Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Smallest Grain Of Sand

Life is so phenomenal that everything, even the smallest grain of sand, tells a story that can unfold into a book. I have been walking on a beach at dawn every morning and find poetry there.

At night a window in my bedroom stays open, and the air temperature is cool, almost cold when an alarm wakens me at 6:15 AM. My bed is warm and so it is an effort to leave the comfort of sleep and languid rest. But the earth is steadily turning and does not wait even a second in its course. My goal is to be at the beach at sunrise, so I hasten to jump up and get dressed, then drive ten minutes to the ocean. Along the way, I notice how few people are to be seen, but there are always early birds that are up and about before dawn. This morning, when I reached the shore, I was the only one on the beach, except for Heidi of the Mountains who was with me.

It rained last night and this morning the  darkened dawn sky had a stormy countenance. As the sun rose the clouds seemed to blow away while the sky lightened with rosy hues. The sound of the rhythmic pounding of waves and rolling surf cast its ancient oceanic spell, and the cold wind played all around, carrying smells of salt and brine. Seagulls soared about, crying out their salutation to the new day. Each moment as sun light increased, vivid warm hues reflected off the clouds and sea. When the sun ascended above the horizon and continued climbing, the stark brightness took over—and the magic of dawn receded.

It is incredible that every sunrise and sunset is different and unique, depending on the conditions that exist at the time.

Everything anticipates the cycles of sunlight and darkness. When it is dark, we eagerly anticipate a new dawn, and during the day, we hurry to accomplish as much as possible before sundown and the blanket of shadows comes across the earth to bring the inky stains of night.

The shifting sands, changing light, ebb and flow of life and death . . . all remind me that transformation is certain, physical existence is in flux, and human intellect cannot contain the mysteries of eternal creation. What is the power that holds nature together so perfectly and with such grandeur?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

236 Weeks In A Row

I have posted 236 blogs. That is 236 weeks in a row without fail; over four years. Somehow, the writing that began as a curiosity became a practice and a discipline.

Usually my subject begins appearing to me during the week. It might be a recent intriguing occurrence, an observation of a place, a memory, or a creative spark. Then, I have a bit of time to sit with the idea and turn it around in my mind and emotions. Very seldom, but occasionally, I come up empty and must scramble for a subject.

Today, I had nothing. I am living with my parents in Santa Barbara for a couple weeks. I easily adjust to being with them in their small home. My father is grateful that I will be by his side when he has an operation in a few days. In the morning we have breakfast together and read the newspapers. Then my father goes to his office and my mother does a couple chores and reads books. I work on my laptop or help with a task. My mother cooks soup and we sit down for lunch. After lunch we take a nap and my father and I rise after an hour and go to work. My mother stays in bed longer—3 PM (she gets up at 5 AM each day.) Then she has a cup of coffee and reads, and makes dinner at 6PM. My father returns to walk the old dog, and we gather for dinner. My father retires about 8 PM, my mother reads until 10, and I continue projects from my computer, i.e. working on photographs, websites, correspondence etc. Eventually I might read, and then go to bed.

Heidi of the Mountains is coming to Santa Barbara. She will be here for five days and fly back to New Mexico. I will drive to arrive in Santa Fe at the beginning of November.

While on my brother-in-law’s motorboat today, we watched seals climb up on a bobbing red buoy to flop down and lean against each other and relax.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Photos from The Grand Canyon

Here are some photos from the Grand Canyon, taken between October 15-18.

To see all 25 photos, go to: Steven Boone's Grand Canyon

This photo was taken along the Kaibab Trail, off the South Rim .

The Kaibab Trail offers incredible views and steep drop-offs.

The ever changing light brings different moods . . .

To see all 25 photos, go to: Steven Boone's Grand Canyon

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grand Canyon

 The last time I visited the Grand Canyon I was a brash and eager young man, footloose and on the road with a friend. We arrived and were struck with the magnitude of what lie before us,  then promptly set off to hike the famous Bright Angel trail that winds like a snake from the rim down the steep canyon walls to the river below. It was summer and although we were young and healthy, we were also na├»ve to think we could easily face off against nature at its grandest and swagger away. The temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and our exertion eventually tired us so that we had to pull up short of the river and turn around. When we arrived back at the rim, we had met our limit and were bent-over exhausted.

In fact, many hikers overestimate their fitness level, become dehydrated and confused, and must be rescued. The Park Service, in an attempt to discourage hikers from feats which are beyond their abilities, now posts a picture at several trailheads of an attractive and fit young man with the caption, "Every year we rescue hundreds of people from the Canyon; most of them look like him".

Now, forty years later, I have arrived at the Grand Canyon once again; and appreciate it more. Such beauty and grandeur! It is 280 miles long, and the average width is 10 miles. Standing at the rim you see a spectacular panorama of sky and earth, with the canyon walls dropping a mile to the Colorado River below. And the colors make artists drool. Changing weather and light adds to the drama.

I hiked the Kaibab trail yesterday. It drops from the rim and winds down the steep canyon walls, eventually to end at the river. That would be a nine mile round trip so I only went part way, for six miles, stopping frequently to photograph. Perhaps because it is cooler in the fall and I am more prepared with snacks and power drinks, I endured the rigors better than when I was young. Sure, I am sore today, but will be back again and again. After traveling around the world, I can say this place, practically in my backyard, is one of the most grand and beautiful places on earth.

Look for photographs soon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Every Leaf Speaks Bliss

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."
Emily Bronte (30 July 1818 – 19 December 1848)

The changing of season is nature in its most visible period of transition. Especially Autumn. Amid  colder temperatures and shorter days, leaves change colors while the bloom of summer withers and fades to rust. It is a time of departure and animals know that they must prepare for harsher days of winter, so they bulk up and gather nuts and seeds to hibernate under the snow.
There are many theories of how weather affects human emotions. (To learn more go to: Theories on How Weather Affects Human Emotions.)

This fall I have been particularly moody with temperatures dropping and sunshine dwindling. There is much to love about cool, brisk days with fantastic leaf displays, and I have made gorgeous hikes with Heidi of the Mountains, both in Colorado and here in the mountains of Santa Fe. That said, today is the beginning of 20 days of homelessness for me. The casita I have been renting is part of a larger estate that is being sold, so I have to go. I found another place but cannot move until November 1.

Flux, creativity and wandering are all part of the THE DREAM that is my life. Possessions do not burden me. I plan to live in my studio a few days. It has a bathroom but no kitchen or shower, and not much living space. I bought a rocking chair so I can sit and read at night. In a few days I will drive my van to California, stopping to hike and paint at the Grand Canyon along the way. Adagio Gallery in Palm Desert California represents my artwork and I need to deliver new pieces and pick up items that have not sold.  From there I will drive three hours north to Santa Barbara where my parents live. Eventually the road will bring me back here to Santa Fe, and a new home.

As promised, I have posted some photos from Kashmir.

I continue to work on a small website to show the handmade goods . . . that will come soon.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


During my ‘round the world odyssey, I stumbled into Kashmir, India by chance, or rather, as I prefer to look at fate; THE DREAM took me there. Kashmir is located in the northwest region of the Indian subcontinent. It is in a valley at the foot of the Great Himalayas and its civilization hearkens back millennium. In succession, the official religions have been Hinduism, Buddhism, and eventually Islam.  Most often, people have coexisted peacefully. Various nations have prized it and in recent history, Pakistan, India, and the People’s Republic of China have all claimed administration rights. Most of the people in Kashmir would like to have their own country and be autonomous. Now, India is the primary ruler and have troops stationed as occupying “peacekeepers”. It is a tense peace, and lately trouble has been brewing with frequent protests and killings of civilians by soldiers. That said, it remains one of the most beautiful places on earth.

I had not been in India more than two days when a man I met in New Delhi took me into his office and said emphatically that New Delhi was not a nice place to be and I should go to Kashmir. “I can arrange your travel and you can live on a houseboat with your own servant on a beautiful lake at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. It is quiet, the nature is beautiful and you can do many things, like trek and visit the towns.” Then he told me the price, which was quite cheap. I had only had time to see the Baha’i temple in New Delhi and now my new friend was adamant that I leave immediately. It felt like a whirlwind had settled upon me, but I sensed something extraordinary so let THE DREAM do the talking. That afternoon I was flying to the city Srinagar in Kashmir. When I arrived, the man’s brother, Ash, packed me into his car and drove me to Dal Lake, where we were then rowed to my houseboat and I was introduced to my servant, Monsoor.

From the first, Dal Lake enchanted me. It is pristine and sparsely populated. Water lilies drift casually on its surface, amid reflections of snow capped mountains. The longer I stayed, the more local people I met, and especially vendors who paddled up to my dock and showed me their wares. A fellow called Mr. Wonderful The Flowerman arrived regularly, selling huge bouquets of chrysanthemum’s, dahlia’s and other brightly colored flowers.

As I bought things, I was also invited to special occasions, and at a wedding became the de-facto photographer, even gaining privileged entrance into the bride’s quarter to photograph her amid her retinue. October-November is the wedding time in that area, so sometimes weddings occur twice or three times a day during those weekends.

I have so much to tell about my experiences at Dal Lake and hope to go back to see my friends, but must wait for the right time. Meanwhile, I have been doing business with a dear man named Gul who sends me handmade embroidered leather and suede purses, leather and sheepskin gloves and hats, and embroidered sheepskin coats and jackets. The business I give him helps entire families survive. In the next few days, I will post a special look at his goods, and more photos from Kashmir, so watch for it.

Read about my journey to Kashmir: My Astonished Eyes.
More Kashmir: Surprises
See more artistic photography from Africa and India.