Quotes Challenge Day 2: Wild and Free

Today’s quote–All good things are wild and free–comes from “Walking,” an extensive essay written for The Atlantic by Henry David Thoreau, the American essayist, philosopher, and naturalist best known for Walden and “Civil Disobedience.” The essay, published after his death, was a combination of two lectures, “Walking” (1851) and “The Wild” (1852), which Thoreau combined, separated, and combined again for publication (1862).

The opening of the essay provides a clear snapshot of the content:

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil— to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.

When I shot the photo above (last year, late spring), my “real” camera was out of commission, but I was determined to still take advantage of photo opportunities. As a friend and I were leaving a bookstore late one morning, a mini-daisy field caught my eye. How odd it seemed in the middle of all the commerce! Neither the magazine purchased nor the hot beverage consumed could evoke the good feelings that a moment with the daisies yielded.

The one sentence from Thoreau’s essay captured my feelings–“all good things are wild and free.”

The full quote sums up preceding paragraphs in which he valorizes the “untamed” or natural over the “civilized” and cultivated.

In short, all good things are wild and free. There is something in a strain of music, whether produced by an instrument or by the human voice—take the sound of a bugle in a summer night, for instance-which by its wildness, to speak without satire, reminds me of the cries emitted by wild beasts in their native forests. It is so much of their wildness as I can understand.

Take a moment to read the entire essay. If you want to know more about Thoreau, see the Walden Woods Project. There’s a series of links near the end of the Thoreau background information page that you will find useful.

“The Spirit of Sauntering,” a Brain Pickings article published a few years ago, offers an analysis of Thoreau’s “Walking.” You might want to check that out too–or instead, if Thoreau’s writing style does not appeal to you.

Today’s challenge nominees (see previous post for rules):

It’s almost the weekend! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for my final quote of the challenge.

Quotes Challenge Day 1: Do It Afraid!

As I was fretting over today’s blog post, I received notification from Divya of Merry Motherhood that she nominated me for the Three Quotes in Three Days challenge. Quotes? Of course, I’m in!

The rules are pretty simple:

  1. Thank the person who nominates you
  2. Post one quote per day for 3 consecutive days
  3. Nominate three new bloggers each day

Thanks Divya! [Divya blogs about first-time motherhood among other things. You’ll love her Day 1 quote–straight from Calvin and Hobbes!]

This challenge is especially timely since I’ve been working on projects that involve integrating quotes for the last couple of weeks. Now, I have a reason to share a few of them immediately–instead of some time later.

Today, I’m sharing the photo and quote I shared for the “Fierce Woman” swap I blogged about a week ago.

When I blogged about Sally Ride two years ago, I asked readers for their favorite “fierce woman” quote. My blogging friend Sheila of Sheila’s Corner Studio responded with a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe that I knew I had to work into a photo:

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.  –Georgia O’Keeffe

The quote speaks to Sheila because:

[I] found that when I was in high school, and I have never forgotten it. I found it so hard to believe, and so reassuring. She was such a trailblazer, before her time. Since then, I have read about many extraordinary women who claim to have felt the same way. Yet, they have achieved great success.

I didn’t expect it to take me almost two years to use this quote. Part of the reason is that I didn’t want to use just any photo. I wanted to imitate O’Keeffe’s style with a photo edit. After many tries, I was satisfied. I think.

O’Keeffe Inspired

Here’s a link to some of O’Keeffe’s flowers.  How did I do?

The trick was placement of the quote.

Inspired O’Keeffe Inspired

Unlike O’Keeffe, being “absolutely terrified” has hindered my conquering a few things. I’m not a complete “fraidy-cat” though. What I have done, I’ve pretty much done straight through the terror–which emboldens me to take on bigger, scarier ventures. As cliché as it sounds, “doing it afraid” takes real courage. In fact–as O’Keeffe’s words suggest–facing each day takes courage.

Today’s nominees are:

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for more inspiration!

Everyday Fierce

Can you imagine walking through a fish market and encountering a woman who is so content, so fierce that her smile captivates you, even as she’s slinging a knife and her hands are covered in blood and guts?

When my photographer friend, Gale D, traveled to Mumbai some years ago, that is exactly who she encountered. The woman, “who was cutting baby sharks, had an incredible smile and a beauty that did not match her surroundings” or the task she had undertaken.

“Fierce Woman” by Gale D.

When she saw the description for the “Fierce Woman: Photo Inspiration” swap in the A Thousand Words group on swap-bot Gale knew she would use this image. The swap, just like the others I’d hosted in the past, required that individuals pair an inspirational quote by a woman with a complementary photograph. Gale felt Jennifer Lee’s quote captured the experience and the photo:

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

This quote has been attributed (by some) to Lee, noted for directing Disney’s Frozen, but I haven’t been able to find any information on when and where she said this.

What I appreciate about the pairing of the photo with the quote is that it speaks against the usual narrative that our pursuits must be grand or lead to magnificent outcomes, that they must involve an encounter with and a conquering of our fears. The woman in the photo shows us that even the mundane moments of everyday life require fearlessness, passion, and fire.

The Solitary Bird

Just before heading indoors after exploring an abandoned bird’s nest one day last week, I looked up and the golden glow of the sunset sky was so gorgeous, I was stunned. Moments into admiring the sky, a single goose caught my eye, its partner a little distance ahead. I took the shot.

The photo reminded me of a poem Dr. Benn, my undergraduate professor and mentor, shared with me:

The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
The first, that it flies to the highest point;
The second, that it does not suffer for company,
not even of its own kind;
The third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
The fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
The fifth, that it sings very softly.
–San Juan de la Cruz, Sayings of Light and Love

Obviously, this goose has very little in common with the “solitary” bird described in the poem–it was not alone; it doesn’t sing; it doesn’t even “honk” softly. But the lens captured a bird alone and reminded me of the poem.

In the Moment Stories

I’ve wanted to blog all week, but “crazy-busy” wouldn’t let me, so after photographing flowers Thursday morning, I opened the Instagram app to post a photo with a few hashtags. Then, I remembered “stories.” I’d never posted a story before, but I discovered immediately that they are perfect for sharing “in the moment” photos or thoughts when a blog post is out of the question:

Like when you’re driving along and the flowers on the side of the road require some time with them.

Or when, at some point during the morning drive, you look up and the sky deserves more than a glance.

Or while you’re sitting in your car waiting for a meeting to start and you notice dogwood blossoms not too far from you, when everywhere else (as far as you know) the blossoms took leave weeks ago.

Moments like these often sit in my camera or on my phone unshared. There are thousands of them (literally). I’ll do better.

I plan to “flesh out” these particular experiences some time soon with more photos (and words), so stay tuned.

Enjoy your weekend!

Life’s Rewards: “To Be Elated Over a Bird’s Nest…”

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. –John Burroughs

I submitted my grades today and closed the book on Spring 2018. As I looked outside my window yesterday and today, the beautiful weather beckoned me and provided the motivation to push to completion. The sky was filled with so many cumulus clouds that I couldn’t resist taking a few minutes to photograph them. Today was just as gorgeous, so I sent grades for my final class and grabbed my camera for more photos. [I’ll share those later–maybe, tomorrow].

After today’s session, my hubby and I visited a Killdeer that was nesting at the back of the yard. Although we cautiously approached, the bird left the nest to protect its brood. This gave me a good look at the eggs and a shot I liked [above].

Just before evening, we visited again with our little one. By this time, our feathered friend was a little more comfortable and remained on the nest, wary and watching. [Click an image for a closer look].

It stirred only when I changed my vantage point for a different shot.

The bird has been nesting for quite some time. In fact, my hubby told me about it some time ago–when I was too crazy-busy to take a look. It stood its ground and protected the precious cargo through lawn mowings and thunderstorms.

I appreciate its tenacity and courage.

And I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with it. This felt like a gift–a reward–for maintaining my sanity once again through the crazy last half of the semester.

For more information about Killdeer, see the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birdwatching.

How to Take a Photo Walk When You Can’t

“Chickadee.” Photograph by Gale D.

Can we say tired? I am so physically and mentally exhausted from grading, grading, grading, and grading. I want to take a photo walk, but (1) my camera battery isn’t charged. I learned this last night when I was about to record my son playing in the strings orchestra. And (2) I barely have enough energy to make it to the door let alone through it.

Therefore, I decided to take my photo walk indoors today. How? Thankfully, Diane W, Midteacher on swap-bot, created a series of swaps for the A Thousand Words group that’s right up my photo alley. The series, called Take a Walk, encourages photographers to take some time with their cameras regularly and share their photos with others in the group.

If you’ve been following Pics and Posts long enough, you know photo walks are my go-to for “getting through the crazies.” I take a walk–camera in hand–quite regularly during the work day to take a break from screens and students, to readjust or reset. Also, my hubby, son, and I take photo walks and drives on weekends when the weather’s nice (or tolerable).

Today, I need to follow a different path, so we’ll take a walk with Gale D, Grstamping on swap-bot.

Gale, from Ontario (Canada), spends a lot of time outdoors and loves shooting “in nature,” particularly in her favorite spot near Lake Ontario. She “can hand feed birds, watch squirrels at play, stalk deer, and be stalked by wild turkeys.” These ventures help her to feel close to nature and clear her mind. They also keep her sane.

She sent me a few of her memorable encounters–either because of their beauty or because of how the animals trusted her in their space–from her January photo walk.

Gale was allowed to get up close and personal with the chickadees. She even fed a few from her hand! They love sunflower seeds!

“Hand Feeding the Chickadees.” Photograph by Gale D.

A vibrant visit with a blue jay added a splash of color to the grays and browns of winter.

“Blue Jay: Vibrant in Winter.” Photograph by Gale D.

And finally, she had a brief tête-à-tête with a squirrel, her favorite subject because they’re not only beautiful but “they’re fun to watch!”

“Squirrel.” Photograph by Gale D.

I love these photos, but I’m kind of interested in seeing a photo captured while she was evading wild turkeys! 😀

You can take a photo walk too, even if you can’t get outdoors. Check out Glenrosa Journeys. Candace takes readers with her as she explores Arizona. Her photography and her blog are inspiring. For photos without the blog, check out the Nature Photography Group on Flickr. You can find more of Gale’s work at Photographic Touch.

Stay tuned. I’ll share more “take a walk” photos soon.

Walk on!