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Although I have just celebrated my 7th blogging anniverary, last year I posted very little. As I explained in my last post on this blog, I have been concentrating on photography as my main mode of expression. That being said, one takeaway I have from last year is that there is more than one way to make a difference. Some people do it through charity work, some through political activism, some through the arts, and some through their chosen profession.

one way signs

Which way?

The year 2016 was a tumultuous year, full of terrorist acts, celebrity deaths, and an ugly election that exposed a gaping rift in our human community. After the sudden death of an old friend in March, I went through a questioning of my future and life purpose. Because of him, I decided to pursue a certification as a teacher. I studied for, and passed, the basic test all teachers in Massachuesetts must master: the Communication and Literacy Skills Test. I began to study for the more difficult English exam, because it has been 25 years since I received my MA in English Literature. As the year went on and life interfered, I worked overtime at my present job and continued to pursue my passion for photography; I began to question whether I had the stamina for such a big undertaking at my age, and I recognized that I cannot fill the hole that he left in the world. I have my own unique purpose for being here and what I bring to the world is not the same as anyone else. This is the source of all our grief: the people we lose cannot be replaced, not even by someone expressing themselves in the same form. David Bowie was not Prince and Prince was not Merle Haggard…everyone speaks their truth in a different voice.

And so, in 2017, I will not compare myself to others. I will leave competitveness, guilt, and jealousy behind and try to be the best I can be at expressing my truth in my own way. Does that mean I will blog more? I would like to say yes, because I still feel writing is important to me, but I have discovered it is my protective armor, my way of coping with darker feelings; it helps me to understand them and relieve the tension they create. But I want to bring brightness to the world, help others cope with a year like 2016. To do that I must put my best self out there, and I feel I can do that with my pictures.

So Happy Anniversary to me, WordPress, I’ll write when I can bring something positive to my readers. In the meantime, check out my other blog where I will try to be better about sharing my pictures. Happy New Year everyone!

 



{October 18, 2016}   Weekly Photo Challenge: Local

Notecards

Notecards

This Saturday I am working my first craft show; I’m pretty nervous. Could this be the start of something? Or just another false start?

I started this blog over 6 years ago to keep myself writing and see where it would lead. I met some very interesting people from around the world and gained some validation for my poetic efforts, but aside from that…it did not change the course of my life.

But I started another blog, Last Train to Qville a few years ago and discovered (rediscovered?) a love of photography. And I found my tribe! I tailed off with my writing here and became smitten with going out and finding beauty within the small ordinary life I was living.

Fast forward to my craft show: I decided to print up some photos I took of local landmarks in my town as notecards. They are my first set in what I hope to be a series for all the local towns in my area. Wouldn’t we all like to feel proud of our ordinary lives and see the small beauties that surround us in our troubled world?

I hope so…because the beauty is there if we look for it.

 



{January 4, 2016}   The Leaf and the Feather

leaf and feather

Uncommon Fellows

I took this picture recently — it was not one of my best, but it inspired me to write a little “children’s poem.”

 

A leaf and a feather

awoke together

On a balmy Christmas Day.

Their conversation

Was their situation

this balmy Christmas Day.

“Something’s not right,”

Claimed the leaf–

Thinking the sweep of the wind

Blew him south in his sleep.

“My friend,” he said, “if I may be so bold,

I’d really much rather

I sleep in the cold

Huddled close with my fellows

As I grow old.”

The feather  agreed

That things were not right,

He was used to the feeling

Of being in flight,

More feathers around him

Raising him up

and up like a kite.

But others like them

Were nowhere in sight,

no one else cared for

what they thought

was their “plight.”

The blacktop around them

Was dark and rough,

And the leaf and the feather saw

Their world as tough.

They knew they must see

themselves as enough.

They must accept change, just be–

Share this space,

find safety and grace,

in each other’s company.

Their talk made them realize

They both felt the same,

And learning to love this,

Was the name of the game.

So that was the way

that balmy Christmas Day

they bonded together,

The leaf and the feather.

 



{January 2, 2016}   My First Day Hike

First Day Hike

The way was clearly marked from the parking lot.

Twenty-five years ago, we were told, the original “First Day Hike” was held at Blue Hills Reservation in Massachusetts with approximately 325 hikers turning out, and as of January 1, 2016, these hikes have been held in all 50 states. The DCR workers were proud to have originated this healthy way to start the new year, and by the end of the day, I felt the same. What a great time it was.

I got there just before noon, and incorrectly assuming there would be no spaces at the main parking lot, I went directly to the “additional” parking. I was glad I did because as I walked to the main buildings I caught these young men doing their version of the “L-Street Brownies” with New Years’ dip in Houghton Pond. Those of us watching in our bundled up clothes laughed, smiled and shook our heads; it was 40 degrees.

first day swim

A chilly dip in Houghton’s Pond.

When I got to the visitor’s center area, I saw people warming themselves by the bonfire and went in search of the “free soup” that was promised. They were still getting it ready, but I found my friend Jenna, who was volunteering for the day. She lent me $5.00 to buy one of the “First Day Hike” hats. I received a free poster for the event and a map. Hmm…I didn’t want to carry them on the hike, so I went back to my car; I had time because the actual hikes did not start until 1:00 pm.

First Day Hike hat

Fire Day Hike souvenirs

Walking back to my car, I saw this lovely lady dressed for the occasion. She happily provided me with a photo.

Holiday Hiking Outfit

Dressed for a holiday hike?

Back at the visitor’s center, I got in line for my soup, and snapped this photo of Jenna handing some out.

Free Soup for hikers.

Jenna handing out free soup.

After eating that I wandered around looking at the sights and snapping photos.

Rangers on horses

Rangers on Horses.

 

A representative from the Trailside museum was there giving a talk about this beautiful owl!

Trailside museum speaker with owl

A representative of the Trailside Museum introduces people to a beautiful owl.

 

People were at the bonfire getting their pictures taken…I asked someone to take mine. 🙂

First Day Hike picture

A souvenir picture

Bonfire

Warming up at the bonfire

Just before hike time, there was a brief program with a brief history of the event and an awards presentation to the man who came up with the original idea. There were certainly more than 325 people there today!

Presentation

Presentation

Crowd

Crowd gathered for the presentation

After the presentation, we broke off to do our chosen hikes. There were four hikes set up of different levels and distances, each led by a ranger. I chose the longest and most difficult, the Buck Hill hike. There were over 100 hikers that made the same choice!

Hiking up Buck Hill

Our group on the trail.

It was a bit slow because there were so many people, but we all found our pace and strung out along the trail. And this was the wonderful view at the top!

Buck's Hill View

View from the top of Buck’s Hill

When we returned from our hike, there were very few people; most had come back from their hikes long ago and gone home. But I did see a few girls toasting marshmallows on what was left of the bonfire.

It was a great time. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Toasting marshmallows

Toasting marshmallows on what was left of the bonfire.

 



{December 31, 2015}   A Truly Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Ring in 2016!

The year 2015 was a challenging one for me and several of my friends: we lost loved ones, transitioned to different phases of our lives, and struggled with aging issues, but grew. We did it together. Looking back at my year, its theme word would be “friendship.”

I shared the pain of an old friend who lost her partner and her mother, and another friend who lost 3 beloved “fur babies” in one year. I went through my own tough times: sorting through and letting go of a lot of possessions and short-selling my home, with the support of some new friends and a lot of help from the neighbors I would no longer be living next door to. I reconnected with old friends, basked in the reminiscing of old times, and reappreciated their roles in my life. And I finally found my joy and purpose and met my tribe: photographers who see the world in a special, beautiful way.

I hope to make more time for this blog in the year ahead and find a way to pull together my writing and photography in a new and wonderful way. I am truly looking forward to the next year for the first time in many years.

Thank you for sticking with me…Happy New Year everyone!

 



{December 17, 2015}   Photographing Time

tall grass, shadows, morning sun

Sun hiding behind grass

I race to catch the golden hour

as if I were catching a life-saving ride,

escaping disaster, fire or flood;

I’m trying to catch time

by the second.

 As the light moves thru the leaves

and shadows cross stillness,

I think I can see it, oh, so briefly.

Quick, there’s one,

catch it before it races away,

laughing at mortal me,

using mirrors in a fancy case

to try to catch joy.

Copyright 2015 Susan Merrifield Desrocher



{July 9, 2015}   A Mystery Solved…

Where have I been? That will remain a mystery for a bit longer. 🙂 Right now, I just want to share a story.

I passed the little blue cape on the edge of the pond every day on my way to work. I had seen people clearing the yard, building steps and doing other fix-up tasks and registered it in a very distracted way. People working on their homes and in the yard is a pretty normal occurence.

Then one day I noticed that a wooden “screen” was being set up between that house and its neighbor. Hmm…wonder what that’s about? They don’t want to look at each other?

Then a “stage” was being built. Hmm…maybe they are going to have a party. Oooh…I don’t think the neighbors will like that!

Flowers appeared on the stage, and a lot of white chairs were set up. It was starting to look rather pretty…I’ve got it! They must be having a wedding there. Must be this weekend.

But the weekend came and went and everything was still set up. They haven’t had that wedding yet? Then came the containers…and a clue.

Buddha Peace Project

Poster on Container

When I started seeing the cars pulled over and people taking pictures, my curiosity became overwhelming. I mentioned it to someone at work and she sent me this link to a story in the local paper.

Well…I knew I had to stop…and that this would be my first blog after my “disappearance.” (I had started another one…but it was a little dark…not the best one to post after being lights out for a while.)

So I stopped on the way to work, took photos…and contemplated. With everything that is happening in the U.S. and the world…a moment contemplating peace with a beautiful jade buddha feels like a moment well-spent. You can read about the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace here.

And to think it was visiting my little town, in the yard of a little blue cape…you just never know.

Jade Buddha for Universal Peace

Jade Buddha

 

 



{January 27, 2015}   Photography: A Life Skill?

I recently attended a beginning digital photography class through a Photography Meetup Group. I felt so fortunate: the instructor was an experienced photographer and the class was well-prepared, and helpful…and it was only $5.00! I met some nice people and chatted a little.

I processed the experience in my mind as I drove home. It struck me that many of the people I talked to at the class were not hoping or aspiring to become photographers. They had their own individual reasons for coming that involved unique ways of using photography skills.

One woman was an elementary school teacher. She talked about using her own photos to teach her children about nature. I told her about a photography walk I had taken at an Audubon Bird Sanctuary, when I had the opportunity to observe and photograph a hawk capturing and devouring a mouse (yes, I know it sounds gross), and she understood why I felt excited and lucky about that. She said, “Wow! I would have loved to have been there and got those pictures! I would use them to teach my kids about nature.”

Hawk

One of my less “gross” hawk pictures…

A woman sitting behind me was a graphic designer. I overheard her tell the instructor that she wanted to learn to take good photos to use in her designs so she didn’t have to pay for other people’s pictures. She thought it was a way to save money and improve her work.

Yet another woman was a crafter who taught knitting classes. She looked at this as just another “craft” or artistic outlet in her repetoire, and part of living a creative life.

I have written before about the relationship between my photography hobby and my writing. It now feels like an essential element of my personality and life and also a way to expand my “vision” in my writing. I think learning to observe the details through taking photos will improve my poetry and my ability to focus.

iphones have become everybody’s way of documenting their lives on social media. Can anyone image a life without digital photographs now?

So…do you think photography has become an important life skill?




Stone wall

Walls Take Time to Build…and Dismantle

I am now calling myself a recovering writer, and I have photography to thank for it, but I’ll get to that later. Recovering from what you might ask? I have had a way-of-life-threatening case of writer’s block, resulting in my own personal Great Wall of China! The existence of Writer’s Block has been a topic on discussion boards and blogs for as long as they have been around…some people don’t believe the phenomenon exists. I think it does exist for some people and not for others. Some people see angels or ghosts, and some people don’t. I believe in writer’s block because I have unfortunately experienced it.

My wall has been truly impressive: years and years of perfectionism and expectations piled on top of each other, heavy and solid, leaving me unable to pick up my pen, no longer able to put words to my thoughts. Like the Tin Man, I became frozen in place.  My great wall was the physical manifestation of “missed opportunities,” a monument to my failure. Somehow I felt that building this monument was preferable to being mediocre; I suppose it gave me a “heroic” stature in my own mind. And yet… it was making me miserable not to write because it was clearly a passion or I wouldn’t have written all that I have written since a pen or pencil was put into my hand.  I couldn’t seem to resolve this problem. But then…I just walked away for a while; I did something I wanted to do instead of what I felt compelled to do. And now I hear the Ronald Reagan “presidential” voice in my head saying that it is time to “tear down that wall”! And I am seeing some daylight; I pulled out an old poem the other day and worked on it. I sat down to write this post, and not just “toss something out there.”  Thus, the title of “recovering writer.”  Now for the benefit of those readers who may be building their own wall, let me get to the “how” part. Read the rest of this entry »



{September 30, 2014}   A Walk in the Country

Wompatuck State Park

Wompatuck picnic table

Every Sunday I try to head out for a picture-taking excursion and nature walk. Sometimes I encounter lovely little surprises I don’t expect — animals or interesting plants — that I document on my other blog. Often I have what I call “adventures”  — a right place/right time moment — meet some people and chat briefly. But mostly I soak up the peace and relaxation I need to get myself through my busy week. This Sunday I didn’t have a lot of time so I decided to go to a local park called Wompatuck.

I pulled into the entrance and…stopped. In front of me there was a line of cars…hmmm. I hadn’t been there in years, but I didn’t remember there being a fee to get in. I could see someone stopping cars at the entrance, but I didn’t see any money being exchanged. The line was moving…my turn…”Are you here for the event?” I was asked. I replied, “No,” and was told to “drive on through.”  Oh-oh, this might not be the peaceful walk I had envisioned…but there’s over 3000 acres here, I should be alright.

I squeezed through an area of cars parked on both sides of the road: state policemen with vests and park rangers. Then I drove by a field with a stage set-up, a bouncy house, and various other tents. No time to stare — I had to pay attention to my driving as there were many people milling about and I didn’t want to hit anyone. I was beginning to regret my decision to come there, but I didn’t have time to turn around and figure out somewhere else to go. I told myself to make the best of it and drove on. Anxious to get away for my quiet walk, I drove about 3/4 mile down the road and found a place to pull over and park my car. I figured I would walk for 1/2 hour and then turn around and walk back.

It was a warm and sunny fall day and many bicyclists passed me as I snapped pictures of the woodsy setting and the first bit of color of the season. I began to relax and enjoy myself. Thinking about future excursions, I picked up a map at the camp ground office located there then turned around to walk back to my car.

fall road

Early fall

Just over halfway back  I heard a woman singing. Her beautiful voice urged me on and I walked a little faster toward it. There was a picnic table in a clearing so I thought I would sit down and listen for a bit. As I approached the table I could see the woman standing with a man seated on a stool playing a guitar by a trail. There were people running by. Ahh…I thought, it’s a road race. [turns out it was an event sponsored by a local country radio station to benefit a local hospital…click here if you want to find out more]

picnic table

Peaceful Picnic Table

As I walked over to get a closer look, I saw another photographer taking pictures of the runners. We passed each other and she smiled and said “hello.” I recognized it was going to be one of my “adventure” days and decided to embrace whatever was going on. Today was not the day for just a quiet walk; it was a time to be sociable. I decided to walk over to take some shots and told the woman I thought she had a wonderful voice. She thanked me and gave me her card; her name was Erin Ollis. Check out some of her songs on her web site!

Erin Ollis

Erin Ollis on the Trail

 

 

When I got back to my car I decided to drive down the road a bit to see what I would see. The map I had picked up showed a boat ramp on a pond. I thought I could drive there to take some pictures, but it turned out I couldn’t, however… there was another singer! My adventure was continuing…so out of the car I went to check him out.

 

 

Alec MacGillivray

Alec MacGillivray

 

I didn’t talk to him, but I took his picture and listened a bit. He was at the top of a long gradual hill, and as I watched the runners and walkers struggling toward me I decided to do my part to cheer them on. I began to walk in the opposite direction (downhill) and offer encouragment. Once I started walking, I just kept going. Someone said, “You’re going the wrong way!”

runners

Runners Struggling up the Long Hill

As I went farther along I saw some volunteers handing out water to the participants. They were happy to pose for a picture for me!

Volunteers

Volunteers

I looked at my watch and saw it was time to head back to my car; I had someplace to go. I smiled the whole way back though. I had gone out for a quiet walk in the country. I got some country alright! In a very small way I shared in the goodwill and caring of a lot of people on a gorgeous fall day; I felt part of humanity instead of running away from it, and it helped me forget some of the negative stories in the news lately.

 Country Heals. In more ways than one.

Country Heals

Country Heals

 

NOTE: IF YOUR PICTURE APPEARS HERE AND YOU WANT ME TO TAKE IT DOWN, LET ME KNOW.



et cetera
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