Just a Dandelion

I finally saw my first wildflower of the season at Willow River State Park.  I wasn’t too excited when it turned out to be a dandelion.  Within a yard of the dandelion were a few small, blue violets.  I don’t know what type of violet.  Wildflowers can be hard to identify.  For example, I also saw some small white flowers that could be either a type of everlasting or a type of pussytoes.  I’m not sure which.

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Dandelion
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Blue Violet
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Everlasting or Pussytoes
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Willow River

 

First Wildflower

 

I’m working on a project to photograph wildflowers in Willow River State Park, but the first wildflower I’ve seen this year was on the North Country National Scenic Trail, three hours north of Willow River.  It’s a round-lobed hepatica.  The flower is about 1/2 inch and is two inches above the forest floor.  The resulting photo is below along with a few other shots from on the trail.

 

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Round-Lobed Hepatica
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Scott Rapids Campsite, St. Croix River
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Footbridge On the North Country National Scenic Trail
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Self-Portrait
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St. Croix River On the North Country National Scenic Trail

 

Wildflowers

I’ve started working on a project to photograph wildflowers in Willow River State Park from the start of the season until the frosts of autumn:  wildflowers in the same location throughout a single season.

I’ve seen no wildflowers yet, so I’ve been shooting leftovers from last year that have spent the season under the snow and whatever new growth I can find.  The first things I noticed were the sporophytes of moss.  The moss is a brilliant green among the drab browns and tans of early spring.

Then there is a small plant with geranium-like leaves that always seems to be green.

Within the last week, the buds on trees and shrubs have plumped up.  They’ve added a tinge of color to the forested hillsides.  Over the last few days, new grasses have emerged and are adding their bit of green.

Wet Leaves and a Roll Of Birch Bark
Wet Leaves and a Roll Of Birch Bark
Grass That's Spent a Season Under the Snow
Grass That’s Spent a Season Under the Snow
Old Bracken Ferns
Old Bracken Ferns
I'm Reminded Of Bryce Canyon
I’m Reminded Of Bryce Canyon

 

Last Year's Acorn
Last Year’s Acorn
Withered Mushrooms On a Trunk
Withered Mushrooms On a Trunk
Moss Sporophytes
Moss Sporophytes
New Grass
New Grass
Buds On a Shrub
Buds On a Shrub
Rising From the Forest Floor
Rising From the Forest Floor
What Will This Become?
What Will This Become?
New Growth
New Growth
One Of the Earliest Things To Sprout
One Of the Earliest Things To Sprout

Melody Gardot

Image result for melody gardotMelody Gardot is a singer whose story and songs are an inspiration.  She was born in 1985 and, according to Wikipedia,

Gardot started music lessons at the age of nine and began playing piano in Philadelphia bars at the age of sixteen on Fridays and Saturdays for four hours a night.

While riding her bicycle in Philadelphia in November 2003, Gardot was struck by an SUV and sustained head, spinal, and pelvic injuries. Confined to a hospital bed for a year, she needed to relearn simple tasks and was left oversensitive to light and sound. Suffering from short- and long-term memory loss, she struggled with her sense of time.

Encouraged by a physician who believed music would help heal her brain, Gardot learned to hum, then to sing into a tape recorder, and eventually to write songs.

For several years, she traveled with a physiotherapist and carried a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator to reduce pain.

Given her oversensitivity to sound, she chose quieter music. On the treadmill, she listened to bossa nova by Stan Getz. Unable to sit comfortably at the piano, she learned to play guitar on her back.  During her recovery, she wrote songs that became part of the self-produced EP Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions. Gardot was reluctant to record her songs at first, stating that they were too private for the public to hear, but relented and allowed her songs to be played on a Philadelphia radio station.

Image result for melody gardotHere are a few of her best:

Amalia

Sweet Memory

Some Lessons

No Irony

 

Spoken without irony by Nigel Danson:

Photography is so much fun.  It’s minus two with a wind chill of about minus thirteen.

The quote above is from one of Nigel’s YouTube videos from Iceland.  It’s just as cold in Wisconsin, actually colder and a lot more snow, but photography can still be fun!

On Burnett County Road O
On Burnett County Road O
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Shed and Bare Tree
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On Grettum Dike Road
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As if!
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Winter On the Chippewa River
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Animal Tracks On the Frozen River
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Open Water On the Frozen River

 

Stuck Again

February 3rd, 2018:  Stuck in the snow in Cornell, Wisconsin.  It was a Saturday, and I had to call 911 to get a tow truck to come and pull me out.

February 16th, 2019:  Yesterday, a year later, and I was stuck again, in the ditch of a dirt road in Pierce County, Wisconsin.  Again I had to call 911.  Lots of help eventually showed up at the same time; a sheriff’s deputy, a farmer from the top of the hill, and a truck from Larry’s Towing.  The farmer pulled me out before the tow truck arrived.  The towing company didn’t charge me a cent even though they drove many miles to where I was stuck.  I greatly appreciated all the help.

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Stuck Again!
Cady Creek
Cady Creek
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Pierce County Quarry

 

To Go Or Not To Go

I wrote what follows yesterday at noon.  The weather remains frigid.  I’ll stay inside today.


Cold Road
Cold Road

I’m trying to decide if I should leave my apartment today.  It’s blisteringly cold outside – minus 20° F, wind chill minus 39° F.  I do not want to go out there.  On the other hand, I’m bored with the food I have on hand in my apartment.  Should I venture out in search of food?

At some time today, whether I go out or not, I’ll use a great app I recently discovered, A Soft Murmur.   A Soft Murmur does an excellent job of playing “Ambient sounds to wash away distractions” including rain, waves, wind, birds, crickets, fire.  One can adjust the individual sounds and mix them.

I’ve found that if I lay on my sofa listening to my mix of waves, wind, birds, and crickets and feeling a soft breeze (my ceiling fan on low), I can close my eyes and feel that I’m relaxing on a warm June day.  I find it somewhat uncanny.  All that’s missing is some scents of summer.  It’s free and easy to use.  You can find it at asoftmurmur.com.  (I’m not getting a penny for this plug.)

It Is Cold Out There
It Is Cold Out There

I did go out and even took a few photos.  In doing so, I was only out of my car for two minutes.  Then my lungs started complaining about being subjected to the icy air.  Here are a couple shots that I don’t think actually convey how cold it was.

 

 

Shooting Flowers

I’ve been stuck in my apartment for most of January fighting a chronic respiratory ailment.  So I’ve turned to photographing in my kitchen-table studio.  I have large north-facing windows to provide good natural light.  I’ve not used artificial lighting except for a small light pad.

My subject has been flowers.  I’m experimenting with different styles and techniques ranging from straight-forward shots of a single rose to more complex and layered images done with a bit of Photoshop work and added textures or backgrounds.

One Rose
One Rose
Pink Carnation
Pink Carnation
Alstroemeria
Alstroemeria
White Flower
White Flower
Exotic Greenhouse Plant
Exotic Greenhouse Plant
Asters, Rose Petals, and a Daisy
Asters, Rose Petals, and a Daisy
"Words fell Like roses at our feet", Lucinda Williams
“Words fell Like roses at our feet”, Lucinda Williams

 

Never Trust A Dane

As I write these words I have all my numerous and wide-spread cousins in mind, all of whom are of Danish extraction.  For myself and my sister, all our grandparents were born in Denmark.  I quote Bernard Cornwall from Lords Of the North, the third book in his Saxon Stories:

Never trust a Dane

In spite of this slur,  I’m enjoying the Saxon Stories which cover the latter half of the Ninth Century in British history when the West Saxons under Alfred The Great were consolidating a number of small kingdoms into something like the England we know today.  I’ve recently started reading these stories because it seemed like a good way to follow up The Viking Wars:  War and Peace In King Alfred’s Britain 789-955 by Max Adams.  I enjoy reading histories and then reading historical novels about the same period.  I’ve read histories of the Napoleonic Wars intermixed with historical novels, many of them by Bernard Cornwell, especially the Richard Sharpe series of novels.  Cornwell has written series of historical novels covering broad swathes of British history starting with Stonehenge then making a long leap forward to the post-Roman era and continuing on through The Battle Of Waterloo in 1815.

  • Stonehenge:  A Novel Of 2000 BC
  • The Warlord Chronicles – post-Roman in the Dark Ages, 6th century
  • The Saxon Stories – 9th and 10th centuries
  • Azincourt – 1415
  • The Grail Quest Series – mid-14th century
  • The Sharpe Stories – 1794 – 1815.  These stories conclude with Waterloo.  Cornwell also wrote a history of Waterloo.  Try reading these books consecutively.

All of Cornwell’s books are good reads, historically-accurate and engrossing.  I appreciate that he follows each novel with a discussion of what in the novel is historical fact and what is not.

Wandering In January

 

Alone and Abandoned
Alone and abandoned in farm country west of Prairie Farm, Wisconsin

It’s been like April around these parts, but it’s January, the coldest part of the year.  Last Friday the temperature was thirty degrees above normal.  It was sunny; there was no wind.  I had to get out and enjoy the weather in spite of being a bit ill.  I spent most of that day out in my car or walking along the side of the Chippewa River south of Durand, Wisconsin.  I’ll mention one rural, back road I was on just because I like the sound of the names:  I drove Swede Rambler Road, which crosses Little Plum Creek, to its end at a farm gate.  Along the way, I checked out a parking lot at the head of a trail into The Tiffany Bottoms State Natural Area which contains the largest floodplain forest in the United States.

I ended the day in Pepin, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Pepin.  The sunset, two ice fishermen, and I all arrived at the perfect time for a photograph.

The Light Fades On Two Ice Fishermen On Lake Pepin
The Light Fades On Two Ice Fishermen On Lake Pepin
The Chippewa River Taken From Mosbach's Landing
The Chippewa River Taken From Mosbach’s Landing
The Rear Of a Pole Building In Ella, Wisconsin
The Rear Of a Pole Building In Ella, Wisconsin
The Chippewa River in Ella, Wisconsin
The Chippewa River in Ella, Wisconsin
Abandoned Barn On Swede Rambler Lane
Abandoned Barn On Swede Rambler Lane
The Ice Of Lake Pepin
The Ice Of Lake Pepin
Broken Ice, Broken Leaf
Broken Ice, Broken Leaf

 

2018 – A Very Good Year

 

Bests of 2018

I read, listened to, or watched these things in 2018.  They were not necessarily released or published in 2018.  Some are years old but new to me – I discovered them this year.

 

Best Album Title:  I’m Not Here To Hunt Rabbits

This is guitar music from Botswana “played in an eccentric style and with a depth of expression rivaling any genre of music, this is folk from the dusty outskirts of the Kalahari Desert.

A community of African country blues masters with a totally original technique. For one thing; the left hand reaches up and over the neck of the guitar, instead of from behind and underneath. Furthermore, although played on six-string guitars, the guitars are only stringed with 3 or 4 treble strings, usually in G, E and D, and one bass. If a bass string is hard to find, it might be substituted by a brake cable. Tuning is achieved by ear …

Where did these peculiarities originate? Why did they come about? Nobody knows. That’s how the older musicians did it – that’s how it always used to be done …” *

A good example song:  Rampoka by Solly Sobatso

FunkmammothBest Song About the Wooly Mammoth:

Brontosaurus by Funkmammoth

Best Protest Song:

Ohio by Leon Bridges, Gary Clark, Jr., and Jon Batiste.  This is a cover of the song written by Neil Young in response to the Kent State protests and killings of protesters in 1970.  The Guardian in 2010 described the song as the “greatest protest record.”  It is in The Grammy Hall Of Fame.

Honorable Mention:  For What It’s Worth by The Lone Bellow

Best passage from a book:

This passage from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

All night now the jooks clanged and clamored.  Pianos living three lifetimes in one.  Blues made and used right on the spot.

Best lyric from a song:

Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and grey
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive

I’m just happy to be here, happy to be alive

From End Of the Line sung by The Travelling Wilburys, written by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty.

Best music genre:

Lo-fi is a genre hard to define and characterize even after some research.  Lo-fi (or low-fi) is a term that’s been in use for decades as a label for “recorded music in which the sound quality is lower than the usual contemporary standards (the opposite of high fidelity) and imperfections of the recording and production are audible.  . . . Lo-fi only began to be recognized as a style of popular music in the 1990s . . .” **

I think I’ve been listening to a sub-genre of lo-fi described by Wikipedia as a form of “downtempo music tagged as “lo-fi hip-hop” or “chillhop”. **

Here is my favorite example of what I think is lo-fi hip hop or chillhop.  (Brontosaurus from above is also in this genre.)

Sens Plus Profond by Coquins

Best Fact:

Harry Belafonte’s album Calypso from 1956 is the first million-selling LP by a single artist.

Best Happy Song:

Happy With You by Paul McCartney, a good song for all us baby boomers and everyone else

Best Singer Of Nostalgia:

Van Morrison, still going strong after all these years.

The Beauty Of the Days Gone By

Memory Lane

In Tiburon

Brown Eyed Girl     “Do you remember when we used to sing… ?”

Best Movie:

The Shape of Water directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Theater from the Shape of Water

Virgil WanderI loved the cinematography – low-key, saturated colors with a palette leaning towards greens, browns, and oranges.  It reminded me of one of my favorites photographs – Flâneur Granville taken by one of my favorite photographers, Fred Herzog.  A key visual in the movie is an old-style movie theater and marquee reminiscent of a mid-twentieth-century main street.  The main character lives above the theater.   Later in 2018, I read Virgil Wander, a recently-published novel.  One of the novel’s locations is a small-town main street where there is an old-style movie theater complete with a marquee.  Again, The main character lives above the theater.

________________________________________________________________________________________

* Piranha

** Wikipedia entry for Lo-fi music

 

 

 

 

 

Stockholm By Night

 

Sorry, not Stockholm, Sweden but Stockholm, Wisconsin, a tiny town on Lake Pepin, a wide section of the Mississippi between Wisconsin and Minnesota.  I drove through Stockholm shortly after sundown yesterday.  No one was about.  I saw only a single person as I wandered with my camera.  In the summer, the village would be thronged by tourists taking the popular day trip around Lake Pepin.  Here is how things looked on a cold, dark December evening.

Kudos To 911

Inside Looking Out

I wrote this post in February of this year.  I got sick a few days later and forgot about it.  I’ve decided to go ahead and post it.


I got stuck in the snow on Saturday when it snowed all day.  I was in Cornell, a small town on the Chippewa River in Wisconsin.  I tried calling some local services for a tow truck, but, being the weekend, no one answered their phone.  Some snowmobilers came by and tried to push me out without success.  My smartphone was having trouble finding WIFI.

My only recourse thus seemed to be 911, but I was reluctant to call because I didn’t seem to be in a true emergency.  But I couldn’t think of what else to do, so I called.  I apologized to the gentleman at Chippewa County Emergency Services, but he didn’t seem to be bothered by my call and went out of his way to make sure I got help.  I know he made several calls before he was able to find someone in Ladysmith, over thirty miles away.  Eventually, a tow truck arrived and pulled me out.

Thanks very, very much to the man who helped me and Chippewa County Emergency Services.

In my love/hate relationship with smartphones, this day was all love.

P.S., while waiting in my car to be rescued, I noticed the drops of melted snow on my car window and snapped a decent photo.  I was in the snow waiting for a couple of hours and was able to get a few more decent photos.

First Classic Book Review

This is my first review for the Fifty Classic Books challenge.  I had started a different book but abandoned it and decided I would not subject myself to prolonged boredom while working on this challenge.  So I switched to Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  Hurston writes the story of Janie Crawford in the deep South of the early Twentieth Century.  It’s not a boring story.

The book describes Janie’s striving for self-actualization and the constraints that society and culture threw up to hinder her search.  Janie didn’t know anything about self-actualization or even that it was something to pursue. Her pursuit was more of a yearning that she sought to fulfill.  The obvious constraint she faced was racism. She lived smack in the middle of Jim Crow country in the heart of the Jim Crow era. She faced other obstacles including sexism and an insidious sort of class consciousness.

Janie is in her mid-teens at the start of the story.  She was

full of that oldest human longing – self-revelation.

She searched as much of the world as she could from the top of the front steps and then went on down to the front gate and leaned over to gaze up and down the road.  Looking, waiting, breathing short with impatience. Waiting for the world to be made.

She didn’t know anything about the world or what it would bring.  She was looking for . . . sun-up and pollen and blooming trees . . . flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything.

Janie’s life from that point on was not springtime and blooming trees.  Her era was not just Jim Crow, it was also a man’s world. Janie’s grandmother, before marrying her off, offers Janie her insights about the world they lived in:

Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh to find out. . . . So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up.  He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.

Here are some comments from the men in Janie’s life who needed to be in control:

“Somebody got to think for women and chillun and chickens and cows.  I god, they sho don’t think none theirselves. . . . ”  He wanted her submission and he’d keep on fighting until he felt he had it.

[Joe] wanted to be friendly with her again.  His big, big laugh was as much for her as for the baiting.  He was longing for peace but on his own terms [her submission].

Before the week was over he [Tea Cake] had whipped Janie.  Not because her behavior justified his jealousy, but it relieved that awful fear inside him.  Being able to whip her reassured him in possession. No brutal beating at all.  He just slapped her around a bit to show he was boss.

Janie withdrew into herself;  a prolonged stifling of her desires until she met and went off with Tea Cake, who rarely tried to control Janie.  Their relationship was closer to one of equals although Tea Cake sometimes acted out because of his fears and insecurities.

The racism of that era is encapsulated in a court scene when Janie is charged with killing Tea Cake to save herself when he was in the end-stages of rabies madness.  She is tried by a white judge, twelve white, male jurists, and a white prosecutor. All the African-American friends of Janie and Tea Cake have to sit or stand in the back of the courtroom. After the State rests its case, a spokesman for the blacks asks to be heard:

“Mistah Prescott [the prosecutor], Ah got somethin’ tuh say.”

Mr. Prescott replies, “If you know what’s good for you, you better shut your mouth up until somebody calls you.”

“Yassuh, Mr. Prescott.”

“We are handling this case.  Another word out of you, out of any of you niggers back there, and I’ll bind you over to the big court.”

“Yassuh”

[After which] the white women made a little applause.

There is also class consciousness.  Even those on the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder need to have a group of people lower than them that they can disdain.  In this case,  those within the African-American community with darker skin and more pronounced features.

Ah [Mrs. Turner] ain’t useter ‘ssociatin’ wid black folks.  Mah son claims dey draws lighting. . . . Ah jus’ couldn’t see mahself married to no black man.  It’s too many black folks already. We oughta lighten up de race. . . . You’se different from me.  Ah can’t stand black niggers. Ah doon’t blame de white folks from hatin’ ‘em ‘cause Ah can’t stand ‘em maself.  ‘Nother thing, Ah hates tuh see folds lak me and you miced up wid ‘em. Us oughta class off.’ [check spelling]

[Janie replies]  Us can’t do it.  We’se uh mingled people and all of us got black kinfolks as well as yaller kinfolks. 

[Mrs. Turner again]  Look at me! Ah ain’t got no flat nose and liver lips.  Ah’m uh featured woman. Ah got white folks’ features in my face.  Still and all Ah got tuh be lumped in wid all de rest. It ain’t fair.  Even if dey don’t take us in wid de whites, dey oughta make us uh class tuh ourselves.

Hurston does not forget other universal human foibles.

Gossip:  “An envious heart makes a treacherous ear.”

Envy:  One of the regulars on the porch of Joe’s store:  “Us colored folks is too envious of one ‘nother. Dat’s how come us don’t git no further than us do.  Us talks about de white man keepin’ us down. Shucks! He don’t have tuh. Us keeps our own selves down.”

And as Thurston writes, “. . .there was no doubt that the town respected him and even admired him in a way.  But any man who walks in the way of power and property is bound to meet hate.”

Not to mention meanness, dislike of those who do things differently, greed, social climbing.

The racism and sexism in the book were too ingrained in American society to expect any sort of resolution in Their Eyes Were Watching God.  On the other hand, Thurston has many of the characters in Janie’s social world overcoming what I describe above as human foibles.  Often, the characters exhibit them, but given some time and better information they come to more humane thoughts and behaviors. The friends of Janie and Tea Cake first condemned Janie for killing Tea Cake but eventually realized that she killed Tea Cake in self-defence and in doing so protected the community from an infectious and deadly disease.

And what of Janie?  What about her search for something better?  I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot. Suffice it to say that Janie survives.

She went over to the dresser and looked hard at her skin and features.  The young girl was gone, but a handsome women had taken her place. She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair.  The weight, the length, the glory was there.

” . . . you got tuh go there tuh know there.  Yo’ papa and yo’ mama and nobody else can’t tell yuh and show yuh.  Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They go tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.”

Hurston writes with unexpected descriptive phrases that are clear, concise, unique.  I often wondered how a person could come up with these ways to describe things? Very out of the ordinary.  Here are a few examples:

Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought.  She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her.

She was a rut in the road.  Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels.

Sorrow dogged by sorrow is in mah heart.

Last summer that multiplied cockroach wuz round heah tryin’ tuh sell gophers.

Ah’m stone dead from standin’ still and tryin’ tuh smile.

Something stood like an oxen’s foot on her tongue, and then too, Jody, no Joe, gave her a ferocious look.  A look with all the unthinkable coldness of outer space.

All night now the jooks clanged and clamored.  Pianos living three lifetimes in one. Blues made and used right on the spot.

It was the meanest moment of eternity.

She was too busy feeling grief to dress like grief.

Hurston’s humor usually shows up in the dialogue:

Yeah, Sam say most of ‘em goes to church so they’ll be sure to rise in Judgment.  Dat’s de day dat every secret is s’posed to be made known. They wants to be there and hear it all.

Sam is too crazy.  You can’t stop laughing when youse round him.

Uuh huun.  He says he aims to be there hisself so he can find out who stole his corn-cob pipe.

There is also a wonderful story about a yaller mule that becomes a dead yaller mule that ends with a description of the neighborhood’s buzzards gathering to dispose of the mule.  One reads about the buzzards and thinks, “yeah, that’s exactly how buzzards go about doing their thing.” And it’s a funny description.

Hurston’s dialogue is in an African-American vernacular which I first found irritating.  I actually made this note in the margin on page 10: “End of patois. Good”. I found that it made the text harder to read and understand.  I eventually was able to overlook the dialect to the extent that it didn’t interfere with my appreciation of the book. Henry Louis Gates, Jr writes in an afterword that people read Their Eyes Were Watching God in part “. . . because she used black vernacular speech and rituals, in ways subtle and various, to chart the coming to consciousness of black women, so glaringly absent in other black fiction.”  She used the dialogue of peripheral characters speaking the vernacular to give voice to commentaries on life.

Their Eyes Were Watching God was published in 1937.  Gates’s afterword mentions this about Zora Neale Hurston’s subsequent life.

Hurston’s fame reached its zenith in 1943 with a Saturday Review cover story honoring the success of Dust Tracks.  Seven years later she would be serving as a maid in Rivo Alto, Florida; ten years after that she would die in the County Welfare Home in Fort Pierce, Florida.

She deserved better, much better.

Since I finished Their Eyes Were Watching God, I’ve wondered how much has changed since those days.  I thought about some of the books I’ve read that helped me understand that not enough progress has been made.  The problems described in Their Eyes Were Watching God are still with us.

I thought about the Easy Rawlins series of detective novels by Walter Mosely that describe the African-American experience in southern California in the decades after World War Two.  Stanley Crouch’s Nighthawk Rising, a biography of Charlie Parker, and Gordon Parks’ autobiography Choice Of Weapons confirm the accuracy of Mosely’s fictional works.  I found more confirmation in Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth Of Other Suns and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.  There are recent novels like those of Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing and Salvage the Bones.  Most recently for me, the mystery Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke which takes places in contemporary, rural Texas and has an African-American Texas Ranger as its protagonist show that progress has been made – a black Texas Ranger! – but not nearly enough given that the novel also involves the White Aryan Brotherhood.

We need to keep pushing forward, especially now when we seem to be regressing.

Morning Thoughts

 

Morning thoughts, yesterday:

  • It’s gray and gloomy outside.  Bummer.  The prediction was for sunny skies.
  • A lousy day for photography.  Why bother to go out?
  • And it’s cold!
  • I’m tired, run down.  I’d just as soon lie on the couch all day.
  • The morning blues.

Afternoon thoughts, yesterday:

  • It feels so good to be outside in the fresh, clean air.
  • It doesn’t seem as cold as I thought it would be.
  • I’m finding good shots in spite of the flat, gray sky
  • I can forget about the fatigue when I’m out exploring and shooting
  • A great day to be alive

I ended up shooting interesting signs or incongruous signs or signs that said something about the nature of the area I was exploring.  My day’s work was part of my long-running project to photograph the cuesta in Wisconsin west of the Chippewa and Red Cedar rivers.

I felt like a real, true artic explorer.  At one point I reached the top of an unplowed twisting road [photo below] and decided that going down the other side would be putting my life at risk even though I was driving an SUV.  This was in civilized, pastoral Wisconsin.  Unexpected.

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Hillside In November
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Wendy’s On the Hill
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Cheesehead Territory
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I’m didn’t risk driving down
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Barn At the End Of the Road
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Landfill On a Hillside
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The Road Down

 

 

Late November

November is almost over.  The autumn color is gone;  the trees are bare;  there’s no snow.  The forest floor is damp and littered with fallen leaves.  There is a bit of color – the emerald green of moss.  A single leaf still in its autumn color.  Small plants on the forest floor that never seem to suffer from the snow and cold – they’re always green.  A few bare trees with silver branches that stand out against a somber hillside.

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Silver Branches
Root, Trunk, and Moss
Root, Trunk, and Moss
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Last Fallen Leaf
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On the Forest Floor

 

Rustic Road 51

I spent a few hours Sunday afternoon driving and walking Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 in Pierce County.  This is the most rustic of the rustic roads I’ve driven.  It was not much more than two wheel tracks, in many spots suitable for only a single vehicle.  It starts at the top of a small ravine.  The road and ravine plunge downhill with a cliff rising up on one side of the road and the ravine on the other side of the road.  There was little water in the ravine, only a few small pools.  In the spring after snowmelt or perhaps after heavy rain, there would probably be water rushing down the ravine and over least one waterfall.  Eventually, the ravine levels out into a narrow, flat-bottomed valley run through by Pine Creek, a small, meandering stream.  In four places the creek crosses the road in gravel washes –  no bridges or culverts.

I spent a couple hours photographing the road and didn’t encounter a vehicle or a person.  The weather was not good.  I had to use an umbrella to keep the rain off my camera lenses.  Not the best light or weather for photography.  I did get a few decent shots, not just on Rustic Road 51, but on other back roads in southern Pierce County.  I think I did OK considering the conditions.  And – I had fun.

Abandoned Log Cabin
Abandoned Log Cabin in Pierce County, Wisconsin
Gnarly, Bent Trees
Gnarly, Bent Trees
Highway 72 Snakes Up a Hill
Highway 72 Snakes Up a Hill
Tributary Of Plum Creek
A tributary of Plum Creek meanders through a pasture
Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
The top of Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 before it plunges down to the valley floor
Curve In Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
A curve in Wisconsin Rustic Road 51 as it snakes down to the valley floor
Pine Creek on Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
Pine Creek crossing Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
Pine Creek
Pine Creek just before it crosses Wisconsin Rustic Road 51
The Side Of Pine Creek Valley
The hillside that forms the side of Pine Creek Valley