I took a walk this afternoon. I brought my digital camera and telephoto lens. We didn’t venture far. We simply observed nature in our immediate neighborhood for thirty minutes. This is what we brought home.
On the other side of the glass,
I see neighbors pass.
We keep our distance,
At the world’s insistence.
To make amends,
I grab my telephoto lens.
The moment is fleeting,
But this one’s worth keeping.
Better get the curve flatter,
Though silhouettes matter.
Especially when left,
By those we love best.
Even in this moment, you emerge undeterred,
answering absence, beckoning brilliance,
gathering gladness, harvesting happiness,
promising petals, savoring sunlight,
transforming trauma, welcoming wonder.
Peace and solitude nestled near a neighbor’s door. Mourning dove moments we crave under the eaves. Nesting. Perfectly prescribed for the first day of spring.
Oh profoundly-prickly-and-possibly-prophetic pandemic,
Though our protectors should have prepared painstakingly,
We plan to protect our petals from your thorny problems,
We promise to follow nature’s prescription to bloom in place.
We live a block from this blaze of yellow and orange. It’s really not a field. It’s a swatch of a neighbor’s front yard filled with wildflowers that thrive on February opportunities, which the Valley of the Sun affords.
One of the things I’ve learned since leaving corporate life six years ago is that capturing images of nature lights my creative fire. Doing so, reminds me of the field of possibilities that await in life. Even for a guy who’s sixty-two.
Perhaps especially for a guy who’s sixty-two, because I still have a lot of observations to share. Things I need to say about my world, my nation, my state, my community, my family, my marriage, my individuality. Ideas I need to extract and plant out of my brain, water and nurture … just so I can give them light and see them appear and bloom on a page.
The fascinating part of the creative process is that when I sat down in front of my laptop this morning I had no clue what I would write about. But then I saw this photo on my phone and it spoke to me. In some way, the larger message I heard was “Keep writing, Mark. Write about what you know. What you observe. What you feel. What you dream of and worry about.”
So that’s what I do. A little every day. Sometimes I share it here. Other times I put it in a file with notes of other raw or unrefined observations that quickly blossom and fade in the desert sun.
But it’s the field of possibilities that continue to be my source of motivation. That prompt me to push ahead with my collection of true Arizona stories and desert fantasies, which I hope to publish in the next year. That connect me to a few fabulous followers who come here to read what I have to say.
I’ll keep doing it as long as I feel that impulse.
Generations have insisted there is something wrong with lemons: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In other words, stop your whining and make the best of a bad situation.
I remember my demonstrative dad, a long-time salesman, declaring this in the 1960s. Perhaps he picked up this phrase from Missouri-born author and salesmanship lecturer Dale Carnegie’s 1948 book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
Although, according to Wikipedia, writer Elbert Hubbard originally coined the phrase in 1915 for an obituary he wrote to honor Marshall Pinckney Wilder, an actor who overcame physical disabilities to lead a fruitful life.
Anyway, I know lemons are sour, but what’s so horrible about having a luscious lemon tree outside your front door? Nothing as far as this Midwestern boy can tell. It’s laden with ripe-and-ready fruits every January, cascading a clean citrus scent (think Lemon Pledge furniture polish), whenever I walk past it.
Last Saturday, I snagged eight lemons from our condo complex tree, reached to the top shelf in our kitchen cabinet for our juicer, found a lemonade recipe on line and made fresh lemonade. (By the way, in my previous lives … in Missouri, Illinois or even on my grandfather’s North Carolina From Fertile Ground farm … the climate would have never permitted this.)
Of course, I added more than a gallon of water and a cup and a half of sugar to the lemon juice to neutralize the sour fruit flavor. I poured it all into our retro Kool-Aid-style glass pitcher and found space in our refrigerator to let the liquid contents cool.
Then on Sunday, Tom and I, along with Nick and Aida (my older son and his girlfriend), each enjoyed a tall glass of cold lemonade to celebrate the fruits of our fortunate Valley of the Sun existence.
I love luscious lemons. When life gives you them (on neighborhood trees in January or otherwise), make lemonade.