I’m without a camera on this North Douglas walk. Nothing filters my views of the forest trail or the beach it leads to. The need to fiddle with focus or the light settings won’t prevent me from seeing the coordinated dive of two mergansers or the way their feathers cowlick behind their heads when they surface.
I think of something I read this morning in an essay by the former Alaska poet laureate John Haines:
The secret of creativity is not to be discovered in the laboratory or in abstract theory…but in attention to the world and for me that means primarily attention to the natural world… in the reflection of trees in standing pools, the light of the sun on leaves and water…can be found those primarily patterns of creative order.” (“The Creative Spirit in Art and Literature).
I think of the forest pond, white, opaque ice covered with clear snowmelt that reflected a sun-bursting-through-storm-clouds event overlaid by bare alder trees. Then I realize that unlike Mr. Haines, I am still at the “I know it when I see it” stage of art appreciation. Seeing the pond water reflection made me feel like I did seeing The Burghers of Calais for the first time or parking myself before any Rembrandt painting—awe, then humility, then acceptance that I can’t take the beauty home or even capture it with a camera.
Nature can truly show us the face of its art. The last image of the feather is an excellent example of form and texture inside a photographic canvas. Loved your post, Dan. ❤