Why I Don’t Take Pictures
I brought my camera when I walked in the desert today. A blog needs images, right? Right. But not this morning. It rained yesterday, and the prickly pear fronds are swollen with the storm’s bounty. But it’s subtle, and the pictures just look like prickly pear, not subtly swollen prickly pear. Droplets of water still cling to a yucca’s waxy blooms. The chollas’ spindly, spiny branches also seem fuller. And their buds, with just the tips of what-will-be fuschia blooms peeking out, hint at the flowers that will come with the next rain, but they aren’t very photogenic.
When I’m thinking of composing pictures, I lose the wonder of a tiny purple flower in an effort to make my unsophisticated camera focus on something so small. I forget to listen to the meadowlark’s song, hearing instead the whir of the camera’s auto-focus honing in on a quarter-inch of color. The flower’s five tiny petals are lavender deepening in hue toward the middle of the bloom with lacy green leaves below, but its image is just a blur.
A pair of ravens soar overhead, screeching. Are they scolding me for not paying attention? I stop. The camera whirs one last time, when I turn it off. I zip it into my pocket and walk on.
With the camera tucked away, I delight in the dogs’ gaits, instead of feeling frustrated that they won’t pose suitably (because they do look so very picturesque, until I try to get them to sit still for a picture, that is).
Now I see yellow and white and orange flowers too. I only know the white ones by name, desert primroses. They’re so delicate, they won’t last long. I kneel and stroke a satiny petal. I notice that there are new shoots of the desert grasses that some years don’t come at all. But yesterday’s rain invited the new growth, and today’s sun coaxed it out.
The rain settled the desert dust and a newly rinsed piece of schist catches the sun’s rays, and my eye. Its silver warmth feels good in my hand. I carry it home. It will serve as my picture from today’s walk. Sitting on my desk, yet another of my myriad rocky paperweights, it will remind me of the lingering smell of the rain, the buds and blooms, the fresh grassy shoots, the swooping ravens, and the meadowlark perched atop a juniper.
P.S. – I confess that I went back out and did a picture-taking walk. Hope you enjoy both the words and the photos.
With your wonderful ability to describe what you experience, who needs pictures? Whoever said ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ had it backwards where you are concerned.
Thank you, Terry!
Beautiful, Deb. Your pictures and your words. It is astounding how flower-filled the desert is this year. I stand early in the morning and just watch. Great way to begin the day. I can taste the rain in your words too. Thank you.
Coop, I feel like I can see you standing, absorbing the feeling of the desert blooming. Thank you.
I’m just back from today’s walk and I know that meadowlark! He often reminds me to turn off the podcast, take out the ear buds, and be more fully present in all that forest wonderfulness.
We are so lucky, aren’t we? To live in the shadow of the Sandias in that forest wonderfulness.
Great piece Deb! I’m always happiest when I return from a fishing/hunting/hiking trip with no photos. I think it implies I was truly in the moment and not thinking about documenting the experience. Cheers!
Yes! But I must confess that I like it when others take pictures and share them with me later, and maybe that’s how they’re in the moment.
I liked this piece. Pictures tell only a part of the story. It is important sometimes to just “walk in peace”.
Indeed it is.
Love this piece! It so clearly describes my own conundrum of choosing to be present or reflecting on the world’s beauty.
Great story and pics Deb. I’m not much of a reader but I certainly enjoy yours. Much love. Vic from Maple Bay.
Spring is my favorite season, with all of the flowers coming back to life, each at their own pace. Thank you for sharing your spring flowers too!
I do take pictures…especially for people like you 😉 And I’m so glad you took these…for people like me!
Ditto Terry Groves. Lovely writing.