Yesterday my brother David Crook and I reveled in the stark beauty and promise we found at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Scottsdale, Arizona. Too early for the carpeting of brilliant wildflowers and cactus blossoms, we still knew we'd find subjects for our cameras. And we did. Mostly desert driftwood and dying trees. We rejoiced in the bleak beauty of the fallen (and falling) trees and cactus, fully aware that they were God's gift to us on that day, and at that time. After lunch, we went to our homes to view and edit our pictures. And began placing some of the best on Facebook. "Guess you have to be there...really trying to appreciate the 'beauty' here...see a lot of dried up, prickly old things that I'd walk from the garden to the compost bin with..." said one of his friends on his Facebook page. And she's absolutely right. It's all about perception and attitude. The compost bin isn't a place of endings. In a sense, it promises new beginnings, doesn't it? Now if she'd said "trash," I might have had a different response. One of the reasons that some dried up, prickly old things go out and photograph is to listen to and learn from their Creator. This describes me and David. We can't help but experience our surroundings in fresh, new ways. We "see" with our imaginations, we "hear" with our hearts. We sense and appreciate history as well as the future. The future? How can that be? God is the Supreme Storyteller. And there is no end to the variety of his presentations. Peeking up through the hard-packed landscape were a few bright pink owl clover, lavender lupine, and feisty yellow brittlebush blossoms. Plus the occasional sage-green coffeebush. A lavish carpet preparing to burst into full bloom at the right time. Promise. Even hope. By the time we'd finished shooting and headed to Fountain Hills for lunch, we were, in perhaps a strange way, satisfied with what we photographed and saw. Like our grandmother, Sue C. Boynton, who wrote this poem (Old Tree) in the mid-1900s: Lord, let me learn from this old tree That there is dignity in loneliness, Beauty in broken branches, Strength in twisted, storm beaten torso. Help me to understand that underneath, If roots go deep enough, No storm can wreck the life That from them reaches to the sky. Help me to remember To stand Where God has placed me. I appreciate David's friend for the realistic reminder that a compost bin is not just an end, but a promise of new beginnings.
By Judy Vorfeld This beautiful young woman is one of many of my talented nieces. She grew up living on Lake Quinault, Washington, and has always loved music. I wonder if it's because her mother, Jennifer, is a talented musician, and so is her grandmother, Carolyn Downing, and so was her great-grandmother, Ethel Crook. Wonderful, gifted women of the West. Alex has done a great deal of writing, singing, and performing, and recently spent a year in Nashville. Last summer, she opened for Amy Grant in the Aberdeen area of the Washington Coast. And here's a picture of her with Grant, who gave her the white roses. It's easy to see that Alex spreads sunshine wherever she goes. And she's on the go a great deal, since she's also an avid outdoor enthusiast. That's in her DNA too! Go, Alex!
Bellingham, Washington has an amazing poetry contest in honor of my maternal grandmother, Sue C. Boynton. Here is one of the 2010 winners, Luke Reinschmidt, presenting his work, "I Remember."
Bellingham, Washington has an amazing poetry contest in honor of my maternal grandmother, Sue C. Boynton. Here is one of the 2010 winners, Kevin Murphy, presenting his work, "The Falling Apart."