photo essay: the spectrum of spring.
“There is an old story entitled ‘Eyes no Eyes.’ Those who use their eyes obtain the most enjoyment and knowledge. Those who look but do not see go away no wiser than when they came.”
When I travelled to the Dominican Republic twice in high school, another “photo geek” friend of mine (as we self-deprecatingly referred to ourselves) returned both times with a slew (literally, a slew) of photographs of the local flora. While I did appreciate them, my eye was drawn more to the smiles of the children we played with, to the two quiet sisters standing back by the gate as we arrived at the orphanage every day, to the woman walking across a field with a basket of bananas on her head.
But over the past couple of weeks here in London, I’ve been catching myself following in Scott’s footsteps–not just photographing flowers, but actually setting my bag down and crouching low among a field of crocuses–a figurative hiking up of the skirt and wading right into the water–my camera so close I’m sure it scares the poor blossoms. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t really “had” a spring since about fall of 2009, (yes, you did read that right–I was in New Zealand at the time and thus spring came the other way round), or maybe it’s what the flowers themselves represent–new season, new growth, color.
Ah, the color! It’s enough to make me nearly skip down the sidewalks to work–but not quite that much. Even still, I’ve welcomed the color spring has brought into my grey London life with its overcast skies and long, damp afternoons. Today I ventured over to Forest Hill in southeast London, where the Horniman Museum and Gardens resides. Although I took a few minutes to walk through the galleries inside, I’d really come for the gardens and so I spent far longer meandering through the sixteen or so acres the museum holds.
Just before leaving, I sat down on a bench beside a wide field intended for dogs. I had my eyes closed and so I heard the bells before I saw who they belonged to. Strange, I thought, it seemed the wrong season for jingle bells.
“C’mon, Kaiser, hurry up now. That’s a good boy, good doggie,” a man said to his golden labrador retriever. I suddenly saw the man was blind. His long, white cane swept across the path in slow, wide arcs as Kaiser romped across the grassy field.
I was struck by this man and his jingle-belled dog. I closed my eyes again and tried to think what would signal ‘spring’ to me besides the flowers I’d just spent an hour photographing. Would it be the warm sunshine, the gentle breeze, the smell of fresh grass and soil? Would it be the way the ground sunk beneath my steps, no longer hard after winter but soaked from spring rains? Would it be the sounds–the birds chirping, the children playing, the steady hum of traffic coming from the motorway? It was a challenging thought, indeed:
What if you couldn’t see spring?