Lincoln Road Journal, one year in the backyard, Lessons learned at 6 months

August 16, 2009, the project begins with Indian pipe in the yard.
August 16, 2009, the project begins with Indian pipe in the yard.
September brought white baneberry.
September brought white baneberry.
September also was a time of meadowhawks
September also was a time of meadowhawks
October brought color to the woods.
October brought color to the woods.
November's dawn painted the early morning sky.
November's dawn painted the early morning sky.
December is a dark month, but a full moon added light.
December is a dark month, but a full moon added light.
The cold of January painted a window in frost.
The cold of January painted a window in frost.
February saw deer return to the yard, and the rhythm of nature beats on.
February saw deer return to the yard, and the rhythm of nature beats on.

Lessons learned at 6 months

 

Today marks the halfway point of my Lincoln Road Journal, One Year in the Backyard, project.

It's time to review lessons learned:

* There are many rhythms to the natural world, and many that most of us don't pay attention to. That's probably the single biggest lesson that has struck home.

There are times the photographer in me longs for each day to be totally unique and boasting of something new in the 3 acres I'm exploring for this project. And, undoubtedly in some small way every day is different. The photographer in me always notices the subtle and gross changes in lighting. But I've also learned how in many ways, nature will fall in a groove of a few days or more where whatever it is I'm watching one day, likely will be something I'm watching for a few days.

The most recent example of that was the arrival of the deer. For months, the deer had avoided the yard. I began to wonder if they'd return in time to be part of this journal. And they did. Much as they did last year, and when I thought about, as they do every year. They stay away during the heaviest snowfall times of winter; they almost always do. They're not far away. I see their signs skiing along the creek to the east. But following the deer hunting season, they avoid the yard and are rarely seen. Undoubtedly there numbers are reduced by the hunters. That in turn, makes them more wary of anything human. Once the serious melt begins, they return to the yard where the find the acorns raked to the edge of the woods the fall before. Sometimes that leads them to discover the spilled feed below the bird feeders. That combination will have them here until summer arrives. Food is scarcer as the snow cover deepens and hardens.

The doves, too, are a sign of that rhythm. The past two days has been the doves' turn to dominate in the yard.

* The other overwhelming rhythm of winter is a sameness that descends when cloud cover prevents the sun from breaking through, and the snow cover on the ground is deep enough and crusty enough that it changes little.

* Light is the photographer's friend. That's hardly news since one way of looking at photography is it is painting with light. The camera, in truth, is only recording light much like an audio recorder captures sound. How one composes the image including decisions about choice of lens, f-stop, shutter speed and angle are tools to capture the image. But good lighting can make the mundane look splendid. Poor lighting can make the splendid look blah.

* The yard has more diversity of plant and animal life than I had realized. Much of it is fleeting.

* The rewards for slowing down and looking closely and listening even in the silence of night are many. It calms one down and opens a new world that in our haste we often miss.

* There's far more that I don't know about the natural world than I do know. It's proof of Einstein's observation that as the circle of knowledge increases, so does the circumference of darkness. In other words, the more you learn, the more you realize that there's far more to learn.

* For me, living in a place such as Michigan fits my psyche. I love the four seasons. Each is wonderful in its own way. It's best to take them as they come, because that's just the way it is.

* The discipline of keeping a journal keeps me looking, photographing, learning, writing and experiencing that which is just outside my door. I live in a fine place with a great yard, but it's not unique in too many ways. The same is true of most places -- we too often ignore that which is too close to us, "too common." In a world addicted to adventure and glitz, there's a tonic in looking closely at what is close at hand, living quietly outside our doors.

We share the world with many neat living things and natural phenomena. And we're richer for it.

Thanks for reading.

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Comments 3 comments

Bruce Smith 6 years ago

this is shaping up to be a book of beautiful photographs and a monthly commentary via essays. Great work!


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Yard of nature 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks. Powered by bread ... the homemade kind.


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D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Yard of nature, nature has always something to offer for those with eyes to see and the ears to listen. I appreciate fully the hard work and dedication you have put into this series. well done !

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