What I see right now

I take pictures of everything.  When I leaf through the last few weeks or months on iphoto or instagram, I’m reminder of countless moments that a fleeting sense of wonder startled me to stillness.  When I have those experiences, my instinct is often to photograph whatever it is that caught my attention and reminded me of the grandeur of this ordinary life.  The photograph never, ever captures the moment (the best example I can think of is falling snow: I’ve never taken a picture that even remotely shows the extraordinary beauty of falling snow) but it does remind me of those tightness-in-chest, gasp-of-breath moments that I’m grateful to have every single day.  The photographs are a record of what I see.  And, remember: what you see is what you get.

The late-winter, early-spring light on a steeple, against one of the most devastatingly blue skies I’ve ever seen.
The light streaming through my front door one afternoon, when it seemed tangible, visceral.

Grace’s shooting star tattoo, which inspired part of my ode to age ten: Ten is a complicated hymn, a falling star, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in time, an otherworldy flash of green gorgeousness in the dark ocean.
This book, that Grace wrote at school, whose “About the Author” section moved me the most.  “It took Blue five years to write Chasing Vermeer,” it says, “because she was teaching and also taking care of her kids.”  I swooned.

A swollen moon hanging on the horizon in Washington.  Grace actually noticed this as we walked back from dinner one night.  The moon, the moon, the moon: a constant reminder that we need dark to be able to see the light.


The sun coming up, as seen on the tree outside my kitchen door.

What are you seeing these days?

18 thoughts on “What I see right now”

  1. So gorgeous! The tree out of your kitchen window is my favorite. I am so grateful for the camera on my phone it has made me such a better photographer!

  2. What you see is the remarkable vast design your blog title celebrates. I see brightness in each of your captured moments–that is what draws you to record them.

  3. So many birds and buds and the greening world. Last night Abra and I took a walk around the neighborhood, her pushing her doll stroller, and we had to stop about every foot to run our fingers through “the snow! the snow!” of fallen cherry blossoms.

    Have you read “Wave” by Sonali Deraniyagala? If not, you must.

  4. I haven’t read WAVE, but it’s on my list. Cheryl Strayed’s review of it in the New York Times absolutely took my breath away.

  5. I appreciate hearing that – I admit I don’t always FEEL like I am always loving everything! So it’s nice to have that reflected back 🙂 I’d love to see your baby pictures. xox

  6. All lovely, but the limned tree is my favorite. I must admit, your explanation of the inevitable shortcomings of photography often keeps me from reaching for my camera or phone. I’ve been trying to focus on living in the moment. But I’ll also admit that it’s nice to have the reminders, however imperfect.

  7. I so know what you mean about how a camera can never quite capture the vision I see. But I love how the attempt is part of the seeing deeply–just as writing helps me think/feel deeply.

    What I’m seeing these days? Growth everywhere. My children sprouting into young adults. Blossoms turning in mere days to leaves. The bamboo sending up new shoots far from its mother plant. How painfully brief and brilliant the wonder of spring is.

  8. These are beautiful.

    I have found myself (not surprisingly!) taking so many more photos now that I have a child than I ever, ever did before. But sometimes, I find myself interrupting the organic moment of something by trying to capture it (not to mention the fact that my kid sees me pull out my iphone and yells “Elmo!” because that makes him instantly want to play with the Elmo Calls app I downloaded). Then I sometimes regret pulling out “the device.” But later… I’m so glad to have the photos, the tangible reminders of what we saw, did, explored, etc. Not sure what the right answer is…

  9. So funny that your post is about photographs today. Not even three hours ago I was out in my yard, camera to eye, taking pictures of the ten turkeys walking through our neighborhood. Their bright blue faces and scarlet necks contrasted against the gloomy grey sidewalks and cedar fences struck me as so beautiful. I’ve certainly given my neighbors plenty of “crazy lady” fodder over the years, bending over this and that to get a photo of something in the yard that strikes me as worth capturing. I see you have that affliction too 🙂

  10. That isn’t going to be today … I’m sitting here looking at the still-dark day and it is POURING. xox

  11. I totally know that tension … a year or two ago I was at an assembly at school and I looked around and realized that everyone was watching the assembly through their iPhones. I put mine down, then. But I always want the record, too … xo

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