Tuesday, February 23, 2010

AN INDISTINCT WORLD

Yesterday morning, a misty fog magically erased all separation between earth and sky. Instead, one became the other somewhere in the midst of a luminous white veil caused by cold snow cover and warming air. It was visually impossible, no matter how hard you strained to see, to say where one began and the other ended—everything was muddled, indistinct, an atmospheric mystery both oddly comforting and deliciously disquieting.
I thought it was also a nebulous world of soft, glowing beauty, where a pair of towering elms near a two-rail fence were like faded image on an old black & white print, or a young maple seemed suspended, almost floating.
Oaks in a grove up the road from the cottage looked more ephemeral and less sturdy, not at all their usual indomitable stalwart selves. Why, at any moment, they might simply fade away…even that vigorous youngster which had, so far, failed to give up a single one of last year's now-brown leaves.
Alas, while the photographer in me wanted desperately to spend the morning making pictures, there was no time. I had places to go, errands to run, appointments to keep. My time on this day was not my own. A quick look as I drove along was the best I could do…well, almost. I did have my camera on the passenger seat, and I did stop once or twice, roll down the window, and make a few snaps.
Drive-by photography isn't my thing, but sometimes it's all you can manage.

24 comments:

Scott said...

The first two images are "classic!" They capture winter perfectly. They'd make my wife (a devout winter-hater)shiver!

Debbie said...

I got a pretty good picture of a red-tailed hawk last fall that I am using for my header picture. Thought you'd enjoy it if you have time to hop over and have a look.
Debbie

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pure magic Scribe, those photographs.
Thanks for your comments on the importance of water and on your own watercourse so close to your heart. I wonder - do the languages of the North American First People (as I believe it is now PC to call them) survive? There must be watery words in there somewhere - I know that places like Ottawa and Quebec are taken from the early people.
Sometimes blogging friends from the US tell me they are envious of our history here in the UK - I think it is just as fascinating to study your history over the pond. Some years ago I went to Mesa Verde (before the devastating fire) and found the history there absolutely fascinating.
Your photographs today have certainly added a little mystery to your fine collection.

Carolyn H said...

I love your foggy photos this morning. I've discovered that fog has to be "just right" for good photos--too much can be a bad thing, too little and it's not so interesting. You hit it just right this morning!

Carolyn h.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Your "drive by shootings" are wonderful and truly give you the feel of the mist and veil. The first 2 photos are favorites!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Scott…

Actually, your wife might not have been all that uncomfortable. I think the temperature got upwards of 40˚F, hence the fog. Personally, I'm a devout hot-weather hater. Anything above 80˚F is too hot, like being in an oven. Uggggh! Glad you liked the photos, anyway.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Debbie…

I did just now look, and wow! That's a neat hawk shot.

I also meant to drop you a note and say I was glad you're feeling better. Don't worry about spring coming…it will, as it always has. Not with all those bluebonnets you're used to back home, but with its own pastel rainbow of ephemerals. Keep the faith, and avoid those germs and viruses!

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

I am so drawn to the mystery of the cold and snowy misty veil that covers details and lines and blends magically - I look hard for something to"appear" from them mist - I believe it always does. "thank you" for these mystifying pictures of heaven and earth coming together in the mist of nature.

Love to you
Gail
peace......

Jayne said...

Such beautiful images... almost makes you forget about how darn cold it has been!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Thought you might like the photos.

Yes, there are likely hundreds of words, given the hundreds of divisions—tribes, bands, clans, and small groupings—which we now, collectively, most commonly call Indians. Lots of separate languages and their regional dialects once existed—and many still do. Though only a small percentage of those different cultures and peoples and their languages remain, there are still quite a few. I'm sure they have their "watery words."

Now……re. those peoples whom I referred to as "Indians" in my stream comment on your blog. I have struggled and questioned and thought about this a lot over the years. Here's something of my take on the whole matter…

First off, I always immediately distrust any word or term deemed politically correct or incorrect. A "political" word of any sort is, by definition, one said to be currently appropriate by a governmental party or agency. Moods on stuff like this often change with the political winds—in vogue one year, out the next. Granted, certain words do have some pretty awful connotation in their history, and could well—and should perhaps rightly—be considered offensive.

But as a writer I also resent the fact that certain words get co-opted into political correctness; the word "gay" for example. Do we throw out the old poems and songs and prose using that word since it no longer means the same thing?

I also resent those politically correct terms which are simply incorrect. I was born in the United States of America. My parents were born here, as were my grandparents and great-grandparents on both sides, paternal and maternal, at least back into the early-1700s and in some cases, the 1600s. Yet if I say I'm a "native American" I'm politically incorrect. I'm a native of this country; it is my native country; yet I'm NOT a native American? Or I'm only a lower-case "native" American, without benefit of capitalization?

How many generations does it take to become a native…and who gave someone else the right to make that rule?

I've never heard "Indians" called North American First People. I've heard them called "First Nations." Also "indigenous peoples," and "Aboriginals." But new DNA studies make it clear that some were here earlier than others, and more than one population source for continental settlement was involved.

If you want to be fairly accurate in general regarding these groups of early people, "Pre-Columbian" or "Paleoamericans" is acceptable. The Lithic stage ran from 126,000 to 10,000 years ago. People that appeared then were the "first Americans." Also the "Archaic peoples."

Here in Ohio, some of our earliest defined cultures were Mound Builders—Hopewells, Adenas, and Fort Ancients, part of the "Woodland Indian" era grouping. These people all came before the later groups we now call Indians.

So, what term to use? "Indian" is still by a wide margin the most common term. The only folks who seem to regularly depart much from this are the politicians and governmental employees, though lots of bureaus and organizations and legal terminology still use the word.

Over the years, again and again I've asked the people to whom the word refers what they call themselves and want to be called. First, most simply say they recognize themselves as Americans. Then comes their tribal/cultural identification—i.e., Shawnee, Cherokee, Cree, Lakota, Menominee, etc. Finally, collectively…Indians.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

Fog can indeed be tricky, although I'd rather have a bit too much than too little. Often here on the river, I'll watch wisps of fog curl above a riffle, or a thin breath of mist swirl over a pool. Sometimes these are (for me, anyway) impossible to photograph. I need a bit more in order to capture the effect.

Yesterday was just right, and I thought given the near mindless stop-and-snap nature of the shots I made that they came out well. I wanted it to look light and airy, bright, white, and yet have some depth. I think several of the quick shots come close to that. Better than I'd feared, anyway.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Teri…

I'd hate to have to pick a favorite—like a parent asked to choose a "favorite" child. I didn't quite manage the shot I had in my head. For that I'd have had to drive around until I found the exact right setting…and there just wasn't time. All these were taken within a couple of miles and literally entailed only stopping the car on the roadway long enough to stick the camera out the window and press the shutter release.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Hey, I look, too. I know there's mystery and magic in there somewhere, and I strain my eyes to see. And sometimes it does!

I love the way you put this, "heaven and earth coming together in the mist of nature." That's how the world yesterday morning struck me, and what I hoped to portray with words and photos. Thank you for such a lovely line.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

One man's (or woman's) cold is another's comfortable. :-D

But I know what you're saying. Beauty has a way of distracting us out of ourselves. Perhaps that's what God intended all along…

giggles said...

Gorgeous group of shots....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Thank you.

Bernie said...

The past two mornings I have awoke to a low ceiling of heavy fog...it was impossible to see across my courtyard and even as morning grew into afternoon the fog was only able to lift very faintly....the hoar frost is lovely on the pine trees and chain fences, it is all quite beautiful.
Your first two photos could of been taken in my back yard this morning Grizz....only I would not of captured them so well. I was surprised you were able to drive and do errands, one of our main highways were closed as were many flights cancelled at our major airport.
Have a great day my friend....:-) Hugs

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

Actually, the driving part wasn't all that bad. Visibility was really better than these photos might indicate—maybe 50 yards.

I'd like to see a good hoar frost here. That would make for some great photos. It's supposed to cool by a half-dozen degrees and snow lightly over the next several days. So maybe we'll get something else worthwhile. I hope.

Rowan said...

I love the world when it is half hidden in mist, it looks magical and beautiful. It's like that outside here at the moment, we've had snow overnight and now there is a mist over the land. I'm glad you stopped your car a few times and took these photos. I've read your reply to Weaver and couldn't agree more about 'politically correct' terms for both people and things. I confess though that I call the Indian peoples Native Americans unless I'm referring to a particular tribe which I generally try to do. I'd never quite thought of the phrase in the terms you use:)

Kelly said...

Loved this post and the first photo is just spectacular. There is something so peaceful about it...and beautiful. I didn't even get to take any photos in that morning fog. I always love looking at it...loved the narration as well.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

For me, too, these mornings of mist and fog above snow-covered ground are both beautiful and magical, almost a dream-sequence come to life, where fantasy and reality seems equally logical, momentarily possible. I wish I could have spent more time making photos.

As I said to Weaver, I've pondered and tried, as best I could, to answer my own misgivings regarding the term "Indian." The nelogism "Native American" was created some years ago by a group of academics, though even today, it is only partially accepted within those same academic circles.

I think political correctness is often more offensive and divisive than that which it seeks to replace. I love my country. It is the land of my birth and my roots for at least the previous 250 years. I am, in my mid, a native of this soil.

Yes, before that most of my ancestors were Celts. But there's also another "before that" as as there is for one and all of us. Follow the DNA trail back and we all come from one mother, one father—regardless of whether you prefer the view of an Adamic linage or a more evolutionary Homo sapiens family tree. The pre-Columbians of the Americas did not arrive as a single group—though there was a "first group" obviously—nor did they all originate from the same group.

It will never happen in my lifetime—and maybe never ever, given the hearts and nature of mankind—but wouldn't it be something if we could be gathered in a room somewhere, look out at the crowd, and see only men and women? To point out an individual, you could freely mention their clothes, age, weight, height, hair color, the color of their skin, and any other distinguishing features—physical or dress—without fear of it being taken offensively. Not because there aren't those differences—there are!—but because those differences wouldn't matter in the least. Diversity would be only an attribute, the mixing that makes life interesting. I wouldn't want to go to a library where the shelves held only multiple copies of a single book.

According to the Census Bureau and all formal research on the subject, the people themselves prefer Indian or American Indian. In 2004, the National Museum of the American Indian opened on the Mall in Washington, D.C. It seems right to me to use the term still widely preferred by the people themselves, as well as the designers and builders of those who seek to honor their contributions and cultures.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

Thank you for your compliments. I wish I could have spent the morning driving the backroads and making photos. I also wish you could have gotten out to take your own photos…as I would have enjoyed seeing them.

Maybe next time for both of us…

Jain said...

They're all marvelous but I especially like the lost horizon picture. One could step into the mist and end up... who knows where?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

I take it you mean the second shot? If so, I guess I'd have to say that's probably my favorite one, too…and for pretty much the reason you describe. I like that sense of mystery and possibility, the "door to who knows where?" it seems to suggest.