through a lens, darkly

it was one of those exquisite spring days yesterday.   i spent the morning working in the garden (clearing ivy, honeysuckle, thistles & other intrusive plants not intended in the garden’s original plan [at the least only peripherally] & rearranging pots, adding fertilizer) making sure i took lots of little breaks to admire my work (& to rest my aching back) all this work the downside to a year-long growing season & an extra rainy winter.

that afternoon, on a walk through our hillside neighborhood, i carefully composed several  photographs utilizing the camera in a mobile phone with the thought that i would post them during the walk as an ‘in the moment’ record of my activity.

the atmosphere sparkled with sunlight, glinting & shimmering against the little shards of mirror-like moisture/smog/onshore ocean air that makes the light in southern california particularly attractive (to artists, photographers, writers.)  i wanted to capture that sparkling light & hoped that its elusive quality would translate itself through the phone’s camera lens as if i had been able to capture the moment a conjurer makes his beautiful assistant disappear in a wisp of smoke (& mirror.)

with the sun as bright as it was, i ducked among the shade thrown by ficus trees along the sidewalk to check whether or not what i was seeing was what the camera was.  i wasn’t sure that it was capturing the mosaic quality of the valley below or the pixelated light, the camera’s playback screen not as clear as my digital camera’s  so i held back on the ‘in the moment’ aspect, but continued composing, pushing the o.k. button, ever hopeful.

interestingly, both gardening & walking have been solitary pursuits, & i have been left with my own thoughts & dreams & ruminations, only the thrum of the occasional car passing by in the canyon below or speeding up the hill–birdsong punctuating the script.

i faced the steep uphill walk, its vanishing point a shady goal from the relentless (but pleasantly familiar)  sunlight, a warm, friendly arm around my shoulders.   i thought of a drafting class that i took in 8th or 9th grade, taught by mr. ________, the crew-cut, button-down, chino-wearing ‘shop’ teacher who gently allowed me my incompetencies in wood/metal shop class (in case any of us were not cut out for further academic study, technical school instead) & encouraged & admired my drafting flourishes with kind words & high marks.

a young star pine (aka norfolk island pine) at the top of the hill drew me to its gallant handsomeness, branches bursting from its trunk in a joyous hallelujah of matter over mind (will we see more clearly after death?)  a joyous evocation of the beauty of nature/the nature of beauty.

i heard the beating of my heart in counterpoint to the beating of a bird’s wings, the rush & rustle of the wind on the upbeat;  the sun, even, harmonically shimmering, twinkling, tinkling.

i looped around the top of the hill through a more manicured community, each shrub, tree, lawn, pavement, shadow elegantly topiaried & espaliered; all bending nature to do man’s bidding; thinking that for now, we may believe we can see through the lens of this life, but darkly, darkly.


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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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