Snake River, ID

Ducks sit so buoyantly upon the water and move so silently, yet leave a persistent wake. Passage splits the water, cleaves the air. New paths form. All is motion around us. We are motion. How odd it is that we perceive ourselves as stationary.


“Pathos of Things”


Walla Walla, WA

I recently became acquainted with the luminous work of Jacob Hashimoto, whose “tailless kite” assemblages have graced Whitman College in Walla Walla. The exhibition catalog references the Japanese philosophy of mono no aware, the “pathos of things.” In nature, wind-tossed tumbleweeds speak to me of the same “impermanence, (where) things and objects have a life of their own, a finite existence that is at once sad, but transcendently beautiful.”



Columbia Plateau, WA

The lexicon of Nature is large and varied…grand, awe-inspiring, monumental…to name a few, but I lean to more humble descriptors. A quote from Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire comes to mind:  “…life not crowded on life as in other places but scattered abroad in spareness and simplicity.” It is the space of the West, as much as the actual substance that swells the heart.

In the hood


Bass River, MA

Here is a very special ecosystem. It is a neighborhood. This cluster of birdhouses stands in the backyard of one of my neighbors from thirty-some years ago. She would build a neighborhood for birds because being a good neighbor even extended to her feathered friends. In her nineties now, Ann called me this evening. She struggles with her health, but we talked about good memories and beautiful places. She has always been an amazing gardener, so she created much of the beauty around her. She taught me to garden, and in so doing, gave me a lifelong gift. I just want to say, “Thank you.”

Fear & awe


Death Valley, CA

In the October National Geographic, Timothy Egan writes about the dearth of millennials visiting our national parks. He tells of Los Angeles students brought to Death Valley who wouldn’t leave their van because they were unnerved by the emptiness. I understand their fear and acknowledge my own on my first trip to Death Valley. I wanted, though, to overcome that fear, so I stubbornly waited it out. In its place, I discovered awe and expansiveness. Is our addiction to technology another feeble attempt to exert control over the uncontrollable? We are more than that, and our world is far, far more than that. Our national parks aren’t just post card scenery. They can transform us.



New Denver, British Columbia

This photo speaks to me as no other. Not because of the image, but because of what it represents. This is a park in a small town in British Columbia where once, during World War II, there was a Japanese internment camp. When the war was over, when the Japanese were released, many chose to stay in New Denver. Their former lives were gone. They started anew. Together, they decided to create a Peace Park. They made the best response, really the only response, to evil. Their answer was “peace.” On the 15th anniversary of 9-11, it must be our answer, too.

The impossible dream

Garrapata Quixote

Garrapata Beach, Big Sur, CA

I came across this fellow one day up against the cliff wall. It could be anyone, but I say it is Don Quixote without his steed. Something about the way he brandishes his sword strikes me as quite quixotic, defined as “idealistic without regard to practicality.” The practical is much out of proportion in our times, so I will take a stand for the idealistic, and this driftwood man will be my champion.

Positive and negative

Sowerwine Sunrise

Lower Flathead Valley, MT

Let’s play a little game. As you look at this photo, notice only the trees and shadows, the so-called positive space, or the space occupied by form. Now, look only at the space between the trees, the open water, and the sky, termed negative space. Positive and negative hardly encompass what you see, do they? Let’s posit the idea that everything around us is composed in one way or another like this photograph. Our world is much more expansive, much more inter-related than we often comprehend. One of the things I love about photography is that it trains us to see everything differently, and perhaps feel and act differently, as well.

Seeing as receiving

V of F Cliff

Valley of Fire, Nevada

Through our eyes and other senses, we interpret our world. Like this cliff face, many interpretations are possible. As a scene imprints on our eyes, just as it does on film or on the receptors of a digital camera, we receive the image. Isn’t it more accurate to say we “receive” a photo, rather than “take” a photo?  We “receive” a view of the world around us? Perhaps this is a subtle distinction, but, I think, an important one. We are continually challenged to remain receptive to the world around us.


Pt Lobos wildflowers

Point Lobos, CA

Considering Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest,” it is fascinating to consider the seeming fragility of certain organisms. The nodding heads of wildflowers, the delicacy of butterfly wings, the intricate spider webs essential to the sustenance of their tireless architects. Somehow, by standards of social Darwinism, fitness is equated with “might makes right.” Instead, imagine how the human realm might change if we recognized the advantages of our gentler traits.