Muir, Thoreau and Spirit Wood

White Ranch Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

White Ranch Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.” John Muir

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” John Muir

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir

The Station: Part Three

Breakfast: Photo by Noelle

Breakfast: Photo by Noelle

The clanking of pots caught my attention and I turned to look inside. A gray head bobbed behind the grill; I suspected he was doing prep work. The tables were half set up and the smell of bacon drifted out the cafe window. Listening recently to a lecture with Carol Tuttle, she guided a meditation where you experience the divine through your senses of touch, taste, smell, and so forth. Without hesitation my first thought was that God likely smells of bacon. I smiled sheepishly. I sometimes have deep vegetarian guilt.

Even at 6:30 on a Sunday morning the station is active with movement, though my own eye is more interested in the long angles. Nothing effects our inner clocks so completely than the long angle of sunlight at dawn and dusk. One elicits a feeling of promise, while the other – mystery.

Union Station: Photo by Noelle

Union Station: Photo by Noelle

Union Station and the Moon: Photo by Noelle

Union Station and the Moon: Photo by Noelle

Amtrak: Photo by Noelle

Amtrak: Photo by Noelle

People milled in coffee shops or sat on the benches by the Amtrak ticket window. Newspapers laid in laps or noses were buried deep in phones, while dreams of future destinations stuck out conspicuously from suit coat pockets and overstuffed purses.

The Flower Stand: Photo by Noelle

The Flower Stand: Photo by Noelle

The flower stand was still closed, but full of spring blooms and a rainbow of tissue paper and inexpensive vases. I looked back at my reflection in the glass doors to the refrigerator case. A rose bloom appeared where my mouth should be committing me to only speaking love for the rest of the day.

The Station hotel: Photo by Noelle

The Station hotel: Photo by Noelle

I moved along the perimeter and stopped at the entrance to the hotel. I have never stayed at the Crawford, but the romance of it fills me with a timelessness and magic I haven’t felt in years. The concierge and I share gentle bows of good morning and I move on. I roam about the terminal for the better part of an hour, letting my ghosts wonder the gates and tracks, fingering imaginary maps to infinite destinations. There’s a beauty in not needing to go anywhere. I can simply indulge in the energy of the space without the frantic longing to be on my way. The mindfulness metaphor there is not lost on me. The Power of Now, as Tolle would say. If I stop and breathe deeply I can smell the scent of every train station on this earth, for they all hold decades and even centuries of diesel oil, engine smoke, luggage fibers, coffee grounds, newspaper print, and thousands of hungry soul’s anticipation in their rafters.

The Windows: Photo by Noelle

The Windows: Photo by Noelle

The Terminal: Photo by Noelle

The Terminal: Photo by Noelle

Glitz and Glamour: Photos by Noelle

Glitz and Glamour: Photos by Noelle

I stare at this last photograph on my phone and marvel how I can be a dozen different versions of myself, by allowing my mind to fall into a single image. I hear the call to track 3, followed quickly by eggs over easy with whole wheat toast. A door to the street opens and the smell of engine exhaust wafts into my nostrils. The flower girl steps behind the flower counter, the sound of jangling keys to open. The man seated to my left rises, still wearing both reading and sunglasses on his head, and begins to move. I breathe deeply.

I am a Time Traveler and this moment is my current home. While we are together, allow me to introduce myself.

The Station: Part II

Photos by Noelle

The photography meetup instructions were to be there no later than 6:30am on that Sunday morning. I probably should’ve left everyone a note “Come anytime between 6:30am and 7:30am, because the Zephyr is never on time”, but why spoil the anticipation. As it turned out, she presented herself, full of hydraulics and steam, at 7:45. As everyone grumbled about the delay I quietly sipped my coffee and admired her individuality. “Arrive whenever you want, honey. Nobody’s going anywhere until you get here.”

I have avoided a number of the meetups because I don’t have a camera. Just an iPhone. I have found all the lenses and tripods daunting in this group. No one has ever said a word to me or done anything to make me feel awkward, this is my own shit. I know it doesn’t matter on an intellectual level, but emotionally, I’m thirteen years old again getting beat up at the bus stop for not fitting in with the other kids. Cheap clothes, pudgy, dirty finger nails, greasy hair, nothing remotely fashionable, current or hip. I have probably never fit in, at any point in my life, but whenever I lack confidence I’m that poor, little girl, scrambling not to be noticed. Not that an iPhone isn’t hip or sophisticated. I’ve got a six, but in my mind I often feel this oddness of being the only one there with a phone and no paraphernalia.

Photography aficionados are a hearty and welcoming bunch. They love trading information and working their craft. Everyone is going to great lengths to set up their equipment and find the exact right angle and I’m just looking for a pole to lean against. People are trading tips and current Lightroom techniques and I haven’t a clue what any of it means. I look at my finger nails. They’re clean.

It’s weird the stuff we hold onto. The knee jerk reactions that are so deeply hardwired they feel like they belong to someone else. A few weeks before when the event was posted I sat and thought about it for a good long while. I’ve photographed this train station before, last summer. Click the link below if you’d like to see that series. I have an artistic eye that exceeds, more often than not, my lack of better equipment and software. It seemed silly to still be sitting, hunched down, on the school bus hoping no one would notice me. So I clicked the RSVP ‘yes’ I would go.

Everything changes with one genuinely, heartfelt choice that invites in newness. Histories can change on such small things. Just a click and my younger self is redeemed, as easy as walking through a station door. https://noellevignola.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/night-train/?preview=true&preview_id=1598&preview_nonce=90bbf66289&post_format=standard

Photos by Noelle

The Station: Part I

Photos by Noelle

It’s a huge love affair. The feeling of train stations. Newer ones aren’t as sexy, but that pulse of people moving places and massive engines engaged around me remains. There is a wondrous sense of travel, time and motion in train stations, even in the hubbub of a morning commute, that never feels as strained as that in an airport. Time becomes the maleable element. There’s little fanfare when the California Zephyr is late. In fact, it might shock everyone if her silvery self arrived on time. Where else do we so willing accept that there is a rhythm we can’t effect and casually grab some coffee and take a seat? Few places, whether within us or external to us, are like this in our lives. We are all in a tremendous hurry. To where? Who knows? Most of us can tick off places and times on some schedule, but could hardly tell you what cracks a whip, so persistently in our minds, to make us move faster.

In the United States the name of all the main train stations remains Union Station. I find a cozy comfort in this, too. A familiarity that fills you the moment you walk through their doors. They are timeless places hawking to eras long since past, and yet, here I am like thousands of others partaking of the stone and glass. Thousands long dead and vanished in the dust that swirls upon the early morning tracks invite me in. Train stations are, for me, time machines for touching on the life force of dreamers.

Photos by Noelle

Three

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

I have a fascination with the number three. I see it everywhere or find myself grouping things in threes. In numerology “….the number 3 resonates with the energies of optimism and joy, inspiration and creativity, speech and communication, good taste, imagination and intelligence, sociability and society, friendliness, kindness and compassion. Number 3 also relates to art, humour, energy, growth, expansion and the principles of increase, spontaneity, broad-minded thinking, synthesis, triad, heaven-human-earth, past-present-future, thought-word-action, demonstrates love through creative imagination…”
(Taken from http://numerology-thenumbersandtheirmeanings.blogspot.com/2011/02/number-3.html)

image Photo by Noelle

All sounds so lovely and there does seem to be something to this. Even in my art work there are patterns of three. I can’t seem to find a balance with a piece without it. The trinity often comes to mind, and in the bible it is the second most referenced number and its sacredness is second only to the number one. One being the totality of God. In Buddhism it is one of the pillar numbers and has far more references than any other. The three refuges: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The triple Gem and the three worlds or realms of existence: desire, form and formless. The three bodies of the Buddhas: truth, bliss and emanation. The three pillars of Zen, and so on.
(Taken from: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma7/numbers.html)

In Islamic traditions, Allah was said to be odd, and thus, loved odd numbers. The first number to indicate the multitude is three and therefore was considered sacred. “The Golden Ratio” in art is a segmentation of three that is natural to the eye’s movement and means of rest. Da Vinci used it extensively but then, interestingly enough, it was called “The Divine Proportion”. I can’t help but feel we all have some pattern of three within us, as certainly mind/body/spirit lives in us daily.

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

These images of an immersed dock are beautiful unto themselves, but the three posts provide an odd sort of peace I can hardly explain. I believe spirit and the universe have a universal language that is found in math and numbers. I don’t really understand it, to be honest, I just know in these images harmony resonates deeply for me. Three gives me a sense of balance, as if my inner world sat on a tripod.

Story in Mud IV


Photos by Noelle

I spend an inordinate amount of time staring at mud. My love affair often draws the attention of the neighbors. I squat down over huge mudslides, a mud vulture surveying for something to eat. I love the way it swirls and forms after a storm. New channels spring up where none had been before, each with a story. The mica glints in the sunlight flirting with me and only furthering a feeling of dark, gem-like sculptures.


Photos by Noelle

Life unfolded on the planet in these rivers of mud. Plant life germinated from seeds carried by water and mud far upstream. It picks up everything in its path and absorbs whatever it can. Thus, the same streams of mud can appear with different colors and hues, depending on where in the river you find them. As with water, only slower, it moves down paths of least resistance allowing whatever is to come, to come. There seems a spiritual lesson in this for me.


Photos by

In Jewish folklore the golem was often an evil creature made of mud. In recent times the most famous might’ve been the golem in the X-Files episode on the creepiness of HOA communities. Very funny, but I can’t imagine evil in mud. It feels the most life giving of substances with changing patterns, new tributaries or old ones made anew and in that, I find solace and hope. I can transform, change, become something else, travel new paths, with just a little rain. So I dance my rain dance and wave at the neighbors. They cannot help their ignorance of mud. Few people are schooled in this magic. I may, in fact, be the last one.

image
Photo by Noelle

No Audience


It’s a show of phenomenal proportions. Lightning, hail, outrageous downpour, I mean its something. There I am glued to the deck watching it roll in. I feel the air electrify the hair on my arms and dampen my face, as it all comes down with force and the All Mighty God of effort. And I am the only one. Every shade is pulled, every light on, in every home I can see. Where there are no lamps, there is the flicker of TV’s behind those shades. No one is watching. I thought we loved reality shows? It doesn’t get any realer than this, eh? In my wilder, more rebellious moments, I consider standing on the deck naked and calling out, “Outrageous thunderstorm, naked neighbor — Whoop! Whoop!”. The older I get the more I understand Lady Godiva. Sometimes humanity needs a little audacity.

The storm demands wild self expression. Each clap of thunder is an affront to the eaves and a banging on the front door. Who let the dogs out, indeed. Hail turns summer grass into winter cold, and trees bend as Muslims at prayer in a Mosque. “I will tear off your roofs and rip the panes from the frames”, she wails, as her storm clouds pass overhead. She is unimpressed by closed up homes and in parts of the city she demonstrates that fact with tornadoes and flooding.

How can we all be so asleep? When did we leave nature so thoroughly behind that Zeus’s lightning bolt is shuttered out, as we turn up the old tele?

Photos by Noelle

Photos by Noelle