The pond is a muse that saved my sanity.Posted: July 2, 2015
This week’s WordPress photo challenge theme is “muse”. To me, a muse is anything that inspires me to do or to feel or to be.
For the purposes of this postaweek, I decided to gather up some photographs of the pond behind our apartment building. These shots are each taken from basically the same vantage point, our balcony.
Our windows all face this pond, so it’s the first thing I see every morning when I wake up, it is present in my life as I go about my day, and its reflective surface often lulls me to sleep. Seeing it there, with all its changing moods, often inspires me to take a photo.
This, then, is a “do” muse … but it’s more than that.
HOW THE POND SAVED MY SANITY
The pond is also a “be” muse. It has helped me to be content as I adjusted to an entirely new lifestyle.
When my husband lost his job, at the tail end of the The Great Recession, we were forced to move from our little farm in the country to an apartment in a first-ring suburb of St. Paul. It was a terrible time, even though the decision was right for our family. I was particularly devastated by the thought of losing my daily interactions with the wildlife that regularly visited our property.
(Sometimes, those interactions were inside our house! We were victim to an annual invasion of mice in the fall, for example. At least field mice are cuter than regular house mice.)
We chose the building where we now live based on its affordability, its location, and its pet policy. (Our dog is 50+ pounds.) I’m sure we would have taken one of the units on the other side of the building (the side that overlooks the parking lot and a major freeway) but the only two-bedrooms available at the time were on the pond side.
Moving to this particular apartment was a practical choice, but it was also incredibly lucky.
When we were preparing to leave the house, it never occurred to me that there was a place, such as our current apartment, where I could learn to love all the perks of city life, while still having access to nature every day.
(And I don’t miss the mouse roommates at all.)
THE POND ITSELF
Our pond is shallow. It rises and falls from one year to the next, depending on weather. It’s a habitat for all sorts of critters. At first I thought it would host just waterfowl and mosquitoes, but a few days of observation revealed an intricate, well-populated ecosystem.
I saw muskrats, raccoon, turtles — even an occasional jumping fish. The waterfowl was so much more than I expected. Sure, there were “just” Canada geese and mallards, but there were also wood ducks, teals, egrets, bald eagles, and a great blue heron.
The first time I looked out at the far shore and saw a deer, I cried with gratitude. Later, when I saw a red fox playing along the bank, I laughed. Back on the farm, I would have had to worry about my chickens. Here, in the city, I can just enjoy the sight.
By the way, I honestly don’t have any still photos of the pond in the winter. (Most of you know how I feel about that horrible season.) I did find a short video, though:
This theme is fascinating to me, and I’d like to do at least a couple of different versions. It would be fun to create galleries that capture some of the muses that inspire me to write. I’d do at least one comprised of haunting images and another of bookish things.
My art is really writing, not photography, so — for the moment — I’d better get back to my book project. I need another thousand words before I sleep.
Here are some of my favorite entries for the Muse prompt from others:
(I’m still adding as I have time to browse the entries, so feel free to check back.)
Black Hills of South Dakota | The Sun | Jakarta cityscape (esp. the storm shot) | It’s my Park! | Graves | As long as you keep that fire alive… | Weird is Beautiful | Emily, a guiding genius | many moods of a cute dog | buskers | looking up | a perfect shot of beach, sea and sky |