#20 Whether. Weather.

Whether. Weather.

I’ve called myself a weather junkie for a long time but mostly when I still had cable and could watch The Weather Channel go on endlessly at the first sign of any meteorologic event. Hurricane Katrina was the mother of binge weather reporting, the “big one” that my office colleague and I knew was going to happen sooner or later. So many of us watched it unfold in nearly real time laying the reportage template for all the storms to come. Eventually The-Boy-Who-Cried-‘Wolf’ mode, the tabloid version of weather forecasting fostering serial binge viewership at the slightest possibility of trouble, wore me out along with cable subscription costs hitting the stratosphere. I was done with TV.

Now weather is my daily main event, entertainment in prime and any other time, a front row seat with surround sound and a super duper widescreen. I can watch fronts moving in then receding, rain cascades approaching in sheets of moving shades of gray, lightning bolts jig jagging down into the water. I can watch snow clumps stick to every single window, leaving only peephole opportunities for viewing outside hourly changes.

What is now lacking is the commentary, hyped, informative, or both at the same time. There are radio forecasts of course and blessed NOAA radar in real time, red, green, blue and pink patterns on my electronic screens while the power holds. It’s a bit maddening that many weather apps default to the nearby city often oblivious to close-to-the-water bands of fluctuations and temperature, the outlying microclimates with sharp variations remaining unmeasured, but television weather folk always did annoy me, standing beside urban interstates measuring paltry snowfall amounts when rural inhabitants  were up past their knees in snowdrifts. Weather broadcasters never seem to get to places too far from the convenience of airports. Eventually some person in the outlier regions may post on social media when the transformers are replaced and the power comes back on and, if the conditions are sufficiently extreme, they might show up as video proof at the end of a long website scroll a few days later.

Local progress reports don’t come easily either. Neighbors out here on this point of land that juts out into the sea, stick to themselves. It takes trees blocking roads and individuals with chainsaws helping each other to restore mobility, before contact is made. Pretty much, you are on your own with only the roar of generators all around, competing with the sounds of the storm. There is nothing quite like roaring generators powering houses where no one lives in the winter while we poorer folk are in the dark and cold with their generator roar as background.

“There’s so much weather there!” my daughter reminds me, further validating why her weather junkie Mom is living in the right place. It’s harder to live with however when tossing spoiled food for the second time in a particularly rough week after refrigeration failed. Again.

#19 Saturation


Does the camera lens capture the colors of nature accurately? In this age of photoshopped everything all images are suspect. Critical, skeptical seeing has become the norm. While highly useful for watching media, reading print, reading the expressions on the faces of politicians, the wry eye gets in the way of allowing the pure joy of reveling in nature’s palette. Immersing yourself in pure color is bliss.

There is much to be said for daily life in a stripped bare environment, the zen if you will, of particular places. Rocks and water, clouds and sky offer ranges of color which astound. Space and time and quiet allow enhanced awareness. Color emerges out of this frame. With some practice, a camera can be used to isolate, then emphasize, what can be seen. Therein lies one of the joys of photography.

As in all things the spectrum of this isolation has grown to the point that backgrounds are being erased and precise images of birds or wildlife are shown in detail that totally removes them from their environments. It’s a preference on the part of both photographer and viewer. However, color can be one of the winners of this technique–think of the neck feathers of a Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

My personal eye revels in the larger landscape and color ranges on a more vast scale. A morning of dense fog renders the world in shades of gray-white, all other colors present muted in the dense light. Crystal clear mornings, mornings bursting forth after a night of storms, can dazzle with brilliance, the flashing of diamond whitesilver from the top of waves and intense blues and greens far beyond the crayon box palette in the rolling waves of the ocean. I have been surprised by pure gold light on a beach at daybreak and by teal sky streaks at sunset or sunrise.. Such color intensities need no enhancement, just a touch of sharpening detail here, a bit of shadow lightening there. Even the most technologically advanced camera is not as perfected as the human eye.

Nothing beats rising from sleep, mind blank in the transition between occupied realms, and witnessing the sun rising between the edge where water meets sky, when the joy of pure color is nearly all there is.

That is true saturation.



#18 Frequency.



It has turned into a wild night. The rain first came down so lightly I wondered if it would be enough to saturate the dry ground, but a few hours later it is slamming against the front of the house, coming off the ocean in sheets, enough for me to check and latch each window. Now after only an hour or so of sleep, the sound of the storm has pulled me into AWAKE. The urgent roar of the waves pounding the rocks has been translated by my body into cause for alarm. That urgency comes not only from the sounds indicating the size of the waves but also by their frequency which triggered body response even in sleep: alert instead of dreaming, panic instead of calm. 

In what other circumstances does frequency alone signal “Problem”? What else triggers our “too-soon” response? Why have I not noticed frequency-as-a-cause-of-alarm before now? 

Here are some other possibilities that generate frequency alarms: Body Functions. Intense Emotional Responses. Absences. (and their opposite) Visitations. Car Noises. Tweets

Newly aware, I shall pay attention. For now my thoughts struggle behind this wall of panic as the waves continue their fevered pitch. 

#16 Perfection


Photography allows a particular way of seeing by using a rectangular (in 35mm cameras) frame and paying attention to light and relationship. My goal when shooting is to see if I can capture an image that might draw attention to something that might have otherwise been missed.

For years I upgraded equipment, spending what seemed possible given my circumstances. I talked myself into believing that my eye, my way of seeing, was what counted, but being a nature photographer I wanted to take pictures of birds and that’s where the rubber hit the road. Bird photography requires long lenses and long lenses are heavy and very expensive because the quality of the glass really matters.

Some time ago in an attempt to separate myself from social media political extremism and negativity I purged the social media feeds I had been watching and went looking for groups that focused on nature. There are lots out there and soon my screens were packed with gorgeous images of birds and wildlife. My heart and eyes were happy.

After some months of viewing exquisite images, I started to realize I was losing interest in taking pictures myself. What was the point? I was not, in this phase of life, going to own a 800mm, $16,000 lens. Additionally, my physical limitations meant I could no longer reach the places I needed to get to for the subject matters that interested me. And those social media feeds were delivering perfection multiple times per day.

Some months later I’ve to begin to realize this shared nature photography has become stylized. The “natural” in this new version of nature has everyone straining for etched clarity, each outlined eagle feather crisp with definition.  But in these perfected images a part of nature itself is being lost, the context is missing. As if that was not sad enough then came reports of particular kinds of photographic fraud: captive animals used but presented as  wild; photoshop composites combining images that never existed apart from computer software; bait being used to draw subjects closer to the photographer regardless of the wellbeing of the wildlife in question.

A long time ago I made an observation about music. I’d grown up with parents who loved to sing and car trips provided opportunities for belting out family favorites. Years later, on trips with my husband and daughter, my instincts were to repeat this happy memory. I was quickly shut down by non-flattering voice critiques. The presence of perfected music made by professional singers in recording studios had changed the playing field.  Homemade music, where the act of singing together was the whole point,  had been usurped. Nothing short of perfection was acceptable and now that the whole world is connected perfection is possible, perhaps even required. I am certain, or hopeful, there are individuals banding together in sound finding attainable joy in moments of creative sharing. I would like to think that the power of making music together transcends the perfection so seemingly necessary in recordings.

Might it now be time to reduce the trend and abandon the pursuit of perfection in all creative endeavors and focus on the sheer joy of the creative process itself? And to photograph those birds with their natural surroundings evident?

#15 Morning Skies.

Morning Skies

Streaks of light, yellows and blues today, reds and fuchsias tomorrow, bold or delicate, each day the brushstrokes alter. The sun always rising, breaking over the horizon, the proverbial ball radiating out to the world giving life, giving energy. Some days, even when its radiance will soon be obscured by clouds, it clears the horizon free and glorious.

The room is cold despite the warmth of the colors reflecting from the walls. If the clouds don’t form Fall’s morning chill will be overtaken by the warmth from the light coming through the windows. Ah, to sit in the bay window chair napping like the wisest cat, embracing the light, the heat, the reprieve.

I rise early on such mornings filled with light not wanting to miss nature painting the sky and the water with color arrays.  Leave for another morning, the dawning of black and white and gray, burrowing further under the covers, postponing chill.

Today I rise to watch this mystery. Will the colors remain or will they drain, giving way  to clouds, to another day absent of the colors that bring such joy?