I took out my camera for the first time yesterday, first time since Mexico, because I noticed that my sedum was growing inside a grouping of tulips, both plants simultaneously pushing up through the soil, although the tulips were near spent and the sedum was just being birthed.
My camera has been on a shelf because the more I played with it, the more I realized how inadequate my skill set is, how little I really know and understand this form of art and I became frustrated with my lack of knowledge and how clumsy I felt with my failed attempts to interpret what I was seeing. It was almost easier when I didn’t know what I didn’t know, when I was willing to be a novice, or an inexperienced photographer and was thrilled with each lucky shot. This is the exact opposite of what I recommend to growing writers, but it is real and something to be reckoned with.
So it was a powerful moment for me when I ran inside the house to grab my camera.
I had been sitting outside on one of the first glorious spring afternoons we have had in some time, weeding. Rain had hit Colorado for a few days and the soil was damp, making it easier to pull the weeds out by their roots. The sun was that perfect temperature of warmth, and the air still held moisture, something I celebrate being a creature of the humid northeast. Days of rain are some of my favorite moments, rare here compared to Boston. The sound of drops on our roof and the scent of water on asphalt, the bleak sky, encourage and provide permission to slow down and write or read or just watch television. Spring rains are the best, mid-wifing the embryos of nature, emerald green lawns, shoots of perennials returning for another visit, and the abundance of weeds trying to crowd them out.
When I spied the sedum pushing herself up through the middle of my purple tulips, I got that feeling I get when seeing something ordinary that is nevertheless extraordinary to my eyes. I must try to capture it. I am present, and my blood surges with new life as if I am seeing something that no one else can.
I began to wander in my garden and checked out my peonies which have not yet provided any intense blooms in three years. I had meant to transplant them last year, but forgot so though there are buds on both of them now, I suspect they will droop and die before blooming once again. Then I saw the ants.
Many, many years ago, my very first house was in Walpole, Massachusetts and when I naively ripped out many of the plants in the garden, with a desire to begin all over again, my new neighbor caught me before I pulled out the peonies. “Don’t you know what those are?” she said subdued shock. “They have the most lovely pink blooms every year.” So I was chastised and they were saved, and I loved them until one day I cut a few blossoms and brought them inside and ants began crawling out everywhere.
Ants love peonies. While I looked at the tiny buds, one little guy busily scrambled back and forth like he was in heaven. Maybe he was.
Nature rocks my damn world. She brings me to life.
I am enrolled in a course to learn about this beautiful Nikon, and to immerse myself in art for a week in October. The week-long course is in Santa Fe and I have been longing to take it for the last two years. Finally, I have the money and ability to make the time.My pictures cannot possibly capture the fragrant glory of plant life but this is not because I haven’t yet mastered my equipment. Yes, I must take this class to better perfect my artistic voice, but even then, nature will sing outside of the camera lens. Her pitch is not meant to be fully captured.
The air smells like a mixture of grape jelly, apple blossoms and violets and the fragrance of freshly mowed grass mingled with air almost foggy with spent dandelions makes my heart sing and swell with glorious joy. Spring is here. Spring is singing.
I’m singing with my camera too. Maybe off pitch, but it’s still my song.