Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fundamental Restlessness

Watson Lake Sunset, maybe better than moon rise
Sometimes this traveling nature photographer stuff goes smoothly; all my research pays off and each location yields, if not exactly what I’d planned, then images or experiences which are at least as good.  August has been a bit of a challenge.  Most likely that’s just a coincidence, but the time in Guatemala is always life-changing in one way or another, so it’s also possible that transformations are brewing in my subconscious since we came home at the end of July.  I find that when that happens I’m often restless and dissatisfied and that things seem more challenging.  I hardly ever recognize what’s happening in real time.

The Guatemala trip required lots of interaction with people, a great deal of it in my improving but nothing-close-to-fluent Spanish.  The introvert in me returned home desperate to get out on my own.

Pema Chödrön wrote, “It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space.  By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness”
Sunset in a new favorite spot, Coconino National Forest
So, once the Guatemala images were processed and the laundry done, I packed up lurch and went looking for flowers and empty psychic space in the Flagstaff area. The first night I stumbled on a new favorite place to camp, one of the benefits of boondocking without a plan, but found only a few scattered blooms.  On the second day I was griping about the smoke from wildfires all over the west, mosquitoes, lack of flowers, and the unheard-of high temperature of 98 degrees.  It was a long day.  Yes, I do understand what a privilege it is to be able to be in the wilderness in this way, and the Buddhist concept of acceptance (ahem); its just that whining a bit can be therapeutic.

A couple of weeks later I was in Pine, Arizona for the annual retreat of Through Each Other’s Eyes.  Our gracious host, Errol Zimmerman, let me and Lurch sleep in his driveway Friday night.  Saturday was productive and inspiring but again, because I’m such an introvert, lots of talking and interacting is exhausting.  Afterward I had a few days free and was so close to Mogollon Rim Country it seemed a waste not to explore a bit, so I broke my rule about never camping on weekends there.
Determined mushroom, morning walk
These parts of the Coconino National an Apache Sitgreaves National Forests are lovely but on weekends are crowded, loud, and home to dangerous drivers.  Oh, and there’s target practice.  On top of all that, there was a large forest closure which included one of my favorite camp spots and the adjacent trail which I’d planned to hike.  I did some exploring and ended up tucked into an unspectacular site, but my morning walk was quiet (rednecks seem to sleep late) and had some nice surprises.  
Golden Light, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
The next day I burned half a tank of gas scouting around and settled into a spot on the edge of the Rim which allowed a vista including layers of near ridges and diminishing mountains in the background. My favorite image, though, was a serendipitous shot of the light turning golden on the dust kicked up by another car as I drove home in the morning.

Meetings and family stuff kept me home after those trips, but I planned a few local shoots around the full moon.  Photographers will already know that the full moon is bright. One way to deal with this photographically is to shoot moon rise the day before full and moon set the day after.  That way the sky is not fully dark, and there can be interesting dawn and dusk light as well.
Moon Rise, Watson Lake
I did my research with The Photographer’s Ephemeris, Photopills, and some old-fashioned brainstorming and found a spot on the shore of Watson Lake in Prescott for Moon rise last Friday.  A friend came along and It was a lovely night; the first this year hinting at autumn. Unfortunately clearing storm clouds precluded seeing the rising moon until it was full dark, maybe an hour after it came up.  I can’t complain though.  Reflected color was worth the price of admission.
Moon Set from Yarnell Hill
Moon set Monday morning, similarly researched, was at the overlook near our home in Yarnell. Thought not perfectly timed (moon set was about an hour after sunrise), the scene was  breathtaking and worth the early wake-up.
Setting moon and its fractured reflection, Watson Lake
Tuesday I hit the road at o-dark-thirty and paddled Watson Lake, soaking in the therapeutic solitude again.

I do treasure the fundamental spaciousness, if I bring an open mind and earplugs.

There’s more in the Summer 2018 Gallery on the Website.

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