Friday, October 29, 2010


Been thinking about movement a lot lately, things moving rather than things staying still. One reason is that I bought a video camera, a tiny camera the size of my cell phone. I find myself taking lots of video pictures in situations where I might typically take still shots.

Shooting videos has been fun. My favorites have been the goofy skits my daughter and I have done in the mountains, pretending to be quite breathless on a mild hike in an Idaho range or quite nonchalant about the grandeur of Oregon's Mt Hood behind us.

My video work has surprised me. I found myself filming a spotlight's ripple on black water at ten pm on a northern Idaho lake. I found myself standing in the back of a pick-up truck, filming the bounce and jar of the rig's passage on a ridge-top goat trail. I found myself tracking the slight movement of leaf and sleeping duck in a formal Japanese garden.

And why, I wondered, am I so fascinated with the ability to capture things on the move? Why are these fleeting glimpses so different from the many still photos I typically shoot?

I've thought about the concept of movement, of energy pushing enough to move a solid through a liquid, whether it is air or water. I've thought about archetypes and myths of the movement of air, of wind. I've thought of the Greeks' four wind deities: Boreas (North Wind); Eurus (East Wind); Notus (South Wind...I live about 30miles from a town called Notus); and Zephyros (West Wind). Reading tales of Boreas, Eurus, Notus, and Zephyros, visualizing these charcters, I've pondered how the concept of movement through air has captured our imagination so intently. Wind has fascinated us for a long time.

These thoughts took me way back to the windy valley of my youth, where air was always on the move. I've long joked that I didn't know I could walk upright until I left that valley, the wind was so everpresent, so strong. I hated that wind. Hated it. Just got surly when I stepped outside. Summer wind was like a furnace; winter wind was torturous. Some friends who lived on a foothill bench in that windy valley said they liked the wind because it reminded them that they lived inside a substance, a fluid entity called air. I thought they were crazy.

I was thrilled to move away from constant wind. Yet now, when I watch and listen to the wind work around my home, I'm not distressed. I most often like the wind wrapping my house. Sitting in my sunroom this week, I marveled at wind's magic: the nervous flutter of yellow aspen leaves; the slow graceful bend of five foot high hollyhock; the gay wave of oak leaves morphing from gold to deep rust; the goofy sway of a wrought iron bird feeder stand; the lilting drift of elm's long green locks; the delicate float of my dog's back-lit hair. I liked this week's wind...a lot.

Some winds bother me, of course. The monstrous roar of air that crashes huge maple and elm branches to the ground, threatens the security of my roof, my car, my windows: that wind I don't like. The wind that rolls and rocks airplanes I don't like. My daughter and I flew into Las Vegas this year in 80+ mph winds. Like other passengers, hunched over in the crash position to ready for a rough landing, we did not like these winds. Crossing a bridge high over the Snake River, a bridge buffetted by constant cross-winds, I hold my breath. I do not like these winds.

This week I wandered at night along a lake's boardwalk, beaten by wind and cold rain. My umbrella flared, making me even more vulnerable to the air's force. I trekked along slippery dock and bridge work, holding tightly to rails and ropes, while still trying to capture my video memories. The wind made sure I was aware and respectful of its presence.

Back inside, looking at stormy videos and still photos I shot, I was pleased. I was glad that I took deep breaths, anchored myself with sound footing, and forged ahead on the rim of that swirling bowl of lake. I was glad I respected the moving air of my environs. My prizes were images of a rough and tumble night that I'll long remember.

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