52 Photos ~ How I start my day

The morning guard

Coals

Soft March morning

Albus

Morning milk

Please?

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These photos are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Where people gather

Flat Top Johnny's

I think we can all agree that this winter has been long by any measure.

Even this week, when the days are noticeably elongated by extra minutes of daylight, the overnight temperatures keep plunging down below -10º F. The alternating daytime sunshine followed by nighttime freezes has glazed the snow with a sparkling layer that fractures with each step. It makes for beautiful but tiring walking.

Because I work at home, I spend too many hours alone in this house and on the trails and hills surrounding it. It’s beautiful. I love this place. But after a winter like we’ve all had, I’m antsy. I need to see people and buildings. I need to eat food that I didn’t cook. I need to buy things that I don’t really need. I need a different view out the window. I need not to see the piles of books and waiting projects.

Long days. Cabin fever days. Seen-enough-of-the-shovel-and-the-wood-pile days.

Probably not coincidentally, New England schools take a one-week break in February. M had to work, but H and I skeddadled to Boston, where my sister took us in and offered us her city.

We went to the most touristy of Boston spots, Quincy Market, where we grazed up and down the central hall of the food building and reminisced about our school days when we’d be set free early once a month from classes and we’d take the bus into town with our friends and gorge on pizza and french fries and then go window shopping at the most ridiculous single-themed tiny shops (one that sold nothing but things with hearts, another that sold only purple objects).

These days, Quincy Market is rather more like a mall, populated with larger chain stores (thankfully, the pizza place is still there). Even so, we enjoyed our hours among the school groups and the tourists, and the cute couple with matching stocking caps, and the new parents pushing baby carriages, and the teenagers giggling next to the candy shop, and the guy playing piano in the central atrium for an hour without stopping.

Our first night in town, we went to play pool. The music was loud, the food was mediocre, but we were there for the pool and the tables were clean and smooth. None of our group is any good at all, but oh did we have fun. We took turns walking around the table, lining up our shots, sinking some, but missing more often, trying out ridiculous angles, and laughing a lot. We got better as the night wore on, and then we got worse as we got tired.

I didn’t think about snow or ice or firewood or the oil tank once.

We’re home again and it’s as bitter as ever. I swear if it’s like this in April I’ll buy a plane ticket to Mexico. You’ll find me there with a pile of books, a plate of tacos, a tall cool drink, and no memory of winter.

Today when I went out the snow was so white, the sky so blue, the sunlight so bright that it was blinding (you know that kind of day when you come back inside and everything looks pink? that kind of day). The river was still frozen over. The dog skittered out onto the ice; he’s either braver than I am or just clueless.

I imagined a giant cue stick in my hand, my bending low over the table of ice, shooting my right arm forward with force, the slam of spring against winter, breaking it, scattering it, and sinking it into the corner pocket.

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This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Hearts

Winter heart

Barn heart

Second in a series of two

Did I have a song in my head this week? Of course, I did…

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These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Crooked line

Crooked line

River within the river

Snow bridge

Morning lines

Rivers in bark

Rose lines

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

–The Indigo Girls, “Closer to Fine”

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These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ All dressed up

All dressed up

I left the corporate world at the start of summer in 1992. Tossed the pantyhose (a word that makes me shudder) in the bin, donated the dressy slacks and office-appropriate tops, put on a pair of jeans, and never looked back.

As I wrote that paragraph, I thought of what happened next, the adventures we had, but that is a story for another day. A sunny summer one.

Today is a snowy day. A snow day. A stay-at-home-from school day. The dog and cats and I are clustered around the fire, and H is luxuriating in a day of no homework and no reason to get out of bed before 11 am.

I woke up at 4 this morning with snow on my mind, anxious to read the news from Antarctica (they will finish tomorrow!) and curious to see how much snow had fallen while we slept. It turns out that not much had, and I thought our hopes of a snow day were dashed. Eventually, I fell asleep again, to be woken by the phone call from school at 5.45.

The inches fell between that call and the time I trudged out to the barn, swaddled in my new down jacket (bright red so you can’t possibly lose me in a blizzard), hat with ear flaps, insulated gloves and boots.

It’s falling still. The only sounds I hear are the ticking of the stove, the dog’s content groans, and the chirping of the birds at the feeder outside the living room window.

The birds wait in the trees on the edge of the woods near our house, stacked up like circling aircraft waiting for the air traffic control tower to give them the signal to land. They’re dressed in shades of whites, browns, greys and ochres. Some wear black caps.

They perch briefly at the feeder, the swirling snow coming down so thickly between them and me and the window that they seem to me to be in a very old photograph, faded and distant, recalling a memory just on the tip of my tongue.

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This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ My reflection

Outside Inside

As I mentioned before, these weekly photo themes often put a song in my head. This week’s song is Reflections, a Burt Bacharach song from the 1973 movie Lost Horizon, which I’ve never seen. That movie was a remake of Frank Capra’s 1937 film of the same name, also which I’ve never seen. Both movies were based on a novel by James Hilton. Which I’ve never read.

But I know the song. Note for note. Word for word. And this is because I heard it about five million times (I’m exaggerating only slightly) when I was about 10 or 11 years old.

And this is because my parents chose to use the song as background music for a slide show they were producing for a client. Some of you may remember the days before desktop computers, before pocket video cameras, before Powerpoint. Back then, if you wanted to make a presentation to share with your company or clients, you could make flip charts on paper, or draw on a black board (white boards also didn’t exist). If you had a bigger budget, you could hire someone to make a film that you would display with a whirring film projector on a pull-down or pop-up screen in the conference room.

Or, you could take photographs of your subject matter, develop them on slide film, arrange the slides in a carousel slide projector, record a narrator on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, record background music on another track of the same tape, and then synchronize the narration/music sound track with the slides.

The entire process is a lot of work. It takes awhile, and it’s quite manual. As kids, my sister and I didn’t see a lot of the work that went into these slide shows (and there were many), but the one part we were submerged in was that final sequencing/synchronizing where my parents would spend hours and hours every evening making sure the slides were in the right order and that the next slide was shown at exactly the right pause in the narration and the right beat in the music.

Tape player on. Click. Advance slide. Click. Advance slide. Click. Stop recorder. Rewind. Play. Click. Click. Stop. Rewind. Play. Click. Click. Click. Click. Stop. Rewind. Play.

A painstaking process. Whereby you learn every. single. note.

Which reminds me of the hours that we would spend trying to figure out the lyrics of a song by playing a tiny portion of the song on the record player, lifting the needle, writing the lyrics we thought we heard down, starting the song from the beginning to verify what we heard, then moving on to the next line and the next.

Hours spent with our heads down, as close to the speakers as possible, grateful for clear enunciators, cursing Elton John for his slurry diction.

All of which has nothing whatsoever to do with the photograph at the top of this post.

Unless you take it as a metaphor: standing on a present-day city street, wrapped in a puffy winter coat, nose pressed against the shopfront window, the contrast of inside and outside, past and present, and the layers of reflection that dance between them.

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This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Wide open spaces

Phoebe's field

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

–Wallace Stevens

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This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Something really small

Pu Erh Pearl

Fujian Silver Needle

Linden

Mango

Black Dragon Pearls

Fujian Rain

Tardis blend

Barley

Seven Fairies Flower

Mango - brewed

Convection

Tea at the Palaz of Hoon

Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.

What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?

Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:

I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.

–Wallace Stevens

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These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.