Beyond the Commonplace, Week 6, 2014

My foot falls lightly, in quick, successive strokes. The mile I ran yesterday rises to meet me again. It is the same terrain along a repetitive route but somehow it is never the same view. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As the waning temperatures transfigure the landscape in subtleties of light and nuances of color, the brittle breath of winter glaciates the earth into a glass menagerie, a kaleidoscope: fragile, haunting, treacherous.

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Snow drifts into peaceful silence, the land settles into meditation and sabbatical rest. The animals, the barren trees, each surrender to its tranquility.

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Patches of the countryside resemble paintings, such as this vignette of horses flanked and framed by trees. I take photos because I do not paint. I would prefer to paint; I do not possess the talent. This scene reminded me of the work of the French painter Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier whose paintings would often include horses but almost always depicted them as the noble, gallant, and elegant creatures they truly are, chivalrous steeds full of grace and power.

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Still life lies. A frozen creek or river lies (both 'lying still' and 'deviating from the truth'). Like an impressionistic work of art, its image belies movement; the waterway beneath still carries its current, silent and seeking. Ice is the Halcyon of creeks and rivers. In Greek mythology, seven days before and seven days after winter solstice, Jove forbids the winds to blow and Halcyon -distraught from the loss of her husband at sea- is transformed into a bird and she broods over her nest, adrift at sea, the waters stilled under her ruminative grief. The Roman poet Ovid wrote: "In stormy seas can halcyon seasons make. Turn rapid streams into a standing lake".

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The ghosts of vigilant sentries past. This is not a photo I took on one of my runs; this is a snap from my meandering road trip back from Dallas, TX. I abhor highways and prefer two-laned roads, the scenery and drive, pleasant and serene. I stumbled upon this landscape somewhere north of Frisco, near Lake Ray Roberts. There was very little light left in the day and the temperature hovered around eight degrees so I didn't take time to stay and play. Someday, I must make it back here with my camera.

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When I was a boy, we would ride Shetland ponies almost every weekend during the summer. Duplicitous creatures. Like people, some were docile, others temperamental, easily agitated. This one reminded me of two ponies: Mama and Junior. Junior was vicious (perhaps he was pissed about his name and rightly so). If you yanked hard on the reigns or were unfortunate enough to get near his mouth, you would enjoy a glimpse (or feel the wrath) of his gnashing molars. Riding horses as a little boy: Very few experiences in life give you that fluid continuity of fear, exhilaration, and peace. (BTW: I knighted this little one, 'Neighsayer').

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Everywhere I run I draw a crowd of equine and bovine onlookers. Must be the funny clothes, the tie-dyed bandanas, the crazy hair, the bad shoe-gaze tunes emanating from my headphones, and the fact that I stare back at them with three eyes.

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If you were to follow me on Nike+, you would soon discover that my average pace is pathetically slow. "Is he walking?" No. I am just easily distracted. I run, but stop often. At one time, I was obsessed with my average pace, flying past a collage of enriching experiences. I stopped my ridiculous pursuit and decided to press pause whenever I saw something that arrested my attention. This is not always the melodramatic and obvious, sometimes radiance hides behind a dull countenance. Once you learn to train your eye to see beyond the commonplace, beauty unfolds, sometimes simply and at other times in magnanimous ways. Ordinary fields become a symphony of sounds turning trees into conductors, birds into violinists, and haybales into reflective glass: the prosaic transmutes to poetry.

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Sunset ranch. I'm not sure that is what this placed is actually called but it would seem appropriate. The gates sit at the crest of a long hill, providing it the perfect amphitheater for sunsets and sunrises. As I take this photo, behind me, the busy road hosts a racing, vigilant horde of task-makers reducing their to-do lists, bypassing the sublimity of enchanted light. Tomorrow, I will number among them, one of the many swirling eddys caught in the mad vortex of consumption ... but ... tomorrow ... is not ... today.

About this photo series: Beyond the Commonplace.