Select Page

Sensory deprivation

In preparation for my upcoming residency with The Arctic Circle in September and October, I will post a series of photos and journal entries from previous time spent in the Arctic. I hope you enjoy this introduction and I hope you’ll join me here this fall when The Road not Taken Enough returns to the Arctic. xoxo T

Cooper Island Alaska

The fog

I’ve been walking since I got up this morning. And eating of course. The wind and rain of the other day passed finally. Yesterday was foggy and freezing. Everything was covered with a thin sheet of ice. It lifted briefly in the afternoon and got warm for a spell.

This morning when I awoke the air was absolutely dead calm and the fog as thick as it has ever been. And so, I walked, and took photos, and walked more. There is an absolute silence and stillness to the world that is unmatched by anything I’ve ever heard or felt. Even intensely cold days in the north woods have a feeling of motion. This is absolute.

There is sensory deprivation on two levels, sound- except for a few birds, my own footsteps and the almost imperceptible wash of water on the shore, but these things you must work to hear. And visual deprivation -the water, both the lagoon and the ocean, is so utterly calm that they perfectly mirror the sky and the fog, so all sense of a horizon or a division between land and water is gone.

All sense that you are seeing anything at all is gone. If my mind didn’t override my visual input and tell me about the fog I should think I was going blind. Visibility is very low across the land but to stand on the edge of the water and look into the great grey void created by the sky and water uniting in color and texture is to truly experience emptiness. And to feel as if I am on the edge of the world.

Now and then, on the lagoon side, a dark spot that is a loon or a long-tailed duck will break free of the fog and show itself giving a definitive life to the water and proving that there is more than one dimension to the space in front of me.

On the ocean side, there are icebergs looming in the water, moving imperceptibly across the surface. And often, they calve. The sound travels through the fog, across the water, that distorted fog sound. But to look out to the ocean there is no change, no motion, no acknowledgment by the water or the air that the balance between ice and water has shifted. Only silence once again.

Occasionally a red-throated loon gives its eerie, raspy, almost desperate call, though no loon is in sight. I know it is out among the icebergs, bill pointed up to the foggy sky and its head cocked to one side or the other, listening into the silence for an answer, or for any sound. Some proof that the rest of the world still exists and it isn’t only in the imagination that there was once wind and motion, sounds of water washing against the shore, or the persistent calls of numerous other birds.

I took many photos of this deprivation of sight. Some hard fast object in the foreground with the limitless depths of fog gray void behind. How does one record the lack of something to see with a camera? I’m not sure. If there is anything to see in my photos, any depth or contrast, any color, any motion, they will be stupendous indeed. If not, they will be flat, gray, ambiguous portraits of just what I sought to record, the lack of something to see.

Cooper Island Alaska

Take off

 

Join me this fall on The Road not Taken Enough when I go to Svalbard on an Arctic Circle residency  Artistry in the Arctic.

The usefulness of nothing – Philosophy, science, art, and a request

Cooper Island ice throw

Sea ice break up

The Philosophy

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;

But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel;

But it is on that space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house;

And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.

Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

Dao de jing

 

The science and art

The first time I went to the Arctic, I rode to the island that would be my summer home on the back of a cargo sled pulled by a snowmobile. It was the last weekend in May 2000.
Two snowmobiles, two cargo sleds, four people moved across the open ice of the Arctic Ocean, flat, cold, and boundless. Flocks of eiders and long-tailed ducks hung low along the horizon following their ancient rhythms to nesting grounds still frozen into the tundra.
The majority of that summer I lived on the island alone. It snowed, it rained, there was fog, there was a hurricane, the wind rarely ceased. And I was in frozen heaven.
In our over-caffeinated, over-extended, over-scheduled lives, the Arctic is the space upon which the usefulness of the world relies.
Out of sight to most, it is one of the great regulating factors of the Earth. Now more than ever its vast emptiness is useful to us all.
Formally trained as a biologist, I recently expanded my focus to include writing and photography as a means of connecting more people with the wild world. Combining these skills is a way of fostering innovative thinking and dialogue between people and disciplines with the intent of bringing positive change to the environment. To that end, I applied for and was accepted to an art and science residency titled The Arctic Circle in Svalbard, Norway, in fall 2018.
I intend to create a written and photographic weaving of my journals from my earlier time spent in the Arctic, with climate change science, and the experience of returning to the Arctic as a writer and photographer 18 years after my first visit as a biologist.

The request

I have started a GoFundMe campaign, Artistry in the Arctic, to help fund this expedition. I am requesting funding to cover the residency fee, airfare, and a few necessary expenses of autumn in the Arctic. Generous friends and family, some of them brand new friends and family, have already donated almost enough to cover the deposit due in March. Please consider contributing any amount you are able. Small donations add up, and with your help, we will all go to the Arctic for a new adventure as – internet access dependent – I will post as much as I can along the way.
I set rewards for different donation levels – your choice of any photo that I post during the trip, signed and delivered to you.

For more information and to donate, please visit:

Artistry in the Arctic

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

xoxo T

Cooper Island bird life

Puffin in the house

Year-end musings

winter mind

The winter mind.

It seems my mind is both full and empty.

I think about a time when my neck doesn’t hurt, and the tendons don’t grind – these days are both past and future.

I think about Big Cat, a cat the color of fallen oak leaves.

There is blank space where my mind struggles to find something to think.

I think about —- and his careful and attentive questions about my well-being.

I think about —–, how I will get the job there. How I will be if I haven’t gotten the job.

I think about the oaks and pines outside my window and the pieces of the sky I see through their bare branches and needles.

I try to think of something to write, and I see nothing.

oak leaves

A cat the color of fallen oak leaves.

 

I think about visible and unrecognizable, the words that chose me for 2017. I wonder what words 2018 will bring me. I don’t see them. My mind says I can’t see them. Maybe they will see me as 2017’s words did.

Enough comes to mind. As in, “I am enough,” or “I have enough,” or “This is enough.” I am content to let this sit for now. It is enough.

A more visceral part says to me, “No. All this is true. And I am more. I can do more. I can be more.”

Enough and more? Similarly contraindicated as visible and unrecognizable. Not opposites. Not opponents. Co-workers. Collaborators. Co-conspirators.

Becoming visible was an act that made me unrecognizable to many. Becoming unrecognizable allowed me to be visible to many more.

Being enough can allow me to be more. Being more offers enough to others.

Yes. Maybe these are the words I need.

I am enough. We are all enough.

I have always been enough. We all have always been enough.

I have more. I am more. I offer more. Striving for more opens me to…

I go back to the blank mind. There are pieces of thoughts, glimmers of ideas floating about in there. I can almost see them. I can’t quite feel them. Beyond the list of what to do today, tomorrow, and next week, there are much grander thoughts. They need to be let out. Hoarding them produces a feeling of scarcity – if I let this into the world, there will never be another, and I will be without grand ideas. No. That’s not right. Letting them out into the world brings them friends and community. It allows expansion, the ideas grow and multiply.

Here is an idea:

What if each of us believes that we are enough?

And,

What if each of us believes that every other person is also enough?

We would all have more.

 

2017– the year in review

The annual holiday photo roundup – it was an Oregon-centric year.

All the best for a spectacular 2018 full of love, joy, and peace.

With gratitude for all of your support and encouragement, generosity and graciousness,

xoxo T

 

Cape Lookout

Lava Lands

Summer Lake

Hobart Bluff

Emigrant Lake

Painted Hills

Avalanche Lily

Crater Lake

Painted Hills

Acorn Woodpecker

Christmas Valley

Summer Lake

Deschutes River

Antarctica melting away

Yesterday, I flew from Portland, Oregon, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I read about the melting of Antarctica as I looked down on the Nevada canyons and desert.

It was a surreal juxtaposition of time and place and global dilemma – adding to my carbon footprint while judging Man for our follies.

Antarctica may look like Nevada sooner than we think.

Oops

Please forgive the previous completely random post… I was playing with new software and inadvertently published it.

That said, I am working on some new, fun things that I hope to show you soon. Stay tuned! xoxo T

 

I crack myself up

Last month, I registered The Road not Taken Enough as a Limited Liability Corporation with the state of Oregon. I’m not altogether sure what I will do with this designation but, as usual, I’ll make it up as I go.

The application had a series of questions that I immediately forgot after answering. I was looking through the paperwork yesterday and found this:

I mean, why be “Owner” or “President” when you can be so much more. A field tech long ago and far away gave me this title. Apparently, I see no reason to change it.

World Jellyfish Day

World Jellyfish Day

3 November

Kiss a jellyfish!

Oh, and it’s my birthday. I couldn’t be prouder to have it coincide with such cool, gelatinous, invertebrates.

Jellyfish shots all around.

Love, hugs, and gratitude,

Yours Truly,

 

 

 

More better language, importanter beer

sign

Beer is importanter

 

The misuse of “less” and “fewer” has long irked me.

The word “impactful” makes me gag. 

“Addicting” really wants to be “addictive.”

Despite my personal misgivings about these words, they are real. Misused, abused, and cringe-worthy as they may be, they are verifiable.

Last week, I heard “concepting.” I don’t even know where to begin with this. It pains me. It is more than just wrong.

Language must grow and change shapes to survive. Shifting words to new meanings is part of a living language. It doesn’t always make it sound more better, but it does keep it from becoming stagnant and dying.

Attempting to loosen the stodgy rules of language in my head, it seems that beer may be importanter than further education.