Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Respite in the Wilds

My love for the outdoors began at a very early age. I partly became an outdoorsman because I was being bullied in elementary school. There were these two brothers whose house I would have to go past on the way home to my own. If they saw me going by, they'd come out and pick on me.

So I learned to find alternate routes. Since our house was on the very edge of town at that time, I learned to cut through the fields, and the ponds and woods just outside the subdivision. I found some beautiful natural spots. I would linger, meaning it took longer to get home, but I didn't care. Being by the pond, in the woods, walking through the open field under the sky, was healing. It healed my mind and spirit. I discovered a kind of silent inner joy that I still feel every time I can find solitary silent time out in the wild places.

We all cope however we can. Becoming someone addicted to the outdoors literally saved my life.

These days I go on photography roadtrips a few times a year. Usually one big trip, and several smaller ones. I drive long hours. I stop to make photos. I wait for the light to be just right. I take my time. I mosey.

I think sometimes that one of the things that contributes not only to bullying but to several other social problems is that too many of us live too close together. The urban environment is often toxic, on several levels. Not least of these the psychological. The pressure caused by overpopulation lies at the root of many other social and ecological problems.

I think the biggest divide in LGBT culture is actually between those of us who live in rural areas or small towns, and those of us who believe that only in the urban ghettos can be truly ourselves. Not so. And it can be too high a price to pay.

I like the arts and civic possibilities of cities. But I like living in small towns a ways away from the cities. The best places I have ever lived have all been about an hour away from an urban center. Best of both worlds. And being out in nature is good for my soul. I agree with Thoreau, most people live lives of quiet desperation. And yet this is so easily remedied, as Thoreau also knew, by regular respites in the wilds. In wildness is the preservation of the world.

These are a few of the best photos I've made in the past year.

Latourell Falls, OR

The Grand Tetons, WY

Pescadero, CA

Japanese Garden, Rockford, IL

Mendocino County, CA

Mendocino County, CA

rain, Japanese Garden, St. Paul, MN

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