Everyday Magic

The Sunshine State, in Black & White

For a long time now, I’ve had a special place in my heart for Florida.

I spent summers there as a kid, tearing around on a bike near the mangroves, coming alive in the steamy green heat.  It’s a nostalgic place for me, and like most nostalgic places, it strikes me as beautiful.

But.

Florida’s beauty is glaring:  like a particularly striking woman who sports bright makeup and an orchid in her hair.  You can’t help but look at her, but if she smudged off the dark lipstick and traded her red dress for black, you might notice the pool of light in the hollow of her collarbone.  

The sun sliding slow over her shoulders.

The subtler magic.

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I guess that’s why I’ve come to like Florida best when she’s photographed in monochrome.

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The photos that follow are quiet ones, collected during a lazy, contemplative week in Punta Gorda.  While there are lovelier snapshots of the sunshine state — oceans full of sundazzle, and foam-swept crashing surf — I think these represent a gentler beauty that others may miss. 

Enjoy… ❤

 

  

   

   

   
  
  
 

  

   

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Everyday Wonder

Glimpses of Goodness on the Road

This weekend, I drove all the way across Virginia, west to east.  I drove alone, on Route 460, a narrow ribbon of country road that sometimes seems to roll on forever — out of the mountains and into the hills, past sleepy farms where cows graze, their coats gleaming like black satin.

Since I was behind the wheel, I couldn’t exactly take a lot of photos.  And they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but — I promise — I can give you a dozen pictures in half that space.

Just watch me try:

Outside of Bedford, a rusted windmill turns slow in the sun.

In the town of Crewe, a decommissioned army tank stands guard over a brick ranch house.

Near Farmville, a man walks along the edge of the road in the hundred-degree heat, his bald head glistening.  He walks against the traffic, his face set in such a way that you know he doesn’t want a lift.

I drive on.

I drive past a hundred white steeples, past houses where you can go to have your hair curled or your palms read.

I drive through long swaths of land where the only music on the radio is country music, and Johnny Cash floods the inside of my car with stories of all the places he’s been when he, too, was on the road.

I flash pass cornfields yellow-tasseled and ready for harvest, grain silos with tops domed like Greek temples, winking silver in the light.  I pass a van with a child’s small arm thrust straight from the passenger window, the wind lifting the airfoil of that tiny hand into tentative flight.

I take the ramp onto 85 near Richmond and look up to see a dozen tiny skydivers hanging suspended from their parachutes, silhouetted in the sunset, gliding down slow.

And then, at last, in the purple dusk I feel the XTerra lift onto the familiar arc of the High Rise Bridge, turn my head left to see the City of Norfolk twinkling like its own constellation against the black of the harbor.  I smile, thinking of my years in that city when I was young and on my own for the very first time, becoming what I’d be later — my soul flickering alive little by little, like city lights.

Then the bridge lowers me down again and I skim out onto a tidal marsh called Chesapeake — the closest thing I have to a Homeplace.

And I could keep going; I really could.  But I swear, if you gave me another five-hundred words, I’d just keep multiplying ways to tell you how much goodness is rushing past us by the moment.

How it belongs to each and every one of us with stubborn hearts hungry to see. ❤

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Small Adventures

Savannah, Georgia: Abstractions

I spent last weekend happily shambling around the green-shadowed streets of one of my favorite cities:  Savannah, Georgia.

I ate a shameful amount of seafood.

I slept in a ridiculously fluffy four-poster bed.

And I took photos.  A lot of photos.

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Today, I finally got a chance to go through some of those photos.  And in looking back on them, I’m realizing a few things:

1)  No amount of IS is capable of making up for my incredibly shaky hands, especially in the day’s best twilight light:

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  See?  It’s time to quit overindulging in coffee, and stat.

2)  My photos aren’t very good when I shoot in color, but shooting in color — at least on occasion — is good for me:

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 I think it’s important to deliberately work against your own aesthetic now and then, to stay limber and open and to enjoy the pleasure of a return to your own way of seeing the world…  I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, so I look forward to a special homecoming soon.

3)  Lately I feel drawn, over and over again, to images cropped so close or focused so strangely that they stray toward abstraction:  

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I tilt my camera at odd angles.

I use my zoom lens to sidle up so close to the subject that all context is removed.

I don’t know why I’m doing this — maybe I’m just restless, hungry to see the world in a different way.

Whatever it is, I know this:  for now, for my soul, it’s good. ❤

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Highlight Reel

A Colorful Little Slice of Charleston, SC

I have to tell you that if I had to give someone a valentine right about now, it would be the city of Charleston, South Carolina.

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This past weekend, Thomas and I stopped there for the night on our way home from Florida.  We spontaneously decided to book a suite at a (ridiculously charming) bed and breakfast in the historic district downtown, right next door to a little art gallery (you can see a picture of one painting below).  The innkeeper let us in at an iron gate, and we dragged our bags up a long flight of stone stairs to a second-story courtyard cloaked in green vines.

Green, I thought, almost humming with the pleasure of it.  Everything was just so … green… And also coral and lemon-yellow, lilac and hydrangea-blue.

And I knew I was acting like a tourist, but I felt a little bit lovestruck: there was a panel of stained glass on the ceiling above the bathtub.  A rooftop overlook under the stars.  And of course, there was a giant four-poster bed, which is where I had breakfast on Saturday morning.

Needless to say, it was a restful and lovely experience.

I took a few photos while we wandered around the city streets later that afternoon, and thought it might be fun to share them here, in case you’re in the mood to see some color and old-fashioned Southern charm on a gray day.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t shoot very well in color, but I felt like stretching myself that day, and Charleston, with its watercolor-painting good looks, always aims to please.  I think I ended up with some pretty frames in spite of myself.

Maybe they’ll help you imagine yourself someplace warm and romantic today. 🙂

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