Stopping by a Wood

Feeling Thoreau-ish exploring near home

I have been housebound for more than a month, due to a fractured ankle. For most of that time, my mobility gradually improved: a wheelchair at first (actually delightful compared to the sport of Extreme Hobbling, which occupied the first few days after the fall), then a walker after a few weeks, and the last few days I have been able to get around, however in-artfully, on my own two feet for short periods.

I drove about a mile from the house down to Prairie Creek, which is surrounded by a typical-yet-surreally dense Pacific Northwest forest. It is a beautiful impenetrable mini-wilderness. The photo above gives you a feel for it: sloppy, dense, green with ferns and vines even after the trees have shed their leaves.

But this post is not (entirely) about all that; it is about how technology supports feelings. I rented a specific camera lens for the holidays: a Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 monster that is incredibly sharp, and very honest in how it captures detail and color. I say honest knowing that tech doesn’t lie, its users do—all the same, the simple act of capturing and reproducing nature with this lens is an incredible delight.

Seeing (or listening, or touching, or feeling) is the artist’s domain, and yet one can have aids to seeing that are beautiful just because of how well they expand the universe for one’s appreciation. This is that. As nifty and good-smelling as these woods are, a photograph that is both careful and technically sound opens emotional and artful doors. I get to be there even beyond the 15 minutes I could manage on my bum foot.

Before I left, I walked to 20 yards or so to the bank of Prairie Creek, running insanely full like some full-blooded river. I took another entire picture of that, too, and I have that in my pocket to share. The world does not lack for beauty. Just stopping and looking reveals that we still live with beauty and patience and wonder all around us; it just takes the act of looking.