Last weekend Open Table Mennonite Fellowship had a retreat at Camp Friedenswald. I went out at dawn, having caught sight of sunrise color, and then trekked over to the fen, where "the peaceful woods" reverberated with the calls of geese, sandhill cranes, and ducks. At the end of this post I've been trying to include a very short video that captured some of the sounds. I'm not sure if I was successful -- you may have to use your imagination to hear the cacophony of the dawn chorus.
This weekend was Assembly Mennonite's annual retreat at Camp Friedenswald. John and I went up early, enjoying the drive through the countryside at sunrise, and getting to the fen before the sun had risen over the hill. Neither words nor photos can communicate the wonder of watching the play of light and mist over the wetlands, with trees and grasses slowly coming into view and then lit into fall colors, reflected in the water.
Other leaves caught the sunlight later in the day -- by the lake shore, sumac with tamarac, and a fiery fern. I sat on a pier and watched the nearly transparent minnows drifting in the lake, and then realized what I was mostly seeing was their shadows on the sandy lake bottom.
Fourteen hours on the road yesterday, traveling home from Kansas. There were many moments of light, like this sunrise soon after we started, and the sun-brightened fog that filled dips in the landscape.
Others were harder to catch with a photo, especially from a speeding car -- stark bare branches in a glowing fog, the bright breasts of raptors perched on fence posts beside the road, a herd of maybe a hundred deer drifting through a bare woods and across a stubbled field (fortunately, quite a distance from the highway).
Temperatures here were way down over the weekend, and back up into the 50's today. I discovered my snowdrops are up and showing a bit of white -- and by late afternoon, they were also surrounded by white. They should be fine, though -- they are called snowdrops for good reason!
Yesterday I was early for meeting my sister, so I stood in Schrock plaza and wondered how my search for sparks of light will shift as the weather turns colder and cloudier.
My eye has been repeatedly drawn to the interplay of light and the colorful fall leaves the last few weeks. Most of the leaves are down now, and yesterday was a gray morning, though warm. I waited and wondered where I would find moments of light.
Gradually the bare branches against the lightening sky drew my eye.
_The sun was rising, and the clouds blowing away, revealing the nearly full moon they had been hiding.
I'm not sure how the search will evolve -- I'm still holding the option that some winter days may be the time to bring out photos gathered during sunny, colorful fall days, or that I'll look for more metaphorical sparks of light in songs and writings -- but so far each day seems to have brought some special spark of light and delight.
Today's sparks came as the sun began burning off the morning's heavy fog. The trees and bushes in the front yard may have lost their leaves, but they were bedecked with diamonds this morning.
I wish i had been able to get my camera up in time to record the other image I received -- the flock of geese that came ghosting overhead, half hidden by fog, but undersides white with sun.
We’re having beautiful sunny days this week and there are plenty of sparks of light to capture. It’s hard to choose just one, and why should I? Better to collect all that I can. I feel a bit like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, or (a more attractive thought) Leo Lionni’s Frederick, gathering sunrays and colors and words for the cold gray winter days.
Here’s dawn sun on morning mist, from the bike path near campus.
And the bright combo of maple leaves and morning sunlight, blazing unexpectedly above mundane cars and parking lot.
And these sparkling dewdrops weren’t on the grass by my doorstep, but close enough – they were in the prairie plantings on the Goshen College campus just across the road.
Mid-afternoon sunlight streaming into my spiritual direction room....
John and I biked out the Pumpkinvine trail for a picnic supper. In the marsh/lake beside the trail we saw three large herons – though they seemed a bit large for herons. And then they started clacking. Sandhill cranes! (I 'm guessing) And a flash of light as one spread his wings and danced.
And as we biked home, evening light and fall leaves, bright reds and yellows. There you go, Frederick!
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"