A Walk in the Woods

I drove down to Portland from Seattle to watch my brother’s cat while he is on vacation.  Today I decided to take a walk after spending some time in a cafe responding to thoughtful comments on the blog.  A wonderful aspect of Portland is that one can walk from the city up to the quiet forest within thirty minutes.

I ascended the steep roads and once I passed the last mansion and entered into a typical Northwest forest, I experienced a sense of peace.  I heard the wind breathing through the tops of the towering pines.  The air I took into my lungs was pure and full laden with airborne mist from the pacific ocean waves.  Trees swayed and groaned.  I observed trees that had fallen and died — their massive roots finally gave up their grip on life and tore up the surrounding earth.  I could hear a small creek meandering down a fern-lined crevice.  And I thought how long it had been since I last walked in such a noble place.  The thick fog in my head slightly thinned.  As I continued on the path I noticed a nice bench with a small plaque screwed into the back-rest.  It read, “Man never has designed a structure as beautiful as the trees.”  The quote was from a famous architect.  Several thoughts emerged from this short walk amongst beauty.

I reflected on the concept of beauty as it relates to architecture.  I recalled the beautiful architecture I observed throughout Europe representing different periods in time, including the ruins of ancient Greece and Rome.  My thoughts then turned to American architecture and I grew melancholy.  I imagined suburban sprawl, strip malls, mega shopping centers and sky scrapers.  Our architecture is not concerned with beauty; rather our architecture is concerned with economics, practicality, convenience, and comfort.  I concede the city is a beautiful scene from afar at night or on a partly cloudy day when the beams of sunlight illuminate and splash shadows here and there.  I enjoy the activity of the city and the great restaurants, cafes,  and bountiful grocery stores.  I enjoy observing the pretty women with their shopping bags and high-heels.  And I too enjoy convenience, practicality, and comfort, but I miss beauty.  One cannot find to many examples of beauty in our everyday architecture.

I also began to think about my attraction to photography and what I enjoy about this semi-art form.  I like where photography leads me — to beauty and away from humanity.  And an important idea popped into my foggy head.  Ever since I had returned to the Northwest I had no energy or will to go off into the beauty for I don’t have my camera or the resources to buy and develop film and prints.  But, today I realized that I don’t need a camera right now or the resources for film and prints.  All I need is to let beauty pull me away from the comforts, amusements, and burdens of humanity.  There is no excuse or obstacle preventing me from going into the mountains to admire the Cascade volcanoes and the rivers that gush down from the glaciers and carve their way amongst rock and towering pines.  There exists no road block obstructing me from long walks along the mighty pacific and observing the waves crashing upon the rocky headlands.  Money and resources don’t prevent me from seeing the sun sparkling on the expansive ocean or the birds soaring in the ocean breeze thermals above.  All I need is a pen and paper to write my thoughts and observations and note areas of interest for future photographic images.  These free excursions into beauty are the way back to my mental and physical health.

On my way back down the mountain several more thoughts emerged.  Upon leaving the forest I walked among the large nice homes where the people enjoy space, relative quiet, and the close proximity to beauty.  It was these types of neighborhoods I enjoyed in my youth.  Beauty was always near and just a few steps away.  As I continued further down structures began to lose space, cars drowned out the silence, and beauty began to disappear.  Humanity began to close in upon itself losing perspective.  I listened to the cars drive by and continue on down the road.  There is no more lonely sound, in my opinion, than that of an automobile passing by and driving off into distance.

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17 thoughts on “A Walk in the Woods

  1. ” All I need is to let beauty pull me away from the comforts, amusements, and burdens of humanity.” Yes! Go you. It sounds like you had a good time! I’m glad you had a chance to get away to pause and reflect.

    • Hello beauty…and dreams. Yes, I find Portland to be aligned with my being, but my son would be a few hundred miles away. Perhaps that distance is bearable if I can become the man I need to become. It was just one day and there are many more to come. As they say…one day at a time.

    • Well why don’t ya all come on down? Yes, I can see your point on the train in the distance…. When I walk along next to a freight train that is moving I get a different sensation than I experience hearing a car pass by at night slushing through the wet pavement…it is more a feeling of terror.

  2. Must you shoot your photography with film? Or do you enjoy digital photography, too?

    Photography, in all its modern development, is often considered an oddball when it comes to “art.” However, in no way would I consider photography a “semi-art form” just because it contrasts greatly with all the other art forms. When I shoot with my camera, no brush or pencil could ever depict the beauty I see through my naked lenses. A camera will deliver the emotions I see in a transparent medium for others and it is this display that people can begin to understand anything that goes through my mind as I walk a path or share a social event or simply be in nature. Despite the nature of photography, it is simply raw with emotion and perspective if you’re a good photographer. And that, to me, is a core foundation to art I at least aspire to achieve in all forms.

    • You again…LOL…soon I will have to add you to the “Participant Blog Roll” 🙂

      I can side with your argument or understand where you are coming from. I guess I am a little jaded in my view. I just don’t like too much technology involved with art as it is a form of detachment from the hands. But I don’t have any great desire to argue with you on this point as I do find many positive aspects to photography.

      My favorite photographer is Ansel Adams. He is a purist. He used generally 8×10 large format cameras for landscapes and focused on black and white prints which he of course developed himself. I used a 4×5 large format camera and also developed my own prints and produced a few beautiful works. It would be hard for me to go back to a small camera and develop images on a computer and I don’t have the funds to do so. But I will eventually use some sort of smaller camera for more spontaneous shots that don’t require time and patience as the moment must be captured immediately or it would be lost. I would love to see some of your photos…you should post them.

      • Well Olea…I just looked at your photos…I couldn’t add comments to my favorites because it asks for some damn Yahoo password and i have no patience to go through that…but why don’t you add this to your blog? I must say if I weren’t so old and you weren’t in love I think I might fall in love with you 😀

        I really loved those photos…some more than others but that is merely taste in subject matter…but the quality and subject matter was terrific. I hope you keep developing this talent of yours…because I can see talent…I have a good eye you know if nothing else 😉

      • Haha you flatter me, Tincup! Thanks for the compliments for my photography – it is a therapeutic escape from reality to me, and it has been developing for several, several years now. Sometimes I will post them to my blog… some of the NYC photos are on some random post. I suppose flickr would be my photo blog; I only post there because there is a rich population of talented photographers who would now and then give me feedback. And as for your sweet comment of falling in love with me – it would be hopeless love for you as you are much too negative for my taste 😉

  3. Wait a second – have you been negative? I thought your were just being the brooding artist. Funny how I don’t find you negative. Sulky perhaps but not negative. 🙂

    ” All I need is a pen and paper to write my thoughts and observations and note areas of interest for future photographic images. These free excursions into beauty are the way back to my mental and physical health.”

    Finally.

    Whats really funny is that I read this one after todays post.

    • You understand. Just as I am one of the few that understood my wise brother’s philosophical writing. It isn’t negative…it is wishing more for oneself and humanity. There is great hope and love in criticism. It is the idea that there is no end to improvement, potential, and progress.

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