There are times when a break from the normal, noise filled, chaotic and stress induced activities of life need to be silenced. Even time, on occasion, away from family is needed to help recharge, take inventory, and appreciate the quiet of life. I am able to try and have a few quiet moments to myself on a daily basis with photography, meditation, a workout or some other form of activity I have found keeps me centered.
But there are times when a longer break is needed. Recently I was in Montana to care for my elderly mother, as my brother needed a break from her care. I approached the challenge (for those of us who have cared for the elderly it truly can be a challenge on many levels) in a positive frame of mind and was determined to take time to photograph and enjoy the quiet of my brother’s ranch.
I was not disappointed. I balanced the day with getting my mother up and going for the day and then went out and walked around the area. As always there is the initial rush to make images before the quiet pace of the location seeps in and starts tugging, revealing what can be meaningfully photographed. I enjoyed walking in the occasional rain, the wet grasses and flowers of the meadows close at hand. At the time there were no biting insects and the loud, intrusive bellows of cattle and their destruction of the flora was not yet present.
Those were times to enjoy, moving and listening and feeling the slower pace of an unrushed day as it progressed from a cool wet morning to a warmer midday and a windswept afternoon. Once my time photographing was complete, I would head back and again catch up on any needs for my mother. Some days were spent taking her to town, but most of the time was spent on the mountainside, being. When I was not out photographing, I was sitting on the deck enjoying the view, watching the clouds move across the sky and the birds fly and call to each other. I really needed that break.
On the way back home, I stopped in Utah to visit my grand daughter and meet my newest great grandson. A very wonderful experience for sure. It had been over 20 years since I had been in Utah and the tremendous growth has had an impact on the Wasatch front area. It was with some trepidation that I journeyed to a favorite spot to take photographs. I was not sure what kind of impact on the Alpine Loop would be had with such an influx of people into the area.
I was relieved to note that things were pretty much the same as the last time I visited the Alpine loop. I normally stop at a small turn out along the way about 5 miles up the canyon near the top of the loop. I was initially draw to the location due to the profusion of corn lily in the midst of aspens of varying size. Usually the area is damp with moisture and the ground is soft and the air filled with insects. This time was different.
I arrived later in the year and things had dried out in comparison to my other visits. there was a different feel to the place and I felt like I was meeting an old friend after many years. As I pulled up and exited my car, I was greeted by a large mule deer standing in the midst of the corn lily about 15 feet away. My camera gear was in the trunk and as I opened it, the deer nonchalantly turned and bounced off through the woods. I’m not an animal photographer so it’s unlikely that I would have recorded anything better than a snapshot of the deer.
The weather cooperated with me and I had some wonderful cloud cover to mute the light and make some images. I used both my view camera and my digital and as I mentioned have some nice images. I love using the view camera and it was nice to go through the methodical set up and making of the negative. One must slow down when using the view camera and since it is what I learned on, it carries over into my digital work. There is no real need to rush, just slow down and respond to what is speaking to you.
Part way through my time photographing I was interrupted by a passing truck playing some really loud music as he was driving through the area, missing all the quiet and beauty of the day. Some people gotta have that noise to feel alive, as if the silence would take them to a place, they are afraid to experience.
So, it was a great visit and trip through the Rockies. I made my way back home recharged, ready for a house full of family who were going to be staying the summer. I will be able to recall and relive the feeling of peace as I have images that act as a visual journal of my time there. And hopefully the images impart the feelings of my time in nature.
And as restful, insightful and fulfilling as the trip and subsequent photography was, I was reminded you don’t need a long trip to a quiet place to find a sense of peace or a reminder of the power of nature.
I was sitting on my patio recently and as it is hot here in Texas this time of year you can hear all of the humming and clanking of the neighborhood air conditions turning on and off. As I sat watching the birds at the bird feeder and a hummingbird flitting around, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of tranquility. It had become quiet. No humming air conditioners, no barking dogs, only the beat of the hummingbird’s wings, the occasional crunch of the bird seed as the birds fed at the feeder and the faint susurrus of the highway. The soft angular morning light bathed the yard in a soft glow adding to the moment. Wonderful.
Being open to moments of peace and inspiration can be found at any time and in any setting. Its up to us to be open for those fleeting moments and make the most of them.