I like aerial views from airplanes. It kind of helps to put things into perspective. The everyday frictions that we consider big, huge, tall, insurmountable, somehow turn trivial when dropped within the canvas of a larger image. I was on my way to visit a good friend whom I hadn't seen in years. It was a good thing. We'd have a great time catching up. I knew that. Yet there was that little aspect of the unexpected. Would time and distance fade the colors on what had once been a strong friendship? The plane banked as we made our approach to the airport and I peered out the window at the portrait of farmland that spread below me like an abstract painting. Perspective. Scale. Friendship. It's all good.
Caught in a Kaleidoscope
Normally I would have deleted this image. When I landed at the airport and proceeded past security, I saw this beautiful skylight, bathing the travelers below it in wonderful shades of blush pink and watery blue. I took several pictures, then decided to place my camera on the floor and use my remote to shoot straight up. That blob at the top is me, captured by the wide angle lens. Not on purpose. This image is not perfect. The symmetry is a bit off, it needs to be tilted to the right, and of course, there's me at the top. But somehow I seem to fit in this kaleidoscope of colors. It's a good metaphor for life: messy, not perfect, unbalanced, yet here we are a part of it. I'm glad I did not send this image to the trash bin. It is where it belongs, in this gallery as part of my journey.
Coming and Going and Waiting
I started to worry a bit when Diane was over an hour late in picking me up. Did I have the right airport? Had I sent her the correct itinerary? Maybe she was driving 'round and 'round the airport because I'd stopped to take those dumb skylight pictures, delaying my arrival. I'd forgotten to bring her cell number, so there was another black mark against me. I wasn't starting off this reunion on a good foot. By way of several phone calls and a message on my home phone, I discovered Diane was here at the airport, waiting for me. And had been for an hour. "Where are you?" I asked when we finally connected via cell. "I'm here at the airport," she said. "Where are you?" "I'm here, too," I said, walking around looking for her. It turns out Diane had been waiting at the bottom of the escalator where new arrivals come in. I had gone a different way. And that's how we met--walking and talking on our cell phones, looking for each other until--"Oh I see you!" we both said, laughing.
“I’m going to take you to the Dragon House.” Diane knew I would be bringing my camera, so, thoughtful person that she is, she figured out some neat places to take me. The Dragon House is a 40’s style two-story Craftsman nestled on a narrow lot in a lovely tree-lined street. It’s covered with mosaics, tiles, and pottery shards, many of which form elaborate designs (the dragon motif was on the other side). But it was the alley side door which intrigued me. Doors can be perceived in many ways: as an inviting threshold, a protective barrier, a fortress behind which to hide secrets, or a portal that begs to be opened. For me, this one was the latter. I couldn’t help but wonder what was on the other side. Who knows what one might find?
If you walk down the hill, follow the road a quarter mile around the bend, then squeeze between the yellow gate and a rusted fence post and keep going until it ends in a T, you'll find yourself in this lovely place. I call it Diane's Pond, because she brought me here the first day I visited her. It's taken me a long time to get to Diane's pond. Why, I wonder? My best friend from elementary school has been after me for years to come visit her; she lives only an hour plane ride away. Was I afraid that time and separate lives had carved a chasm, deep and jagged, in our relationship? Or was I just being timid, shy, hesitant to take the first step toward renewing our friendship? Maybe I was afraid that after 40 years, she wouldn't still love me.
I'm glad I finally made it to Diane's Pond. The view says it all.
November is not a time for canoeing. A crunchy carpet of spent leaves and the chilly little nip in the air says it is time for Blue Canoe to sleep for a while. I’m sure he had a fine summer of fishing, sunbathing, and conveying folks here and there around the pond. But now it is time for him to rest. To snuggle beneath the fabric of deciduous debris, bird feathers and frosty dew. His time will come again. For unto everything there is a season. All he has to do is wait. And rest.
Click on the image to listen to a live version of "Turn Turn Turn" by The Byrds.
Sunrise and Diane's Porch
Every morning, Diane tiptoes outside in her jammies onto her front porch. She lets out the doxies then settles into her favorite bentwood rocker, a cup of joe cuddled in her lap. She’s waited a long time for this moment. Slowly the sun crests over the hills, stretching and yawning its way into the valley below. Lazy rivers of light part the trees, then gently creep across the lawn and onto Diane’s porch to warm her bare toes. It is affirmation, celebration, perhaps a moment of spiritual clarity.
I think in the cooler months she wears slippers.
View from the Other Side
“You see things that other people can’t see.” We were walking on the other side of the pond and I’d just shown Diane a picture I had taken. I was wowed by her comment. Did she know she had just given me a huge compliment? It’s that “good eye” thing that all photographers strive for. But is it really about seeing things? I think it’s more a matter of being open, aware, to the beauty that is around us. And not just in the visual. Beauty lives in many places: a songbird’s vibrato, the scent of someone you love, music in all its forms, chocolate in all its forms, friendships, family, and compliments freely given. Keeping your eyes open—that’s the trick.
"Go ahead, I'll catch up..."
The doxies wanted to keep walking, so I told Diane to go ahead while I stayed behind to take a couple more pictures. She continued along at dog-walking pace; when I was finished, I jogged on up to meet her. Much like our relationship, we’d always been on the same path, just not always together. It didn’t take more than a few minutes before we were again walking side by side. Amazing how easy it is to catch up!
Meet Dulce. She likes long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, and biting the heads off of mice. As her name would suggest, she is indeed a sweetie. But don’t let that sloe-eyed feline smile and all that puff and fluff fool you. This coy little calico can mix it up with the best of ‘em, as evidenced by the scabs on her nose. Diane felt bad about introducing me to her kitty when she was all battle scarred and disfigured. She needn’t worry. When you love someone, you accept them (and their pets), imperfections and all.
Making a Memory
Apple pie, apple butter, caramel apples, apple fritters. The harvest festival that Diane took me to on Saturday was a celebration of all things apple. We shopped, visited craft faires, and gossiped and giggled our way through a giant-sized bag of kettle corn. The image on this page is neither profound nor inspiring. But it holds special meaning for me. It makes a memory. Of an apple-scented autumn day with easy conversation, laughter, and way too much kettle corn. When I look at it, it makes me smile.
Click on the image to hear a live version of Bon Jovi’s “You Want to Make a Memory.”
Big Bad Wolf or Bum Rap from a Fairy Tale?
What do you think of when you look at this picture? This beautiful creature is a California wolf. His mission is to educate the public about the abuse and abandonment of wolves and wolf hybrids. Did you think of the word “ambassador” when you first looked into those intense citrine eyes? Or did thoughts of night-gowned grannies with oversized bicuspids come to mind? Fear is a powerful motivator. And he enjoys his job as jailer. When we allow fear to dictate our thoughts, we voluntarily step into the cell, slam the door, then chuck the keys out through the bars. Before I began this journey, I allowed fear of rejection, maybe fear of the unknown, to toss me in the clinker for awhile. But not now. I’ve got those jailer’s keys firmly ensconced in my coat pocket and I’m not giving them back.
Click on the following link to visit the NCWRA (Never Cry Wolf Rescue and Adoptions) website:
(Photograph taken at Apple Hill Harvest Festival)