Gathering Calm

When I write first thing in the morning, I allow my mind to drift from thought to thought. My pen flows with the wisps of dreams, follows half-remembered images or feelings, or reaches back to recent events. Whatever moves me to write. I want to capture and distill strong emotions, interesting connections, experiences, new thoughts, etc. I can be surprised by where these journeys lead me.

When I go out to take pictures, I usually have at least the location in mind, which dictates some of what I’ll see. Ocean versus marsh versus river. Forests or fields. Still, there are surprises here, too. I never know what will capture my attention at that particular time. Will the fog call to me, or shadows or spider webs? Will interesting patterns emerge in sand, water or sky? Sometimes I go with a goal in mind, usually to find certain birds, like a snowy owl or migrating warblers. Then I keep my eyes to the rooflines or treetops, depending. Still, I’m always intrigued by what other images tug at my lens.

On Saturday I woke early and decided to set out early to catch the sunrise at the marsh. The marsh is one of my favorite places in the world. I always leave feeling more at peace than when I arrived. On this morning, I arrived shortly before sunrise and followed the flow of the unfolding scenery, breathing in the damp, swampy tang of marsh that filled the air.

First dawn arrived in gentle hues, painting sky and water and clouds into a sunrise composition.

Dewdrops clustered, strung on the architecture of a stalky weed, capturing miniature sunrises in their globes.

The marsh waved its colors like a rippled quilt of golds, greens and browns. The grasses undulated like water, and I stopped to try to capture the hue and the sense of motion. It reminded me of lines from “In the Salt Marsh” by Nancy Willard. I couldn’t remember them then, but looked them up later:
“How faithfully grass holds the shape of the sea it loves,
how it molds itself to the waves, how the dried salt
peaks into cowlicks the combed mane of the marsh.”

Queen Anne’s lace lined the path, in all stages, from newly opening to a tight cluster poised to disperse seeds to wind and water. Each blossom a world to explore–gathering sunlight or crystalline dewdrops or filagrees of delicately spangled spiderwebs.

The birds put on a show as well. Snowy and great egrets rose and fell out beyond the still pannes, a cormorant fished and preened, a seagull and his reflection gazed out with a bold eye, and a great blue heron rested, silhouetted against the great variegated green of the marsh.

Further along, goldfinch flashed their bright feathers amidst the flowers, following the edges of the path from blossom to blossom, stopping to forage then flitting away.

As I ended my walk, another image pulled me in– the reflected symmetry of rock and still water.

Mornings like this will be more precious soon, limited to weekends and holidays. As I head into the rigors of the school calendar and its relentless pace, I am gathering up moments of serenity. As I left the marsh, my mind tumbled back through all the images, holding each one in my thoughts. Lingering in the light, the color, the movement. Gathering up each moment. Gathering calm.

19 thoughts on “Gathering Calm

  1. dmsherriff says:

    Gorgeous pictures and words. I lingered at each picture and then reading your words were drawn back to the pictures. It’s the calm mornings that have been highlights of this summer in particular. Like you, I will miss them, but know I will find the calm in each day and appreciate it wherever is appears. Thanks for sharing, Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Debbie Lynn says:

    As always, I love your photography! Do you print a few favorites and hang around your classroom for when you need to gaze into a moment of calm? I used to have a photo poster hanging on the back wall of my classroom, just for me. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks! I don’t often print my photographs for myself, but I just refinished a room and want to put up some big photos. Deciding which ones to print and which will print well in a large size can be tricky! I love that you had a photo poster for you in your classroom. I would bet that you had some students who enjoyed it as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Debbie Lynn says:

        I think once you print a few good photographs for decorating, you will be hooked and want to print more and more. I change them out throughout the year…kind of seasonal. πŸ™‚


  3. margaretsmn says:

    Your photo journeys fill me with such longing, a longing for a place to be gathering calm. It is available to me, I know. I just need to seek it out. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your photos and words had the same effect on me, much needed: gathering calm. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. NYOCW says:

    Just gorgeous. Thank you so much for these images. (I feel like that gull this morning).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. maryleehahn says:

    Thank you for taking me along on your morning meditation…in words and photos. Gorgeous (both) as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Morgan Davis says:

    I love how you give us the process moves to put us into an inquiry mindset with you as we read what you wrote and see what you saw. It set the tone to expect the unexpected and your poetic descriptions of the photographs did not disappoint!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. amyilene says:

    I got lost wandering alongside you, guided by your thoughtful words and beautiful images. It was exactly what I needed this afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […] Molly Hogan. Molly lives in Maine and is an amazing photographer. Please take a moment to read her Tuesday post about “gathering calm” through […]


  10. Such a treat to read your words and savor your photos.


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