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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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