Between sanity and madness, there has always lain writing. I have written my way out of deep depression, terrible grief, loneliness, and hopelessness. When I write, I find my way. Lately, photography has become part of the writing. Not instead of it, but in addition to it. The pictures are part of my story, the thing that I am doing besides pondering the evils of the world.
It’s not just because “birds are pretty” or for that matter, because “flowers are pretty.” It’s because both of these things are of the earth and remind me that the earth brings forth beauty. Sometimes, the beauty is also terrible in its potential and consequences. Gigantic storms flood coastlines and river valleys. Fires destroy woods and towns. Winds blow down ancient trees and make the oak trees in our woods groan with the strain of motion for which they are never ready.
The process of taking these pictures is calming and it brings up a kind of genetic memory of a past built into my bones but lost from active memory. It reminds me of a childhood lived under waving white oaks — and that was the good part of childhood memories. It reminds me of the summer I spent reading hundreds of books about paleontology, volcanoes, and earthquakes.
So much of the stuff I know now I learned before I was ten. The things you learn “way back then” stick in your memory forever. The things I learned yesterday may scatter before dinner, but memories of books I read in childhood are permanent and have become the basis of later learning.
Today is a gray day with patches of blue. I realized that the birds needed feeding. I should have done it yesterday, but there was a holiday this week and it knocked my (very shaky) calendar off-balance. And so, while Garry is out testing the limits of his cochlear implant on creaky old colleagues from his working days, I refilled the bird feeders.
I had to learn to do it myself because no matter who else I depend on, in the end, I need to be able to do it alone. Sometimes, that’s the way it works. Garry is out, Owen is recovering from surgery and the birds are hungry.
And I need the pictures.
Blessed be the birds the fly through my woods. They keep me sane, keep madness outside the door and let me live just like a regular person.