Yesterday was discouraging, hectic, productive, inspiring and exhausting all in one. This morning, after getting the girls on the bus in the nippy cold of the morning, I decided to grab my camera and head down to Mapleton Park right at the end of our street.
Half of my Fine Arts degree was spent carving lines into metal plates and the other looking through the lens of a camera. I needed to restore the balance that you can only truly find when you try to capture the world around you through the composition of your photo, wait for the right light and then hold your breath as you push the button.
It was excellent therapy!
First, I stumbled across the weeds along the path, transformed into fairy plants by the coating of frost from last night. It brought out a delicate beauty that we usually ignore as we are hauling weeds out of our garden or trodding on them when they invade a path.
As I drew closer to the lake, I began to see the first hints that I was in for something truly spectacular... one of those magic moments for a photographer when light, colour and temperature combine to produce something truly amazing!
The lake was covered with a fine mist in the crisp morning. As I slipped off my mittens each time to take a picture, I was aware of how biting the air felt on my fingers. My fingers and toes are almost always cold unless it is summer time. This morning they ached in the cold. The air nipped at them as if to say “Hurry! Gather what you need... the cold is coming!” A red squirrel chided me as I stood beneath his tree to take this glorious shot of the perfect stillness before me.
The minute any human stands still near the lake, the local ducks think that this means feeding time. All of the shots trying to catch them landing on the pond were blurry, but I did like this one with the rings around each duck as they headed towards me quacking hungrily. Sadly, my pockets had no cracked corn to feed them.
I rounded the lake, taking a break to slip my hands back inside their mittens to thaw for a bit. My friend and I love to walk the trails of this park and we can do the 6 km loop in less than an hour. This morning was not about speed or exercise. It was about slowly letting the tensions of yesterday, the worries about remembering everything for Toronto, the aches in my body, the need to run at a crazy pace... I tried to let all of that twisted energy ripple out from my centre and fly away on the wind. Deep lungfulls of clean, crisp air reminded me how lucky I was to be able to have such a haven at the end of my street. We humans are a part of the world around us and sometimes we forget to truly see the places we inhabit.
One of my favourite paths lay before me, transformed by the early sunshine into a splendid example of Sunshine and Shadow. The Amish knew how to work both light and dark into their quilts... the bold colours standing out even more against the stark blacks and greys of the other fabrics. Each day of our lives can hold both the light and the dark. I loved how the path seemed flanked by sunshine on the left and shadow on the right. What matters is that you walk the path and take the adventures that life offers you.
Rounding the other side of the smaller pond, I looked back to see an almost alien landscape as the mist swept through the rushes where the ducks usually hide their nests in the springtime.
The ducklings are all grown now and the urge to test their wings on a longer journey must be growing inside them as the days grow cooler.
The rushes themselves are pillars of fluff and seed now, the smooth brown that I loved to pat as a child have exploded into clouds of softness. I wonder what a nest lined with such fluff would feel like and can almost imagine a squirrel, chipmunk or field mouse nestled warmly in a den lined with bulrush down as the winter winds swirled about outside. My fingers twitched with the urge to sketch a scene that my camera could never capture.
I headed home and just before I walked up the path leading out of the park to the end of my street, I saw this tree, standing alone in a blaze of colour against all the others around it.
It is OK to be different and not blend in. It is OK to speak out against something you know is wrong even if it is easier and less work to stay silent. We are called to be lights to others around us, to live fully in a blaze of wonder and glory that the mundane tasks of the everyday world can never truly snuff out.
This tree is saying “Tadahhh!” to the world in its moment of glory before all the leaves fall off for the winter and it waits, patiently for the chance to have that moment of glory next year!
Now that I’ve captured this morning’s ramblings, it is time to go draw some dinosaurs at my dining room table with my iPod on!