A WALK IN THE WOODS: A SYMBOLIC JOURNEY WITH PICTURES – Marilyn Armstrong

There used to be a game we played. Not so much a game as a mental imaging exercise. I originally heard it in the 1960s when I was in college. I was told it wasn’t psychology, but rather drew on symbolism, images out of mythology and folklore. And, of course, our subconscious.

If you feel inclined, come along with me. The meanings, to the degree I understand them, are at the bottom of the page after the photo gallery. I’m pretty sure if you Google this, you’ll find other versions.

1. Imagine you are going to take a walk in the woods. What kind of day is it (sunny, cloudy, raining, warm, cold, summer, winter, autumn, spring)? It can be anything, whatever you see.

2. There is a path ahead of you. Describe the path (open and clear, full of rocks and other hazards, overgrown, etc.).

3. What is the woods like? Pine? Oak? Lots of shrubs? Does the sun filter through the trees??

4. As you walk along the path, you see a structure. What is it? It can be any kind of structure — house, shed, ruin, church, modern — anything. Describe it, please. Does anybody live there? Are they home? Do you go inside? How do you feel about the place?

5. Now it’s time to leave the house. You are back on the path and you come to a body of water. What kind of water (stream, river, ocean, lake, puddle, creek, swamp, etc.). You need to get to the other side. How do you cross the water? (Let your imagination roam free!)

6. Having crossed the water, you rejoin the path. As you stroll or stride along the path, you look down and see a cup. What does it look like? Do you pick it up? Keep it or not?

7. Further down the path, you spy a bear. What is the bear doing? What do you do about the bear?

8. You have passed the bear and you have walked a distance until you come to a wall. What does the wall look like? Can you see over it? Do you know (or can you see) what is on the other side of the wall?

What it means? This is what I learned. If you know another interpretation, you are welcome to tell me about it. I’ve been trying to find out the source of the “walk” for a very long time. Most of my adult life, actually.

1. The walk is life and the day is how you see life — dark or bright, shadowy or sunny. All that you see is part of your vision of life. Whether or not there are obstacles in the path or the path is clear are also parts of it. The nature of the woods is also descriptive of how you see life.

Little house and big maple tree

2. The structure is your childhood. Many people see a storybook house, gingerbread or the woodsman’s cottage out of Hansel and Gretel. Some people find it terrifying. Some people go inside and don’t want to leave.

3. The body of water indicates how you feel about the challenges in your life. The body of water can be just a puddle you step across or an ocean that requires you conjure up an ocean liner to cross. It can be deep and dark, scary or someplace lovely into which you want to wade or swim. How difficult (or easy) it is to cross the water talks about how you feel about overcoming obstacles you {did, are, will} face.

4. The bear equals responsibility. Some people run, others freeze. Some people make friends with the bear and it accompanies them for the rest of the walk. It’s all in your imagination and there are no limits.

5. The wall is death. The most common things to see on the other side are a beautiful mansion (heaven?) … more forest (reincarnation or just a continuation?) … the ocean … One guy saw a burning forest (ouch). What you see is what you see and it may not be what you expect.

I have done this several times at different ages and stages of my life. My answers were different each time, reflecting my current self and shows development. What little I know of this and its origins makes me suspect it was created during the 1800s.

I hope you enjoyed your stroll.

SIDEWALK WARS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I never really gave sidewalks much thought. If I had thought about them at all, I would have imagined they had always existed, which is only partially true.

The first sidewalks came into being around 2000 B.C. – a millennium or two after the invention of the wheel. Here’s the interesting part: they were rare luxuries in most of the world until as late as the 19th Century.

Ancient Roman road with no sidewalk

That’s when big cities like London and Paris built hundreds of miles of sidewalks to deal with the chaos in the roadways. Until then, “For most of human history, vehicles, pedestrians, vendors, musicians, drinkers and strolling lovers all mingled in the same amorphous muck of the avenue.” Washington Post, June 30, 2019, “The Death of the Sidewalk,” by Avi Selk.

The 1800s saw the first attempt to make the roadways more efficient by dividing them up into sections with regulated use designated for each section. The word “jaywalking” didn’t even exist until the early 20th century. That’s the first time pedestrians were fined for using the part of the street where they weren’t supposed to be.

Non-walkers were also penalized for using the sidewalks without proper authorization. Cities started prohibiting and/or regulating all kinds of sidewalk activities, like vendors, food stands, musicians, panhandlers, and prostitutes.

Cobbled street with narrow sidewalk

The division of space into walkers and vehicles eroded over time with bicyclists and stationary homeless people, among others, invading the precious territory of the walkers. Cities kept coming up with new limitations, like bike lanes, to try to deal with the problems that came up. But as vehicles became more prevalent, from horse-drawn carts to trolleys to cars, streets got widened and sidewalks narrowed.

Urban bike lanes

In 1896, The Times started a “Crusade against the sidewalk grabbers.” It wrote, “The pedestrians now … must spend their time in a hurdle race over skids, climb platforms, dodge moving boxes or else run the risk of being crushed under horses’ hooves in the street.” Washington Post article cited above. Apparently, pedestrians felt they had to fight for a safe walking space among the vendors and construction crews that were encroaching on their walking space.

Today there’s a new threat to the safety and sanity of pedestrians all across America.

Electric scooters are usurping sidewalk space at a dangerous, 10, 15 or even 20 miles per hour. They clog the sidewalks, endangering walkers and creating obstacles when they are left strewn carelessly in the streets. There have been many reported injuries from collisions as well as from people tripping over randomly abandoned scooters.

Scooters on a modern city street

As in the past, there’s a backlash of pedestrians trying to “… restore the sanctity of the sidewalk, with anti-scooter vigilantes appearing wherever the machines do.” Washington Post article. Disgusted pedestrians are throwing scooters into dumpsters and rivers, setting them on fire and hanging them from bridges. So cities now have to try to make peace in the scooter/pedestrian wars. Washington, D.C is experimenting with solar-powered charging docks in the hopes of getting people to stop dumping scooters wherever they happen to stop.

Another possible solution is limiting scooters to the bike lanes, where those already exist. Nashville gave up trying to negotiate a cease-fire and is trying to ban scooters from the sidewalks entirely.

Scooters left randomly on the street

Understanding the history of urban roadways gives perspective to the current sidewalk wars. This situation keeps cropping up periodically as new uses for sidewalks come into vogue. Cities have been dealing with these issues for centuries so this will be resolved over time – until the next sidewalk crisis emerges.

WHICH WAY DOWN BY THE RIVER – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

Which Way Challenge: October 4, 2018

And finally, it stopped raining. The sun came out, the sky was a rich, bright blue and I can see the tree changing. If the weather holds, by the middle of next week, we should be a marvel of autumnal splendor.

Walk to the Blackstone Canal

The path along the canal and the little bridge to River Bend

Little bridge and dock

Right now, it’s the maples that are brilliant. They are always the first. More will come. The majority of the color is along waterways which is also where you most typically find batches of maple trees.

Country road, autumn trees

Maple on the lawn in October

We went out today and took a lot of pictures. There are so many, I’m not even sure where to start working on them, so I guess it will be a few at a time for various photo challenges.

Resting by the river

Now I’ll go see what I can find for Which Way!

WHAT I DIDN’T DO – Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t regret the things I didn’t do, but I do wonder how the world would have turned had I done them.

There was the offer to join a group I think maybe I should have joined. I failed to fight an unfair judgment.

There were battles I didn’t fight and the roads I chose not to walk. The art I wanted and didn’t buy because of money when that money would mean nothing now. The friend who I couldn’t help at that moment. Could she wait a week or two until I got the baby settled? She couldn’t, didn’t, and I’ll never know if I might have made the difference.

Another friend pointed out that I had once said Anna was the kind of person who never seemed fully engaged in life. He was not surprised she jumped. I was surprised. To this day, more than 50-years later, I remain surprised.

The time when a later-to-be-famous spiritual leader invited me to join him and I (7-months pregnant) didn’t see that as a direction in which I could go. Not right then and there. I said no.

I also didn’t change schools and go to Boston but stayed in New York. What about the men to whom I said no, didn’t date, didn’t marry. Or for that matter, the men to whom I said yes to whom I probably should have said no.

That I didn’t go to Israel when I was 18 and instead, waited until I was 30.

Choices. So many. Often jumbled together into a short period of time, usually when I felt unable to make major changes. Was that a sign? Or was I merely over-cautious?

Life is choices, isn’t it?

When you say yes to one thing, you are inherently saying no to another. There’s no single “other” path to follow. We have an infinite number of paths on which we could walk. Each path will take you somewhere different and maybe that would have been a good place to be. Or possibly not.

Who knows whether the choices I made were the correct or only choice? Maybe any choice would have been right? Maybe I’d have ended in the same place regardless of which path I picked.

Do we end up where we need to be? Is this where I am supposed to be?

I know where I am is good and am content to be here. Overall, I think I’ve been remarkably lucky.

THE PATH #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

As long as I can remember, I’ve been enchanted by paths and in particular, by paths in the woods. There’s something about them, a kind of magic. You can’t see where the path ends and any time you choose to walk on one, you could wind up anywhere from the parking lot of the local mall to an ancient churchyard.

It’s the not-knowingness that makes it special.

So every time we are taking pictures in or near the woods, I look for paths. Even tiny, obscure, overgrown paths nonetheless hold the possibility of adventure.

Mystery. A hidden future. The unknown calls out and we are obliged to follow.

The long path home – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Perfect wooded path

In Vermont

THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT – Sue Vincent

PATHS AND STAIRWAYS BY THE ROARING DAM

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – July 28, 2017


Roaring Dam is part of the Blackstone Valley Historic Corridor park system and there are many walking paths within it. If you take the trails along the river and walk long enough, you’ll discover that all the parks are linked by the river itself.

First, a little history …

Not the best steps if you aren’t light on your feet!

Kaity on the path by the rapids

ALONG THE HOUSATONIC IN CONNECTICUT

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – July 28, 2017


And so we have returned home. Bonnie and Gibbs did not starve in our absence. We have a functional hot water heater and surprising rise in the water pressure making me wonder how long the boiler was leaking. Our plumber said he had a lot of work cleaning up the mud that had accumulated behind it. It must have been leaking for a long time. Months? Years?

Sunset in the marina

For the past couple of days, we’ve been talking and having a lovely time. I can’t begin say what a pleasure it was to be with friends. We were having a difficult week … and it was only Wednesday. I don’t have a lot of road pictures, but I thought this one, taken yesterday evening just before the light disappeared might work.

I have two 25 mm “normal” lenses. The Olympus is fast at f1.8, but the Leica is faster at f1.4. It is also the only camera that will take a good picture when the light is very low.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The next one is from Garry. Garry took almost all the pictures this visit … which you will see as the week progresses!

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Boat slips?

 

PATHS AND ROADS BY THE RIVER – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – July 7, 2017


Yesterday we went shooting. We were smarter than usual and stopped to buy a bottle of Cutter’s bug repellent first. Marilyn was already covered by mosquito bites from the mosquitoes inside the house. The bugs were so thick outside they looked like snow. Except they had wings. There were maybe a million tiny yellow moths and another million little black-winged fluttery things. Moths? Butterflies? And of course, millions upon millions of mosquitoes and flying jaws without names.

West Bend along the Blackstone River

Before we exited the car, we sprayed every part of us we could find.

It was bad. Really awful. We could feel them hitting our backs and landing on our hair. Marilyn fled early when one crawled down the back of her dress. I lasted a little longer.

First bicycle

More bikes

Good bye, bikes

It was a warm, humid day. There were supposed to be fireworks this evening at the Middle School in Uxbridge, but by the time we got home — and it was still daylight — the rain was falling in sheets. There’s a rain date tomorrow. Maybe it will be better, but I doubt we will go. July evenings outside? Think lunch and you are the only thing on the table. Even with all the DEET, I don’t think we have it in us.

Marilyn shooting by the canal

I spent too many years outside covering stories while being eaten by the local insect population. Indoors is a good place this time of year. Screens. Did I mention I hate bugs? Marilyn is afraid of them. I merely hate them.

A PERFECT PATH: THE WHICH WAY CHALLENGE

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – July 7, 2017


I thought I had lost this picture and I suppose I did. I had it printed on canvas, but I gave that away as a gift — under the assumption I could easily find the original.

It was gone. I looked through every folder I could and it was gone. I have a photograph of the print I made, but no photograph, not even a “proofed” version. Except I forgot about Facebook. I was roaming through my photos on Facebook … and there it was. So I made a copy of the copy and it’s here. If I had the original, I could have fixed the detail and generally spiffed it up a bit, but I never expected to have this, so here is my lost photograph.

Perfect path

It is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a perfect “path in the woods” shot. I wish I had the original and a wish I’d used a better camera. Except at the time, this was the best — only — camera I owned.

And now, pictures from late this afternoon, down by the river.

The path and steps to the canal. Fishing in July

Path to the river and canal

Summertime by the canal

The wide Blackstone River and the road

WHICH WAY AT THE MENDON NURSERY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – June 23, 2017

Paths — and you can buy all the trees!

As spring turns to summer, our thoughts wander to flowers and trees, to things that grow and smell good. Nope, not at home, but there is a nursery. I love that strange, ethereal smell of flowers, insecticide, mulch, fertilizer and just a light whiff of sweat. It’s summer!