Sunday, May 04, 2008

Branching out

London, ON, April 2008 [Click to enlarge]

A couple of weeks back, I decided to take a late afternoon walk. We live a couple of blocks away from some pristine walking trails, and I thought it was high time that I got to know these hidden treasures a little bit better. So I put on my coat, slung my camera bag over my shoulder and headed off for some unknown adventure.

My first thought as I turned left off of the sidewalk and carefully picked my way down the hill to the bottom of the steep-walled, tree-lined meadow: Sneakers were a bad idea for walking through the muddy bog. But I wasn't about to head home now.

As I wandered deeper into the forest, the sounds of traffic faded and were quickly replaced by the the burbling of a runoff-fed brook, the chirping of birds and a strange feeling of stillness amid the tall, bare trees. I stopped for a second, confused that stillness could actually have an accompanying sound, but eventually concluded that it was good to mull over weird oxymorons like this.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to capture with my camera. Forests aren't especially exciting places, and they lack big, iconic subjects. No headlines here. But that didn't matter. I wasn't looking for big and obvious. And I wanted to take the time to absorb the spirit of this place before I decided what was worth bringing home on my memory card.

In the end, taking my time made the difference between simply coming to a place to take pictures and having an experience I'd remember for a while to come. I slowed down. I didn't watch the clock. I let my mind and my eyes wander. I saw a land waiting for its annual reawakening. I would have missed it all if I had simply walked through the place under deadline.

I'll go back again soon. Since I took this picture, the leaves have seemingly come out of nowhere to blanket the sky with a lush umbrella of green. The brook has become smaller, quieter. The ground has begun to dry out as winter's influence fades. And as I walk through the same place I covered not too long ago, I'll once again enjoy the peace that comes from leaving everything behind and just enjoying the here and now.

Your turn: The joys of taking your time. Please discuss.

About this picture: I just loved the light here, especially the way the branch evolved from front-lit to backlit as it progressed from bottom to top. Simple and peaceful, which is precisely how I felt when I took it.

One more thing: I'll post Caption This later on this evening. Hint: swings.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yep, silence has its own sounds. Incredible, isn't it?

kenju said...

I was delivering and setting up for a wedding yesterday and like you, I wanted to take my time and drink it all in. The scenery was wonderful (rolling hills, grass, trees, horses and a cloudless blue sky), but we had to move fast. I got a bad sunburn and all I wanted to do was retreat into the woods and nurse my wounds. Bah.
Michele says hello this morning.

Heidi said...

I need a dog. A companion like that would force me out more often. A companion like that would help me feel safe, too. (Unfortunate to feel that way... I try not do give in to it. Anyway...)

Love this shot and your accompanying description of your time out. We took our time walking to and from church this morning (our cul-de-sac backs the church parking lot) and the air was electrifying, the geese in the parking lot were incredibly interesting, the boys did not stop smiling and giggling, and my husband's voice was so comfortable... it was a great time to slow down.

R. Sherman said...

Nice photo. What river/stream?


rashbre said...

Sometimes it good to just find a quiet spot and ponder.

Bob-kat said...

That sounds like a wonderfully peaceful, serene and relaxing moment. Wonderful! I love moments like those and wood land always makes things seem more hushed and cuts us off from the busy world outside.

I love the pic with the water in the background :)

Michele sent me this time!

sage said...

Nice shot--I can "sense" the sound of the water flowing over rocks...