Every time I fly back into Seattle, I hope to catch a glimpse of Mount Ranier from the plane. I know to sit on the left side and I always want a window seat. If I’m lucky, it begins to loom on the horizon after crossing over the Cascades, and shows up as the plane is descending into Seattle. Sometimes, it is invisible, shrouded in fog and clouds. Every once in a while, it is huge and shining and the air all around it is clear and sweet. For me, it means that I am almost home. And seeing this glorious mountain reminds me of the power and sanctity of nature.
On Monday, I was flying back from Chicago and there it was. This time, the clouds did not surround it completely, but only allowed its shape to emerge ever so slightly through the window of the plane. I decided to take a few pictures anyway, thinking that maybe they’d be better than I thought. The pictures looked fuzzy and Ranier was barely visible. But even though the mountain didn’t look like much in the camera, I downloaded the pictures anyway. Then I started to play around, cropping a little, playing with contrast, saturation, light and dark. Left a little tilt to the photo, so the idea that it was taken from a plane is obvious. Finally, I made the image black-and-white. The horizontal chain of mountain and clouds is still merging into one another, but Ranier can hold its own.
Just a fun exercise. To get a grand view of a grand mountain, well worth the effort.
I got back home from Northeast PA on Wednesday, the longest day of the year. Beautiful light in the sky. Amazing view of Ranier while flying into Seattle. From the ferry, there were serene and clear views of other islands and the Olympics. This is home. The land, the sky, the air all feed my spirit and heal my soul. Though there are sweet friendships to enjoy, I can be quiet here. I need very little. A good day is moving from the house to the garden to the studio, never leaving home. Painting, cooking, planting seeds, cutting flowers.
When I’m in Pennsylvania, it’s all about being busy. Seeing clients, teaching Reiki, seeing friends, listening to music, doing an occasional craft show. Talking to lots of different and wonderful people in one day. Soaking in that East Coast energy from so many sources. And connecting to my long history in PA.
And I seem to need and love both lives. They seem to flow more and more effortlessly into and out of each other. Both are wonderful. Neither is perfect. The split between East and West is not wide or huge. It couldn’t possibly be a whole continent apart. After eight years (amazing!), I’m starting to become the same person no matter where I am.
I had a great holiday weekend! I didn’t go anywhere at all. Friends came over on Monday, so I cleaned a little and cooked a little and we all had fun. Just stayed home and wandered from the garden to my studio to my computer to the kitchen. Despite the lack of activity in my life, the feeling that it was a holiday was somehow still in the air, and I gave myself a vacation from stress, from haste, and from the need to cross things off my constantly growing list of things to do.
On Sunday, it was especially beautiful out, and I found myself picking up my camera and just walking around the house, down to the studio and back, and all around the house, down to the meadow, and back around again. I took a lot of pictures on that sunny day. For some reason, I wanted to fix that moment in time . It felt important to document the house where I live and the flowers that I nurture.
It was part of my holiday, like going away to an exotic place, and taking a million pictures to capture all those memories and visual treasures. But I didn’t even have to get in my car to have the holiday experience. I just stayed home and started looking at things with a fresh eye. Discovering the brilliance of the azaleas as if I had never seen them before. Watching the bees swarm around the chive blossoms, I felt like I was on a wildlife expedition.
It was too much fun! I picked out a few of my favorites to put here. Normally, I play around with photos trying to make them better, adjusting the light and the color to get what I want (or think I want). But this time, I just left them the way they were. No cropping or changing them in any way. Snapshots. Postcards. From my holiday at home.
I think that I’ll come back to this place again.
I flew home from PA yesterday across the country to WA. The plane flew low enough and the day was clear enough that I could see the scenery passing by. Low hills, flat plains, the Rockies, more flatness, and finally the Cascades. I was hoping for a good view of Mt. Ranier, but by the time we hit the coast, it was cloudy and gray. I was home, indeed!
So this view of the Eastern Cascades will have to do!
While on the plane and taking pictures with my iPad, I was feeling so thankful for my life. For the continued opportunity to return to the Poconos for work, play, and friendship. And for the beauty of my home on Orcas, and the love that is always waiting for me there. It all sounds so corny, but still it is how I feel.
Last week, I took my annual trip to Chicago, the city where I grew up and where my mother lived until her death over three years ago. While she was alive, I went there more and more frequently. But now I content myself with an annual pilgrimage to see family and friends, and to revisit my roots. My continued visits to the city are somehow really important to me. Yet another circular experience in my life.
How many thousands of times have I walked on Michigan Avenue where this photograph was taken! But not so often with camera in hand, feeling part tourist, part long-time resident. Waiting to be surprised by the city I still know so well.
So as I looked through the lens, I was really pleased to capture these three iconic Chicago landmark buildings in one shot. In the foreground is a part of the original Water Tower, which is one of the only buildings to have survived the devastating Chicago Fire of 1871. In the middle is just a small slice of the “new” Water Tower, a six story shopping center which has become a destination in itself. How perfect that the words were the only things framed by this view. And in the background stands the distinctive Hancock Building, once the tallest building in the world, now not even the tallest building in Chicago. The tiny shape of the tall building in the upper right corner is the Ritz Carleton Hotel, one of Oprah’s many homes.
I was truly delighted to see all this at once. It made the proximity of all these buildings very real to me, and their juxtapositions brought thoughts about architecture, urban planning, and the symbolism attendant on the giants of commerce they house. I gained new insight about the process of seeing and about the so-called happy accidents of photography.