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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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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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Sweet Earth Awakens & Crazed Creativity

We live adjacent to a shrub carr, a wetland edged by red-twig dogwood. Half our back yard is planted in mid-western prairie plants and grasses. Another portion is a rock garden and water feature for the birds to enjoy. The first happy signal everything is going to be okay, after a winter’s slumber underneath layers of oak leaves and pine needles, are the budding trees we planted. Apples we never manage, crab apples and cherries for the birds. Almost everything that grows here ends up in front of my cameras.

This time of year, my favorite toy is is my old Olympus E510. It has a lot of mileage on it. A couple of years ago, I started playing with old film lenses on my camera. I fell in love with the crazy blown out bokeh of a cheap vintage Russian Pentacon 100/2.8 that I always shoot wide open. I know there are others out there that make wonderful bubble effects, but they don’t fit my budget right now. One of these days, I’ll have to try this switched to the camera on B & W mode.

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

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Marching to a New Color

Short and sweet. Yes, it took the entire week to develop a spring based photograph in orange. Orange is a lot easier in October than March. I cheated, I got to practice my layers and textures skill. Not going to say a lot this week. It ends in three hours anyway and the challenge changes.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:Orange

 

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Mellow, butter, goldenrod, lemon, cream, canary, primary, and get my sunglasses, yellow

Less than sixty minutes remain of the winter solstice. I don’t celebrate Christmas or New Years. I’m among the group of people in which holidays hold nothing but bitter memories. As mid-summer passes into fall, I count down the days until December 21st of each year. I’m starved for the individual flavor each additional minute will bring to my evening table.

The solstice means I’ve made it through another year. I’ve survived the worst of my imagined and real terrors. Except for the weather, hopefully everything will continue on for another year. There was a time in my life when yellow was my favorite color. I couldn’t be miserable wearing yellow. My living quarters, even without southern windows looked sunnier with a touch of yellow on the walls.

Somewhere along the way, I realized I really don’t look good wearing yellow. Decorating with yellow looked dated past the 1970’s. As life moved on I shifted my love of yellow to flowers, admired golden sunsets on the prairies, and on rare days when I woke early, appreciated the butter soft glow of a misty sunrise.

Today I’ve taken time to break all the rules about photographic placement, color, form, and size. I’ve gone back into my vault and overhauled a few old favorites taken at a Pow Wow in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin several years ago. The yellow were everywhere. I stopped short of pulling out the yellow-green.  It was a close call, but I’ll save those for another day.

Feel free to let me know what you think of my solstice madness.Enjoy your own mid-winter, or mid-summer holidays, depending on which half of the planet you live on. Thank for stopping by. See you next year!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:Yellow

 

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Goodtime Charly’s Got the Blues

I’ve expended a lot of physical and emotion energy the past few weeks. My memory is foggy, my movements slow and uncertain. I turn around and find myself falling, uncertain of my own surroundings. I’m drained. Vampires’ sucked the joy, laughter, summer dreams, and future successes from my carotid arteries like my dog’s canine teeth broke through her favorite butcher treats.  Chronic fibromyalgia loads me with an entire textbook of linked problems that those of us with invisible disabilities silently deal.  I feel like a worm trying to cross a mountain.

Even my camera is giving out its last spitting clicks. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep posting from my not so reliable pocket camera, and use archived pics to fill in my future blog posts. More important things need fixing first. I AM feeling blue and misty-eyed. I really need a good cry, but I tend to hold stress close, where it is familiar.  A couple of days ago, my old friend, Ma Nature, knew my mood when she gave me this sunrise. I was on my way home from one more of too many problems to deal with. Hope your misty blues are all short-lived and as beautiful as these.

 

 

 

 

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The Landscape Weaver

There dawns a day in mid-May, it arrives cloaked in a full flush of shimmering green, morning mist late in leaving fields, the air chiffon and clover. On this day, the weaver of landscapes will be dancing under cover, laying down his warp, deep in shadows, edged by flowing waters and threads of cirrus clouds. He’s busy in the fields replacing frayed edges of last year’s worn panoramas.

The weaver wefts his magic threads in June, twisting finer yarns into plump blue-green leaves, blue-budded lupines, yellow coreopsis, sharp-edged sedges, and rough textures in and through an early flush of grasses laid upon lowland hills and marshes.

The prairies and wetlands erupt into color about the same time as holiday fireworks explode in July. No longer content to remain quiet, yellows, maroons, purples, blues, hues and saturation pop and whistle, announcing their arrival ahead of a marching band of cicadas.

By late July our man of natural threads sits back and admires his nearly completed tapestry. It’s viewable for anyone slow enough to stop and look; hanging, dipping slightly in the humidity, like a sheet on a sagging clothes line. Summer’s fabric is nearly complete.

Walking through a fairgrounds after closing compares to visiting the lowlands the last week of August. The venerable artist has left the ground littered with weft of broken stems, bent grass, and empty seed heads. When the first cold breeze sneaks into the morning, entangling grasses like a fervid couple under the grandstand –  a hot flash followed by a quick chill; the blooms are gone, empty seed pods swinging from brittle stems remind me of a ferris wheel. The weaver moved off to the southern hemisphere, leaving his fraying work of art behind.