Sunday, May 06, 2007

Photographic Weekend

This weekend brought a long-awaited visit from a friend in Seattle. The weather cooperated, in that it did not rain, and the diffuse light from the cloud-cover meant stable conditions for photography. I brought my point-and-shoot Olympus and he brought his lovely SLR and off we went to the Classical Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden. It was one of those weekends that reminded me of why I've chosen to settle in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoyed sharing my love for my home. I enjoyed sharing that quiet appreciation, and the mutual awareness of our environment, its beauty, and the need to take time to get the composition right for capturing what our eyes saw in a snapshot. We were at the Chinese garden before 10am, which meant it was not yet crowded with people. I'd last visited it in mid-March with the Englishman, and the change was quite dramatic--all the bare-branches have fleshed out, and where once there were hints of dramatic colour, the entire garden is alive with it. We stopped in the Tower of Cosmic Reflection for tea and steamed buns. I wished it was warm enough to throw open the windows for an unobstructed view of the garden, but the view was very fine all the same. Before we left he bought a painting in the chinese peasant style, called "Cat Heaven". We were both amused by the comments of the staff as he waited for them to ring it up -- apparently it was one of the favorite pieces on display and they were sad to see it go.

From there we headed up into Washington Park to the Japanese Garden, which is about four acres of every possible colour of green known to man. I wished I could have recorded the sound of the water, which was every where. It rushed from the waterfall, it trickled from fountains, it flowed over stone and rippled the ponds. There was no wind and few birds. There were people, but it was not crowded, and people were respectful of photographers, trying to stay out of the frame.

I enjoyed two of the children there. A boy and a girl, dark haired and dark eyed, both with magic wands, and her in a tutu and diadem. I asked if she was a princess and her brother said "yes" and that she had wings, too, but mom took them away so they wouldn't get lost. I parsed that two ways--the way he intended, ie, that her wings were probably in the back of the car, so mom didn't have to listen to his sister cry if the wings fell off somewhere unnoticed. But I also heard it another way, that mom had taken away his sister's wings for fear her daughter would be lost. Some parents do that--some adults do that--keep children safe by clipping their wings.

My friend from Seattle mentioned the theory as to why Man likes gardens so much. He said it is because they illustrate the illusion that man can conquer nature. I suppose that might be it. Certainly, I enjoy the symmetry and the tidiness of contrived landscapes, but I also enjoy nature unleashed, in all her wild, tumbling glory. Its just not as safe. So perhaps... perhaps Man likes gardens so much because in the tamed and cultivated places we can enjoy the beauty of Nature while feeling safe and at peace. Which reminds me of an EB White quote: I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.

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Blogger kujmous said...

Next time, tell her about YOUR wings. Just as a part of connecting with others, I would glow smiling with the thought that you helped a child stay young if for even one day longer. Did you get her picture?

7:00 PM, May 06, 2007  

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