Archive for February, 2017

starfish vines

Nature loves to be entangled.

Life seeks entanglement.

Nothing living can survive in complete isolation. We thrive when we are in active relationships with others, with other members of our own species, but especially with other forms of Life.

We need to connect, to make bonds, to entwine our energies and our destinies.

What kinds of connections can we make? What types of bonds will we form? How will we share our energies with each other?

Isn’t the most important question today – “how are we going to live together?”


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The blue yonder – I wrote about Rebecca Solnit’s observation that distance is blue a while back.

The sea caught my attention for this shot….I was entranced by the rich palette of greens and blues….but when I looked later I noticed that the far mountains were just the kind of blue which she wrote about.

I love an image like this. I can lose myself in it for ages. I find it soothing and mesmerising. I hope you do too.

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I know our brains are brilliant at spotting patterns, but have you ever noticed just how good they are at seeing faces?

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Becoming not being……you know that tag line I’ve used on this blog since Day 1…

Well this is a great example.

What is a wave?

How do you define it, measure it, set its beginning and its end points?

All of those questions are hard enough to answer but when I look at the spray which the wind is whipping up from the advancing wave, and flinging it backwards like soft hair then I see our attempts to define and delimit disappear like the fine white spray itself.

I’ve never seen this phenomenon before. It was a particularly windy day but I’d never seen the wind do both these things at once…..drive the water towards the beach in big white crashing waves AND whip the foamy top of the wave to create this transient curtain of white water…….astonishing!

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I’d noticed it earlier on my walk. The moon was hanging in the blue sky of the morning. But a little further on and around the corner I looked up and saw this. Wow! I can’t remember ever seeing the moon looking as big as this. Usually when I see the moon it’s pretty small, and if I take a photograph of it, somehow it appears even smaller, so when I pointed my camera towards it this time I was surprised to see it didn’t shrink. It sat there, almost kissing the Earth, holding its own, not diminished in the slightest by the size of the mountain beside it.

Sure, the moon wasn’t shining nearly as brightly as it does when it’s full and high in the night sky, but it was still impressive enough to stop me in my tracks.

There’s something magical about the moon for we humans, or maybe it’s better to say, there’s something magical about the relationship we humans have with the moon. It’s more than just a delight in beauty. It’s more than fascination and wonder.

She inspires us, stimulates our imagination, encourages us to dream, nurtures our feelings of love and romance.

The pull of the moon draws us up and out of our limits, or our habits, as we “reach for the moon”, aspiring to grow, develop, achieve, to become the best we can become.

I delight in my relationship with the moon.

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There are places in the world where I feel more whole, places where I am suddenly deeply aware of the strong flow of life, of energy, of spirit around and through me. Pausing for a moment under the canopy of ancient camphor trees in Kirstenboch gardens to gaze up and far to the surrounding mountains which draw my imagination to their summits and beyond, I feel at peace and enlivened at exactly the same moment.

A day later, browsing through my photographs, I stop again at this view and am surprised to discover my memory presents me with an image I captured in the colossal cathedral of Toledo last summer.

The window to heaven in the highest point of the cathedral’s roof.

What’s the connection?

Why are these two images linked in my mind?

There’s the resonance of the imagery, each with its dark, ragged frame around a bright, distant light. But there’s something else too….something of a feeling, that feeling of smallness, enfolded in a greater something, whilst drawn up beyond my self to the universal.

In the cathedral, I didn’t feel at peace. I encountered image after image of suffering, torture and death represented in the lives of the saints. The immensity of the stone structure of the building with its enormous, ornate golden sculptures weighed heavily on me. So, when I stumbled on the window to heaven it seemed to provide some release, some lightening of the spirit and the heart. A few moments later I caught sight of sunlight and trees through an open door and delighted in the cloistered garden it led to.

Under the camphor trees I had none of that heaviness. I felt more cocooned, welcomed by Nature. But then suddenly, here again was an opening which lifted me up and out of my self.

Moments of bliss.


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We humans are very good at spotting patterns. Finding patterns is such an interesting two way process. They are there in the world around us but we also develop a sort of sensitivity to particular ones. It’s like having a heightened awareness to certain patterns so we focus on them over other potential ones. Maybe one of the main things the right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex does is create patterns. After all, its predilection is for the betweenness of things, the connections. But our left hemisphere plays an important role here too. We use it to separate things out. I’m not sure we could see any patterns if our left hemisphere didn’t do its work of separating, abstracting, recognising and categorising.

I find patterns of three very appealing.

I particularly like triskeles, those simple Celtic knots created by intertwining three circles, or by spiralling out three arms from a central point.

But here’s something I’ve never seen before – three acorns growing in a beautiful pattern of three. Isn’t it wonderful?

A moment of “√©merveillement” for me.

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I don’t edit my photos very much at all but this one of the cloudy mists pouring over the top of the mountains seemed to cry out for the monochrome treatment.

I took the photo because I find this phenomenon utterly entrancing.

The clouds appear over the top of the ridge and spill over, speeding down the cliff face for only a few metres before they disappear into thin air. The process is continuous. It has all the appearance of perpetual motion.

I love watching the cloud appear from over the mountain top, from somewhere I can’t see, and following its journey into wispy nothingness in such a short space of time.

From somewhere I can’t see to complete disappearance right before my eyes.

A metaphor for an individual life, delicate, beautiful, transient, and mainly made of water…..

I also like the contrasts in this image. Not only the blackness of the rock and the whiteness of the mist, but of their polar opposite textures. The rock, solid, suggesting a permanence because it changes so much more slowly than we humans can perceive in a single lifetime, and the mist, so insubstantial you can barely discern its edges.

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I’ve never seen a fig on the tree like this before. The fruit has burst open to reveal all the wonderful juicy flesh. I’ve picked figs straight from the tree many times, and opened them up with a knife, or just my fingers, but I’ve never seen one open itself up like this.

It’s like an exuberance, as if the tree couldn’t hold itself back. It poured its energies and its life force into producing these succulent, delicious fruits and couldn’t wait another second to show them to the world.

Look! See what I’ve made!

And there’s something else I see here beside this enthusiasm to be the best fig tree it can be….there’s a generosity of spirit.

The tree doesn’t hide its fruit. It declares it, and says, come, taste, share my delight.

It’s inspiring don’t you think….it inspires us to flourish and to give, to create and to share.

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This is what happened.

I was looking across the road from outside “Bardough” in Capetown and spotted this classic red mini.

I decided to take a photo and when I looked through the viewfinder I realised how good the mini looked in front of the red building. What a perfect backdrop!

Then just as I squeezed the shutter release these two people walked into the shot from offstage right……

And wow! Just look! How fantastic! It took the photo to an entirely new level. How does that happen? A combination of noticing, choosing to take a photo, taking the time to frame a nice shot, then sheer luck……Isn’t it just great when the universe conspires to make your life more beautiful?

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