They start out steamy, these bizarre mid-summer days that have made March so dangerously like June. Yesterday the temperature was in the 80s, I'm sure--today, warmer. But the mornings are pretty much all alike, not just wispy fog either, but heavy stuff, thick as smoke that pretty much blots out the sun, leaving the world dark and mostly colorless really--for me, at least, sort of hard to capture.
But the skies are not clouded over either, so occasionally there's enough sun to light things up, and yesterday seemed almost Fourth of July-ish for a while just before dawn, when enough breaks between the layers of fog to turned the eastern sky into an American flag.
But then, dawns are really moving pictures, changing in an instant, so while a good John Phillip Sousa was in order at least for a while, soon enough the light show was over.
For the most part, I rarely saw the sun, which was unfortunate, because on a long stretch of hillside just on the west side of the Big Sioux River, these bushes--like so much--are flowering, long before their time. It was the Saturday to catch them, but mostly, sunless, they stayed in shades of gray until late morning, when I was nowhere around. Yet, for just a moment the sun emerged from a swath of caramel behind this one, and my camera lit up the blossoms with its flash. Still, for the most part, all that lavish spring blossoming stayed mute in the unnatural warmth of the foggy morning.
But a few silhouettes always work anyway, and this one--same bush--preaches a sermon. If you look closely, you'll see that this year's blossoms share a place with last year's leaves. Perpetuity, life-and-death, tradition, history itself--you preach it; but it's here, isn't it, against that sea of caramel.
But most of the morning, the world looked like this.
I'm sure an accomplished photographer could have made something of it, but sometimes I have to remind myself that my weekend forays into the country aren't about photography at all. They're all about therapy. I shoot pictures because it's good my soul to look for beauty. Maybe it's just this terminal case of Calvinism of mine, but I need to be alone, to look, and to see.
Besides, even on groggy, sunless Saturdays, there's always something beautiful. You just have to look. Well, I won't speak for you. I just have to look.
But then, sometimes it comes and sits in your lap, too. Friday night, on our way of out of town, camera in hand, our cardinal (I know he's not ours) jumped around in the tree just outside our back door, looked down at me occasionally, and stayed there long enough for me to focus. It's as if he knew I'd been writing about him as of late and felt quite strongly that I should have yet another chance to take the kind of charming portrait he thought he deserved. So here he is, singing his heart out. Isn't he grand?
Really, there are times--and lots of them--when you don't even have to go out in the country, times when you don't have to look any farther than the maple in your own back yard.