On my way back from my dad's house today, my camera was burning a hole in my car, to abuse an old expression. (There was no actual fire involved, thank goodness.) I'd passed a hundred different scenes I longed to photograph on the drive out there, but when you're going 70 miles per hour, by the time you've spotted something to capture, you're already too far past it. Plus, stopping on the side of those back roads is not advisable or possible with such non-existent shoulders.
So I promised myself that, on my return drive, I would stop somewhere and take some photos. I chose Mission Tejas State Park because of its incredible tall pine trees, perfect examples of the Piney Woods region that covers most of eastern Texas. (The phrase "piney woods" puts me straight back into elementary and middle school, when we learned all about the varied ecoregions of my enormous home state. I need to brush up on that info; it's been a while.)
I parked my car and walked out along the path. It was so quiet-but-loud -- no road noise, no airplanes overhead, no air conditioners whirring outside, but the sounds of wildlife cascaded over me as I stood still. I heard at least three different bird calls, insects chirping and clicking, the trees swaying in the wind.
It is astonishing how quickly nature can ease my spirit. I wanted to pitch a tent right there and spend three days just lying under the trees, watching the sky and listening.
Relaxing was easy, but capturing the towering stature of the trees was more difficult. Six months into my first year with a digital camera, I find myself bumping up against the edges of my skill more and more often these days. It's satisfying and frustrating at once. Rather than take a class, which I'd love to do sometime, I'm learning the hard way: raw experience, repetition, and by watching how other photographers work in their craft. Is this what they call experiential learning?
One of my favorite thing about orchids is that most people use tiny hair clips to hold the wooden guides stuck into their pots. I always assumed that people simply had little clips lying around and used them because that's what they had. Well, today my in-laws gave me this beautiful orchid, and it came with the tiny hair clips! Kind, small details like this in the world enchant and entertain me.
It’s my first Mother’s Day as a mom, and one of my gifts is to not be with my baby. As strange and even unsettling as the idea seemed at first, all seems right with the world as she naps at home and I sit at a Starbucks with the latest draft of my screenplay spread across my desktop. Her daddy made sure that we celebrated well last night and this morning, and now he’s making sure that I am not only a mom, but also my whole pre-mom self. I used to brag that I could write with my baby on my lap, but now that she’s just about to crawl and really taking the whole world in, I want to take her to the zoo and to the art museum and to watch the ants crawl in our backyard whenever she’s awake... and the I quickly do freelance work while she naps. That leaves my own writing feeling a bit neglected. But not this afternoon.
Minutes before curtain at my play a couple of weekends ago, I said to the director and good friend, David, “Is it strange that I’m so relaxed right now?” He shook his head, even though he looked a little surprised. It was their opening night after all. I continued, “It’s just that when we were at your place twenty minutes ago with both babies wanting dinner and three minutes to get myself ready, everything felt so chaotic. Now, people are about to see my work, and I feel like I’m at a spa.” Having stayed home with his little girl for the first 8 months while also work full-time, he totally got it.
On this special day, I’d like to say that I love being a mom. I love it more than I ever could have imagined. I also love doing what I do, and I just want to express relief that there’s a tiny bit of room in this crazy world for both. Now back to that script.