Just Visiting?


Reflection on a  waterfall

Do I belong here? Am I just a visitor? I mean apart from the few miles I drove to get here. Am I “other” than the natural world that surrounds me in this wood just because I drive a car, live in a house, and use a pen to write these words in my notebook?

waterfallI walk this place often – often for more years than I’d like to admit. I know it well. I recognise many of the trees – both the living and the dead. The waterfalls are old friends. I know the rocks. I know them wet and grey stripped bare by the spring thaw, green and brown in mossy summer garments, draped with red and orange leaves in the fall, and encased in the white and blue of winter’s icy grip.

I can put names to many of the birds that I see and hear. The kinds of the plants and trees and animals; I know them pretty well too. The smell of the earth and the feel of it under my feet and fingers triggers memories.

I breathe the same air and feel the same sun warming my shoulders as the tall tree that supports my back and forms my chair. Am I so different because I have not stood silent watch here for so many years?

We think of ourselves as other. Nature is one thing and we humans are something different. Maybe we have widened the gap too far. We are made of the same stuff after all.

A couple weeks ago I recounted some of my experiences while in another forest and concluded as I left that I was “only a visitor” there and that maybe the wood was glad to be rid of me. I’ve been thinking about that statement and now I’m not so sure. This place sure feels like home to me sometimes.

Brown waterfallNow my beliefs are firmly mainstream Christian, so I’m not suggesting that we all throw on togas, dance into the woods, and start worshipping the stones. On the other hand we might do better by ourselves if we start thinking of nature a little more as our home and a little less as so much raw material.



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4 Responses to “Just Visiting?”

  1. Bernie Kasper Says:

    Beautiful images and sentiment Mark, I understand the feeling as well, it kinda depends on the mood I carry in with me when I enter this world.

    If I go in hurried or on a time table I don’t feel part of it, but if I go in with the time to relax and enjoy it I definitely feel like I am more than just a visitor.

    The images are beautiful btw, especially the top one, great work !!

  2. fencer Says:

    Great photos, as usual (like the first one especially a lot, too) and thoughtful consideration of personal experience to go with it… Always a pleasure to come by and catch up on the latest.



    As always, fab photos!
    There’s such subtle composition working in these.
    Remember how we had to parse sentences in school, back when?
    I tend to parse imagery composition to see how the eye is led back and forth in pictures.
    These ones are just great. Very quietly, one is engaged in the photo and led back and forth to keep the eye centered on the image. To wit: That gushing white shape of aerated water could so easily thrust a viewer out of the picture but that little white eddy below it, that e-swirl of a shape, centers and anchors one’s view in the center.
    In the second, the fall going leftwards is so strong, and anchors in that white pool on the left. That’s enough to get you stuck on the left hand side. But no! Those strong rock forms on the left act as arrows directing you back into the center and back down the waterfall.
    So, one might say, there is an empty space on the lower right hand side that is doing nothing to support the picture. Not so! The very subtle form of the grey rock slice draws one back into the center as well. That dark corner is very quietly vital with rock forms.
    The third one is equally live with horizontal and vertical forces, and a great balance of light to dark.
    Bravo on all three.

  4. forestrat Says:

    Thanks everybody!

    As you guys know, taking photos of “found” stuff outside a studio can be a problem when things don’t line up where you would want them. Sometimes I wish I could suspend myself in the air to get the angle I’m looking for. That middle picture turned out alright, but I had a heck of a time clinging to a little ledge of rock with my tripod to get the side view in the narrow gorge.

    I like the top and the bottom pics especially for the colors. Color seems to be the first thing that draws my eye to certain subjects (I can’t do black and white to save my life). There is a lot of iron in the water where these were taken so the stones change colors through the year – blackish grey to bright orange to, my favorite, this reddish brown in the summer. Blended with the reflected green of the leaves it looks really nice.


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