Tag Archives: Litterati

The Vibrance of Walking

There is something about putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward, heading somewhere–even if the destination isn’t clear.  I’ve really only learned to appreciate walking in the last few years…before that it was simply a way to get from one place to another rather than an activity in itself.

As I read Brainpickings today, this piece about walking and wanderlust caught my attention.  Rebecca Solnit wrote a book called Wanderlust: A History of Walking…and though I haven’t read the book, this quote caught my attention:

Thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals.

And for me, walking is a way of paying attention.  Paying attention to my thoughts and feelings and to the world around me.  That “nothing” of walking works as production for me.  It generates creativity, increases my energy and problem solving, and generally increases the vibrance of my daily life.

Walking some dusty urban trails in our downtown park yesterday, I was struck by these vivid desert flowers.  They’ve taken advantage of the rains in May and blooms are in evidence.



Up hills and down, following the twists and turns of the trails I noticed the dryness and imagined what the brush would look like in August.  But for now, a carpet of color explodes calling to the bees and other pollinators…and reminding me to notice and appreciate beauty in unlikely spaces, beyond the park’s groomed landscapes and curated exhibits.  Geoff and I were noticing the differences in the yellow flowers…and naming the ones we have come to know, natives (like me) to this dry and wondrous place.


And in the formal park, we walked by many beautiful blooms.  This hibiscus caught my eye–not only because it is vivid and beautiful, but because of the way the stamen cast a shadow onto the petals.  It would have been easy to walk by, but because I was walking with no particular destination, I took the time to lean down and look closely–finding something wondrous!


Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.


The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making. And so one aspect of the history of walking is the history of thinking made concrete — for the motions of the mind cannot be traced, but those of the feet can.

Today’s landscape for walking was quite different as I headed out in the early morning light, beckoned by the low tide and time pressures.  There was a stillness beneath the rhythmic roar of the waves, quieting the shouts of work that needs doing and responsibilities to deal with, creating space for thought…and no thought.


And while I find my peace though the lens of my camera, Geoff finds his in his call to pick up litter in this beautiful place.  There are plenty of plastic straws, baggies, and food wrappers…and the occasional vibrant red ball left behind, bounced onto the shore by the waves.  We are both engaged in our art, in the rhythms of our body, and in the vibrance of the walk.


Unexpected Yellow

After a warm summer that lasted almost all the way to the solstice, temperatures have cooled, we’ve had several rainy days in the last couple of weeks, and the sun is having a hard time making its way through the thick clouds along the coast.  So while yellow is expected at the beach in the summertime, it is much harder to find on a gray, almost winter day.

With a nice low tide this afternoon, we couldn’t wait to get to the beach to explore and walk. Since we were north of our usual beach running some holiday errands, we decided to walk at a beach different from our usual place.  Near a jetty, this beach is rockier than the one where we usually walk.  So we practiced our usual beachwalk pasttimes–taking photos, picking up trash, and searching for sea glass…and what a bonanza we found!

Sadly, there was abundant trash on the beach, especially small pieces of plastic.  And there was a bit of yellow…this packet of mustard tucked in the rocks.  And as good Litterati, we took the photo, picked up the trash, and disposed of it properly.

yellow-litterati mustard

With my eyes tuned for yellow, I started to notice yellow all around me.  Not bright, summer sunshine yellow, but earthy sandstone yellow.  (And if you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of the piece of green sea glass that I picked up too!)

yellow reef

Looking into the distance, you can see the ripply texture of the low-tide reef and its yellow hue.

yellow low tide

As I watched the seabirds and listened to the music of the waves crash along the shore, I could feel the stresses of the weeks leading up to my winter break wash away and the muscles in my back and shoulders begin to unknot.

yellow-ocean music

The rhythms of the rocks rolling with the tide added a spring to my step and energized me. I began to notice the colors of the rocks, the browns and greens and yellows…

yellow rubble

And as we left, heading off for a few more of those holiday errands, a strip of yellow opened on the horizon just beyond the empty lifeguard tower.

Yellow sky behind tower

Unexpected and welcome yellow at the beach.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Found

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

Just this morning one of my students found me just as I was heading out for recess duty…  “Do you want to see a really big spider?”  How could I resist that invitation?  As she led me around the corner from our classroom, this is what we found!

school spider

I’m not a big spider fan, but I do appreciate the wonderful striped legs…and couldn’t resist getting close enough for a picture!

I also had my camera (phone) out yesterday at school documenting our student readers at work.  There is something just so precious and powerful about finding a first grade reader engaged and hard at work.

first grade reader

I make lots of finds on the beach.  This week I’ve been fortunate that low tide (and beautiful, warm weather) has corresponded with the time I have left work, offering me a wonderful opportunity for some beach walks before heading home.  Yesterday I heard this urgent high pitched sound and then found these birds, seemingly engaged in quite a conversation (or perhaps a bird argument)!

bird argument

As I was heading up the stairs toward the parking lot, I found this hat and sunglasses perched on the railing.  It was fun to play with some editing tools to create an interesting effect…and a burst of light where the sun played with the water.

hat and glasses

Over the weekend, as my husband and I walked we engaged in two favorite beach walking activities…searching for beach glass (not easy to find) and being litterati: finding trash, photographing it, and disposing of it (unfortunately, way too easy!).  We did find this beauty of a piece of light green glass…

beach glass

and this mylar balloon bouncing along the shore.  We collected the glass and disposed of the balloon, both making the beach a little bit cleaner and the sea animals a little bit safer.


And sometimes my best photos come from things I find around the house.  One of my student’s parents brought these pomegranates for us from their tree.  I had tucked them into my refrigerator for my hubby to use in one of his recipes…until I was thinking about fall and realized they would make a great still life photo.  I love the way the light comes into my dining room in the afternoon, washing the table in warm light.  Here’s my little bit of fall find.

pomegranate in sun

So what will you find that catches your eye…and your lens…this week?  Will you stumble over it, be led to it by a student or child, pull it from the refrigerator, or find it on an outing?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #found for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

What have you found lately?  I can’t wait to see what you find through your lens!

Can We Crowdsource Equity?

I’ve been thinking about photography and the power of images to influence perceptions…and to change actions.  Litterati came to my attention earlier this month–a movement that encourages people to photograph litter they find, clean the litter up, and post the photo on social media with the hashtag #litterati.  I love the idea!  And I also love the way that so many of the photographs that people post are so beautiful!  My friend Janis took this amazing photo of an abandoned yellow bucket…and some others including one of a Starbucks cup today on the ground nestled in some orange tulip tree blossoms.  As I admire the beauty of her photography, I also think about the impact of the trash and I become more aware of the trash around me.

And then Mia over at the  #clmooc posted this video about the Landfill Harmonic where a music teacher, a garbage picker, and children from a Paraguayan slum make musical instruments from trash in the landfill, and then work to create a better life for the children who  play beautiful music on these instruments.

This morning a tweet about a TED talk caught my eye.  The Silent Drama of Photography.

I listened to Sebastiao Salgado to tell his story about his obsession with photography as he captured the devastation of war and death and destruction–to the point where doctors told him that his photography was killing him.  He turned away from photography and returned to Brazil, his homeland, and decided to work to restore the rainforest that was lost to human encroachment by planting native trees and plants–and giving his family’s ranch to the country as a nature preserve.  Through this work he found his love of photography again and changed his focus from photographing humans to photographing nature, capturing the beauty of the land reclaimed.

I find myself considering the question Janis asks in her post about the abandoned yellow bucket…how can we, as educators and those who care about the education of our young people, use photos to bring attention to the “litter” in education–all those practices that stamp out the passion for learning and treat students as cogs in a learning machine–to allow spaces for creativity, critical thinking, and pure joy of learning?  To allow all students this access, regardless of socioeconomic status, skin color, language background, and test scores.  Can we use photography as a way to crowdsource awareness towards equity in education?