May 2006


Mirror, mirror

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any reflective photos, but a mirror sale at a downtown frame shop gave me the impetus to get back into self-photographic gear.

It’s not like I haven’t been taking reflective photos: over a month ago, on a trip to Northampton, MA to meet Rachel for a concert, I snapped a slew of ego-obsessed pictures in a shop hawking mirrors with funky, New-Agey slogans. But for some reason, I haven’t taken the time to re-visit and share these month-old images.

Reflective photography

Philosophers of all stripes agree that the unexamined life is not worth living, but I’m not convinced that physical self-inspection is a necessary ingredient in self-knowledge. Did Narcissus know himself in a truly philosophical sense? Wouldn’t we agree that an ancient sage like Tiresias probably knew himself deeply even though physical blindness precluded him from using a mirror in that pursuit?

Reflective photography

The journey toward self-discovery begins with a single step…but I don’t think a trip to the mirror is absolutely necessary. Looking at these images, I’m not sure who it is exactly I see peering from behind the camera: is it me, or is it a persona I project in both world and blogosphere, a protective shell hiding the True Self within?

Reflective photography

It seems to me that words, like pictures, can be used both to reveal and conceal. The more you read of these words, can you be any more certain of who it is who composes them? Seeing the face behind the pictures, do you know “me” any better, or have you caught only a glimpse of the body that shades my soul?

Reflective photography

The mirror’s art notwithstanding, it seems one’s True Self is the universe’s most slippery creature, even more elusive than the Divine. Are there any words or cameras quick enough to catch it?

Spotting a bullfrog sunning in the shallows at Goose Pond is no suprise: this morning as I walked the muddy shore, startled squawks and squeaks accompanied a series of sudden splashes as bull- and green frogs fled from my approach. Of all the sunning bullfrogs I’ve seen over the years, though, I can’t remember one that seemed so perfectly posed, not moving a muscle as he sat in the sun atop a rock. Shouldn’t you be on a lily pad or at least in cooling mud, Mr. Froggy, rather than baking your brains on a hard, hot rock?

The natural world is full of surprises. As soon as you set foot from your securely locked door and venture beyond your carefully tended yard, you enter the world of serendipity. Seeing pink lady’s slippers at Goose Pond this morning wasn’t a complete surprise: I’d seen them at the Massabesic Audubon Center in Manchester on Saturday, and several weeks ago I’d photographed in this very spot what I suspected were lady’s slipper buds. Even given promising harbingers, though, you never know where, how, or whether flowers will unfurl, and even given the surety of a non-moving target, you never know how photographs of flowers will develop. Will a translucent and veiny blossom glow in the gleam of backlighting, or will it eclipse and blur?

Whenever blog readers ask my “secret” to taking photographs, I tell the truth: there’s surety in numbers. Of some half dozen photos of lady’s slippers I snapped at Goose Pond today, only the one above turned out; I also took four pictures of a starflower nestled in the nook of shady stone, and none of those were satisfactory. Luckily, the name “starflower” alone is evocative: you don’t really need a picture to imagine its delicate beauty, and in truth there will be other starflowers to photograph on other days.

2006-05-30c.jpg

Today’s true serendipity was the painted trillium I spotted right after Reggie flushed an alert-tailed deer–another surprise–from a cobwebby coppice. In my mind, it’s too late for trilliums, and it’s true this one looked worse for wear, its leaves having been nibbled by some unseen nuisance. Calendars and leaf-eaters notwithstanding, today placed an unforeseen trillium in my path, and an unforeseen deer in Reggie’s. I’ve almost come to expect the unexpected when I walk anywhere these days, and I haven’t yet been disappointed.

Tree swallow with tepee

I could have titled this post “Home, Revisited” since most of the tree swallows that A (not her real initial) and I saw today at the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn, NH were perched on bluebird boxes, which make tidy homes for swallows. But this particular swallow was sitting pretty on a directional sign, not a bluebird box…and we never figured out who lives in the tepee. (I quipped that it might be the home-away-from-home of the last American man, but we sighted neither hide nor hair of such a mythic beast.)

If you take a brisk walk through wood and field on a sunny Sunday morning, you’ll be rewarded with leisurely looks at a variety of creatures: bluebirds, kingbirds, great crested flycatchers, goldfinches, painted turtles, and bullfrogs. And better yet, when you finish your brisk walk and head into town, you won’t feel a bit guilty partaking in a fat- and flavor-rich breakfast at the local greasy spoon. When you do your aerobic workout first thing, you have the luxury of sitting pretty the rest of the day.

    If you want to see a spring-green version of the Airport Road vista I’ve blogged in all four seasons, check out my latest post on Area 603.

For rent

Yesterday’s Photo Friday theme was Home, and although this isn’t my home, I couldn’t resist the urge to snap a picture of an orange “For Rent” sign on an orange-and-mustard house.

My time, energy, and mental bandwidth are still devoted to the Integrative Studies “Thinking and Writing” institute I’m attending this week at Keene State, so while my mind is occupied with thinking about writing, here are some images from this morning’s dog-walk.

2006-05-25b.jpg

2006-05-25c.jpg

2006-05-25d.jpg

2006-05-25e.jpg

Sunrise over Beaver Mills

Yes, I’m back in New Hampshire, having arrived home in Keene on Sunday night. This morning I walked Reggie along the downtown bikepath first thing, and soon I’m off to campus, where I’m participating in a week-long institute on the teaching of Keene State’s new “Thinking & Writing” integrative studies course.

Making the 700-mile drive home only to dive right into a week-long seminar hasn’t given me much time to find my feet here again: my mind is still buzzing with images from Ohio, New Hampshire, and the many points in between. But on a partly cloudy morning with the early morning sun peeking over Beaver Mills’ roof and smokestack, it feels good to come home, even slowly.

Today’s Photo Friday theme is The Road, which is appropriate since I’ve been on the road this past week here in Ohio, land of wide highways leading to expansive parking lots: paved paradise.

This morning I’m hitting the road again to leave Findlay, where I’ve been visiting Gary, to go to Columbus, where I’ll be visiting family. My folks live far off the Information Superhighway, so I won’t be online until I return to New Hampshire on Sunday night. So in the the interim, here’s one last image as my way of saying “Happy trails, and be safe.”

    For another photo-rich post on the theme of “The Road,” check out this entry from two years ago. Regardless of all the time and all the miles between then and now, my wanderlust hasn’t changed much after all.

Next Page »