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Entries in flowers (18)


Still Life


View From The Bus

The shuffle function on my iPod landed on Ani DiFranco on my drive to work and transported me immediately to the 24-year-old Corinna.  This time I watched that Corinna as through glass, like a tourist on a bus ride through some dimension where she still fumbles her way, mostly laughing, through early adulthood.  The music runs underneath it, the soundtrack to a time when every day was a test of how big to be in the world.  The unexpected rhythms of Ani's music and her way of turning metaphors on their ears were just as surprising as my autonomy.

From my seat on the bus it's all bathed in golden light: those few, halcyon years after abject fear and before responsibility.  There was a suspended moment when friendship and cheap beer and free concert tickets were the only currency worth trading.  When propriety and sobriety belonged to an inconceivable life (I had no idea then just how familiar they would be come), when any place that contained my passport, address book and toothbrush could reasonably be considered home.  From this angle that Corinna looks blithe and unflappable, and while I don't remember her as fearless, she seems utterly secure in the sense that it will all work out. 

She was right, of course.  It has all worked out, far better than she had any right to expect.  Every single thread has woven together in a warm and heavy tapestry of completely blessed life.  A life laden with meaning, as though that is a fair trade for youth and buoyancy and adventure.  Through the glass, she is in bloom.  And the tour bus is confining and crowded, and I know that in some other dimension my life awaits.


Small Gifts

Spring burst forth along Colorado's front range in a riot of prematurely hot days and a sudden profusion of flowers: trees heavy with blossoms, bulbs dripping in color, phlox unfolding a month ahead of schedule.  It is intoxicating and glorious, but I can't experience that without a sliver of underlying anxiety.  I feel unprepared for the headlong plunge into the fecundity of summer, like the whole earth is moving at a pace I can't match.

I am like a gear in an old-fashioned pocketwatch, tiny and fragile, being moved by my proximity and connection to all those around me.  Small gifts are the lubrication that keep our machine from locking up.  Kindness keeps me from overheating as the seconds tick faster.

Will has been overseas for work and a friend I met in my gypsy days but have not seen for years opened her home and welcomed him as she would have me, like an old friend. 

My mother was my date to a friend's 65th birthday party this weekend.  She greeted us and said to my mom, Your daughter is one of my favorite people on the planet.

The new babysitter goes above and beyond and I come home to a clean kitchen.

A gorgeous slab of lemon-fennel salmon arrived in my kitchen just before the afternoon party preparation got the best of me.

Hugs.  Scalp massages.  Cupcakes.

Small things that, in the words of Robert Brault, become the big things.  These are the things that give me room to breathe, the things that make it safe to unfold the tender parts, the things that make it possible to embrace the noisy, crowded abundance of summer.


Truth vs. Beauty: The Cage Fight In My Head

I was tagged by Cherish Bryck last week in a bloggie interview game, and I had every intention of playing along.  But, as tends to happen lately, life got filled up with a whole lot of other work/art/out-of-town guests/distraction and that intention got away from me.

She did ask a question that has been rattling around in the back of my brain since then, even in the midst of all the mayhem: If you had to pick, would you rather photograph truth or beauty?

And here I am, with Spring popping all around me, back in my annual internal battle about whether taking pictures of flowers is worth anything at all.  I set these tulips in a puddle of window light yesterday afternoon.  The dialogue between me and my camera went something like:


Yeah, so what?


Oooooh, pretty.


Right, but what does it do?

I am a storyteller at heart.  I value beauty (I bought the tulips after all), but I find myself wondering if it has meaning.  At no time of year is this a more challenging conundrum to me than Spring.  I hear Keats and wonder if he was right:

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -- that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

It has a certain roundness that I like, these two ideals containing each other.  And, it could be argued in my tortured head, that it gives me permission to shoot the damn tulips already.  But the cynic in me thinks Keats was an overly-romantic 24-year-old and I was 24 once and, well, I didn't know much of anything then.  Though I was ardent.

So I poked around to see what other people made of this dilemma and, naturally, Gandhi weighed in on it. 

I see and find Beauty in Truth or through Truth. All Truths, not merely true ideas, but truthful faces, truthful pictures or songs are highly beautiful. People generally fail to see Beauty in Truth, the ordinary man runs away from it and becomes blind to the beauty in it. Whenever men begin to see Beauty in Truth, then true Art will arise.

It seems that Gandhi puts truth at the birthplace of beauty and art, and I think I do too.  I'm not sure what this means for me and still-life, but since this is probably the most torturously self-conscious post in the history of this blog I will leave you with a pretty picture I made of some flowers and hope you feel less conflicted about that than me.


Thrives in August

311.365 50mm f2.8 1/160 ISO 200