Dance of illumination in the woods


Slumbering fern

Slumbering fern

I sat on the couch this morning watching the mind leap from past to future, yesterday to tomorrow, always spinning a thousand imaginings.

Slowly the restless mind settled into the ambiance of the room, the shadows of light dancing on the green carpet.  Slowing the moving ocean of mind lost its wind-driven busyness and opened itself to what is.  What presents itself in this precious and fleeting moment.

I looked beyond the living room window unto the woods.  Light illuminated long slender tree trunks.  The slumbering forest appeared in shades of green, gold, amber, brown.  Birdsong ricocheted through the leaves. Blue sky tenderly enveloped this emerging world of light-play.

Waking from dreams fern

Waking from dreams fern

I pondered, for the at least the hundredth time, how challenging it is to photograph the mystery of the forest.  (At least for an amateur photographer.) You peer at the most interesting objects in the woods–a twist of tree trunk, a fallen log, a necklace of leaves–and they rarely seem to appear on the camera screen with anything that resembles wonder.

And I am most interested in photographing wonder.  Not always fickle beauty, which arises with fleeting bursts of shimmering energy before surrendering to another incarnation.

Sun kissed fern

It may be because the woods can be darker than the open prairie, the glowing lake, the long slow vista.  Light dances between branches here.  It refuses to stay put.  It twinkles against a thimbleberry blossom, then moves on.  Light seems restless here:  always passing by, never staying, eager to illuminate the next of life’s creation.

Late July forest greens

Late July forest greens

This morning I thought, “To heck with it!”  There must be some objects that the Universe will allow a photographic momentary capture.  “Get off the couch,” I suggested, and the hands found the camera on the bookshelf.  Opened the door and walked outside.

I wore long pants and sweatshirt to protect against ticks, mosquitoes and other woodland pestilence and plunged down the ravine toward the mystery of the flickering illuminating light.

Arced a large circle behind our house, seeing where the eye delighted, and snapped.  Here, here, here.

Dreams of fungus on rotting log

Dreams of fungus on rotting log

One of the lessons of the woods:  Impermanence.  Death and rot and decay abound.  Everywhere trees and plants and leaves disintegrate.  Sometimes bones and feathers appear–but not today.

Leaf twig

Leaf twig

New life also abounds, burrowing up and around its decaying mulch.  A child births; an elder dies.  Sometimes the child tree also perishes.  Rarely the elder tree matures into old-growth.  It’s an interconnected network out there, folks, everything depending on everything else.  Cooperation between species exists, as does survival-of-the-fittest.

Zen leaf

Zen leaf

We humans could learn much from the woods, if our restless minds might settle down a bit.  If we can move beyond our sense of separateness and division.

A slow goodbye

A slow goodbye

I took about sixty-four photos.  These ten–perhaps–capture a little of the woodland dance this morning behind our house.

Beauty in death

Beauty in death

Thanks for joining me in this forest meander this morning.  What simple beauties has nature revealed to you recently?

Sun tree

Sun tree


About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in July 2018 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Dance of illumination in the woods

  1. dorannrule says:

    A superb play on light punctuated by perfect words.

  2. John Kuttenberg says:

    Thank you for sharing with us. You may feel that the camera does not capture all the magic that you see, but the magic it does catch is a delight for those of us who weren’t there.

  3. Beautiful 🙂 I have always loved forests for those moments of light and wonder

  4. What a beautiful piece of writing! I think, too, that your photos have indeed captured the wonder of the woods, even though it may not be all the wonder that you see. Thanks, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, it felt like an artist’s date yesterday morning. I am not always enamored of the camera, but yesterday it felt flowing to “follow the light”. And then to put words to that luminosity. I am so glad to see you here this morning!

  5. There is simply something magical about the refueling the spirit feels after spending time in the woods or wild.

    • Kathy says:

      Kat, that is so true. It’s as if we–if we’re lucky–drop beneath our obligations and worries and planning–and let nature inform us for a short while. It always makes me wonder why I don’t venture out into the woods more often. In earlier years it was often a daily ramble… Thank you for stopping by.

  6. Ooh, such beautiful imagery of the forest with your usage of beautiful and descriptive words. Loved this post and so enjoyed your writing skills. Maybe write a “diary” about the nature that surrounds you and which visually promotes your imagination.

    • Kathy says:

      Yvonne, I am so glad to see you. Have been concerned that everything is OK in your world, as I haven’t seen you in a while. I am glad you enjoyed this post. Am enjoying using the camera again–that hasn’t happened in a while. Your idea about a diary is a good one. Thank you so much.

      • Kathy I was in pretty bad depression and then had a UTI that I was not aware of. It was causing lost sleep with extreme fatigue and then I accidently over dosed on one afib med and one anti-hypertensive med. I called an ambulance at 12:15am and was in ER for 6 1/2 hours. Got a CT scan with contrast dye and then had a petty bad reaction to the dye. I was in hospital for three days and now I am struggling to regain my strength. But I am pretty tough so I hope I can get past dizziness and fatigue. Writing comments on other people’s blog helps me maintain hand and eye coordination and exercises my brain- I think. (smile)

  7. dawnkinster says:

    It’s all about the light. I, too, was in the woods this past weekend and commented to my friend how difficult it was to capture the magic of the deep woods. The light bounces around unexpectedly and it’s so hard to capture. You did a beautiful job.

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, I know you are someone who understands the challenges of photographing in the woods. How interesting that you just mentioned this to a friend. I have almost given up photographing the woods around our house because so many pictures don’t capture what’s there. Even when we were in Vancouver, I went for an indigenous walking tour through Stanley Island and marveled at the trees. However, not one–not one–of the pictures came out anything but lackluster. I think the whole key is light and angles. Glad you enjoyed this.

  8. Lori says:

    I love this post, because I totally get what you mean. It’s so hard to capture in a photograph what we see with our eyes. Maybe it’s because our minds also help shape the majesty of what we’re seeing? I can rarely get the colors, the lighting, the shadows, just right. Sometimes it frustrates me. Recently, I was trying to capture the rich ruby color of our neighbor’s poppies against our fence, and the color changed to some sort of fluorescent pink in the shot. Not the same color I saw with my eyes at all (no matter how many clicks of the camera). The sun was on them and somehow made it glow into the lens. I also wonder if it’s these digital cameras. I didn’t have this issue when I used film.

    Anyway, thank you for taking us on a walk through your woods and helping us get a glimpse of the magic of the forest through your photos. These you posted certainly did capture the essence you so eloquently wrote about.

    • Kathy says:

      Lori, it is a mystery–this lining up of the camera with our visual world. And the spirits of the objects we’re attempting to capture are in flux with nature’s movement and light and a thousand other variables. Interesting how those poppies could change color so dramatically. Do you ever discover that you like the changes that the camera brings, or does that feel like it’s somehow not the truth of your seeing? Glad you joined me on this morning walk a couple days ago. 🙂

      • Lori says:

        Kathy, yes, sometimes I do like the way the camera takes the photo, and other times it frustrates me because I want my truth to be shown.

  9. I love how you describe light as restless. It really is. It’s wonderful to become aware of and notice the ever-present shifting in light, seasonally and daily. But light needs something to play with to show off its strength or gentleness or any of its many moods! The woods have many objects perfect for this. I love the pictures you took and understand what you mean about the camera’s limitations in capturing the essence of the light in woods.

    Gardens are lovely but there is nothing like the woods to show us the beauty of old age and the net of connection between all things.

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, it felt interesting describing light–and our thoughts–as restless. Kind of different nuances. I enjoyed how you described the duality of light needing something to play off. The dance of creation! And you are right that there is something special about the woods, an ancient spirit (even in a young forest, almost) or perhaps a wildness that cannot be contained.

  10. debyemm says:

    Your experience of FOREST is so much like mine. These words from you resonated in harmony with similar words in my inspirational reading this morning –

    “It’s an interconnected network out there, folks, everything depending on everything else.”

    “We can move beyond our sense of separateness and division.”

    My heart is ready for that – yesterday. Much fondness for you, my woodland friend.

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, we may have spoken of this before, but I am wondering if you call your tree-vistas a “forest” or “woods”. Hardly anyone calls it the forest up here, but I like the way that sounds. Glad that this posted resonated with your inspirational reading. And am still marveling how your wholeness Facebook post resonated with me the other day!

  11. Stacy says:

    Yes, we humans can learn much from the forest, Kathy. This is just what I needed to read after the devastating loss that has befallen some of my people this summer. Your words are always inspiring. ❤

  12. Simplicity in all its splendor, Kathy. The dance of light, and shadow; of life, and death; of joy, and pain. You found it all with your camera and your bright soul. And as simple as it all is, what you reveal in your post (and photos) is perhaps the most difficult lesson for us all to learn.

  13. Barb says:

    I like your dance of light and shadow, Kathy. We are like the forest, aren’t we? Ever changing but (hopefully) steadfast to the end. Perhaps providing fodder for what comes after.

    • Kathy says:

      I like how you put this, Barb. We ARE like the forest! I often think of the metaphors of light and dark, of shadow and illumination. Steadfast until the end. Even as something always shifts. Thank you.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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