River Rock Tribe: Journaling In The Practicing The Art Of Being

First Published September 2012

DKB7713-webThere are times when I find myself overwhelmed with negotiating everyday living, especially in today’s economic climate.  I feel fragmented with the here and there of photography jobs, taking care of and maintaining a home and yard, making time, willingly,  for loved ones and friends, and of course assuring Sir Clarence James reclining years are comfortable.   He is doing really well and will write a blog soon.

Camping with family at Silver Falls State Park  Clarence James Browning

He now has his own blog  http://sirclarencejames.wordpress.com/

I feel I have been pretty successful in these tasks but find myself tense from the effort despite my near daily yoga and meditating rituals.    My husband recently reminded me that I had not been out in some time practicing my Zen photography.  This is where I go off by myself to capture images that fascinate me.  It requires that I find a spot, whether it be in nature or a bustling city, and spend the day there.  I do this to clear my mind and become more receptive to my surroundings.  Children come by this naturally and I refer to it as “The Art Of Being”.

Early Sunday morning I drove to the Sandy River, one of many rivers near my home here in Oregon.  Water draws and soothes me and not wanting to spend a lot of time driving, I had in mind a day spent along this river looking for great spots to view and capture images of the spawning salmon when the fall run is in full swing.  This run has already begun but it is still too early to get much opportunity to capture some images.  Planning ahead I will pick my spot and return at another time for ‘Nature’s Cycle of Life’ show.

Fed by glaciers on Mt. Hood, which has slowed considerably this time of year, the river’s water levels are quite low leaving wider beaches where one can explore.  Due to recent years of floods the river has forged new paths removing trees and boulders from its banks.  Massive roots of the down trees washed clean from the flood waters, then dried and bleached from the sun, litter the beach.  Some of the exposed roots still linger in pools of water at the river’s edge providing a safe place for the spawning salmon to lay their eggs.   This is the type of settings I am looking for.

Hiking high above an old landslide area, I look down along a stretch of beach and notice what looked like stalactites, those icicle looking formations one sees in a cave, only these were pointing up.  Curious, I made my way to the lower end of the slide before slipping and sliding the rest of the way to the beach.   What looked like stalactites from far above were river rocks stacked on top of each other.  This beach was approximately a quarter of a mile long and covered with river rocks, none stacked more than knee-high.   As I walked around taking in my surroundings, I saw that these stacked rocks represented people.  To my delight I had stumbled upon a village of River Rock People!  Retrieving my camera from my backpack I began immersing myself in capturing this amazing village.  All alone on the beach with only the sound of the river rushing over rocks, my fragmented thoughts drifted away.  I became more receptive to the spiritual feeling I was receiving from this mystical village.  It had to have taken a long time to build this scene I found myself in.  Had it happened over a time or had it been recently done by a large group of people?    As the day moved on, I would soon get my answer.

River Rock Village

With camera in hand I went about capturing this River Rock Tribe.  There were families, individuals and groupings.  I saw a Navajo Squaw I recognized from a painting by the famous artist Rudolph Carl Gorman.   Others faced the water edges, in miniature form, like those giant stone monoliths, called Moai on Easter Island, looking out towards the sea.   Another ancient culture entered my mind when I came across a group of stacked rocks that formed a circle.  I became aware of how alive I was feeling immersing myself in this mystical world of river rock.   Amazed by the fact that there are still people in this world of advanced technology that find enjoyment in nature’s simplicity and being creative in using her wares, such as this creation with the use of these rocks.   It further more amazed me that they were seemingly left untouched, even though there were other signs of human trespassers in an occasional left behind soda can, plastic bottle and a flip-flop shoe.

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By noon, distant voices drifted my way.  Looking around I saw a small family making their way to the beach using the same route as me.  The children squealing with delight as they descended the slide on their bottoms ahead of their parents, packing blankets and packs, as they side-step precariously down the sandy slide.   I began to feel anxious for the River Rock People fearing the intruding humans would be the beginning of their demise.  Realizing that I could not stop what fate they would be dealt, I returned to capturing what I could before it could be destroyed.4004DKB-web

As the sun warmed the beach on this early fall day, more and more voices intruded my thoughts as more people arrived.   Taking a break, I sat among the River Rock People and observed those of my kind as they enjoyed a day on the beach.  I became relieved to see the young and old alike, instead of destroying the Village, were adding to the landscape by building more stacks of rocks.  I finally had my answer.  This special place had evolved over a time and was still evolving.   I felt blessed to have found this mythical beach and to see its effects on others for it gave me hope for humanity. 4008DKB-web I hope to see this village soon for I will be returning in a couple of weeks for the spawning of the salmon.

If one allows our media, and doomsday Sayers to depress our mental being we are to blame only ourselves.    We all need to set aside time in our hectic lives to practice “The Art Of Being”  a spa for the mind.DKB7729-web

To purchase prints of these and others taken that day please visit my website,  www.deebrowningphotography

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Lincoln City Annual Kite Flying Festival

This last weekend…Whoops!  That was two weekends ago!  My busy schedule of other projects that I needed to complete, one being a fun shoot of a beautiful girl and her horse, interrupted my writing of this blog.  These interruptions to my well laid plans happen often.  I can honestly say I am never bored! Photographers have many projects! Priorities taken care of I now must re-write the beginning of my blog.  

My husband and I along with our dear friend Sonia, spent Saturday, June 25th at Lincoln City enjoying their annual ‘Kite Flying Festival’.  We have endured the first half of this year of unusually wet weather.   Our bodies deprived of vitamin D began to re-energized at the lack of clouds in the sky.  The exposed blue sky provided a wonderful background for the colorful  kites that flew as an opening act above the assembling crowd of people staking out their individual piece of beach. 

Chilly winds, which is typical of the Northern Oregon coast, kept most under cover by way of jackets, blankets and beach tents.   A few, mostly the young, could be spotted in their more revealing attire, exposed skin red from sun and wind, as they strutted and swayed in the human way of attracting the opposite sex.   I hoped at that age I wasn’t so obvious as these youthful beings, but I fear might have been.  Those younger still, also scantily clothed, in the way of shunned jackets and bare feet, ran and hopped about, kicking up sand and squealing with delight at the kites overhead.   Many with hand-made kites of their own ran with a hand-held high clutching a short string attached to their kite, that soared and dived erratically behind them, their youthful energy fueling the warmth they needed.  Dogs of all shapes and sizes greeted each other in their doggy ways showing signs of excitement in being in this festive environment   Nearer to the waves, leash free, they
played in the surf then sprayed a shower of salt water droplets freed from wet fur, on to those close by.   I observed all this as we set-up our spot among the throng of fellow beings practicing the
Art of Being’.  How invigorating!

After staking out our section of sand, I ready my gear consisting of two lens, a wide-angle, and small telephoto, both great for using in what I refer to as shooting from the hip.  A tripod in such instances is not practical.  To capture excitement and wonder involving an event such as this, I needed flexibility and quickness in my positioning.  After taking a couple of test shots to satisfy myself of my basic camera settings and I wandered off to integrate my camera and I with those of my subjects and objects, leaving my husband and friend to enjoy the festivities from their camp chairs and warm blankets on our little piece of beach. 

Children fascinate me for they are the true artists in the ‘Art Of Being’, for their minds have not been molded with constrictions of responsible thoughts that plague adults.  As I watched their expressions of wonderment and excitement, though tempted, I avoid singling them out to photograph, as it makes most parents uneasy and rightly so.  Instead I observed what captivated them and with their expression in mind I attempt to capture an image that will get the same reaction of wonder and excitement from those who view it. 

Walking the outer edge of a ribbon-made fence, set-up to discourage the masses from entering the area where they anchored the big kites , one kite-man caught my attention as he held an instrument up over his head.  I soon learned he was measuring the winds as he announced they were at 16 knots.  He kept checking his anchor and the taut lines leading skyward to a tethered bright red octopus kite dancing in the winds, its tentacles break dancing in time to the frequent gusts.  A large colorful blow-fish swam the air currents only a few feet from the sand, dwarfing all that ventured near for a closer look.  I did envy those who had video cameras as I attempted to capture the synchronized flying of six kites handled by six people to surreal music.  It was a
beautiful sight to see but difficult to capture.  I finally relinquished this effort and settled myself on a nearby drift log to enjoy the show.  

I see you are another Nikon-er.”  stated a voice interrupting my semi-meditative moment with the synchronized flying kites.  That was when I became acquainted with D. Deane Ingram, a fellow photographer who started his profession shooting the Vietnam War.  He told me of his job travels all over Europe.  How he and his German wife, Ingrid, finally settled in Portland until his recent retirement to Lincoln City.  Still photographing, he proudly shared with me some of his work that he carried with him in his gear bag.   Our conversation veered toward the digital world of photography and the pros and cons of being a pro-photographer in that field.  It felt good to share my love of photography with a fellow photographer. 

I ambled back to our spot only to find two famished people who had patiently awaited my return to enjoy the food we had brought with us.  I placed my camera in my bag and settled down to eat, all the while scanning for more picture-taking opportunities.  Our picnic consumed, a need for a restroom trip delayed, as Sonia and I giggled like  young girls over an incident we found ourselves in.  Our chairs had sunk deeply into the sand making it extremely difficult to get up.   As we tried to hoist ourselves out of our seats her chair tilted as it went deeper into the sand on one side, nearly dumping her into my lap.  John was of no help as he found himself in the same predicament.  Laughter is  the best medicine except when you have to use the bathroom!    

As the events of the day drew to a close, we loaded ourselves with our belongings and  trudged back to our vehicle.  As we walked, a scene had unfolded before us requiring that I again take out my camera.  Now I fully understood, the vigilance, of attending to the anchored kites.   A kite measuring eighty-one feet long had broken away from its anchor on the beach.  It had entangled itself in a tree and power line that edged the beach-front road.  Six frustrated men worked to gently untangle the $5,000.00 kite from the tree limbs, wires, and its own tethered ropes.  I did not envy their work nor the loss of investment if they were not successful in their endeavor.  My need to capture this unfortunate scene satisfied, I was not surprised to find our vehicle with my husband and friend inside driving towards me.  They, already loaded-up, had come to pick me up.

The drive home was pleasant as Sonia and I noticed places of photographic interest.   My husband focused only on his driving and our destination, could not bother with the scenery we passed, allowing Sonia and I to relax and enjoy the landscape, knowing our eyes and reflexes are not needed to assist him when he is behind the wheel.

With my other current priorities taken care of and my blog completed, a little later than I had planned, I can now return to reviewing and reminiscing that day on the beach at Lincoln City Annual Kite Festival.   

©copyrighted
by
Dee Browning