Saturday, July 14, 2012

Parks and Recreation

There were about 2 hours of sunshine in Nashville, TN this Saturday. Storms came through town early morning and late afternoon, but Josh and I went to a park during the small window of opportunity that this weekend afforded. This park is only about a mile from our house, but we had never noticed it before yesterday. Being the only two visitors when we arrived, we explored our 'new' discovery and enjoyed feeling like the place was just for us. There's something about a set of swings that will always make us try them out, as if we'd never seen such a marvelously fun contraption in our lives. I'd brought my camera, of course, so I entertained myself by snapping pictures of my husband swaying to and fro. No one else was around to see me circling the playground, crouching around and clicking away like a crazed stalker. One must be wary about creeping too closely to a swinging subject, in hopes of getting a picture at just the right moment, or suffer a kick to the face if one does not judge their photographic location with accuracy. Luckily, I got close enough to avoid any swinging related injuries. Before storms crept back in, we spend our Saturday playing at the park. Wanna join us?

Sitting in my motionless swing to adjust camera settings, I was struck with (what I believe) was an original and brilliant photo idea. I needed to catch Josh on camera at just the right moment before gravity sent him swaying back to his starting position- against the blue sky. I had a goal now, but catching my gleefully swinging husband would prove to be a tricky task- especially since he's an ambitious little playground kid whose only goal was to see how high he could go. This would not allow me much time since every kick he demonstrated in his powerful swinging style, made him sway even faster- leaving me a fraction of a millisecond to accomplish my marvelous artistic idea.

Mission Accomplished! I took way too many pictures that were too soon or too late, until finally snapping my camera at the moment I so desired. Much like the few hours of good weather, my opportunity to get this shot was quite limited- as was my photographic ability. Nonetheless, my amateur skill level still resulted in getting the picture I wanted- This one is IT. :)

Or perhaps this one is it...maybe both reflect my persistent effort and refusal to leave the park without this picture. I think this idea to use swings as a photo prop is genius...though, I'm sure it's been done before and by more talented photographers. No matter, I say...because it's still new to me. I'd like to take engagement shots of a couple swinging together. To do this, I'll need to find a park whose swings are surrounded by awesome scenery and backgrounds. I like the sky as a backdrop, but possibilities to re-create this pic are endless and versatile.

Here's when you've gotta be careful if you're holding your camera a little too closely to your moving subject. Sitting underneath a person who is swinging above you can be a perilous plight. I studied Josh's movement back and forth before I ascertained a location that would prevent my decapitation.

This is how bugs below see us when we soar above them on a swing...weird, huh?

Objects in picture are closer than they appear. I am further away from objects than this photo may suggest- keeping my head by hunkering down and opting to use my camera's zoom.

One of those "too late" picture-clicking moments previously mentioned. Still, shoes and sky look okay.

If Josh were more focused on posing for my pictures, rather than on swinging, I would have asked him to stand up on his chain-suspended seat. The sky would have afforded a silhouette-like contrast of my happy husband that may have been incredible. If this were a couple's shoot, I'd have the pair stand side by side while I adjusted my position to create a scenic portrait of partnered silhouettes and swing set structures. However, boys still seem to be more interested in playing on playgrounds than on pleasing cootie-ridden females! Maybe next time I'll trick this playground crush into complying with my photographic wish- How? Why, by bringing more friends to nag him, of course. That worked during recesses when we were kids, right? When a girl had a crush on a fellow first-grade colleague, she often relied on friends to get him to 'ask her out'...I'm thinking strength in numbers will be my strategy again to outwit this boy next time.

Either Josh had tired himself out, or I snapped this one too soon or too late to get the exact picture I wanted. That tree in the background obstructed my plan to feature a cloudy blue background...or my chosen angle would not permit this. (I blame Josh and the tree, though, since changing my photo position would be risky.)

Josh had quite a view of the park from his air-bound position. He noticed that we were no longer alone, as frisbee-golf/extreme frisbee/...or (insert other frisbee-related sport name) players had just arrived. Still, even with other visitors, Josh and I kept playing as though we were still the only park patrons around for miles.

Trees again hinder potential awesomeness of photo. I need to find another park or swing set that will allow unobstructed backgrounds for silhouette pictures!
I'm swinging, too...just not nearly at the height my husband would pursue. Sneakers were a must for footwear, since early rains had left behind marshy, muddy grounds.

Humidity and sweat were decided factors in my hair's matted tangles on this day, but I still adore this picture of us.

 Josh stole my camera. I tried to refuse pictures...he still got a few, despite my resistance here.
"Give it BACK." Here I am, bossily demanding the return of Mr. Stylus. Josh likes this picture- I think it misrepresents me, as it shows my evil facial expression that occurs sometimes when I want something and it's taking too long to get it...impatience- that's the word I'm looking for here. Yeah...I prefer resolute determination. Mr. Stylus was returned to his rightful owner after this picture was stolen from him.

An abandoned baseball field beckoned me to visit.

Empty basketball courts were crossed as I squished across the park towards the fields.

As a former cheerleader with limited basketball playing abilities, I can't help but recall cheers I thought I'd forgotten..."Take that ball right to the hoop, dribble, dribble, shoot, shoot!" I hated cheering at games, but I lived for the excitement of overtime and last-minute winning shots. I don't miss cheerleading, but I miss gymnastics and competition. If I had it all to do over, I would have learned to play basketball- and then I would have applied my former tumbling ability (that is no more, sadly) to flipping across the gymnasium after making the shot to win the game. Funny, how this goal takes me back so far and makes me dream of some 'what-if' scenarios!

Take me out to the baaaalllll-gaaaaame! No game here, but an open baseball field caused just as much excitement for me (that sport bores me to tears unless it's a close game) as I headed uphill.

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks, I don't care if I ever get back....yeah, I don't care for peanuts. I love some crackerjack crunching, though. Too bad we didn't bring a picnic basket to hold a side dish snack of boxed deliciousness. I wonder what prizes are in those magical boxes nowadays...gotta find out.

Squish, suashie, squishy-squash- went Regina and Josh, across water-sopped lands that lead up to the field here.

Stopping for a quick rest on our journey, I got a quick picture of Josh as he prepared to accompany me to the abandoned field that had so intrigued me.

Okay, so I took a couple pictures during this little break.
Fading sunlight warned us that our time at the park was limited. We'd have to hurry to the baseball field if we were going to make it back to our car before rains came back. Clicking my camera like crazy, I furiously snapped away at everything we passed on our walk.

At last, we arrived at a dugout. Through the fence, I shoved my camera to get everything I saw here. A floating plastic bag (similar to the one in American Beauty) was the only occupant of this enclosure, but muddy little cleat prints suggested that a game had occurred somewhat recently.

If you've never been to a baseball field when a game isn't taking place, you haven't experienced the eerie and somehow mysterious aura that I felt when I stood here...somewhat apocalyptic, I guess is how I'd describe it since baseball fields are supposed to have more action going on. Where is everyone? A quietness fell upon our park that I found unsettling. Perhaps I find it uncomfortable to be in a deserted park- I had not noticed my paranoia until this moment, when I swore that someone could "get us." Josh laughs at me when I apply my safety precautions and awareness, instilled by my mother. If you're a girl, you understand...We're always told- "Never go to any deserted place, don't walk down any alleys, always have your keys in-hand when walking through parking lots (to stab attackers, I guess), etc...We hear horror stories all the time about women being attacked in parks. Therefore, my paranoia was justified. I felt safe with Josh, but will bring my pepper spray next time when I visit deserted baseball

Wet fields, no games, no observing fans...peacefully creepy, though I'm not sure those two words make sense unless you were here.
Seat prints on bleachers looked as if an entire crowd of cheering patrons had simply evaporated.
I'd had enough of player-less, fan-less stadiums and decided to find more relaxing places to soothe my nearly convincing thoughts of zombies overtaking the park at any given moment. Empty picnic tables somehow assured me that things were going to be just fine...I'm not sure why, though, because- now that I think about it- wouldn't this just reinforce that scary zombie apocalypse idea? For whatever reason, these tables made me feel better. That, and the view below of frisbee players, which reminded me that zombies would probably attack them first since there were plenty of humans to choose for dinner- and those humans were making more noise than Josh and I, which made them a far better target.

Where would-be zombies may dine upon frisbee players, if they existed in my ridiculous imaginatively hypothetical scene.

A pool of water reflected skies, clouds, and leaves- with clarity similar to that of a mirror. I'd gotten another idea for a picture.
Josh's reflection- what's that little blue thing in the left bottom corner here? I didn't notice it when I took this picture, but am now wondering if this could be a beautifully coated bug- or a valuable jewel. Neither of these identities for blue object are plausible, more than likely. Still,

"Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted.  Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world."  ~Hans Margolius

"I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least - and it is commonly more than that - sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements."  ~Henry David Thoreau

"Finding solitude in the concrete jungle is powerful and peaceful."  ~Mike Dolan

"I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything. The sun came up like gold through the trees, and I felt like I was in heaven. "
-Harriet Tubman

I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe? – Kate Chopin

"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. "
- John Muir

This tree (below) reminded me of a book that, to this day, I still love... 

 –”I don’t need very much now”, said the boy. “Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired”.
–”Well”, said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down… sit down and rest”.
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy… - The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. 

- Eric Hoffer

“There are no bad pictures; that's just how your face looks sometimes.”
Abraham Lincoln

I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of another year. - Robert Frost 

Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.  ~Terri Guillemets
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within.                    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.                    
 - Albert Schweitzer

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