More light and shadow photos from 2015. Look closely -- do you see the small dewdrop in the shadow of the largest one? The shadow of seeds flying away from the dandelion head -- and the seeds? All four dragonfly wings? The shadow of a leaf on a leaf? The "shadow" of a leaf long since gone?
Continuing this retrospective of 2015, with the Light and Shadow theme, I'm very glad to be enjoying these memories of spring and summer sunshine in the warmth of my study. There was sunshine today, but the high was under 10 degrees Fahrenheit -- not the best temperature for camera work.
It may have been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone, but it was a lively one here in Goshen, my home town. My sister and I drove our parents here from North Carolina, moving them into their new home in Juniper Place. Garrison Keillor brought his radio show, Prairie Home Companion, to campus and the college chamber choir had a starring role, involving many young people who we know well. And full spring arrived, with more flowers opening every day and the trees putting on their robes of green.
I've been rejoicing in light-filled daffodils and paper whites, glowing in the sunlight. Here are a few before they completely fade away.
The play of sun and shadow on leaves becomes abstract art -- more so when the breeze is tossing the branches and the light and shadow play is ever changing. Here's more glorious green from my day at Pathways Retreat earlier this week.
I had a retreat day at the cottage at Pathways Retreat this week and had the good fortune to be there on a breezy, sun-soaked spring day. I was surrounded by green woods, leaves dancing between light and shadow, the rustle of the breeze in the trees, bright bursts of pine scent, and a few white blossoms.
Here's a mystery. Most of the tracks in our yard are easy to figure out -- the patterns of bird feet under the feeder, the rabbit crossing from here to there, the squirrel bounding from the maple to the feeder and back again, the cat that prowls the edges. But what is the story behind the photo above? Apparently one night a rabbit hopped out to the middle of the yard, danced crazily for a few moments and then lopped away to the protective cover of the privet.
And then there's sunshine and shadow on snow, and the light-catching crystals of hoarfrost on dried plants.
Every fall my congregation takes an annual retreat, spending the weekend at Camp Friedenswald in Michigan. Every year Steve Shantz introduces the children to the Survival Game, every year there's a talent show full of gifts of music and friendly chuckles, every year (if the weather cooperates) there's singing and a campfire at the Hollow. And every year -- if the weather cooperates -- I make a pilgrimage around to the spring on the other side of the lake.
It's a lovely hike through the woods, around to the spot where clear water comes bubbling up into a small sandy basin, less than a foot across, and then flows away towards the lake, turning the rocks a rusty color due to the high iron content in the water.
The camp has upgraded the steps down to the spring and added a bridge across the stream. Last Saturday afternoon several of us sat and chatted there, basking in the unusually warm weather and watching the spring bubble, and the sunlight scribbling mysterious messages on the water. We played too, making boats out of nutshells and sending them downstream, where they all promptly ran aground on mats of fallen leaves. There's a lot of water flowing though, so perhaps one day they'll make it to the lake and float off to unknown adventures.
What we notice and what we don't notice. This hemlock is in our backyard, pretty much straight out from my study window. A couple days ago I was standing in my study, talking on the phone, and idly looking out at the backyard. All at once my attention was caught by something in the tree, near the top on the left. At first I thought a plastic grocery bag had gotten stuck in the branches. But it didn't move with the breeze.
It reminded me of a nature walk I'd been on with a naturalist once. He was showing us the fruits on a large bush, and as we looked, my attention moved from the surface layer to much deeper within the bush, and I suddenly noticed more fully a gray shape that I'd only been vaguely aware of while looking at the fruit. It was a paper wasps' nest, an elegant structure with an entrance at the bottom and eaves at the top. The naturalist enthusiastically explained how the wasps gathered near those top openings in hot weather, fanning their wings to cool off the nest.
And as I looked at this object, I realized that I was looking at another paper wasp nest. It's full of bald-faced hornets, a type of wasp. In the right light, they have blue, iridescent wings. The nest is far enough from the house that we'll probably leave it till winter -- the hornets die off with the first hard frost.
We're wondering how quickly it grew. From our perspective, it appeared overnight. But more likely it has been there for awhile, and we just never noticed. And at this particular moment, the light was at the right angle, making it more visible, rather than it blending into the shadows as I've discovered it does most of the day.
I wonder what else is out in my backyard, that I just haven't noticed yet?
Judy M tells me that another name for the spiderwort is Trinity Flower -- for obvious reasons. They continue to bloom amidst the prairie plantings on campus, where I've been enjoying the interplay of light and shadow on green leaves and flowers. There are a host of buds just about to burst into bloom -- an ever-changing canvas.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"