The snow came down for hours yesterday – silent, soft flakes. I’m tired of the snow, but it still works it’s magic. You can’t help but feel the world is enchanted for those few, quiet hours when everything’s covered in a pillow of pristine powder.
After our car broke down, my grandparents graciously offered to sell us one of their cars. The only problem was that it was in Florida. So, within a week, we booked our one way flight to Tampa and prepared for a week of travel through the south.
We spent a relaxing few days in Bradenton at my grandparents house, enjoying Grandma’s beef with Amish noodles and watching a documentary about Florida on TV. On Sunday, we headed up to Orlando to attend church with Daniel’s mom before caravanning up to St. Augustine to be tourists for the afternoon.
A pirate ship!
After spending the night at my sister’s house in Jacksonville, we traveled up to Charlotte, NC. After a day of driving, we were fairly well exhausted, so we ordered takeout and watched trashy television into the evening.
The next day, we took a self-guided walking tour through Charlotte, admiring the Painted Ladies and modern downtown architecture, visiting a local Episcopal church, drinking delicious coffee, and eating at a local Greek restaurant.
It was the sort of trip everyone should take in the summertime. We paced ourselves and managed to see lots of friends and family as we snaked our way back to Charlottesville. I’m grateful that fate forced us to get down to Florida this year. Being with people who have known you forever is quite grounding.
I watched a squirrel
groom her fluffy tail
hyperspeed, her hind leg
against her side
We were alone
by the monument, two
mammals feeling the sun
on our faces
Holding our breaths
that the winter had
fled for good
– for now
or, Why Walks are the Best
After taking Daniel to school on Monday afternoon, I looked about me on the drive home and realized suddenly that it was a beautiful day. We had about a week and a half of weird, dreary weather; it messed with my mood – everything felt stagnant. But Monday was cold and dry and crisp. The winter sun was at its brightest and the leaves and houses shone with its glaring light. I walked, this time, by a different route and felt refreshed. And at night, I looked up and saw Orion as clearly as if it were beaming out from a constellation chart.
Enjoy the winter light while it lasts.
On Monday, I went for a walk by myself to clear my head, twisting and turning through residential roads. There’s been some drama – and some loss – in my circle of friends and I let it get to me. But walking is meditation. You go and you go on your own two feet. You’re tired but you keep moving. You’re farther away than you ever intended to be, but you have the stamina to press on. To compel yourself forward even when your legs grow tired and the sun glares into your eyes as it sets. Walking is uncomplicated, but not necessarily easy. I think that’s the best way to live.
When our original plans of visiting a nearby park were dashed, we simply ventured over to another one. It wasn’t much for looks until the sun started pooling at that magic golden hour angle in the sky. Daniel found a beaten down pathway across the creek and we had a brief but satisfying outdoor adventure.
I haven’t been able to get out much lately. Between being poor, the weather looking like the above every other day, and Daniel being bogged down with schoolwork, we’ve been hesitant to get out there and enjoy the Virginia landscape. But I’m pleased to tell you that even our meager, rented backyard holds treasures: a pebble-encrusted walkway, a rotting pumpkin, mangled vines, and a bit of yellow in the neighbor’s yard.
When my sister was in town, I discussed with her how I’d really like to achieve a better bokeh effect by purchasing a 50mm lens. A photography major, she scolded me promptly, telling me that achieving a shallow depth of field had everything to do with knowing how to adjust manual settings, not with buying more equipment. Although I was a bit embarrassed by the chastisement, I knew she meant well. And she was right. Too many wannabe photographers (like myself) think better equipment will automatically equal a better photo. All the while, we fail to take advantage of all the specifications and adjustments our fancy-schmancy cameras already provide. I read up on dof, then tinkered around with my camera outside until it started to rain. I’m pleased with these first attempts at achieving shallow dof.
Mathijs Delva‘s work is difficult to describe in non-cliche terms. It’s breathtaking, ethereal, harmonious, nostalgic. His landscape work makes you want to fling your arms wide in exaltation and go live in the photograph.
I decided to take a walk around my new neighborhood to get a sense of the community. Since most of the homes in this area were built in the 1960s, most of our neighbors are elderly; at least, I assume they’ve lived in the same home for 50 years. It’s a pleasant change to live in a duplex instead of a student-oriented apartment building, but the rowdy children who always sound like they’re pole-vaulting or roller-blading above us are about as annoying as drunk college students yelling obscenities by the apartment pool in the middle of the night.
Fun fact: my next door neighbors have a defunct toilet in their driveway.