Winter Scenes: After the Storm (Set 1 of 3)

From the short story “The Long Rain” in The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury:

“The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and the ton, it hacked at the jungle and cut the trees like scissors and shaved the grass and tunneled the soil and molted the bushes. It shrank men’s hands into the hands of wrinkled apes; it rained a solid glassy rain, and it never stopped.”

Part of Bradbury’s themed collection The Illustrated Man, this short story was subsequently adapted and included in the 1969 film by the same name, then later featured in the television anthology The Ray Bradbury Theater. The power of the short story, and the film adaptations, came from Bradbury’s ability to take something typically benign — rain! — and turn it into a malevolent force that pounds a group of space travelers marooned on a distant planet. Spoiler alert: the men go insane.

I’ve thought of the film often over the past couple of weeks, when Atlanta’s version of the long rain continued with barely a pause from a few days before Christmas before finally stopping just yesterday. You know that soothing feeling you get from listening to the rain when you’re just barely awake in the early morning? It turns into something else, much less pleasant, on the fourth or fifth day in a row that rain beating on the roof wakes you up at 4:00 AM! 🙂

I suppose it’s only marginally interesting to write about the weather in a blog post; but with above-average temperatures, the rain and clouds clearing away have revealed how nature’s reacting. Irises in my front garden are pushing out a few buds (stay tuned for macros!), normally dormant holly ferns have generated large new fronds, and even perennial lantana and hydrangea stems are dotted with the beginnings of new leaves. But of course it’s not spring yet and unless the temperatures remain above freezing for the next two months, most of this early growth could get crushed later in January or February.

The relentless rain, day after day, did give me a chance to pack up the holiday decorations and sweep out the Christmas glitter, jazz up the theme on my self-hosted blog, and work through the rest of the 200 archived winter photos that I started posting here. I often thought while working on the images that it would have been a hoot if, instead of two weeks or rain, we’d had two weeks of snow … so I guess I was treating myself to a vicarious experience of a snowstorm to blot out the sound of the pounding rain.

From the winter photos I processed, I’ve selected 51 to post here on my blog; below is the first of three sets that were taken in the days after a snowstorm some years ago when I traveled to northern New York around the holidays. Enjoy the photos; as always, thanks for reading and taking a look!

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New Year’s Day 2019!!

From Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human by Daniel J. Siegel:

“Sunrise, New Year’s Day. The oranges, blues, and greens of daybreak along the shore at the edge of North America fill the sky with luminescence. The sound of waves gently unfolding now, as they have for infinite nows, in patterns beyond imagination, creates a gentle soundscape enveloping my mind in a lullaby beckoning me back to bed. This body needs more rest after last night’s New Year’s Eve festivities…. But I am up, here with you, wanting to express something of this journey in words we can share, together, in these nows that forever wrap us in existence, life, and the journey of these lived moments we’ve come to know as mind.

“Are we the sunrise? Are we the lapping waves? Are we the creation of time, the denotation of a passing of something marked as a day, month, year…? The hooting and hollering of celebration for this mind-created edge of a year across the world, the display of fireworks in the skies across Earth, the screens shared among billions of humans across the planet: are each of these some shared construction of our collective mind?

“We create meaning from an infinite set of energy patterns and make information come alive. We are the sensory conduits enabling bottom-up to flow freely in our awareness; we are the interpretative constructors, making sense of and narrating our lives as they unfold. There is in reality no ‘new year’ anywhere beyond our mind….”

From Essential: Essays by The Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn:

“Whatever you want to do, do it. Pursue your passions. You deserve to do so. So, what do you want to do?”



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Winter Scenes: Fragile Phenomena (Set 2 of 2)

From The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey:

“The child stretched out her arms and gazed down at the new coat…. It was the cool blue of a winter sky, with silver buttons that glistened like ice and white fur trim at the hood and cuffs and along the bottom edge. But the coat’s splendor came from the snowflakes. The varying sizes and designs gave them movement, so they seemed to twirl through the blue wool….”

From The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit:

“Trees dwindle; shrubs cling to the ground; and farther north nothing remains of the plant kingdom but low grasses, diminutive flowers, mosses and lichens hidden beneath the snow part of the year…. In winter, light can seem to shine upward from the white ground more than from the dark sky where the sun doesn’t rise or rises for an hour or two a day.”

From The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood:

“I look out at the dusk and think about its being winter. The snow falling, gently, effortlessly, covering everything in soft crystal, the mist of moonlight before a rain, blurring the outlines, obliterating color….”

The previous set in this series is here: Winter Scenes: Fragile Phenomena (Set 1 of 2).

I took these photos nearly a decade ago, in northern New York in the days following a snowstorm; they’re from a set of about 200 “found photos” from that trip in my archives. I started processing them after coming across the Thoreau quote I included in the previous post…

“Many of the phenomena of winter are suggestive of an inexpressible tenderness and fragile delicacy.”

… and tried to align the final images with the feeling that quotation suggests. With that in mind, I emphasized blue, white, and gray in the photos by increasing white brightness and eliminating most background color — to highlight instead the color and detail in each photo’s main subject. There are others I’ll be posting in the coming days that are landscape photos rather than closeups like these; but the 26 images I included in this post and the previous one struck me as very consistent with Whitman’s words.

Thanks for reading and taking a look. This will be my last post for 2018 while I work on a new theme for my self-hosted WordPress site … see you on the other side!



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Winter Scenes: Fragile Phenomena (Set 1 of 2)

From Angel’s Crest by Leslie Schwartz:

“He saw how the snow had come and changed the place, had made it new again…. He saw how pristine and stunning it was and he slipped, for a moment, into the past. He saw the glory that had been his life, the wide-open beauty of it, the hardships, the simplicity even when, back then, it had seemed so complicated and difficult. The beauty of the world made him feel, for a brief moment, like a man who had been delivered of all that had ever hurt or wounded him. The land, capped by snow and the splendor of winter, stretched out before him, miraculous and unparalleled in its breadth and beauty. He saw himself floating above it all … flying farther and farther away while the snowy world below disappeared from sight.”

From Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau:

“Many of the phenomena of winter are suggestive of an inexpressible tenderness and fragile delicacy.”



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Quotes from My Library: Transitions

This is the third post in a series I started earlier this year, featuring quotations from books in my library.

The section below includes quotations about making life transitions — movement from any one life stage to another or to several others — as discussed in Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra. For me, the strength of Ibarra’s book lies not as much in its career advice as in its focus on the psychological aspects of making any transition or life change. Ibarra elaborates on how transitions occur in terms of practical experience, and how this experience will feel over time — as an exploration of “possible selves” even in the absence of an explicitly identified end result. For Ibarra, planning and introspection must take a back seat to experimentation and reframing our stories as we move toward newly defined identities.

Ibarra rounds out the book with comprehensive practical advice, and the cumulative effect of the book is to create a safer and more comfortable personal space for engaging with and working through any life transition. Highly recommended: Ibarra’s writing repays study of its substantial and unique ideas that have value well beyond what can be represented in a few quotations.


From Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra:

“Many of us feel a tug between well-paid, challenging, or stable jobs and the vocations we have practiced on the side, in some cases for the whole of our professional lives. Becoming a musician, a writer, an artist, a photographer, or a fashion designer at midcareer entails big personal sacrifices and typically dumbfounds the people around us, who fail to see why we don’t simply keep our passions safely on the side.”

“Since we are many selves, changing is not a process of swapping one identity for another but rather a transition process in which we reconfigure the full set of possibilities.”

“To launch ourselves anew, we need to get out of our heads. We need to act.”

“We learn who we are — in practice, not in theory — by testing reality, not by looking inside. We discover the true possibilities by doing — trying out new activities, reaching out to new groups, finding new role models, and reworking our story as we tell it to those around us.”

“During the between-identities period, we feel torn in many different directions. Although there are many moments of reflection, this is not a quiet period: A multitude of selves — old and new, desired and dreaded — are coming to the surface, noisily coexisting.”

“[No] matter where we start, our ideas for change change along the way, as we change. Where we end up often surprises us. For these reasons, as much as we would like to, we simply cannot plan and program our way into our reinvention.”

“How do we create and test possible selves? We bring them to life by doing new things, making new connections, and retelling our stories. These reinvention practices ground us in direct experience, preventing the change process from remaining too abstract. New competencies and points of view take shape as we act and, as those around us react, help us narrow the gap between the imagined possible selves that exist only in our minds and the ‘real’ alternatives that can be known only in the doing.”

“Old possible selves are always more vivid than the new: They are attached to familiar routines, to people we trust, to well-rehearsed stories. The selves that have existed only in our minds as fantasies or that are grounded only in fleeting encounters with people who captured our imagination are much fuzzier, fragile, unformed…. Whether it takes months or years, living [these] contradictions is one of the toughest tasks of transition.”

“Change takes time because we usually have to cycle through identifying and testing possibilities a few times, asking better questions with each round of tests, crafting better experiments, and building on what we have learned before…. Which self we test hardly matters; small steps like embarking on a new project or going to a night course can ignite a process that changes everything….”

“Self-creation is a lifelong journey. Only by our actions do we learn who we want to become, how best to travel, and what else will need to change to ease the way.”

“We don’t find ourselves in a blinding flash of insight, and neither do we change overnight. We learn by doing, and each new experience is part answer and part question.”

“Once you head down the path of discovery, there is no going back.”


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