I went on the most unusual assignment for my class Find Your Eye: Journey of Inspiration with Kat Eye View Of The World. I went on a camera-less photo walk. No camera, but a camera walk?? A 30 minute walk without a camera?? Yes, that was our assignment. By doing this, we would use our eyes to see...really see things we might overlook with a camera in our hands. I already see so much more than I did a year ago when I discovered the art of photography, but I realized I could still see more. My chosen place for the walk was at Wildwood Park for the Arts which also includes botanical gardens.
The following is what I wrote after I finished the walk.
"I'm sitting at Wildwood park. I hear crickets, birds, ducks, cicadas, and the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. It's a chilly day, but, a beautiful sunny day. I came here to walk, to see and absorb nature without my camera. It was very hard at first. I wanted to run back to the car and get my camera. No, I couldn't leave it at home so I left it in the car. I knew after the walk I'd get my camera and retrace my steps. I literally had this anxious feeling. I need to take a picture of that!! Now!! Then I began to relax, to breath slowly, and to feel calm. I began to look...really look closely and see the beautiful gifts of nature we are blessed with. I would stop, raise my eyes and look at what was above me, lower my eyes and look at what was beneath my feet, and then slowly turn in a complete circle letting my eyes absorb everything they saw. Giving my mind time to register what my eyes were seeing. It was such an overwhelming experience that it brought tears to my eyes. All this...all this beauty was made for my pleasure. I wound up walking for an hour. No need to hurry, no need to grab my camera, after all, nature is going nowhere and I can capture it later."
I did decide to take my camera back and retraced my steps. I'll just give you a glimpse of what I saw, because there's no way I could list everything my eyes took in. I love macro photos of nature. I usually have my eyes focused to what is within just a few feet of me. This exercise helped me to look at the bigger picture. As is slowly walked and stopped to look around, I saw the whole forrest, not just a leaf or seed pod or acorn. The first area I walked through was a spring garden with lots of perennials and azalea bushes planted among the trees. Most of the plants were left with only faded flowers and drying, curling leafs. Even those dried leaves had their own beauty. The park has been left natural so there were pine needles, acorns, and pinecones under the trees and on the trail. Moss and lichen were growing on the ground, the rocks, and on dead pieces of wood. There were all types of ferns growing. I saw a fern I'd never seen before, the Resurrection Fern. It was growing on a limb and looked like thousands of palm branches being waved.
There were so many varieties of trees with different textures, shapes, and coloring in the bark. I've been so busy looking at fall leaves lately, that I've not noticed the bark on the trees!! I was fascinated by the tree above! It looks like it is covered in leaves, but that is really curling bark.
The second area I walked through was a wildflower area. Unlike the more shapely perennial garden, this area was more wild and free. Most of the wildflower blooms were gone but, there was an interesting collection of dried grasses blowing in the wind. There were grasshoppers everywhere and lots of insects flying around in the morning light. Also left behind were seed pods, dried flower heads and a few berries. One vine had several lovely yellow trumpet flowers still in full bloom. Around those blooms were many butterflies trying to find the last of the nectar.
One of the trails went by a small lake. I sat beside the lake on a wooden bench and ate my lunch. The bench itself was wonderful. The wood was worn and faded. The back and legs were covered with lichen. I watched a swan and four ducks as they graceful glided along. The swan finally got out of the water and preened itself in the sun. Water beads glistening on it's back. The ducks, well, I think they were playing follow the leader. They swam out to a little island, honked, and the promptly marched across the island and right back in the water, one right after the other. I watched the wind ripple the water and cause millions of sparkles. I watched the trees sway and the birds fluttering about. I watched a mother and two children enter the area. I saw their excitement when they spotted the swan. I stayed for almost five hours. And had it not been for my dread of rush hour traffic I think I could have stayed much longer. I needed this day, I really needed this day!
Not only did this assignment open my eyes more, but the quietness and beauty gave me a time to think, to reflect on the past few weeks, and to be grateful!
I will return in a few weeks to enjoy the fall foliage, I can already picture what it will look like reflected on the water. I will return in the spring to see the wildflowers and the perennial garden blooming. And each time, I will walk first camera-less, just to see, to hear, and to feel.