Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter whatever...

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.”

~ Woodrow T. Wilson

Less than a week away winter is blowing in again... and, strange as it seems, it happens every year about the same time. Weird how that works...

This week is proving (weather wise) to be a wet start to another new winter. The rain is falling steady outside my window and the prognosticators say it will be with us all week with snow levels coming down to the 2,000' level or so. I'm hoping to get up to the snow line (maybe Opal Creek) to do some snow shooting. I've had the pleasure of being in some mighty fine locations with my camera in the snow. Opal Creek obviously, but when I was living in California my first attempt at winter shooting was in Yosemite one year when I was home on leave from the Air Force. I went with my old High School buddy Glenn. Many, many winter trips to Death Valley after the military with Al B, Marty and/or Jeff and his brothers Dan, Brad and Rick (and many combinations of those fellers). If you've never been to Death Valley... wow. What a unique landscape, and not just in the Valley proper but in the surrounding higher areas where the views are long and clear. One particularly outstanding trip several of us took with my good friend Greg Burke up into the Sierras in the winter of '83 - '84. We skiied and snowshoed in and camped on a snowpack that was about 25'... wow. Skiing like I've never experienced before or since. One of these months I'll have some of those images scanned and posted here.

I think those early Death Valley trips prepared me for my year in Adel.

Of course Adel was the best of worlds... I lived with my family in a magnificent landscape surrounded by the volcanic uplifts in a place so quiet I could hear my nearest neighbor's (the Lane's) cows mooing even though they were 5 miles away. Robin was a one year old and had a safe play space with two dogs (Lance and Bear) who were her outside buddies. The high desert is just such a special environment... the stars at night so bright in that clear desert air that the Milky Way was actually 3 dimensional. Our own private hot spring only 1/2 mile away... and a fair amount of snow (I actually twice ended up driving to Adel and on to Lakeview through blizzard conditions).

Here in Eugene, living on the outskirts of town here on "the farm" is kind of similar yet different... not as quiet obviously with the road only 1/4 mile away and Hwy 99 1/2 mile away... but still...

I've not done as well as I'd hoped with the photography and at best it is a supplemental income. Projects I'd hoped to be able to devote more time and energy to have taken a back seat to surviving. I'm actually waiting for word on a full-time job that I had hoped would have started a month or so ago but looks like won't start until the new year. But when it does start I will still have the photography work as a filler and will work towards that future day when it can be my main source of income. I still work in spurts on my proposed book about Pablo and Opal Creek. I have had to worry too much about paying my bills and keeping us fed to have that worry-free clarity of mind I need to access my creative side. I'm lonely at times, missing that companionship that a female love provides... but at this stage of my life I know I'm a bit cantankerous and not willing to settle for gratification over love, I enjoy my bachelorhood, knowing that somewhere, some day I'll find another companion. I also have other issues probaby a bit more pressing to me personally.

I haven't talked much politics here and will continue to shy away as this isn't my venue of choice for that portion of my life. The wwweb allows me plenty of other outlets for that... but I do worry about the country I'm handing to my children. I'm a lover of the Constitution, a document I believe was written and given to the people of this nation as our document. A tool with which we keep government in check, not for them to keep us in check.

I'm coming closer to fearing our government, fearing that we are slipping into becoming an entity more akin to those countries and sysems I remember being warned against as a kid. I worry because every advocate for peace that has risen to prominence ends up being offed. I worry becuase I believe that this country's power is derived from we the people and it seems that we the people are being led rather than being the leaders. Certainly very few of those we elect to national offices qualify as leaders (and not all of them need to be leaders, but they sure need to be good administrators.

So, as we go into the holiday season I tend to think about peace and how lacking in it so many humans on the planet are...

But I always have hope. And that hope comes to me from many sources. One of those sources for me recently is the movie Bobby... written and directed by Emilio Estevez. I was surprised how well done this film was. Highly recommended. Anyway... at the end of the film there is an eloquent speech that was incredibly moving. I researched the source for it and found that it was the speech Robert Kennedy delivered in Cleveland on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin luther King was shot and killed. It is a beautiful and passionate speech that is an outstanding plea to that which is truly the best of human nature. So here, as my Christmas present to y'all, is that speech from Bobby Kennedy:

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

And another series of images from this past year:

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