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A Saturday saunter: Light and shadow

Snow moon dancing with the clouds.

Our culture teaches us from early infancy to split and polarize dark and light, which I call here “mother” and “father.” So some people admire the right-thinking, well-lit side of the personality, and that group one can associate with the father, if one wants to; and some admire the left-thinking, poorly-lit side, and that group one can associate with the mother, if one wants to, and mythologically with the Great Mother. Most artists, poets, and musicians belong to the second group and love intuition, music, the feminine, owls, and the ocean. The right-thinking group loves action, commerce, and Empire.

~ Robert Bly, A Little Book on the Human Shadow

Moonlight and shadows in the kitchen.

Hello!  How was your week?  Did you do anything new and exciting?  Old and boring?  Something in between?  Have you been on any good walks or hikes lately?  Read any good books or watched any good films?

Early last Sunday morning moon, just before sunrise and moonset.

We watched two movies last weekend.  Us, which was scary, and The Hundred Foot Journey, which I thoroughly enjoyed and needed after a scary movie.  I don’t watch horror movies very often anymore.  I used to be a big fan of them (and horror novels), but sometimes it seems like there is enough horror in the world without adding to it via books and films.  Jordan Peele, however, has me interested in horror again, probably because he comes at it from a different perspective.  Here is what Peele said about Us at a post-premiere Q&A at SXSW:

This movie is about this country.  We’re in a time where we fear the other, whether it’s the mysterious invader that we think is going to come and kill us and take our jobs, or the faction we don’t live near, who voted a different way than us. We’re all about pointing the finger. And I wanted to suggest that maybe the monster we really need to look at has our face. Maybe the evil, it’s us.

It’s rated PG13, unusual for a horror move.  That said, it is intense at times, violent, but the violence is not as graphic as a lot of horror movies.  In fact, it’s not nearly as graphic as many of the scenes in the series Game of Thrones.

By the light of the setting moon and the rising sun.

It’s been a busy week for me.  Meetings, classes, a study group, and a gathering together of photographs to be used as part of a community event.  The photos are from around the county I live in.  They are going to be used on a poster to show the beauty of this area.  The woman paying for and donating the poster is also paying for and donating a poster with information about our Keep America Beautiful group.  We are finally in the action stage, where we’re implementing plans and ideas we’ve been throwing around and honing down for months.

Ghost moon. (The moon is hidden behind the haze/clouds, just above the trees.)

You wouldn’t think looking for about a half dozen images would take much time, but that’s because you haven’t seen how many photographs I’ve taken of this area.  Fortunately, Thursday was a rainy day.  I spent almost the entire day trying to figure out which photos to use.  I wanted something from each season.  Images from either end of the county.  Images from the beaches.  And images that included wildlife.  Phew.  I thought that was a narrowing down.  It turns out, it was and it wasn’t.  I did get it finished, though, and sent out.  It will be interesting to see what is done with the images.

One frosty morning.

The other thing M and I have been up to involves going to Virginia to watch the latest rocket launch.  It was originally scheduled for last Sunday, then scrubbed due to some kind of technical error.  We went early and did some hiking at Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve.  Weird name, right?  I have been unable to find out where the name originated.  The preserve is fronted by the Atlantic Ocean’s Gargathy Bay to the east.  To the north the park boundaries include White Creek and Mutton Hunk Branch.  Mutton Hunk Fen has been on my list of places to visit while we live here.  It is described as a “globally rare sea level fen community” (on Wikipedia, at the Virginia tourist websites, and wherever you find descriptions of the preserve).

At the entrance to Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve.

fen.  A series of mucky lowlands, the fen, or water-meadow, is home to water-loving plants that decay to form peat.  Unlike a bog, which has acid soils, the fen is alkaline or neutral, and often occurs above a limestone bed.  The name comes from the fenlands of eastern England, now mostly drained for agriculture.  America’s most famous fen is — or was — in Boston.  Frederick Law Olmsted converted this “noxious tidal swamp” into part of his Emerald Necklace of parks, but the name remains attached, among other things, to the Hub’s beloved ballyard, Fenway Park.

~ Bill McKibben, from Home Ground, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney

White’s Creek.

I’m not sure Mutton Hunk Fen is a true fen.  It is a freshwater wetland, fed by freshwater springs, but it also described as having acidic soil that supports acid-loving bog plants.  The land/fen was once drained and used for agriculture, and is now protected through a cooperative effort of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, The Nature Conservancy and the Virginia Eastern Shore Land Trust.  Five rare plant species are found there, and it serves as a migratory songbird habitat.

The center trail that leads to Gargathy Bay.

We went out to the fen again yesterday for the rescheduled rocket launch.  As soon as we arrived, a man came up and asked if we were there to watch the launch.  When we said yes, he told us it had been cancelled again (due to high level winds).  So.  We will likely be out there again today just before this scheduled post publishes.  Or M might be out there.  It’s quite a bit of mileage when you add up all the trips and I’m thinking about skipping it.  It’s 75-80 miles, there and back, depending on how we go and what we do after the scrubbed launches.  We went out to dinner after both cancellations.  I don’t know about M but I’m going to start gaining weight if we keep eating out so much.

The rocket (to the right of the water tower) loaded with cargo and waiting to deliver it to the ISS.

…a ‘threshold’ appears first as a boundary and then once approached, you realize that it is only the limit of one layer of understanding while, at the same time, it acts as the doorway to the next, deeper layer.

~ Michael Chambers

I’ve been fascinated with thresholds and/or liminal spaces for a while.  Like most photographers, I enjoy photographing doors and windows, but there are also nature’s thresholds between land and water, woods and marsh, meadow and woods.  My yoga studies have had me looking into my own liminal spaces, sometimes the physical (all the way down to cellular membranes which offer a great lesson on boundaries, being porous enough to allow in nutrients and nourishment but firm enough to keep out whatever might be bad for the cell) and sometimes the intellectual, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

A glimpse of the water ahead.

I have been exploring my own boundaries, not just those that involve my values and what I will let in (or won’t let in, as the case sometimes happens to be).  There are those inner boundaries between stories and emotions, events and truth.  It has been more than interesting to find that very often I’m carrying around the ghost of feelings, or hauntings of things past.  Then, when I get to the middle of that, I find there is nothing there at all.  How could there be?  The past is gone.  It’s just a residue (or ghost) that I’m carrying with me.

I was fascinated with these grasses. They are more than twice as tall as I am. I don’t think I’ve ever seen grasses this tall.

A really good illustration of what I’m going on about is a story about something that happened not too long ago, something that does happen from time to time although not as often as it used to.  I sat down in the living room one day to read.  I picked up the book that was sitting on the end table, opened it, and began to read.  As I was reading, my right hand reached over towards the table to pick up my cigarettes and lighter.  Well.  I quit smoking 19 years ago.  The only time I picked up a pack of cigarettes after I quit was sometime during the first year or second year of my quit.  I was visiting my parents, and my mother’s cigarettes were sitting on the stove in the kitchen.  I picked them up and looked at them.  There was no one else around and I thought, “I could sneak one of these and no one would know.”  It didn’t take long for the executive manager in my head to speak up and say, “YOU would know!”  She was right, and I put the cigarettes down without stealing one.

Tree near the water.

I have never smoked in this house.  I have not had so much as a puff of a cigarette since I quit.  My right hand reaching out for something that isn’t there is what I refer to as a ghost or haunting of habits/things past.  It was not a conscious act.  It was almost as if my hand and arm had taken on a life of their own.  In yoga, they refer to such things as samskaras ( generally defined as the subtle impressions of past actions).  You might also think of it as a groove, built up over time by a repetitive behavior.  Our brains do, in fact, form grooves when we repeat actions over and over.  That’s how we form habits.  I easily recognized the pattern when it comes to smoking.  It is an entirely new thing to see it as a pattern of carrying around events (and the feelings that go with them) that are long gone.

No longer rooted.

On that note, it’s probably time for me to get moving.  I’ve held you here long enough.  Thank you so much for visiting and joining me on another saunter through the week (and, perhaps, the strange workings of my mind).  I don’t think I’ll make it to the Point for sunset this evening, but you never know.  Sunset is scheduled for 5:41 PM.  It’s cold today (high of 39 degrees F) and always windy near the water.  If we meet out there, we’ll want to bundle up.  The low isn’t going to be as low as last night (in the teens), but still low enough that when the sun goes down, it’s pretty chilly.

Be good, be kind, be love.  ♥♥♥

Remaining. I was talking with a woman who was out at the fen yesterday who said there used to be several houses out there. They’ve been falling into the sea.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,246)  Hikes and walks around Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve.  1,247)  The people we meet when we go out to watch the rocket launches.  They’re always friendly, with stories of previous launches or knowledge of the area because they grew up there.  1,248)  Interesting happenings on the photography front.  1,249)  Interesting happenings on the yoga front.  1,250)  A wonderful personal (and personalized by my teacher) yoga practice that I thought was rather simple, but I am beginning to see as subtly complex.

One last look at the water before we leave.


Robin is...

12 thoughts on “A Saturday saunter: Light and shadow

  1. What an amazing thing that your old habit just popped up like that. So curious!
    I used to work very close to the Fens in Boston and would often walk there at lunchtime. It was an oasis (of sorts) in the middle of the city and this country girl always needed a nature fix so badly. They had community gardens there that had started out as Victory Gardens during the WWII. I loved seeing and talking with the gardeners.
    Your Fens looks like a beautiful, wild place – I love that there are folks who protect nature and create space that is just for critters. God bless them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that, too, Eliza. I hope we see more and more of it. 🙂 Those old habits do pop again from time to time. Muscle memory, maybe, or just those old grooves in the brain. It always surprises me, especially when it’s been so long.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Several photos struck me in this–the ghost moon, that house among the water and grass, and that last shot with–as another commenter noticed–dark shapes seemingly on the water. That idea of spaces within yourself is very interesting. You must have been very relaxed when you sat down to read and reached for the nonexistent cigarettes. I must also check out the fens and the rocket launches!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lisa. 🙂 Yes, you should check them out. The rocket launches can be pretty exciting. I like the night launches best because you can really see them. It looks like it’s going to be a while before the next big launch. They are launching a sounding rocket sometime in June, but those are smaller than the rockets that go to the ISS.


  3. So many beautiful photos, Robin. The moon shot, of course, but I’m also fascinated by those grasses, and the water. . .
    That is so curious about the physical ghost memories–the combination of muscle memory with long ago habits.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robin, reading this was like taking a quiet many-layered journey with you. I need to think more on your ideas of liminal space in nature, so much more subtle than the thresholds that we create. Beautiful images of the moon too. Thank you for taking us along with you on this inner and outer adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m fascinated with the concept of liminal spaces that you mention. I’ve only heard the term but never explored its meaning or message. It seems like something I need to reflect on as I go through my days. I like knowing different ways to think about things, so thank you. All your photos are wonderful.


Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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