Sunday, July 12, 2009

Utah Wildflowers

Here in Utah we are blessed with abundant wildflowers in our beautiful mountains. Hiking along, you can see dozens of different types of flowers, and July is the best month for them. Go see some wildflowers yourself! You don't have to venture very far afield to see them, and there are many easy hikes or walks such as Silver Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon and the Cecret Lake trail at Alta where you can see the abundant beauty of our natural environment.

Here are a few of my recent favorites.

Silver Lake Hike
Elephant Heads (purple) & Bog Orchids (white)

Silver Lake Hike
Mountain Bluebells

Silver Lake Hike
Wild Iris

Silver Lake Hike
Shooting Stars (Dodecathon)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Golden Spike / Spiral Jetty / Spider Woman

This weekend I went on a photowalk with my own group (the Utah Photo Safari) and another local group to two locations in Northern Utah. First we attended the daily reenactment of the driving of the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory, Utah. This part satisfied my inner history buff and it was very touching to me to see the dedication of the volunteers who run the Golden Spike Monumentreenactment ceremony. These individuals are unpaid volunteers, and yet three times a day during the summer they entertain and inform visitors to the location about the historic occasion of the union of the railroads in 1869. It's difficult to imagine in our modern time of highways and airports what the importance of this occasion was, but these people help us to understand it, and I thank them for their tireless dedication. The steam trains are replicas of the actual trains used in the ceremony which sadly, were both scrapped near the beginning of the 20th century. Lovingly re-created and decorated in the style of the times, the trains help lend a celebratory air to the ceremonies, and give us a glimpse into a world long past.

Once the festivities at the Golden Spike monument were complete, several of the group opted to head over to the Spiral Jetty. A word to the wise for those considering undertaking this trip, if you don't have at the very least a vehicle with high clearance and 4-wheel drive, you might want to skip it until you do. We saw a trail of fresh oil from a damaged oil pan on the road in, and that was even prior to the roughest part of the road. The road to the jetty is very un-improved, and the closer you get to the Jetty, the worse it gets! The final two miles or so are definitely a test of your suspension and driving skills. Finding a tow service willing to remove your disabled vehicle from such a remote and rough location would likely prove to be an expensive and futile proposition. Even in a 4-wheel drive vehicle it is slow and strenuous going, so you should definitely consider taking an appropriate vehicle. With several carpools, however, we all made it out there safely, and the group descended upon the jetty for another round of photography.

Being who I am, I opted to take a meditative approach to the Jetty, seeing it as spiritual sibling to the labyrinths created for this purpose worldwide. Certainly, the location lends itself to a contemplative mood. The silence is vast and unbroken by the noises of modern life, the sky is limitless and wild birds are frequent visitors, with flocks of white pelicans from nearby Gunnison Island flying overhead. The scenic vistas are breathtaking, with several mountain ranges and islands visible to the east, south and west. Directly north of the Jetty is a small hill which affords great panoramic views of the Jetty and it's environment. Currently, the entire Spiral Jetty is above water which made it much easier to walk the spiral in this way.

Beginning at the shoreline, I began to walk around the Spiral Jetty in it's normal counterclockwise direction. As it is created with tons of rough rock, salt and sand, the Jetty does not offer an easy path for walking upon, and so navigating the ground takes some attention and care, and thus it took a while to go the entire length of it. Reaching the center of the Spiral Jetty, I perched upon a rock at the center of the spiral for a few minutes of thought before beginning the journey back out. On returning, I opted to walk the inner perimeter of the spiral on the hard salt crust that had formed within it, and thus walked slowly in the clockwise direction on the way out. Although I did take several photos during this time, I was much more focused on the walking meditation, and so failed to notice that most of the others had left the lake bed by the time I was mostly done walking the spiral.

As I finished the main spiral and was heading closer to the shore, I noticed three women walking toward me. They were dressed in bright colors and were carrying something I could not immediately identify. I watched as they headed for the center of the Spiral Jetty and began to arrange their burden on the ground at the center. At first I was hesitant to approach them in case they were creating some sort of private ceremony, but then I saw them talking to one of the other photographers with our group, and saw an opportunity to say hello. They told me that they were from California and that the structure that they were carrying was a web, to honor Spider Woman. Well, that got my attention! A meeting such as this in such a remote and inhospitable location was definitely no accident. The universe works like that sometimes! Spiral Jetty

So the first thing that popped into my head was that I needed to share the Changing Woman song that to me exemplifies the energies of Spider Woman. So although it may have seemed a bit awkward to some, I told them I had a song about her and then started to sing it for them. It surprised me a little when they did not know it as I am used to people who are involved with Goddess energy who know many of the most "common" songs and chants, but this was my lesson - that they needed to hear what I had to give them in that moment.

There is a woman who weaves in the sky
See how She spins, see Her fingers fly
She is the weaver and we are the web
She is the flow and we are the ebb

She changes everything she touches and
Everything She touches changes
She changes everything she touches and
Everything She touches changes

It was an interesting encounter for sure, because I had gotten up that morning not really *wanting* to go on the safari. A million excuses filled my head, "it's too far" "I'm not prepared" "I'd rather go to Living Traditions" "too many bugs" "it'll be HOT" "I'm too tired" and I am SO not a morning person to be able to get up and be out somewhere in time to meet the group. But despite all the reluctance, I had felt that I did NEED to go. And even the whole time there, up until that moment, I wondered WHY? But finally my question was answered at the end. And even though I came home very tired and sunburned, I think it was a good day and a really interesting synchronistic happening. Given that within another few moments we would have missed each other entirely, it is one of those "right place at the right time" things that make this path so interesting and challenging.

So Hi to Nina and her friends, and thank you Goddess for a lesson on listening and trusting!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Grand(a) Cause

Welcome Grandas Dinner
Photography has many roles, to educate, inform, entertain, document. One of it's most powerful uses has been to illustrate things that words cannot convey, whether it's a lone man standing in front of a line of tanks, or the striking eyes of a young girl doomed to a heartbreakingly rough life in a far-distant country. Not that I am comparing my photography to either of these examples. I have however committed to help document the life of a group of orphans from Ecuador who have been brought to America by their half-brother and adopted into his home and life here in Utah. They have a blog and a website, and a facebook "cause" page. They need a lot of help, and you can check out their story at any of the above links. I hope that my photography can help spread the reality of their story.