“A really good photographer or artist can spend their entire career and life only creating what’s in their backyard.”
Reflection on Alfred Stieglitz advice on photography.
Fiction. Based on a Slowing of the Clock.
by Krista Beyer
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Life came to a grinding halt. If Newton’s first law of motion is true, I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The future, once bright with promise of long dusty roads, career opportunity, exploration into desert cracks, expeditions down the cataracts of exotic rivers, was now a muddled memory of a vivid dream I couldn’t quite recall.
Excitement was replaced with uncertainty.
Anticipation with anxiety.
Love with fear.
I could feel myself crumble. Mornings where I couldn’t get out of bed. Late nights where hours of tears dried up into a silent call for help.
I sat on my porch and watched the grass shift in the wind. Single strands twisting and waving in one unified group. Golden hues glistening in the evening light.
I skipped work. I didn’t call my friends. I bailed on social gatherings.
From the porch Ponderosa pine needles fell, spiraling down to earth like a skydiver’s free fall. Soon a thick mat of litter covered the backyard.
Nights blended into days and days blended into weeks.
Every morning the deer would saunter through nibbling at the last Dandelions of the season. Squirrels would carry rotting apple cores from the neighbor’s tree. A snake shuffled through the mattress of needles and gamble oak leaves.
I picked up a pen, dug my paints out of the drawer under my bed.
I drew Raven, who I had never noticed picking about the rotting apples left by Squirrel. I painted Black Widow who had spun her home
underneath the floorboards where I sat. I smelled Ponderosa whose vanilla fragrance was enough to take me back to my first summer walking through stands of towering pines.
I found my camera and dusted off its lens.
My backyard became my inspiration. A newfound love that had been hidden from me before life stopped. I hadn’t known that if I walked up above my house for five minutes I had a clear view of the starting point of the fire earlier in the summer that had caused my eyes to water for weeks on end. I hadn’t known that some Bird had created its home underneath my bedroom window before heading south for winter vacation. I hadn’t noticed that Coyote scampered by the shed on routine night visits, pacing the backyard while I had slept.
Maybe life hadn’t come to a halt, but rather I had. By stopping, I finally saw. By slowing, I finally felt. By sitting, I finally thought. And while I grew into a stationary being, Time had decided to give me a gift by slowing down too.