Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Finding meaning on a walk along the mountainside to the sea.

As the cricket's soft Autumn hum
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and hills.
                              Gary Snyder.

The last time I walked along the mountainside trail at Burgoyne Bay it was early Spring, all fresh leaves and hope for the year ahead. Today it is the depths of winter's short days and long nights, tired grasses and bare tree branches. An overcast landscape with fog lifting into cloud. For me, this has more potential for my photography that any sunny cheerful day can provide: art is about things other than the happy and beautiful and thought can find more traction in this soft inexact world; shy little semi-formed ideas raise their heads and whisper in my ear and the odd-end bits of the complexity of nature reveal themselves if my mind is prepared.

As the path climbs upwards the fog increases, and ordinary trees and boulders swim into a new and separated existence. The complexity of backgrounds is softened and even the near is interestingly imprecise. The nominally unimportant has stepped forward into prominence.

Down at sea level once again, an eagle calls insistently from a treetop, a line of ducks fly past and up in the fog another eagle appears. It is tempting to frame all this from my personal perspective: to see the world as though it is a moving circle that surrounds me and I and my camera are the central players on this stage. I cannot avoid this reality but I must not frame the world in this egocentric way: better to see my little figure from those ducks perspective, a quick flash of form out the corner of the eye as they sweep past the point fully committed to duck business.

The granite headland too has a solid presence that exists outside of my own existence, that is what I see as I take its photograph, as do the old oak trees with their rough bark and twisted limbs. A green rock lies just below the surface of the cold clear water framed by a fir bough; here is one of those quiet little thoughts that can emerge on a day like this. And the ripples curve out greeny towards the orange stained granite rocks.

Today I am finding grey-gold; the landscape matches mood, everything comes together.

Our own life is the instrument
with which we experiment with truth.  
                                    Thich Nhat Hanh

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