I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Someone recently told me that I was obsessed with taking pictures. In a bad way. I admit, it hurt. And I thought long and hard about this and while I’ve thought about it, I haven’t taken any pictures. Until today.
I awoke earlier than usual to a familiar sound. The birds were singing. I knew by their songs that outside at the feeders there were Chickadees and Juncos, Finches and Doves, Hummingbirds and the ever pesky Blue Jays. I couldn’t stand it.
I got up, got dressed, grabbed the camera, and while everyone else was still sleeping, I was shooting birds. Not literally.
First, I shot the hummingbirds – two babies and their nattering mommy, telling them to be careful of that lady with that big black thing strapped around her neck. To which they responded to her by sticking out their tongues and talking back. Not very honoring, but very amusing to watch.
Next, the other birds beckoned me with their chatter. I walked toward the fir tree where the other feeders hang and of course they – all flew off. In the summer months, as I work in the garden, they will stay and eat because they’ve gotten used to me being out there with them. I stood off to the side of the tree and waited. And, one by one they came back. The Juncos and the Chickadees, the Finches and a new little bird I didn’t recognize. So – I shot them, too.
After a few more photos of the hummingbirds, I grabbed my purse and keys and went hunting for more birds to shoot. I drove through the outskirts of town where the orchards and the vineyards lie. Grapevines were still rich in colors of rusts, bronze, golds and purples. Orchards were barren trees spotted with unwanted, golden pears. I saw cows who wondered why I was shooting them. And then I saw my favorite of the morning.
Two red-tailed hawks sat atop a telephone pole in silence as I approached. I slowed and stopped. No one was coming and so – I shot them. And then, one flew off and so I shot him from behind as the other one watched, as if saying to him (or her – I can’t tell), “Chicken.” I would think that would be an insult to a bird of prey. The one left perching let me shoot him several more times without flinching. I tried hissing like a snake, roaring like a lion – anything to get him to fly so I could shoot him in flight. He just looked at me as if I was crazy. As I drove away, I laughed. Perhaps I am.
Down the road an American Kestral waited for me to shoot him before he chickened out and flew off.
One thing that bothers me when I am out shooting little creatures and such is how fast people drive. I was going slow, I was enjoying God’s gifts and this guy just races around me as if he’s got a pregnant wife in labor, inside the car. But that wasn’t the case. He was alone. And it is at times like that I wonder, “Do you know what you’re missing? Have you noticed the colors? The details?” Perhaps I am obsessed, but I don’t think of photographing God’s creation as an obsession. If it is, it’s an obsession with the Creator because what excites me, what prompts me to take pictures is the beauty I see. The amazing color wheel God created and dips his brushes in to paint the sunrise and the sunset, the feathers on each different bird, each cow, each fallen autumn leaf. You usually won’t find me photographing man-made creations (unelss it’s a picture one of my grandkids drew).
When questioning whether I am obsessed or not, I came to this conclusion: my love for photography can be attributed to a love for God and His marvelous, majestic creation. For me, it is a form of worship. It is impossible for me to separate the two from one another. If some think that is an obsession, so be it. I can’t think of a better one (unless of course, writing about being obsessed with a marvelous God).
Heading south from Medford, Oregon, stands a fairly quiet and quaint little town. Founded in the 1800’s, the city of Ashland began unofficially with just a water-powered sawmill and also a flour mill that stood along Ashland Creek, giving credibility to those who wanted to call this paradise their new home.
Ashland is known for its Shakespeare Festivals, the Ashland Hotel, wineries, outdoor recreational attractions and more, not to mention Southern Oregon University. But the greatest treasure I have found in Ashland is a not-so-small park, tucked away just off of the main road. And I mean, right off the main road.
Lithia Park boasts 93 acres of pristine and lush blades of soft, green grass, picnic area, blooming flowering cherry and magnoliia trees in the spring and colorful autumn-hued trees in the fall. In the summer, the playground equipment is in full use and the creek cools off tired hiking tootsies.
In the early 1800’s, people from Ohio and Kentucky made their way to western Oregon, settling in this small area and since these settlers hailed from Ashland, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky, they most likely agreed the best choice for a name was that of the hometowns from which they came. With the opening of their post office, the city of Ashland became official.
In 1892, Lithia Park was started as an 8-acre project for a city of then almost 3,000. Ashland was the largest town in the county at that time and was growing faster than any town south of Portland, six hours north. People began coming from all over to visit and camp in what would become Lithia Park and drink the fresh, bubbling, lithium rich fountain water, now known as Lithia-water, right from the porcelain fountains at the entrance to the park.
Parts of the park have been restored and in 2014, Lithia Park was named one of the top ten Great Spaces by the APA. Parts of the park are stil undeveloped, which gives you the feeling of being out in naature, but also knowing you can stop for a slice of great pizza at Martolli’s Hand Tossed Pizza on the way back to the car. (Yum!)
I have lived in Medford for almost eight years now and have driven by Lithia Park a few times, strolled it briefly less times, but this week I have visited twice and plan to revisit it tomorrow as it’s nothing short of breathtaking. Especially now, with Spring’s buds and blooms opening wide to the fragrance of a new and bright season.
As the cherry trees drop their petals in the soft afternoon breeze and gently land on the pond water like freshly fallen snow, the wood ducks that have stopped over on their migration north show off their colorful, feathered coats for all to see. A flutist sits on a bench inside the bandstand, playing classical tunes that echo out and through the wooded areas that are filled with cedars and firs, rhodededrons, azaleas and more. A trail guide is available and one day I will pick one up to see all the places there are to behold, but for now I don’t want to miss what’s right in front of me.
It seems crazy that Thanksgiving was little more than a few days ago. Just days since we tried stuffing Josie full of turkey and potatoes in a cooperative effort to squeeze the happy-where-he was out of mommy’s tummy and into this world of bright lights and loud, scary noises, and cold breezes that blow. However, though he had a mind of his own and refused to concede to our desires, to appease his followers, he did make his debut on Saturday morning, November 29th, as a healthy 6 pound 14 ounce little man and was given the handsome name of Finn McKenzie Woodbridge. And yes, he is perfect.
Thank you, God.
Moon at Midday
Mallard Ducks in Flight
Golden Sunset – untouched “Amber Gold”
I love this picture!
Enjoy this next week!