Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Context isn't everything

I noticed something last week, when I spotted some pretty clouds and grabbed my chance to take a picture of them...

(yeah, I know, what a surprise that I wanted more sky pictures.)

You know what I was looking at when I saw them?  This.

A regular old strip of shops in a small northern town, none of them very fancy, across the street from the gas station where we were parked.  And yet: the clouds... so stunning.  You still see them with the buildings in the frame, but without them, when you're just looking at the clouds and a fringe of treetops, they just feel good, don't they?

This is true of blogs obviously.  Do you read Smitten Kitchen?  I love the photographs of gorgeous food there and artfully displayed messy backgrounds, and I also love that the 'real' life beyond those pictures is cropped out.  You can totally live in an escapist fantasy land when you leave out the extra stuff.

Check out this picture that I took while I was pondering this simple fact.

Isn't this is a gorgeous image of a birch trunk?  No effort made to square off the painting with other plants growing on either side.  Just the birch.

Which is still in a parking lot, on my lap, leaning on the dashboard of Pete's truck.

(sorry not to have the painter's name handy just at the moment but I have another of her prints to show you another day and I'll let you know then.)

The last few weeks, my life has been a total jumble of background mess that I have not wanted to have in the picture at. all.  The excess furniture in the condo has been difficult to move around, and the stacks of magazines and paperwork and odds and ends that got left behind when we took our hutch north to the cottage has been stressful to look at, but neither compares to a new medical issue for an aunt whose care and comfort is among our responsibilities here.  Thankfully the solution was obvious, if bureaucratic to set up, and it's all sorting itself out now, but WHEW.  I am so ready to have some semblance of a normal life back.

Sometimes how you look at a thing is as important as which parts of it you focus on.  Check out this lilypad I found floating near shore at the lake:

What do you want to bet that a stealth loon took a bite out of this thing?

I don't know why it surprised me, but the underside is very different (if still bitten):

The fish in the water see a red surface.  From above, we see green.  And yet: it's the same lilypad.  I mean this is not rocket science, we all know these things, but it really struck a chord with me last week and still does today.  I would like to be a swimming fish for ten minutes and see whether my aunt's situation looks any better to me from there.

Sometimes context doesn't make a bit of difference.  Just look at this tree stump:

No stump is really a happy thing, because it means a tree fell or was cut down (this one crashed in a wind storm onto one of our dock supports and somebody kindly cleaned it up for us) but I love seeing it.  I pass it every time I go to or from the lake and it's just as interesting to me when I take in the whole picture.

Sometimes I think the key to getting through tough stuff is knowing when to look at the entire scene and when to focus in on just the most enriching part of it.  Or maybe it's just a good way to make a pretty photograph, heh.

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