December’s Solstice

Fall and winter are my most prolific creative seasons for photography. December has not failed me.
To walk in our little wooded areas is like jumping through a time portal. I’m a kid again and everything inspires. Our fall colors are just now ending. There are leaf hangers-on spattered throughout the depth of the wooded areas that grab the falling light. These energy catching leaves will illuminate yellows and orange like stars in the sky. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Clouded evenings make for more available colors to include in multiple exposures. Even reflected artifacts have more punch.
This month’s moon has been very usable for several days and it makes a great addition to impressions on the fly. Until yesterday, my starlings have been all but absent. Their numbers have been down several years now.
I started including starlings in my impressions seven years ago. Back then there were some 1000-2000 birds (or more) that would murmurate. Now, I am lucky to see 30-40 at a time. They fly in with the red- wings….
People have told me they do not do that (multi-species flocking). I would believe their word, except I have seen so many of these starlings up close.
Last evening, a flock of about 300 birds murmurtated for a time and I was able to capture them with the colors of the falling sun and the moon, all on one frame.
Color me happy.
I have been thinking a lot of our little woods and the magic they hold. They do inspire me so much. I feel a little music instrumental comin’ on…soon.

“Shenandoah”

Arguably one of the most beautiful melancholic true American pieces of music you will ever hear. It belongs to the U.S. and has been sung around the world….and as such, belongs to all people. Like many of us U.S. Americans, this song is a blending of many cultures and stories. There is the story of first nation man Shenandoah who aided the new republic in defeating the British. Though he was true and valiant, he saw his people and lands ultimately diminish. It is said he stood 6’5″ and was a great war chief. The story in the original version alludes to a seven year courtship a trader held for Shenandoah’s daughter. He brought the chief a canoe full of gifts, but was rejected. Later, he brought liquor, and thus, when the chief was under the influence, he stole her away. Shenandoah’s life existed far away from the Missouri River. So how did this river become a part of the song?
Well, this song was a well used shanty sang by sailors who worked the boats from the Missouri, down through the Mississippi, and eventually onto the ocean faring ships….which made it a global song. Apparently, this is where the marriage of the river, the native princess and the men came together.  The story of a man’s love and his willingness to risk his life for that love was just too much not to sing about. It was a man’s song about a man, his desire and unfulfilled love. The river and its unrelenting power gives a beautiful metaphor for leaving, adventure and the power of love.There are many versions. The original likely carried a medium upbeat tempo. The meanings behind all of the versions take on a certain abstract interpretation that transcends any one simple story. But no matter the version, the tune stays constant, and sends the listener to distant places. Like a great river, this song is a confluence of stories that by themselves are wonderful, but together make for something words cannot describe. It is a song for the world.