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Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

With 5 more student days of the school year ahead of me, I’m working to keep myself focused and in the moment.  These are those bittersweet endings that are inextricably intertwined with the anxiety of pending deadlines (report cards, classroom organization, classroom musical…), the excitement of summer, and the uncertainties of the changes ahead. So this week, my photos remind me about perspective.

A meeting earlier this week to do some planning for this year’s Invitational Summer Institute (SI), brought me into contact with a friend’s dog.  I couldn’t resist this photo of Siggy curled up in a favorite chair, complete with a red wrap to both give him that fashion flair and to keep him comfy. Siggy definitely reminds me of the importance of self-care and the value of down time.

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This is the last year of my beloved multiage class.  We have so many traditions…one of which is taking our third graders rock climbing as a way to celebrate the end of their three years with us.  Rock climbing seems like such a perfect metaphor for all that happens over the course of three years with the same students.  We get to witness such growth in confidence and risk-taking as they take on more and more leadership within the safety of the classroom.  And who can resist the perspective of a student in flight, hanging in midair perfectly relaxed, enjoying the view from new heights?

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The fair’s in town!  The state fair is always here in June, running through the 4th of July.  I’ve been going to this fair my whole life, walking through exhibits, sitting through cooking demonstrations, viewing student art, and petting goats.  Living where I do, the arrival of the fair also means an increase in already heavy traffic.  I knew I would be dealing with fair traffic as I headed home from the university the other day.  I started to feel annoyed, knowing the commute would crawl through Del Mar.  Instead, I decided to change my perspective and pull off to take some pictures.  I found a parking place and walked up to the mouth of the lagoon where you can see the fun zone of the fair from the back.  It was fun taking photos and looking at the fair with fresh eyes.

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I crossed the street and found this dramatic entry to the beach.  I ended up walking back to my car by strolling on the shore of the beach, enjoying the sea breeze and watching egrets navigate the surf.   When I got back in my car, the traffic was no longer irritating me!

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Back in the classroom it’s been Ocean Week.  Every year our entire school takes a week to focus attention on the ocean (it is right outside our door, after all!).  Traditionally we have a sing-a-long and ocean parade on the last day, with all our young students wearing ocean-themed “costumes.” In our class, we decided to stretch the definition of costume this year and instead have the kids make signs to carry.  They came up with informative slogans for one side, collected beach plastics and other trash in the week or so before the parade, and created a watercolor sea creature to swim among the trash on the other side of the sign.  Wearing all blue, we became a sea of activists advocating for the sea!  (And hopefully changed some perspectives about this precious resource along the way!)

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A Friday afternoon walk on the beach has become a pretty regular habit for me, and as the weather warms, for others as well.  As I knelt to take a picture of some trash I was picking up, I ended up with this shot of a woman reading as she walked along the beach. You can see that I missed the trash in my shot, but I kinda like the blurred shot of the reader.

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I’ve included quite a few shots of stacks of rocks along the beach lately. And yesterday there were more stacks in some different places along my route.  I was drawn to this tall stack that looks out on one of my favorite parts of the beach.

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So head out in search of a new perspective.  What will you find when you look at the world from a different angle?  You might literally move behind a familiar scene or kneel low to change you view or simply change your outlook and look with fresh eyes.

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 #perspective for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Grab your camera and change your perspective.  What will you see?  Be sure to share your photos with us here!

Weekly Photo Challenge: In a Line

Sometimes things line up.  I’ve been to this airport hundreds of times…and a bunch just in the last few weeks, but this view stopped me in my tracks.  I love the lines of the plexiglass window, the horizon reflected from behind, the palm trees along the right side, and the traffic snaking along below.  I took this photo with my phone…and I just love everything about it!

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I was surprised to find these mailboxes on a walk not far from my son’s suburban home.  I think of mailboxes like this as something I would find on a rural lane.  I love they way they are all in a line, there is something about the differences in color and degrees of rustiness that add to their character.  (Along with that branch on the end!)

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This nearby canal runs alongside a line of hiking/biking/running trails.  We took our grandsons out in the stroller to walk along them and Geoff did some running to keep up his training for the Rock and Roll half marathon tomorrow.  I love following the line of the canal with your eye and seeing the mountains in the distance.

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These drying flowers also seem to hang in a line, remnants from the profusion of spring wildflowers.

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Back at home brought me back to the beach.  Along the cliffs there were stacks and stacks of rocks, all in a line.  I wonder if they are stacked by the same person(s) or if people see them and add to the piles.  I saw them a few weeks ago, and there are even more in the same spot now.  It’s hard to get a photo that shows the number of stacks.

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As I drove to my other son’s house last night, I watched the sunset as I followed the line of freeway that stretches its way from one end of our state to another.  The huge orange ball slowly sunk, making the taillights of the cars ahead even more prominent.

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I spent the day today with my other grandson while his parents prepared to celebrate my daughter-in-law’s completion of her pediatric residency at a dinner with all the other residents.  I’m loving these grandma moments, getting to watch child development from a new perspective.  As I watched him run from one end of the backyard to the other, touching the grass,, crinkling dry leaves in his fingers, poking his finger in the sprinkler heads I was reminded of the power of exploration and curiosity.  How lucky I am to look at the world again through the eyes of my three young grandsons!

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So, what’s lining up in your world this week?  Take a look around and captures those lines in a photo or few.

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 #inaline for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Be on the look out for those things that are in a line…or create some lines of your own.  Be sure to share with the rest of us!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ugly

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say. I would argue that if you look closely and with openness, there is beauty to be found all around us. I enjoy bringing cut flowers into my home, brightening up our living space with a bit of nature’s beauty. But these beauties don’t last long, their petals begin to dry and droop, reminding me of the finiteness of life. But I am also reminded that what some call ugly can also be beautiful. I spent some time trying to capture the beauty in the wilting sunflowers in a vase on my dining room table. With the afternoon sun shining on them, I couldn’t help but pay attention to the deep colors and dry curly edges.  There is something beautiful about this ugly.

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Beach walks are spectacular this time of year.  It’s still cool and the crowds are small.  I noticed this balloon at the water’s edge from a distance, and upon closer look, I could tell it was once a baseball balloon, likely for a child’s party.  There’s nothing beautiful about plastics in our ocean, but there is beauty to be found in this #litterati photo documenting this trash (which I picked up and disposed of properly).

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Recess duty gives me the opportunity to watch students playing on the playground and to observe my surroundings.  Not long ago white roses were in bloom on these bushes that are near the play structure.  But on Thursday, I noticed the blooms were gone, but the empty stems remained.  Ugly at first glance, but interesting when you get a bit closer.

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These strange little spiky balls hang from trees not far from the house.  I think the tree is a type of maple and I assume these balls are seed pods.  I often find them on the ground, so it was fun to look up and see them hanging from the tree.

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Our higher than normal rainfall this winter resulted in a spectacular wildflower bloom.  But now that the rain is gone and the weather is warming, they are starting to dry out and lose that springtime beauty.  A walk near the train tracks had me shooting the dying blooms with the Self Realization Fellowship (we call it and the neighboring beach, Swamis) in the background.

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A long weekend watching our twin grandsons is a pure treat!  (Who can resist the sweet faces and activities of 15 month old boys!?!)  It also offers opportunities for new sights!  This old house is visible from a walking trail not far from modern suburban homes…it seems so out of place here!  I would expect to find it in a much more rural area.

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And they grow their weeds large here!  I started to notice dandelion puffballs about the size of my fist!  I couldn’t get close enough for a great photo of the ball, but I think you can get an idea of the size from the remaining husk.

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So, this is your week to take a look at ugly and figure out what makes it interesting (or beautiful) to you.  You might find your inspiration in nature, in your home, or out and about in your community.  Maybe it will inspire some action (as in the #litterati example), or at the least raise your awareness about what is around you.

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 #ugly for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Head out with your camera…and snap those bits of ugly.  What interesting photos will you find to share with us?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Whimsy

I love the way my camera makes me pay attention.  I’ve said it before–and it’s true.  On a walk last weekend I waited for a while at a crosswalk.  It’s one of those new systems styled to prevent serious injury by pedestrians hit by cars by stopping all the traffic at once and allowing people to cross not only from corner to corner at an intersection, but on the diagonal as well.  And as I crossed I noticed the fire hydrant–painted like a cow!  I couldn’t resist this bit of whimsy and knelt to snap the photo.

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On the beach not far from there I found myself watching a family with a kite.  It was sunny, but cool and breezy along the beach–perfect kite flying weather.  As they launched the kite, I noticed it was a panda…complete with long legs.  I snapped away eager to capture that panda in the air.  I do love the whimsy of the panda skimming the surface of the ocean.

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Sometimes you have to make the best of the errands you need to run.  I headed down towards the airport in the middle of the week to pick my husband up from a trip.  I had fifteen minutes before his plane landed…and rather than park and wait at the airport, I veered off toward the waterfront downtown.  I found a parking place, grabbed my camera and started walking.  The masts and rigging of the historic ships beckoned, even with the sleek lines of the massive cruise ship in the background.  I looked up and noticed the sun peeking through the sheets of the sail, with clouds providing background texture.  I love the whimsical interplay of nature and design, organic shapes and sharp angles.

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Sunsets are always a favorite, the golden yellows and oranges lighting up the sky as the sun dips below the horizon.  But sometimes, shooting near the beach, the view looks similar shot after shot.  Last week’s sunset photo had me searching for something more and I found myself kneeling near wildflowers, behind tree branches, framing the setting sun with a whimsical extra.  Here’s one of my creations.

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A meeting with our writing project state network had me on a quick trip from the southernmost corner of our state where I live to Sacramento, our state capital, about three quarters of the length of the state away.  With such a large state, there are many differences from place to place, including climate and sunlight.  Away from the coast I was noticing the heat…and smelling the agriculture surrounding us.  I love these little wheat-like plants I found growing near the parking lot.

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I’m always in wonder about the work of architects.  As I walked into the building for our meeting, I was struck by the high ceilings and the light.  There’s a wonderful whimsy about the blue beams framed beneath the white ceiling, making me wonder about the intents of this design by the architect.

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And I love that so many airports have embraced art as an iconic symbol of place.  I’m not sure why the Sacramento has a giant red bunny  perched between the escalators–but I love the whimsy of it!  And for me, it seems to represent Sacramento as a quick hop–a place I seem to bounce in and out of as I meet with colleagues across the state.

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So take a look around you, where are you finding whimsy this week?  What strikes you as playful or odd or a combination of the two?

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 #whimsy for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Be on the lookout for the whimsical…and share your whimsy with us!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

As is typical in the morning heading to my classroom, I had my coffee in one hand, my backpack over my shoulder, another bag of “essentials” draped over my arm and my lunchbox hanging off the other.  At that moment, I spied the snail making its way down the hallway away from my classroom.  It’s wet trail caught my eye and I started juggling my piles of stuff to grab my phone from my pocket and crouch down low to capture that story in a photo.

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I love the tiny sharp antennae and the idea of leaving a trail marking the journey.  I was reminded of this Emerson quote and set out to find the words I thought I knew.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

And so my week has progressed…thinking about paths and trails and the traces we leave.  My friend Janis has been working on a large art sculpture for the city of Vista, CA featuring her beach plastics and her message of advocacy for our environment.  When I saw the newspaper article showing its installation, I had to set out–in spite of the rain–to find the sculpture and see it up close for myself.

I love the paths this art has traveled.  Janis’s paths along the beach picking up trash, her visits to classrooms where she engages students with the trash into making preserved only by the photographs they shoot, and her own photographic displays that use the stunning beauty of her artistic eye to bring attention to a problem we must address collectively.  Into the Current is another stunning reminder that we must all walk the path toward preservation of our planet’s natural resources.

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My own path often leads me to the beach where my feet follow the familiar sandy shores and my eye is drawn to the ever changing ebbs and flows of the sea.  With my camera around my neck, I stop often on my walks to snap photos–of the stunning vistas, the playful birds, surfers in action, and anything else that catches my eye.  Sometimes I surprise myself with finding a new view of a place I frequent.

This week has been cold and rainy, so moments of sunshine feel like a huge boost of energy.  I love the way the clouds create a path that almost echoes that of the waves below.

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And then there’s the seabirds that seem to follow invisible paths in the sky, creating their own passing lanes and moving in precise formations. Huge pelicans are surprisingly agile, gliding with tremendous speed overhead as I walk.  I love when I can capture a crisp shot of these interesting creatures.

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My usual path to and from the university takes me near the Torrey Pines Glider Port.  Sometimes I veer from my singleminded effort to get home and pull off to watch the hang gliders in action.  Yesterday was one of the those days.  It was sunny (my weather app forecasted “lengthy sunny spells”) and breezy and the gliders were out enjoying the conditions.  I switched to my tennis shoes and headed out along the beach cliffs carefully navigating the precarious pathways to snap the gliders following their own invisible paths over my head.

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As I watched them swoop and soar, snapping shot after shot, I noticed the line of pelicans intersecting with the hang glider above.  I wonder what they thought of each other as they came into close proximity, crossing paths.

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Thinking about paths also leads me back to my students.  I often think about their paths and how our interactions make learning pathways possible.  Yesterday was a field trip day–we headed off to watch a youth production of The Lion King.  This version was a lot like the broadway version with intricate choreography and beautiful head pieces and make up.  An added bonus was that two of our students were part of the cast.  It’s interesting to watch students as actors–and students as audience members and all the learning connections that can happen in the theater. There’s something magical about the hush as the lights dimmed and more than 400 children settle into a live performance.

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This has been teacher appreciation week in our school district, a time when families send in notes and flowers expressing their care and love. Instead of the usual sweet treats, the families in our class coordinated and treated us to fancy coffee in the mornings–and a couple of families brought us a ready to heat dinner!  Today I came home with gourmet quality quiches that made a perfect end-of-the-week dinner…Yum!  There is something about the pathways that food carves that leaves a lasting impression, especially when a bit of love is added to the recipe.

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So, what paths are you noticing or traveling this week?  Which are you following and which are trails you are blazing?  Have you found an unexpected path, or one that seems invisible to others?  Perhaps the path is one of learning and exploration.  Keep your eyes open!

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 #path for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Use your lens to make a path this week…and share it with us!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nature’s Art

There is so much beauty around when you take the time to look closely. Sometimes I find that I need to stop, kneel down, and really lean in to find what I might have missed with a quick glance.  On the beach the other day I noticed the brilliant blue of sea creatures–I had seen these before, they wash up on the shore from time to time.  As I bent down to photograph them, I noticed the ladybug and the sea grass creating a sort of found still life…an interesting piece of living art.  (I did a bit of research and found that these creatures are called velella, they are propelled only by wind and waves so can’t get themselves back in the water once they are washed on the shore.)

img_6439A look up and the moon caught my attention above the cliffs. I love the browns of the eroded hillside framed by the greens and purples of the plants growing, all against the brilliant blue sky…with just the tiny hint of the moon just above the shoulder of the cliff.img_6417

I was surprised and delighted to find these stacks of stones all lined up. Someone had taken time to find some balance in the smoothed rocks, creating stack after stack along the ledge.  High tide made the beach narrow, pushing me up toward the cliff line…where I couldn’t miss this whimsical sight.

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And sometimes nature’s art is in the framing.  This seagull looks like it is “on duty,” a feathered lifeguard keeping an eye on all who are enjoying the beach!

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And I don’t have to go to the beach to enjoy nature’s art.  I noticed these same purple blooms that I had seen in my neighborhood on our school campus earlier this week.  We had invited our students to take a photo to use as an element of their Mother’s Day project.  I found myself looking with an eye to light and shadow, as well as working to capture the delicate brilliance of the bloom in the foreground.

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This lily-like flower also caught my eye.  The oranges and yellows seem to be highlighted by the diffuse light peeking through the shadows–yet another example of nature’s art.

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And in my neighborhood yesterday afternoon, on a walk to the park with my 14 month old grandson, I spied the brilliant red of this fuzzy guy.  A closer look brought the contrasting green and yellow bloom into focus. My friend called this plant kangaroo paws–such an oddly beautiful plant.

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So, take a look around…  Where do you find nature’s art?  I love that my camera reminds me to look at the usual in new and different ways–so be sure to look closely and consider light and shadow, framing, nature’s arrangement…and more.

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 #naturesart for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

What is nature offering up this week?  Take a look around and share your view of nature’s art with us!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient

I find myself thinking about resilience a lot at this time of the year.  My students will take our state test next week and have been preparing for the test for the last couple of weeks.  While they already have the knowledge and ability to do well on the test, the way that tests are administered requires my young students to have plenty of stamina and resilience to deal with the intensity of the situation.  Long stretches of focus on a computer screen, sitting, and quiet are not natural for my learners. Neither are the pressures of time (even for an untimed test) or the inability to get coaching and reteaching when things feel hard.

I know that resilience can take many forms and be embodied in lots of ways.  Maybe paying attention to resilience through my camera lens will somehow help me as I shepherd my students through testing next week.

This tree in front of my house often seems on the verge of collapse. When other trees have leaves and are green, this tree is bare.  It has struggled with ivy trying to strangle the life out of it, and it still shows the scars.  But this week I was reminded again of its resilience.  I started to notice the green again, emerging delicately from the starkly empty branches.  This tree seems to hang in there, always finding a way to survive, spreading it’s beautiful leaves above our driveway.

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I also think about resilience when I watch seagulls.  They are social, smart, and adaptable…a lot like my students.  They seem to play–with each other, with the wind currents, and even with people–engaging through vocalizations, flight, and sometimes even posing like these guys perched on the top of the play structure at our local beach.

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I always think of native plants as resilient.  The ones in our area thrive on low water and plenty of sun.  They bend with the sea breezes and in years when water is plentiful burst into amazing displays of color.  Yellow is everywhere right now and these native beauties are a common sight this year!

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Surfers are a pretty resilient bunch too.  They head out most every day regardless of conditions.  I watch them warm up their bodies on the shore, running down the beach with the board under their arm, stretching arms and legs before plunging into the cool salty water.  It’s less usual to see a surfer building rock towers on the shore…it definitely felt like a meditation…a way of decompressing and enjoying what nature offered up.  Hmmm…makes me think of ways to encourage my students to decompress before each test and during breaks in the schedule…

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And when I don’t get out onto the beach or away from work and home, I build my resilience as a photographer by paying attention to the things I see as I drive to and from work…or what I notice at work, like these creamy white roses that grow near the playground where I watch kids play on playground duty in the mornings.  These white roses seem to be prolific, blooming regularly and then scattering their petals like confetti in the breeze.

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I notice these drought-resistant tall purple stalks everywhere right now. There are some that grow on our school grounds and quite a few in my neighborhood.  I wandered down the street not far from my house to see if I could capture the abundance of these tall stalks through my camera lens.  It doesn’t quite capture the density and movement of these blooms, but maybe you’ll get the idea I was trying for.

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And then on my own doorstep, in the bowl of cacti and succulents that has sat their for years now, my husband noticed the tiny cactus in bloom. I knelt low, pulled out my phone, and reveled at the beauty of the tiny flowers.

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So, what does resilience look and feel like to you? Do you see it in the faces of children, the curves of fruit hanging on a tree?  In the blossoms of a cactus or even ocean-smoothed rocks stacked in piles on the beach?

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 #resilience for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Grab your camera and take a look around for resilience.  I can’t wait to see how you capture it through your lens!  Wish my students luck with their testing…I have great faith in them.