked at my days and determined that there were trips I made by car that I could do by bicycle. I bought a bright yellow rain jacket so I could ride comfortably (and hopefully safely) on wet and gray Seattle-area winter days. I put a rack on my bike so I could carry groceries.

I realized too that, as a photographer, there were sometimes trips I made -- to photo shoots, for example, or meetings with clients -- when I needed to carry heavy camera gear, or my portfolio. A bicycle admittedly wouldn’t always be practical for some of those trips, so we also bought a little Yamaha scooter that gets 80 MPG.

My car (which gets about 35 MPG, by the way) now resides at the bottom of my personal food chain of transportation options.

Last Sunday (it happened that it was Earth Day) I had a couple of places I needed to be, and I thought I’d do pictures and a real-world, day-in-the life blog post to chronicle my travels. In the morning Leah and attended an event in Seattle, and that trip (about 15 miles) was by car and Washington State ferry. I spent the afternoon on my bicycle. The photographic end of my day was out at Hood Canal, where I made pictures of the amazing sunset.

I’m happy to report that, when it comes to how I, personally, get around, it feels good to know I have choices.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Being Here

John Steinbeck began his book “Travels with Charlie” with the words: “When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was upon me”...
He went on to write, with insight, humor, and I think poignancy, about wanderlust, about his occasional need to go someplace and to see things.

I am not John Steinbeck, but I can certainly relate.

One of my friends is in Costa Rica now on a bird photography adventure. Two other friends went to India in January, each on a very different kind of trip: One went to the north of the country to attend a 10-day teaching by the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya; the other spent a month traveling that vast continent by train, then ended her journey by taking in the beach scene in the south. Two other friends spent Christmas in South America, hiking in Patagonia.

“The world is big and life is short,” one of my friends says.

Ah, the urge to see be someplace else...
Perhaps as tonic to my own, currently-going-nowhere-existence -- I have photographic commitments on my calendar and thus I must stay close to home -- I headed out the door this week with specific intentions to see what I could see, right here at home....and, by the way, to be content with that.

Here are notes from my experiences this week at non-travel:

--There is an old blue golf umbrella on our front porch (I am not a golfer, but I do have a couple of clubs that my dad gave me, and of course the umbrella.) For some reason, come springtime, little frogs seem to crawl up inside the umbrella and hang out there (I found a frog in the umbrella last year too.)

--Just down the lane, my friend Rusty the Horse comes running across his pasture when he sees me coming, knowing I almost always have treats in my pocket. I produce the goods, and then Rusty and I visit. Rusty has amazing blue eyes, and on a pretty, blue-sky spring day, I realize that even if I can’t be someplace exotic, my mood is anything but blue.

--Back at home after my visit with Rusty, I spend some time, laying on my back under our magnolia tree, looking up at the blossoms. They remind me of fireworks.

I point my lens right toward the sun and shoot pictures of the blossoms, and the blinding sunburst. For several minutes thereafter, my eyes water and everything I look at is tinged in a weird yellow color.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Opening Day

It's a day of some consequence for us -- cause for seasonal celebration, even -- when the springtime weather warms enough so that we can open our windows for the first time and invite the outside in.

On that Window Opening Day, we can smell spring, and of course hear it too. The frogs in a nearby pond are singing their little green heads off, and, some distance from us, a neighbor has a cow, and we can hear her moo contentedly, probably happy with the abundance of lush spring grass.

The ornamental plum tree in our back yard is over-the-top beautiful with blooms, and I photographed it from inside the house through curtains, and outside, through some Tibetan prayer flags.

If we could record the soundtrack of this season , we'd be fine to hear it play, over and over.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Seeing Spring

Leah brought a piece of firewood in from the front porch, opened the wood stove that sits in the corner of our family room, and dropped the wood onto the red-hot fire.

“Oh,” I heard her say quietly, with a note of tenderness, maybe even sadness, in her voice.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“There was a spider on the wood. I didn’t see it until it was too late.”

We are like that, Leah and I, when it comes to creatures...all creatures, great and small. Our property is a kind of nature preserve, a wildlife sanctuary even.


Mother Nature is busy with midwifery in our neck of the woods these days. Spring peepers, tiny baby frogs, are singing their fool, green heads off in our pond at night. Neighbors and friends are calling too, inviting us over to see the baby critters that are being born in nearby pastures and barns.

There is lush, spring grass where the neighbors’ newborns can play, and here at our place, the old mama goat, Pumpkin, is up to her eyeballs in tasty, orchard grass hay.

I walk around with a camera and shoot diary pictures of all this. The moments aren’t monumental, but, nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that there is so much to see.