Walking with My Camera: Snow in the Mountains and Leaf Bodies in Water

Snow has come to the higher mountains and the Larch are starting to turn. Occasionally small flocks of ducks and skeins of geese pass overhead. It makes me sad to see their meager lines. When I was young I remember watching v-shaped wedges that had hundreds of geese―more than I could count before they passed.  For me, seeing geese evokes a feeling I can only describe as longing. When I was thirteen, I lived with my family at Murphy Lake in the Northwest part of Montana. One night I paddled our canoe out in the dark and stretched myself along the bottom of the boat so I could look at the stars. Canada Geese began to land all around me. There were so many it took a long time. They honked and flapped as they settled in the water. I listened for hours and felt privileged to be among them.  I don’t remember paddling away. I repeat this story occasionally because it feels like I am part of it and I want to remember.

Yesterday I was drawn to photographing leaves under the water. Their chlorophyll is gone. The amazing thin shapes are done using carbon dioxide, water, nutrients and sunlight to make food and oxygen and are now in the process of giving what they have left back to the earth. Their beauty is still giving. I think about what the plants, animals and birds and bugs give us and what we contribute to the cycle of life and how out of balance it is between what humans give and what we take.

This Rocky Mountain Maple leaf was iridescent with the refracted light from the moving water.

These leaves reminded me of the old Shaker hymn “Lay Me Low.” The Canasg website* says, “The ‘Mother’ referred to in the song is Ann Lee who was a leader of the Shaker movement. She was viewed virtually as a female deity and many Shaker songs are attributed to her inspiration or refer warmly to her.” This page also acknowledges, “this song is a ‘gift song’ received by Addah Z Potter in 1838.” I like to think of the “mother” in this song as our mother earth and that the leaves are a “gift song” as they find their way back to the earth.

“Lay me low,
Lay me low,
Lay me low, low
Where Mother can find me,
Where Mother can own me,
Where Mother can bless me.”