I went out this afternoon to try to complete this week’s challenge from Kim Manley Ort’s Adventures in Seeing book. To be honest, I’m not sure if I “got it” or not. The purpose was to exercise our intuition, and Kim suggested listening to our body’s leading rather than consciously deciding where to walk or what to photograph. The idea was to allow ourselves to feel something physical, a vibration or resonance, that would give us direction.
I think of most of my photography as “intuitive.” I seldom go somewhere specific with preconceived ideas about what I want to photograph. I go someplace, I see something that catches my eye and causes a quick intake of breath, I “work” the subject and make photos of it. But I can’t say I’ve ever felt the sort of physical sensation that I understood Kim to be talking about. Maybe I was trying too hard to make rational sense of something that’s not based on logic.
Anyway, I bundled up and went outside and stood on the sidewalk, waiting for “something” to suggest a direction. All I heard my body saying to me was, “Are you crazy? It’s cold out here! Let’s go back inside.” I ignored that and arbitrarily turned right and headed for the Riverwalk, mostly because I hadn’t been that way in a while.
Past Main Street and the railroad overpass, I veered off the sidewalk to check out this little “park” area. There was no one else there — I wouldn’t have gone in if there had been, because the place kind of gives me the creeps. There used to be some rather artistic graffiti on that wall, but someone (probably the city) painted over it, and now it’s just a lot of (to my eyes) ugly scribbling. This is certainly not the kind of image that makes me feel good. I don’t think this is where my intuition was leading me.
I saw leaves, an unexpected sight this deep into winter. A tall oak tree still held nearly all its leaves, though they were quite dead. I suppose the new growth in the spring will push the old leaves off.
These are oak leaves, too. The sun was playing peekaboo with the clouds, making the leaves flash like a neon sign as shadows came and went.
One had broken away from the crowd to lie in yesterday’s inch of new snow.
There was much evidence of other, smaller creatures out following their bodies’ instincts. I’ll bet they don’t question where they are going and what they are doing.
Okay, that’s a pretty nice view. Let’s keep going just a little farther.
I never notice this sign except in winter, when it always makes me laugh and say out loud, No kidding! But I suppose it serves a useful purpose in the summertime, when there’s a boat ramp there.
“Fine. Can we go home now?” my body wants to know. “The wind is picking up and I’m cold.”
No, not just yet. I want to walk up to the birches, then we’ll go home.
So delicate, the tracery against the sky. Who would have expected this? When I left my apartment it was mostly overcast with dark grey clouds piling up on the western horizon.
Oh yes, this is what I wanted. Maybe I could go just a little bit farther up the trail…. Okay, wait, my body is definitely talking to me now.
“You said, to the birches. These are the birches. You can’t even feel your fingers anymore. Go. Home. Now.”
And so I turned back, still not knowing if I did it “right,” but happy with my outing anyway. One look back:
It is enough.