Yesterday they promised heavy thunderstorms with big hail in the afternoon, and when it did not materialize I headed out on my ebike to look for sky. In the coastal plain of York County, that means either the beach or the Kennebunk Plains. The Kennebunk Plains, as I have mentioned in the past, is a sand plain…one of the few undeveloped habitats of its kind in New England. It was kept open in the past by wildfire…and is now maintained by controlled burns. The Nature Conservancy owns part of it and the whole of it is managed as a Wildlife Management Area by the state…to protect several endangered birds, reptiles, and flowers. And because it is open, you get to see the sky in all its glory. This is a “sweep panorama” from the Sony a6500 with my ultra wide lens set up. Sweep panorama is a mode that allows you to swing the camera around the horizon and take one long continuous photo…the camera actually takes dozens of individual photos and stitches them together in-camera. This is about 180 degrees of land and sky. I held the camera in portrait mode, vertically, to take in more sky. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos for an HDR effect.
Looking from the hill where the faithful believe the angle of peace appeared across the little valley to the Basilica at the site of the apparition of Mary in Fatima. The Hungarian Pilgrim way runs from there to here. The Basilica is just to the right of the trees on the left. Sony a5100 in-camera HDR. 16mm prime with UWA converter for an 18mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
This little stretch of snowfence protects a corner in an access road for a group houses on our local beach, where the wind across the marsh might drift the snow across the road. As you can tell from its condition, it has stood there at least since I moved here over 20 years ago, and I can’t honestly remember it looking any better then. This is after about a foot, maybe 8 inches right along the coast, within the sound of the surf, of fresh blowing snow. We expect another 12-24 inches in next 24 hours, a real nor-easter. The snowfence does its job, more or less. There is, every nor-easter, a sizable drift in front of it. Because, of course, that is the way it works. It is not so much a snowfence as wind fence. By slowing the passing wind, it causes the snow to drop out on the downwind side. In this next storm I expect the snow will backfill to cover all but the tips of the slats. It does not prevent drifts so much as to encourage them to form somewhere short of the road.
I like the line and curve of it against the snow, and what the wind does with the surface of the drift…the carving, the light and shadow, and in this shot, the brooding bank of cloud and the touch of blue sky above.
As I started to post this image for yesterday’s Pic for Today, just because I like the beauty of it, the whole concept of erecting a snow fence to fence out the snow…or a wind fence to tame the wind…stuck me as having a spiritual dimension, and I decided to save it for the Generous Eye today.
Now that I reflect on it a bit more, I not sure what to do with it. The wind, in the new testament, is, very often, the spirit. They are the same word in the language Jesus most likely spoke, and, if I remember right, in Hebrew as well. Jesus, speaking to an honest and devout Jew come to inquire of him, said “No one can see the Kingdom of God who is not born again.” When the questioner questioned the possibility of anyone being born twice, Jesus went to to say, “Turely I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of the wind (spirit). You must be born of water and the wind. Flesh is born of flesh, but wind is born of wind.” (Or flesh is born of flesh, but the spirit is born of spirit.) “Don’t be surprised that I said you must be born again. The wind blow
s where it will. You hear the sound of its passing, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with anyone born of the wind…born of the spirit.” That, of course, only confused the questioner more. And that, of course, was Jesus’s point. He was saying that something has to happen to you, before you can see God’s Kingdom…before you can see God at work in the world and in eternity. Something has to change in you. I am pretty sure he was also paying the questioner, who had already admitted that he saw God and God’s presence in the things Jesus was doing and saying, a compliment. He was telling this honest, devout Jew, that if he saw God in what Jesus was going, he was already born again…born of the wind, born of the spirit…whether he knew it or not. But that is straying pretty far from snowfences. Or is it?
My first thought was about the futility of trying to fence out the snow, or the wind. At the very most, all we do is slow the wind and reposition the snow. It is equally impossible of course to fence out, or to fence in, the spirit. It is an odd thought, but building a church, or establishing a doctrine (building a fence) might slow the spirit enough so you get a drift on the down wind side, a congregation or a denomination, but it does not stop the spirit from blowing where it will. And I am not at all sure I want to be part of the drift. If I am going to be snow in this metaphor, I want to be the snow still blowing in the wind…I want to part of the movement, the force, the power and unknowable purpose of the spirit. And maybe Jesus was telling his devout Jew that too…not to settle in the drift, behind the snowfence, but to get up into the wind again and get moving. The Kingdom of God is not a place, it is a movement like the wind…a way of being suspended…lifted out of yourself and part of the great wind that is God acting in love in the world. You have to be born of the wind, born on the wind (I don’t know if Jesus had that pun to play with in his language, but we do in ours 🙂 Our mother’s carried us in a womb of flesh…the spirit carries us on the wind of loving creation. Born of and in the flesh and born of and on the spirit.
So yes, when I look at this snowfence I see beauty, but I am also amused. A snowfence? As though anyone could fence in the snow. A wind fence, as though anyone could fence in the wind. And who are you in this metaphor? I know who I want to be. I want to be God’s creative love in action. I want to be a particle of snow, a paricle of water, a particle of flesh, born on the mighty breath of God in this world and eternity. Happy Sunday!
There are few places stranger than
the pine plantation at Alwive Pond.
The trees all of a kind and all of an
age…my age…or a few years younger,
planted in the early 50s to fill in
for the fires of 47. And today, in
a January thaw, the trees stand stark
in the filtered light, unnaturally even,
holding high a fragile roof against
the winter sky. The hush is so profound
it is a presence, behind you, a cowled
multitude, breathing reverence in
perfect rhythm to your breath.
Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDR. 24mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro for a somewhat high-key effect to bring out the geometry.
It got up to 47 degrees yesterday, on January 11th, after night of rain. The combination had every creek in flood, ponds melting, and the tide, already a King tide, running abnormally high. They were practicing hockey here on the little pond by Rt 9 in Kennebunk only the day before. You can see the mounds of snow that marked the edge of the shoveled area in two different storms. I like the light and shadows here, and the reflections.
Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. My own shadow removed from right center at the bottom with TouchRetouch.
We had a good snowfall overnight…4-6 inces in our yard…more inland (up to 18 inches they were saying). I had an appointment for a health screening (provided by my insurance carrier free of charge, so why not) early so I was out before daylight snow-blowing the drive. The appointment was at a mobile van in the parking lot of the local library, which is right next door to one of the oldest churches in Kennebunk. After my appointment, as I was getting into the car, I looked out across the grave yard next door, and across the street to another of the old churches, and had to get back out with my camera.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. A distracting branch removed in Touchretouch and then processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro 12.9.
This week’s Supermoon (the last for this year) caused exceptionally high tides all along the coast here in southern Maine. This is Branch Brook at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells Maine, a good mile inland from the sea. All about color and clouds and reflections.
Sony RX10iii at 24mm equivalent field of view. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure: 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
If you follow my work at all, you will recognize this pond as one of my favorite locations around home…in any and all seasons. Here, at the beginning of winter, with first ice. It was a difficult exposure, with the sky too bright and the landscape in shadow, but worth the effort.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. Nominal exposure: 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed for a somewhat high key effect in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
Carol and I were in New Mexico when the first snow fell in Maine, but we were home yesterday and watched, Frost like, the woods fill up with snow. It snowed most of the day, but never heavily, and by late afternoon we had about 2 inches on the ground. Gentle snow, and very little wind, so even that little bit built up on the evergreens to look like a much heavier fall. This is a little patch of mostly second growth forest (or 10th growth for all I know) just across the road from our house. It is posted, but I worked my way just far enough into the woods for this pic of the newly fallen snow, about 2:30 in the afternoon, before the light failed completely. There is always a quiet beauty to freshly fallen snow.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. 24mm equivalent field of view. Nominal exposure: 1/100th @ f2.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
One of the best effects of HDR is maintaining green where it would otherwise go dark. Add a bit of shadow recovery in post processing, and the effect is very life-like. 🙂