I am, admittedly, a bit of an Instagram addict. And usually, I have quite a comfortable rhythm of subjects to cycle through in my photos -- Tilly, my sewing, Penny, my breakfast, and repeat. But that was all shaken up last week by a challenge from Bethany to capture five landscape shots in five days.
Landscapes? You mean, I need to leave the house?
I set myself a firm definition to work with, from the start: the back garden does not count. My mountain-range screen-saver does not count. The lazy interpretation "urban landscapes" does not count.
And so, I found myself packing Tilly and Penny into the car on a cloudy Tuesday and just driving. Into the tiny town of Wellborn, just a minute or two away, where houses suddenly sit of acres of land, and then down south, towards Houston, simply taking in this strange place that I've found myself calling home. We stopped and touched the soft brown noses of horses. We disturbed many a poor cow's lunch, as Tilly leant out of her window and mooed loudly -- a mooing match she could not, in the end, win. And I was reminded by all the cows, with their noses to the grass, that we are more than just meaty, grazing beasts. There is more to this world than the cud in our mouths and the next mouthful we see already before us. I was reminded to look up, and feel the electricity of the pre-storm air, buzzing with possibility.
In five days, my world expanded. It is not for me to create or control the beauty of this life, as I often try to do. So much is here to find. I cannot arrange the white Sindhi cows who stand glaring at us, but simply see how they are, their natural composition. And what a joy -- what a relief -- in this period of life where so much seems to rely on me for existence, to see that things exist and survive and shine with beauty all on their own, and I have no part except to see it.
And, for so many reasons (not least the waking in the night), I'm reminded of these words. A peace in wild things, and nature, and all that is beyond our control.
THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry