Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sibling Assignment #181: Wetland Love

Here is what I assigned for the latest Sibling Assignment:

Write about a specific place,but NOT the Oregon Coast, that is powerful to you where there is water. Do your best to describe this place is some physical detail -- you could also include pictures! --, explain why it is powerful to you, and reflect upon the power of water as it relates to this place and to your life in general.
Christy wrote about retreating along the Clark Fork River, here,  Carol will post hers when she can.

As I was growing up in Kellogg, I didn't spend nearly the time in, on, or around water that so many people I knew did.

I didn't fish.

I am the world's worst inner tube floater.  (Remember?)

Our family didn't have a place up the river or out at any lake.

We didn't own a boat.

I'm prone to motion sickness if I'm in a boat, especially if that boat in on the ocean. (Carol wrote about this problem of hers and mine.  Remember?)

I didn't drive up the river to jump off any of the railroad bridges into the water.

I didn't water ski.

Once I was out of grade school, I rarely went swimming. I worked, played baseball, and played golf.

I hate cold water.

Thanks to my love of taking pictures, my relationship with water started to change back in 2012 and 2013 when I began to spend many hours in north Eugene at a city owned wetlands area, Delta Ponds.

I loved the variety of life at Delta Ponds, the geese, ducks, cormorants, herons, egrets, turtles, hawks, sparrows, warblers, kingfishers, pheasants, and the varieties of trees, bushes, grasses, and other vegetation.

All of this life, so deeply reliant on the water, calmed me, filled me with wonder, moved me to feel and experience the spirit of life that moves turtles to bask in the sun, heron and egrets to patiently wait and wait and wait until the moment is perfect to snatch their food from the ponds, geese to honk and fly in formation. and cormorants to flirt and court in anticipation of mating.

Walking the wide and groomed paths circumventing the ponds and crossing the handsome bridges that went over the edges of the ponds and small Willamette River tributaries, I started to understand the photographer's maxim that the best camera and best lens is the one you are holding in your hand. Oh, I admit, sometimes I thought it must be fun to have a lens with, say, five or ten times the reach of mine as I watched photographers snap close up photographs of subjects that were quite a ways away from them, but more and more the water and life teeming all around me helped me see that it wasn't the camera or the lens, it was my love that mattered.

The watery environment and abundant life of Delta Ponds helped solidify what I probably already intuited, that when I take pictures, I'm a lousy planner -- the rules of composition I've studied and all the other technical information I've absorbed melt away when I look into the viewfinder at a heron I've fallen in love with near the shore or try to express the romance I feel when the lowering sun casts the shadows of slats across one of the park's footbridges.  My thinking mind goes blank. I'm not consciously analyzing the shot for leading lines or complementary colors or patterns or textures or much of anything -- the many elements I read about that make good pictures.  I want to express my love.

I take pictures as a romantic, guided by intuition and feelings of love. At Delta Ponds, I realized that I was making intuitive adjustments in my shutter speed and aperture and unconscious artistic decisions as I took pictures, hoping mainly to express my gratitude for all the copious forms of life at Delta Ponds.

I suppose what I'm really getting at here is that I experience water and watery places as vitality. I didn't know when the Deke and I left Eugene that I would find other such sources of vitality here in the D. C. area. When we lived in Virginia, I discovered Huntley Meadows, a protected wetland near where we lived with Molly and Hiram and as I first strolled the boardwalk cutting through the cattails and marshland, my heart soared to the music of bullfrogs and various birds and insects and my romantic involvement with this swamp skirted by forest land got underway.

Once we settled into Maryland, I discovered the overwhelming vitality of life at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, especially the floral life and the lush lotus and lilies and other flowers that thrive in the humid air of this little marshy section of the Anacostia River basin.

The vitality of these wetlands, marshes, ponds, and aquatic gardens invigorates me, heightens my vitality, sharpens my senses, and, most of all, excites my love.

The only way I know how to express my love and thanks for these places is to make pictures, and if and when I succeed, my hope is that those who look at them can feel some of the vigor and energy that animates the watery beauty all around us and all the life this water nurtures and supports.

Remembering Delta Ponds:

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