Friday, November 19, 2010

The In-Between

Most of the time I don't enjoy being out in nature (bugs, heat, cold, wind, sunburn, etc.) but I love taking photographs of nature - especially Nature at her finest. The blue ocean bay at the height of summer with the sun glistening off the tide; the amazing fall foliage; the snowstorm that brought 2 feet of snow, with the evergreens hanging onto what snow didn't make it to the ground. I appreciate beauty, and I love to document it. At various times, I have been know to stop the car so I could take a picture of a scene that took my breath away.

I don't do that much in November, though. November is not a beautiful month. The trees, who a month ago sported their incredible fall colors, are bare and lifeless. The grass is dead with no pure white snow to cover the landscape. On top of that, it gets dark so early that I wouldn't have much time after work to take a picture anyway. November is the in-between season. Nature in-between her beauty, intermission between acts, while she's changing clothes to get ready for the next scene. Mother Earth can be extraordinary at times, but in November, you can just drop the "extra" out of that word. That leaves ordinary.

I think it takes a little extra effort to see the beauty in ordinary, but it's there if we are open to it. I look back on my photo-taking life. There are the usual photos - the Christmas pictures, the birthday pictures, the graduation pictures, the new baby pictures, the vacations, the zoo visits. I have found, though, that some of my most treasured pictures are ordinary, taken in the in-between times. On the surface, they aren't special. The ones above are examples. They were taken after I had gotten married and moved out of my parents' house, the only home I'd ever lived in. I had an extraordinary emotional push one day to capture the scenes of my everyday life, that one day I would not have my beloved parents anymore, and I wanted to remember them, not just in posed pictures on important occasions but in the in-between times, the un-special times, the non-holiday times. Here are two of the photos - Mama holding Mike the cat in her lap, as was her habit, and a picture of Daddy just coming in the door from work. These pictures derive their beauty from their sheer ordinariness. They're Mama and Daddy, as I remember them, in familiar surroundings, doing familiar things, in the familiar house in Memphis.

If I really think about it, some of my most joyous times have been the in-between times - giving or receiving an unexpected gift "for no reason," seeing a deer on our street on my way to work at dawn, laughing at my DVD "Lancelot Link Secret Chimp" when I'm feeling blue, or hanging out with my adult children and watching them interact with their own kids. Sometimes the love in my heart just explodes at the beauty of life. Yes, even in the in-between times. Maybe especially in the in-between times.

So before we know it, the snow will fall and Mother Nature will put on her usual spectacular show. In the meantime, though, it's November - and it's beautiful.

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