Friday, July 25, 2008

"O Dainty Duck, O Dear"

The water on the Sound side of the house was incredibly smooth this morning, and the slight summer haze was giving the reflections of mountains and trees a soft green that reminded me of Vermont in the summertime.

We lived in Vermont for twenty years before moving to the Northwest, and though I love it here (no mosquitoes! no black flies! no deer flies! no screens! no sub-zero winters! no brown winters!) I do miss the gentler colors and shapes of New England landscapes -- which is one reason I'm so pleased my daughter elected to go to college there, so I have an excuse to visit in the fall.

I picked up my camera before I had finished my morning coffee and headed out to the deck to see if I could capture the subtleties of the landscape, but a gaggle of geese who had been foraging in the tide flats at the end of the point chose that moment to take off and fly over to the lagoon side of the house. So instead of capturing the soft blues of the mountain and the smooth surface of the water I ended up photographing the geese in flight -- not something either my early-morning uncoffeed self OR my camera was really prepared to do.

When I came back to my computer to load the shots in, to see if I could use anything for today's post, there were NO photographs of the mountains and water, just seven uselessly blurry shots of geese in flight, and this one, which for some reason appeals to me.

Actually, I know the reason it appeals to me. I like the balance of light and dark, the rich colors of the trees in the background, the suggestion of geese in the foreground, but that's not why I like the image. I like the image because it reminds me of my next-door neighbor Colleen's photography.

Though Colleen and I are both photographers I doubt we have ever shot pictures that look at all the same. She does amazing black and white -- and sometimes sepia -- floral studies for which I could never have the patience. And her landscapes have a simplicity that simply eludes me; my photographs always seem much busier than hers.

But the reason this picture reminds me of Colleen is that last year she initiated a new series that captures colorful skies in motion above a still horizon, a sort of sweep of subtle color that, in its blurriness, seems more a painting than a photograph. These studies have been hugely successful --deservedly so -- in a time when people do not, for the most part, seem very inclined to buy art -- particularly photography. And I suspect they require a great deal of patience to shoot, and a definite understanding of the digital camera and its workings.

The accidental blur you see here may well be the closest I'll ever come to creating something similar to Colleen's beautiful horizons, and it has none of the pastel sweetness of those pieces. But it makes me think of her, and that's a good thing. Because normally I would have been seeing a lot of Colleen this summer -- she lives over on the Seattle side, but likes to summer in her little cottage next door. But this summer she has other, more difficult things on her plate, which keep her busy on the other side of the water; things I suspect she'd rather I not discuss online.

I don't know how she's doing; I haven't heard from her in a bit and it worries me. But I miss her; she is in my prayers, and I am grateful that the geese took off when they did and that my camera and I were too sleepy to respond in any other way. It seems to me that this image is a perfect example of the gifts that can be given if we choose to live completely in the moment -- even if, for this particular moment, I was actually incapable of living any other way.

1 comment:

Gberger said...

That is a beautiful image, and a lovely prayer for your neighbor. I pray with you.