Somehow, reading about Chinese Internet celebrities who spend hours editing selfies and make millions by attracting followers to look at the selfies made it seem urgent to post about a few things I've seen and photographed lately. (None of which will be edited, except to resize.)
The mushroom above was growing by the road near my house, in the ditch. The ground would have been completely closed over it, but for the strength of the mushroom's growing, which pushed up a thick pile of mulch, leaves, and vines. It created its own cave as it grew, making space by spreading and pushing up, and I could see how fairy tales imagine entire worlds taking place underneath mushrooms just like this.
And this is the mouth of the Elwha, which I've visited several times now. It changes dramatically every season, reshaping the beach. At this time it was running high and muddy, about twice as wide as it was last time I was here. The river is carving out the shore so that the stones on the surface go right up to the edge of the water and stop abruptly - the shore is being scooped out beneath them where the sand is soft.
There are so many sights and experiences around here to incite awe, wonder, astonishment. And they are happening all the time. All I have to do is be there and keep noticing. The sharing of it feels urgent, though, especially while the 'attention economy' thrives on the sharing of drivel. As a counterbalance, just consider the mushroom, the mouth of the Elwha, and the last images for which I have very few words.
I recently saw that Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver say much the same thing about this type of experience and its value:
You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment. - A. Dillard
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. - M. Oliver
And in describing Denis Johnson's books, Will Blythe says that they "embodied an astonishment at the very nature of life, an attitude that is in itself sacred."
Light and the surface of water.... it transfixes me.