A Fleeting Moment, Without Beginning Or End

This week’s photo challenge – posted by the Daily Blog – is titled “Fleeting Moment“, and is a picture of a moment captured on the street.  Readers were challenged to capture a moment on the street: to test their skills in street photography.  Now, while my photo wasn’t exactly taken from the street (the subject is parked in a parking lot – I took the picture from the street), I think it still qualifies.

Notice the For Sale sign posted on one of the rear windows of the white van – a sign signifying the owner’s desire to leave behind this physical reminder of times past: a fleeting moment within a fleeting moment.

Every Friday evening, like clockwork, owners of classic vehicles – from old Beetles to muscle cars – gather together in the parking lot of the local McDonald’s to park their rides and show them off.  Why a McDonald’s, you may wonder?  The chosen McDonald’s is actually called the Nostalgia McDonald’s, and is decorated – both inside and out – with a retro, late 1950’s theme.  Many of the featured vehicles are from that same era, making those visiting the fast-food restaurant feel as though they have stepped into an ongoing moment from the distant past.

I chose to take a picture of these particular vehicles because I believed them to exemplify the theme of a “fleeting moment” in a couple of different ways.  The owners of these vehicles do not keep them for economic reasons: they have terrible gas mileage, the parts are not easy to come by for repairs, and finding an exact replacement – should they get into a car accident that totals their vehicle – is next to impossible anymore.  These owners keep these old vehicles around because, to them, they are physical representations of the memories they hold.  When these particular drivers get together every week, they talk about the issues that affected them in years past, almost as though time had not continued to run its course after their occurring.  They talk about the war, about the economic hardships the country was facing, about the changes rapidly developing technology had brought about.  To these drivers, their every Friday might be but a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of things, but to them, it is a moment that never really ends.  I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to continue the tradition and sit around with other vehicle owners from my generation, showing off our 2007 Jeep Liberties to all the gawking hybrid and electric car drivers looking on.  We’ll pass the time talking about the war, about the economic hardships the country faced during our time, and the changes rapidly developing technology has brought to our culture – our fleeting moment stretching on into infinity.

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Friendships Are Like…

The theme chosen for this week’s photo challenge was ‘friendship’ (the original post “9009” can be viewed here). How do you portray your definition of friendship via picture? What does friendship mean to you?

I have been lucky to have had many friends over the course of my lifetime, and have never had a problem making new ones. This is a handy trait to have as a Navy brat: friendships come and go because your friends come and go, and true long-lasting bonds are few and far between. All of my friendships have been based on a firm sense of camaraderie, and enjoyment over time spent in each others’ presence.

Friendships are like sunsets: warm, bright, and long-lasting. They always make an impression.

The picture I have included with this post was taken somewhat recently on my way home from work. What does this have to do with friendship, you may ask? My answer to that is: only everything.

Living so close to the Arctic Circle (in my case, being stationed in Iceland with my family) means that you are subjected to conditions outside of what you are used to. The winter is cold (as low as negative eighty with wind chill), the summer is mild (never above sixty, and rarely ever that high), and the sun only appears to rise and set once a year (half of the year the sun never sets, and the other half it never rises). To see a sunset was a rare thing, and a sight to be treasured. To this day, I have never lost my love of watching our sun’s cycles, seeing lightning streak across the sky, or “viewing” a summer breeze gently card through a tree branches (both lightning and trees cannot be found in Iceland). I view my friendships much like I do my sunsets: I feel awe at their existence, pleasure at my ability to experience them, and joy at the happiness they bring me. Perhaps seeing a sunset isn’t so rare an experience for me nowadays, but the wonder has yet to fade. Much like a sunset, I will never take the gift of friendship for granted again.

Focus On the Unfocused

This week’s photo challenge theme – “Unfocused” – was a rather difficult challenge for me to complete.  As I am a bit of a perfectionist, I tend to toss out my less than perfect shots…then try and try again until I get better ones.  Thankfully, my computer’s Pictures folder saved the day.

While the subject of this picture was meant to be the waterfall, the trees surrounding it are what take center stage.

Both of these photos were taken by my mother when she and I last went on an outing together.  They are both of the same waterfall, just taken from slightly different angles.  If you look at the photo on the left, you will see that while the water itself is out of focus, the greenery around it is quite vivid.

Note how “in focus” the waterfall is, while its surroundings are very much “unfocused”.

Likewise in the picture below, the leaves and branches look unfocused and blurred, while the waterfall in the background is clear and crisp.  Like Sara Rosso (the challenge photographer), I kept these pictures as a testament to the fun my mother and I had – a physical reminder of our trip.  I like them even more for their being partially “unfocused”: I am given the opportunity to see the same site from two different perspectives, and appreciate it all the more.

A Lakeside View of Earth Day, 2012

This is my city.

A lakeside view of the city.

Welcome to the Navy Pier.

In the image on the left the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and the Shedd Aquarium are clearly visible, and you can see the expanse of the Navy Pier stretching out in the photo below.  Most visitors come to the city of Chicago to admire and explore the beauty of these man-made structures, in a place where old architectural styles are found mixed in with more modern building designs.  However, if you make your way over to the Museum Campus (and you will – you simply cannot visit the city and not enter one of our great museums), it is the view of Lake Michigan that will take your breath away.

Towards the center of the image, you will see the Chicago Harbor lighthouse, still standing sentry as it has for over a century.

This picture (on the left) was taken during an early spring day in Chicago, one with an over-abundance of sunshine and no wind to speak of (hence the placidity of the water).  While the splendor of the city is always worth seeing, I often find myself drawn to the lake, and pass through Millennium Park every chance I get to admire the view.  Without Lake Michigan – the largest freshwater coastline in the world – Chicago would not be the city that it is, or perhaps even a city at all.

On this day, Earth Day 2012, we should all take a moment to think about the wonders of our planet that we take for granted every day, whether they are famous – much like Lake Michigan – or little known – such as a local fish hatchery.  Without the water, oxygen, and edible sustenance our home provides us, our species would have never survived; we would not be here today.  If for no other reason than the survival of the human race, we – as a planet – need to continue to take better care of our Earth, both for ourselves and generations to come.

Happy Earth Day!

Of Legends and Myths

(Photo response will be posted on the morrow.)

Here’s to chocolate-induced comas, to sugar highs, familial laughter, and new memories. Here’s to the happiness a holiday brings, the peace its message leaves us with, and the joy brought about by nothing more than a fuzzy-tailed legend and painted eggs. Here’s to the believers of stories and truths both spiritual and fantastical.

Happy Easter, everyone.

The Secret (Life of) Bees

CXI

“THE MURMURING of bees has ceased;
But murmuring of some
Posterior, prophetic,
Has simultaneous come,–

The lower metres of the year,
When Nature’s laugh is done,–
The Revelations of the book
Whose Genesis is June.”

–Emily Dickinson

This poem felt most appropriate today: the sun was shining, the temperature was in the upper forty’s, the sky was cloudless.  It was spring without being spring – a precursor to both warmer weather and the siting of new tenants taking up rental space in the hives tucked away up in the darker parts of the shed out back.  Despite the fact that I know the “murmuring of bees has ceased”, I caught myself listening for it, looking for bright spots of yellow among the withered vestiges in my mother’s flower beds.  Could this be the “prophetic” aspect the poet refers to, a “murmuring” heard before it is made – the same voice spoken in the past and future “simultaneous[ly]”?  It is during these “lower metres of the year” – the “posterior” or ending, if you will, of nature’s four seasons – that one has the freedom to reflect on time past.  My February feels like December, and my rain feels like snow (the clouds never seem to change, except to play hiding games with the sun).

I am looking forward to the time of the bees, to the rekindling of “nature’s laugh”.  I wish I could flip to the ending of this season as I can with a “book” – to skip to the end of summer’s “Revelations” as easily as I might with the aforementioned biblical text.  The beginning, or “Genesis”, of the time of the bees is over half a book away, with several chapters between then and now.  In June, I will hear new “murmurings” again.

Where We Find Hope

Birthday Cupcake

Hope – it is the title of this week’s photo challenge, the meaning inherent in its featured image.  For Sara Rosso (the challenge photographer), hope is seeing that spark of life clawing its way out of the gutters, ruled by the determination to both survive and face any obstacle that might prevent its happening.  For me, hope is watching my youngest nephew celebrate his first birthday – remembering him as a crying newborn, watching him now as a happy toddler, and picturing him as he will be when he becomes a young man, capable of wielding the power to change the world around him for the better.  Hope is the new life each year brings us: the assurance that the future is brighter than it appears, and that even out of the darkest places in life something wonderful can occur.  May you never lose sight of yourself, and never lose hope.

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