February 12, 2018

Sunny, 13 Degrees, Calm Winds

It’s been a while since we have seen the sun here and it was gorgeous on this morning’s walk. Streaming through the trees, it makes everything seem all right with the world. It was cold, and the deep snow is still making it difficult to move through the woods, but nonetheless, I enjoyed the walk tremendously. I’m not sure about Jimmy, however. He looked cold a lot of the time and I cut the end of the walk short for fear that his poor little feet might freeze.

When I got up this morning, my head was full of negative talk. I have been looking through old photographs for some of these posts the last couple of days and I have been struck by how frankly gorgeous some of them are—at least to my eye. It made me feel that I will never get photographs of that quality from this daily walk.

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This is where we climb up off the road and into the woods. Notice Jamie at left behind the tree.

I’m covering the same small bit of terrain every single day. It’s not the most beautiful I’ve seen, though I like certain passages of it. I couldn’t imagine that I could continue to find new things to shoot and new things to talk about every day for a year. I’m still not sure of that, but this morning I saw new compositions and the sun made everything feel alright again. Regardless of whether I can make wonderful new photographs every day for a year, I will at least take photographs every day. I think the sum of the effort will be worthwhile. I need to keep reminding myself of this.

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I find this bunch of brush continually visually interesting.

There is a particular passage of my daily wak that I really like. Much of the walk is a little dull from the standpoint of photography, but the point where I descend into the woods and walk along the marsh is my favorite part. It’s only a couple of hundred yards, but it catches my attention every day. The shot at the head of my blog is from the part along the marsh. It’s the one shot so far that I think I will be able to print and sell.

The other part I always love is where I come down this steep little hill and the woods open out before me. The sun is always rising behind the woods here and the character of the woods changes a lot with the seasons and the weather. I don’t think it’s at its best in the winter, but in spring and fall it should be gorgeous.

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This is where we first descend into the woods.
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Here is a heavily altered edit. More interesting, but I still don’t know.

I am just realizing that my attraction to those woods probably goes back to my childhood. My family spent an entire summer when I was about 13 or 14 driving from Detroit up to a piece of property my grandparents bought in a rural backwater. It was a gorgeous piece of land with high bluffs along a beautiful trout stream. It also had a meadow in the middle and acres of woods at the back of the property. We spent the summer there because we were building a house for my grandparents there.

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Jamie kept sniffing off in a Westerly direction. Probably deer somewhere up there.

We spent quite a bit of time camping on the property in different locations while my father (an architect) considered where to put their house. It was a great experience for me. Living in Detroit, this kind of nature was completely inaccessible in our day to day lives. It was a striking contrast to spend time up there and I loved it.

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Why do these pictures never communicate the brilliance of the sun?

I also remember that a lot of the drive up there passed by beautiful forests that you could see far into from the road. I always thought about just wandering in to those forests. I feel the same way still when we go up north for vacation or to visit family.

Jamie was cute this morning. I was a little concerned about his poor little feet because it was so cold out. I would love to spend more time out there to really consider my compositions and explore other parts of the woods. In truth, the snow is seriously discouraging that right now, but I would like to take more time. As I was climbing the long, gradual hill back up to the road I come in on, Jamie stopped and looked at me as I walked up. He stopped for a long time, all the way until I had come up to him. When he stops like this, he is looking directly in my eyes the whole time. I always feel he is trying to tell me something when he does this and he probably is.

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Terrible picture, not in focus, but isn’t he trying to tell me something? Please get me out of here.

Jamie has these warm brown eyes and such a soft and gentle expression to him that it just melts my heart. I have no real way of knowing what he’s trying to tell me. My only guess is that he’s cold, so I put the camera aside and tried to pick up my pace. Unfortunately, I couldn’t move very fast in that snow. I was having to walk in my footsteps from yesterday in order to avoid floundering in the deep snow. The steps are really close together because I was struggling through the snow yesterday too. So I shuffled my way along as best I could.

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This is called “post-holing” because your footprints look like post holes.

Later, as we walked through a neighborhood that had salted streets, he slowed down and I could see that he was limping a little. Whenever he walks through salted, slushy streets, the slush freezes to his feet and makes him limp. I went back to him and held onto him and picked up his feet one by one and scrubbed off the slush and snow on the bottoms of his feet. He accepts this with his usual impassive calm. It’s as cute as can be.

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The homestead of the property owners. A beautiful old brick house and white barns.

Part of his warmth and quietness has to do with his age. He’s over ten years old now. You wouldn’t guess it if you saw him playing with his friend Hank, but he’s gotten a lot quieter as he’s aged. He’s healthy and active, but much mellower. The other part of his peacefulness I think comes from all of the hours he and I have walked together over the years I’ve known him. I am at a loss for how to describe the bond all that walking and interacting has built. Both for him and for me.

After our morning walk, he always wants to be as close to me as possible. As I’m getting my snowy boots off, he puts his head between my legs so I can rub him and fuss over him. I have to move him away in order to get the boots off. When I sat down to write this he came in and backed his butt up against me, just so he could be touching me. It feels as if he’s thanking me for the walk.

He finally went to lie on our bed. He’ll be laying buried deep in the midst of all the decorative pillows that Lisa puts on the bed. He likes to make himself comfortable.

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