I’ve never been one to enjoy expansive views atop mountains or over valleys. They do catch my eye on occasion—those that are especially ethereal or otherwise eye-catching. Instead, I tend to spend much more time and delight focusing on the micro-world around me.
Every camera I even consider purchasing comes with a macro focus option. I could spend many hours every day dwelling in the up-close and personal spaces around me. In fact, if hiking with another who loves to get to those mountaintop vistas, I prefer to spend a thrilling (yet somewhat dawdling) time pausing here and there for the close-up shots. I’m not a great companion for those who love an invigorating hike up the hill since my ambling gate and constantly stopping for yet-another-shot style can be disruptive to a good heart rate exercise.
I love studying all these things in close detail. They really come alive to me when I see the way their curves create dimensionality. Perhaps my fascination with the micro world around me is a reflection of the way my mind takes notes for future arting. I do reference photographs quite a bit when depicting nature in my work. There is definitely something that activates my drawing juices when looking at nature so closely.
I find all manner of fascination around my garden when taking time to look more closely as I work and wander. My artist’s eye captures textures and color subtleties that glancing more casually from afar might miss. My writer’s imagination tumbles around some of these micro-vignettes—creating worlds and stories that it mightn’t have were I to simply stroll right on by those hiding fairy cairns.
My dad was fond of repeating the oft-quoted wisdom, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” While I don’t come across many roses in my daily adventures, I do take that quote to heart when ambling through our garden or around other favored nature spots. When looking so carefully and intimately at my surroundings, I feel more connected and a part of them. This is grounding for me.
A friend recently challenged me to post one nature photo per day for a week on Facebook. Not surprisingly, I posted some of my micro-views—and I fell in love all over again. My eyes aren’t what they used to be—aging will do that to a being. Even more than before my macro-focused camera is becoming a better way of seeing the micro world around me.
I found patterns, color variants, and science all around me during that week. Even the dead and over-wintered plants were alive with eye-catching appeal. I smiled as I discovered the purple cone flower from last year was nearly picked clean. I could just imagine how many meals it had provided for our neighborhood avian friends.
One of my favorite finds of the week were the mossy islands that I came across in our Sacred Fire Circle. The rebuilding of this area, with some stones reclaimed last year, is one of the projects on my “Let’s do this soon” list. Another to-do has been added since my discovery of such fun islands of mystery. I will likely relocate these moss worlds to another part of our yard so they can flourish while I shift the seating area back to one that retards the growth of greenery. I can just imagine fairies flitting around from mound to mound—resting between tending to the flowers.
I was surprised by the variety of mosses in this small area. It made me look around for other vibrant spots. My husband even got into the act and came across some lichen growing on an old piece of rope attached to the tire swing our children created years ago. The discovery of this small section had me chasing around Google to identify all sorts of new-to-me plants.
When taking time to look more closely at this time of year, I find joys in the early signs of spring. I see that the coral bell leaves are turning toward life. I notice a few asparagus poking through the ground. The blueberry plants are beginning to leaf out and the rhubarb is nearing readiness. Unfortunately, those cherry, pear, and peach blossoms that were so pretty a week or two ago may not develop into much since we’ve had a few hard freezes since. We even had a ground-covering snow on April 9th. But the flowers were lovely while they lasted and likely provided a bit of food for some of the creatures that fly among us.
Which do you prefer — wide open expanses or intensely close viewing? Do you stop to smell the roses and truly look at the world surrounding you? What makes your senses come alive while spending time in nature? Can you find more moments during your day to enjoy time like that?
Photos by Blythe Pelham
Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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