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The Roads Less Traveled

I live in an environmental sponge. My county, and the adjoining 3 counties each have more than 25 percent of their lands under water year round. Only part of that is lakes and rivers; the balance are bogs, marshes, backwaters, peat lands, and flood plains. By mid-summer, the grasses, shrubs, and trees have overgrown the soggy areas. During normal years, when late fall hunting season rolls around the lands revert to vegetation trampled by hunting boots, blaze orange or camo, and gun fire. The top moisture has either dried up, or frozen.

With December snows a hush falls, temperatures drop, road crews barely manage to keep anything open. The wetlands will remain this way, sleeping, flooding with temperature increases. Gravel or potted, badly kept roads, little traveled become off limits. Only the hardy, very poor, or long settled families live down these quiet roads. GPS misdirects, a road atlas and a compass is still needed. For me a road atlas, magnifying glass and bifocals are necessities.The biggest problem is no paved shoulders on these roads. Each side is deeply ditched to allow for water to run off. A slide off means a long way for a tow truck, assuming the cell service gets through at all. Parking in the middle of the road and praying no other vehicle comes along is my best mode. I’ve learned photography in sniper mode – shoot and run.

In open flat landscapes there are rare opportunities to catch lovely shadows, long horizons, or OMG contrasts. My fibromyalgia, and my advancing age, make me a poor candidate for sneaking out and driving long distances for the off chance on a good sunrise or sunset lighting shot. I’m up past 1 am every night and rarely sleep past 7:30. It would seem to leave a lot of time, but most of that is spent in what is known among fibro patients as brain fog. I also have ADD and anxiety. When I do remember what I’m doing, I’m either anxious I’ll screw it up or trying to get three or four things corrected before it all goes blank again. My goal of being the Grandma Moses of photography probably isn’t going to happen. Meanwhile, I’m still here at the end of my road … a few miles from John Muir’s Fountain Lake, and forty five minutes of really crappy road from Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Shack.

My muses’ Eph and Muriel were with me this week during the fog. I love shooting in the fog. We don’t get much of it here, even with the wet environment. It takes a special combo of snow, followed by warm, then a layer of cold damp with no wind. On those days even if all I could do was crawl, I’d be up to my waist in chilly water shooting behind my home in the wetland down below. I didn’t have to do that. Here’s what I managed to get driving down roads less traveled in a three county area. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by the Road Less Paved.

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Gallery

Shadows

Mist beyond the window

screened shadows yet to come

and I heard soft breathing

of one love

Air so cool

so wet

all very like touch

of death

A distant raven

cried against the coming night

and hushed the crickets chatter

The wind was gone

rain pooled in small

but never bottom puddles

The candle long since snuffed

seemed to question,

"Will Heaven be this still?"

A thought whispered through my mind

If only the world could keep this peace

May 27, 1968

Dedicated to Mick Scarpelli aka Mick Scott (Herbert Francis Scarpelli)
                       8/19/1945 - 2/13/2017



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Image

The Magic Of Light

Adjective: magic

Wonderful; exciting.

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The last three photos were taken at the headwaters of the White River, Wautoma Wetlands Park in Waushara County, Wisconsin. The second is Durward’s Glen, north of Baraboo, Wisconsin. The first is Fountain Lake, at John Muir Memorial Park between Montello and Portage, Wisconsin. Now named Ennis Lake, this was the boyhood home of the famed environmentalist.

Weekly Photo Challenge:Magic

Bless this Mess or Landscaping Naturelle

I can’t see the forest for the trees, or the springs for the sedges. I need to go close and deep to my subjects. These are my landscapes. In nature, nothing is tidy. Nature is messy; erratic, bent, broken, fallen, wet, dead, dry, or sometimes flooded. For that reason you won’t find manicured lawns and long picturesque driveways in my work. Mother Nature abhors a vacuum (cleaner if you will). She’s a slob, a slacker, she works on her own schedule. My hope is to catch some trace of the goodness she left behind. Like a treasure hunter picking through the remnants of a pack rat

Enjoy what I find. Thanks for stopping by the Road Less Paved. I’ve enjoyed your visit.

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WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:Landscape

I Know a Painting

“Some paintings become famous because, being durable, they are viewed by successive generations, in each of which are likely to be found a few appreciative eyes.

I know a painting so evanescent that it is seldom viewed at all, except by some wandering deer. It is a river who wields the brush, and it is the same river who, before I can bring my friends to view his work, erases it forever from human view. After that it exists only in my mind’s eye.

Like other artists, my river is temperamental; there is no predicting when the mood to paint will come upon him, or how long it will last. But in midsummer, when the great white fleet’s cruise the sky for day after flawless day, it is worth strolling down to the sandbars just to see whether he has been at work.”

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

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The Wisconsin River at the Sand County Shack

Weekly Photo Challenge:Half Light

 

Windsong

Windsong dances with all of nature. Unlike humans’, it bears no fickle heart.  No tree was ever passed over for a more favorably shaped canopy across the river. No errant bullies mutter, restless, while waiting in corners, for an undecided breeze to skip across the marsh and skate the thin shawl of ice the spring prairie.

Laughing, roiling about in muck boots, tripping, not lightly, atop a quaking sedge bog. I can’t remember? Is this how I learned to dance with my father, one foot on each arch, following his motions across the dance floor? Did he feel the pain I feel now, is mine even close? Do feet screaming measure up as my calves and thighs agonised? My brain yells stop this nonsense!

I so-see-do my partner, the shoot of an old willow. We allemande left into bracken and winter crisp Joe Pye Weed. I hear wood sprite giggles, their feet making a high squeal as they shimmy up the bark of bog birches. I know they’ll settle in with a few snorts of a fine vintage brew from a ’88 Pitcher’s Plant.

Dancing in wetlands is messy.  Photography shot in Marquette County, Wisconsin on the Mud River, Mecan River, and the Comstock Bog.

Weekly Photo Challenge:Dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave No Trail Behind

I was trying to sort out a two-word anagram while in half-sleep Sunday morning. Bouncing off the hollow space within my brain, two young girls ran about in their circa 1950’s church-best clothing. Full shirts, petticoats, ankle socks and patent leather shoes, small straw hats topped hair that curled to their shoulders. The anagram was floating away while the two girls pushed me forward and out of my dream. The imps reminded me of two dolls I’d played with as a child, one was the good girl, the other was the bitch.

In my slumber, I tried to arise from bed and find paper and pen to write out the two words. I’d figured out the spelling of the anagram and the solution. Of course, by the time I actually awoke the words were gone, along with the girls. The answer haunted me all day.

For three years I’ve been working my way through my husband’s family tree. His genealogy is extensive. While still a child, he’d been brought up on an oral tradition of stories and history passed along by his grandparents and the elders of his large family. His family roots were planted long before the extensive research available on the internet. When I started an Ancestory.com membership and began work on his family, those stories, did in fact, point to the very places in his family’s oral traditions. They had kept the stories alive for more than four centuries. Geneology is my addiction. I’m heavily invested in all types of research. Once uncovered, facts are to proven. Additional research, outside of Ancestory.com is opened, with scribbled penmanship, notebooks, outlines, beginnings, endings and do-overs. Researched notables and historic side adventures diagramed.

I time-traveled early 3,000 years into the past and wondered what did these people talk about, dream about, wonder over. Did they even think they would leave a legacy that centuries into the future hundreds, thousands, of their descendants would be curious about? Did they know they were creating historical moments in time?  Were they capable of knowing there would be such a thing in the future as the study of  their history?

The past has become more important to me than the present. My husband’s past is my present. My past only extends to my grandparents. They left no photographs, no notes, no names. With extensive research I’ve only managed to uncover the names of the towns they were born in and their birth dates. They’re from Eastern Europe, ravaged by wars, small villages, records lost or not yet uncovered and posted online. I have an emotional connection to their past but I can’t access it. Although I’ve tried to find it. It remains illusive. I long to know these long gone people who can’t possibly connect with me. In knowing their past I  find comfort from my lack of acceptance with my own present.

In real life, my past was closed down, pulled from me, taken away, or unattainable. My life, as that of my own family genealogy, mirrors a life of no trail left behind. Less than ten photographs of me exist prior to me by the age of fifty. I remember each one, even those not in my possession. I don’t even appear in my high school year book. Since then there are a few photos of my back, a couple of carefully crafted telephoto shots, some highly Photoshopped pics, and a couple of professional engagment photographs.

I have no problem with the difficulty the two dream girls faced attempting to pull me into the present. It’s been several years since I lived in the present. The past couple of years I’ve fallen even deeper into the past, distancing myself from any possibility of leaving a legacy of accomplishment in anything.

Unlike the genealogical deep roots of my husband’s family tree, my family planted seeds of maladjustment that rooted firm and unshakable. Two years ago I set my goal to give one last shot at hitting my life’s target goals. When the deadline passed a year ago, I wavered and let myself ride through it – knowing nothing was going to develop. Midway through last year I started this blog.  I found a way to use a small bit of my old talents, brush off my rusty skills, and push on. When the past year ended, after thirteen years, I closed my business website and its Facebook page. I’d finally accepted that a family clash a few years ago, that ended my  photography business and its income, had  also ended any hope for a future as a photographer.

My legacy is to always lose what I’ve worked towards. There has always been someone stronger, wealthier, more popular, or connected, to shut me out, down, steal, lie, or ignore my contributions. I’m terrified of being noticed, acknowledged, having nothing to say. I’ve become an empty vessel,  a waif unto myself.  I’m further down the trail by learning how to cover my tracks. No one will know I passed this way. I will leave no trail behind. I will move silently among the stream of internet transfer information and only that trail could show I actually existed. It will be rare indeed that anyone will ever seek it out and follow it back to it’s source.

Daily Prompt: Don’t you Forget About Me