One of my creativity goals this year is taking more photographs. I’m not a talented artist who paints and draws, but I enjoy images and words. My daughters have always kept sketch pads and art projects going ~ they appreciate the spontaneity of lettering a Bible verse or sketching a face or landscape. I think “capturing the moment” is the artistic approach that appeals to me most. Life sometimes begs to be captured.
On a recent visit, my daughter asked me to share the photos we’d taken while we were out exploring in the snow. We’d worn our pajamas and snow shoes and had taken pictures of sunsets, snowdrifts, and squirrel statues. It’s the ultimate happiness for a mother, really, because pictures aren’t just pictures. They’re memories. That’s what she was really asking for ~ a jar of snow memory preserves. She wants to come back to our moments, just as I do. Score!
Something I hadn’t expected was the surprise of discovering photographs she had taken after I’d handed the camera over to her when I’d gone inside to thaw my toes. Scrolling back through these images, I found pictures I didn’t recognize. And then it hit me: these were images I was seeing through her eyes – the gift of glimpses that weren’t mine in the moment, but shared even now.
And so I logged in to my photo processing account and ordered some snapshots on real photo paper. Over the next week, I plan to send her three or four each day to bring smiles and memories. She’ll make a photo collage that will keep this day, these special shared moments, forever etched in her heart.
“Slow travel rejects speed, emphasizes soaking in the local culture, and encourages us to savor the journey, not rush it.” –The Art of Slow Travel, by Bhavana Gesota
Most everyone we told of our Christmas travel plans tried to convince us to rethink our winter camping journey in subzero temperatures.
"You might want to reconsider," they'd urged, each in their own way.
"It's going to be dangerously cold. How will you stay warm in a camper?"
We'd recently downsized from a 30-foot 4-season Keystone Outback to a 21-foot non-insulated 2022 Little Guy Max Rough Rider. We were looking forward to seeing what it was made of.....and, perhaps more importantly, what we were made of.
We weren't wavering on our decision. The plans were made, and we would set out with two full propane tanks, an indoor-safe propane heater, an indoor electric heater, a supply of firewood, and an electric blanket. We'd monitored the weather and were keeping close tabs on the conditions of the roads.
We weren't worried about the extreme temperatures, either. With three radiant-heater dogs (who sleep at our head, hips, and feet) and each other, we were looking forward to all the cozy snuggling and excuses to linger in bed with coffee and read or write or watch Netflix or listen to our favorite seventies bands until the sun came up and warmed the walking trails a half a degree or more.
With any trip, things happen that we don't anticipate - - like when the bananas freeze and all turn dark brown and ooze goo, and the jar of olive oil freezes solid when we'd planned on searing steaks. Or when the propane, which converts from a liquid to a gas in the pipelines, freezes and renders that first heating plan completely ineffective, taking us straight to our backup heat. Those kinds of things. A few minor setbacks mixed in with some more serious ones.
So it is in life. Determination, a plan, a road map, forecasts, obstacles, challenges, a burning desire to experience life ~ even in extreme elements. It's all part of the journey.
I'm so glad we stayed the course and savored the moments. It was worth it to experience "slow travel," without a novel-thick itinerary, to "camp our way across states," breaking down the drive into short segments.
Here are the “Slow Travel” savored moments from our week away over the holidays.
First Stop: Burdoc Farms, Crofton, Kentucky. Most memorable moment: goofing off in the snow in our pajamas, taking pictures of the White Christmas winter wonderland as one of our daughters clicked her heels in sunset snow.
Second Stop: Rock Island State Park, Tennessee. Most memorable moment: enjoying the peaceful sounds of the waterfall at the dam.
Third Stop: Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee. Most memorable moment: taking in the beauty and sounds of the frozen waterfalls and cascades.
Fourth Stop: Harrison Bay State Park, Tennessee. Most Memorable moment: sunrise on the bay.
Fifth Stop: Red Top Mountain State Park, Georgia. Most memorable moment: writing all day on a rainy New Year’s Eve Eve.
Sixth Stop: Lunch with my aunt and uncle at OK Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia. Most memorable moment: sipping coffee at the retro dinette table, celebrating their December birthdays.
Seventh Stop: Home for New Year’s Eve with one of our sons. Most memorable moment: eating collard greens, black eyed peas, and ribs as we watched the Peach Bowl.
Experiencing places + savoring the journey through slow travel = just the right pace!
Q: What is creativity?
A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert asserts that the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels is what she calls creative living, and the surprising results of the hunt are what she calls Big Magic.
During this first week of 2023, I’m spending time each day defining my goals – not resolutions – for the year, in seven broad categories that include reflection, spirituality/inspiration, self-improvement, literature, gratitude, experience, and creativity. Definitive goals for creativity would be in direct contrast to the open-ended creative spirit and energy that can only emerge organically within any given moment from the right slant of light at a particular vantage point, but I aim this year to spend more time on photography as a visual art form.
I have taken a couple of photography classes over the years, my most recent being through University of West Georgia. I had a friend taking the same course, and we would spontaneously go on “photography excursions,” jumping in the car and driving the rural countryside to look for images of beauty. I miss those days of creative adventuring and look forward to resurrecting the energy I felt on those outings. One goal is to improve the photos I share on my blog. I also want to create some photo displays of recent trips with favorite pictures from our travels, beginning with a few photos on canvas.
As a hobby, photography is relatively inexpensive – far more so today than in the 1980s, when I took my first photography course in college and had to purchase film and develop it in the dark room. Unlike my children, I don’t have the gifts of drawing and painting. But I’m often able to find a subject of beauty and click from several angles to find that certain slant of light that magically illuminates the shot and brings a dazzling luster.
The Big Magic ~ I’m hunting the jewels buried within in 2023!