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I spent last weekend camping with a large group of people and there were, for reals, a gazillion kids there. A gazillion. And with every bump and tumble into each other five hundred more kids seemed to poof! into existence like one of those cartoon cloning scenes. The tiny minions were dressed in layers of dust and dirt. Sticks, rocks, and pinecones were glued to their sticky palms. Their nappy hair collected stray ash from the fire pit and their snot trails were the color of mud. Often in the distance you could hear the cry of one or two protesting some parental mandate: you will take a nap! you will sit down and eat! you will wash your hands before you eat! But aside from the occasional tears, the little people swarmed the camp, unleashed with joyous rapture at the ability to run “free” with their own kind in nature’s playground. And I am almost positive that “wearing dirt” was definitely a part of their declaration of semi-independence.

To live for a weekend among such noise and activity may seem like a recipe for a very large headache (and it might have been had you been expecting a relaxing honeymoon under a canopy of beautiful redwood trees) but it was actually fun. It was fun to watch children let loose to safely explore their world, to push and pull at the boundaries of it, to literally taste and touch it (as many of them surely did). It also reminded me of how adverse I can become at getting messy with some of the areas in my own life–hesitating to throw off the tidiness that my own perfectionistic expectations can create. I sometimes find myself preferring to “keep clean” in order to avoid having to deal with the mess later. I tend to take the easier, “cleaner”, safer route which brings me to a destination that I think is fulfilling but really is not when I admit that I have been fooled by my own false sense of satisfaction. I wonder why I feel discontent. I wonder why I feel restless.  My tendency to take the path of least messy has only produced a half-lived life in some of the areas that I dream of being more fruitful and satisfying.

I want to remember that just as it is for children, so it is for me….that sprouted from the layers of dirt grow the seeds of confidence and mastery. Seeds that grow new connections and help form conclusions about my world that are based upon authentic experiences. Seeds that grow from the lessons of self discovery, exploration, cause and effect, and testing the limits of my own strength.

I want to toss aside the fear of muddied snot trails, nappy hair, and grubby hands.

I want to wear a messy face.

 

 

 

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  • Heather M. - yes. i am the same. i totally want to avoid the mess. and yet beauty grows from it too. i needed this reminder. thank you friend.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - I grew up w/ noise and we now have more w/ all the littles. It’s a joy, but I do love coming back to my home.ReplyCancel

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I have summer memories from my childhood that I treasure dearly…..

of camping among the giant redwoods with my family, sleeping on an old cot, inside a clanky, metal-pole tent

of floating down the Eel River atop inflated tire tubes

of discovering how Aspen leaves “quake” in gentle mountain breezes

of rising at dawn with my dad and brother and walking down to the river to catch, what would wind up being, my first fish

of paddling out from the Lake Tahoe shore line piled on top of cheap blow up rafts 

of sitting on plastic tri-fold deck chairs out on the deck of a mountain cabin with my dad, listening to a midday summer thunderstorm roll over our heads

making gooey camp drop biscuits in cast iron pans over make-shift camp fires

of hiking along a mountain trail in search of a rumored pond, and eventually coming upon it to find it littered with lily pads–a Monet still-life right before our eyes

of creek walking in old tennis shoes with my fellow summer camp cabin mates, painting mud on our faces and searching for ancient sea-life fossils in the sedimentary layers of the ancient creek walls (we found some!)

of flying off a rope swing into the deep waters of a river bend

of playing card games with my family in the white kerosene light of camp lanterns, fearing the giant June-bugs that drunkenly swooped around us 

of sleeping under the stars with my cabin mates atop flimsy foam mats and tucked inside our old cotton sleeping bags

of jumping off of rocks into chilly sierra mountain water

I cherish these memories more than any possession. They created in me a love and appreciation for nature and an understanding of how much contentment and joy and satisfaction with life can be found in adventures that require little expense. Looking back I realize that my parents did not have the means to fill my life with “things”, buy me lots of toys and clothes (apart from my birthday and Christmas) or fly me across the country or to other worldly destinations. They joined together with their friends and rented inexpensive camp sites, accepted invitations to stay at friends cabins, saved up for me to attend summer camp in the mountains and introduced me to the giant redwoods and the coast lines of California and Oregon. These memories served me well when my husband and I were financially strapped and planning expensive, thrilling get-away vacations were beyond our means. They served me well when I was struggling with other life circumstances–the reminder that being in nature and beholding creation was, and is, life-giving to my soul. I believe that those childhood summer experiences were tiny deposits into my bank of emotional wealth. One by one they built upon each other and created a rich bed of memories, a collective of happiness and contentment, and a well of inspiration for future adventures with my own family.

As I stood on the planks of the lake dock and watched “the littles” launch themselves into that chilly sierra mountain water, relishing the post-summer-rain air and the stillness of the water, I felt this deep gratitude for the moment and the tiny deposit that was being made into their memories, into their developing banks of emotional wealth. If I could scoop up all of the children on the planet I would give them a summer moment like this, wouldn’t you?

 

 

 

 

 

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  • skeller - even knowing these are relatively current pictures, and even before reading your lovely words/thoughts/memories, such an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia washed over me as I gazed my way thru these summer pictures. such beauty & simple joy to stash away in your memory (and your kiddos’) memory bank…ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Love this so much, friend. All of it.ReplyCancel

  • stacey - What an incredible place.
    I feel like my kids are now both at an age where the whole making memories thing has become natural and easy and I feel this intense desire (and almost a responsibility?) to make those memories happen. This summer was perfect for that and I felt more happy and content than ever watching my kids play in the lake, or run barefoot in our backyard, or get dirty in the sand. Thanks for this reminder that we are leaving those tiny deposits and just how valuable they are.ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - I couldn’t agree more. Love the pic where bean is sitting and he is standing on the diving board to the left of the photo…if that makes sense. :) they are all gorgeous pics.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Beautiful. Photos. Words. All of it.
    Bean has gotten so tall! :-)ReplyCancel

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Sweet baby girl. I photographed her last week, along with her sister. The moment her mama set her down upon the blanket her gaze lifted up in this amazing, wonder-filled curiosity at my camera lens that was perched a few feet from her face.

I have done nothing to “edit” the image other than to brighten it up. Those translucent blue eyes, rose-blushed cheeks, and lips that look like they have devoured a strawberry popsicle are all her own–painted upon her within the womb, rendering her utterly perfect and sweet as all babies are created to be.

To me she is the unmarred image of what it looks like to be fully engaged and connected with the world. An image of innocence, of uninhibited curiosity and openness, of authentic vulnerability, of purity….all of those elements of our being that become clouded and polluted with each passing minute that comes between us and the safety of our mother’s womb.

I cannot stop gazing into her face. Every time I come back to it I respond with equal parts delight and sadness. Delighted at how such a small soul can touch a place deep within me, bring about connection, trigger a smile. Sadness over how much of my life is spent undoing the complicated tangle of my being so that I can return to that place of faith-filled, childlike wonder that I too once owned.

 

 

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  • Heather - Wow, T! What a stunning image. And your words, they are so powerful. When are you gonna write that book?!ReplyCancel

  • Rhonda - Holy crap those eyes!!! Amazing. Beautiful shot!ReplyCancel

    • admin - Aren’t they amazing!!! She’s such a sweetie. :)ReplyCancel

  • Virginia Huffman - Wow. Love how your work of capturing Gods creation stirs your soul!! ReplyCancel

  • Stacey - Wow. I can see why you keep coming back to it. Absolutely perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Those eyes. Such innocence and such wisdom all at once. What a precious sweet girl.ReplyCancel

    • admin - Precious and sweet indeed. She and her sister were so taken by the camera.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Love the blue eyes!!ReplyCancel

    • admin - They were pretty amazing. Her twin sister has them too. :)ReplyCancel

 

We drove the two lane winding road out to Shelter Cove and Black Sands beach and were greeted by a north western pallet of dense grey fog, forest green, and touch of ocean blue. For a while we were the only ones along the stretch of shoreline until we spotted the small silhouettes of people appearing out of nowhere at the north end of the coast. As they drew nearer I could see they were back packers returning from a long journey. Later we learned that Shelter Cove was the ending/starting point of a 24 mile, three-day, strenuous but breathtaking coastal hike from/to the Mattole River up north. Over the course of our time exploring the rocks and the shoreline at Black Sands we saw a family of four return and another set of young men set off. I felt like I was witnessing the first and last chapters of stories that had been, and yet to be, written.

The Lost Coast is stretch of coast along the northern California region in Humboldt and Mendocino counties that is untouched by heavy population and freeways. You can really only access it via two-lane winding roads or by foot. There was an attempt to populate it in the early 1920′s but frankly it was too costly to build state roads through the mountain passes and so to this day it is an area that remains cut off from the rest of the state. I assume that people who live there do so to do exactly that–detach themselves from the rest of civilization. They require quiet, personal space, and perhaps anonymity.

So while my friend and I invaded the coast line for a few hours we took note of the stark and quiet beauty of the place. I filled my pockets with some rocks and pieces of driftwood. I watched the sun attempt to make its presence known while the fog clung to the tree line with its misty grip. I felt myself appreciating the loneliness of the place. A place where people began and ended a journey with only the sound of the crashing waves and the packs on their backs. Part of me wanted to be one of them. Maybe I’m romanticizing this, but I wanted to know the challenge and accomplishment of taking a 24 mile journey that required perseverance, risk, and hard work without the luxuries of life to make it comfortable and easy. I am not sure if I have ever pushed myself that far and at my age I am beginning to wonder what lessons I have been missing out on by avoiding such treks.

All I know is that the Lost Coast stirred in me a desire to feel the weight of a pack upon my back, carrying only the essentials.

I wanted to be a silhouette along that misty shoreline.

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  • Jessica Jones - Gorgeous photos, Tracey; I love the depth and contrast in them. That hike sounds totally worth it, and I hope our family can check that area out one day. Also, something seems different about your photography, and I don’t know what it is. What changed?? Different gear, perhaps?ReplyCancel

  • Rhonda - Man that places looks amazing!!! Im finding the older I get the more I crave being outside in beautiful nature. It’s becoming more and more of something that I not just want but need.ReplyCancel

    • admin - I totally agree Rhonda! I have had this same experience growing older and I love it.ReplyCancel

  • michelle - What a cool place. And the foggy dark images make me think of my own favorite Oregon beach. So similar looking.ReplyCancel

    • admin - Yes, it felt very much like Oregon and it made me want to go to Oregon!! On my bucket list for next summer!ReplyCancel

  • stacey - The contrast of that brilliant blue water against the dark gray sand… so beautiful. So different than your other beach photos. Love them and your words.ReplyCancel

    • admin - I thought the same thing. The colors were of such a different pallet for sure. Very north west-like!ReplyCancel

  • Mom - Your dear sweet mom took her 1st backpacking trip at age 43. I did it for 10 years. Of course it wasn’t the ocean view, but the western slope of the Sierras,, pushing ourselves to 10,000 ft. You know my stories. However, I learned much about myself when I thot I was old! Ha! Too be so old! You can do it! xoxomomReplyCancel

  • Heather - Wow, T, these photos are stunning. It looks like such an incredible place. I would love to do that trek. I miss my backpacking days, pushing my body to the limit and the many, many lessons learned along the way. Sounds like somewhere I would love to live, quiet, secluded, and away from the noise and busyness. Hmmmm… So good to see you blogging again. ❤️ReplyCancel

    • admin - I could definitely see you doing this hike, H. I’ve heard it’s grueling on the feet. Lots of boulders and rocks and sand walk. But the views are amazing!ReplyCancel

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The last few weeks have been full of summer time activities and adventures. I have a million photos to share and every time I sit down to cull through them and post some here I lack the energy to do so. And whenever I look at this photo I realize that my heart is not here in front of my computer but instead is back on the lake, or along the coast, or climbing atop an ancient fallen redwood tree.

I realize I love summer, not because of the heat and warm weather, but because it is a chance to escape from the realities of life. For a week or so we can take off and not be bound by a schedule or errands to be run, or homework to be completed. We can pack up the necessities, even it is for a day, and take off for a destination that will refresh a routine-tired soul. Summer.

Today the clouds are hovering even though it is hot outside. I heard an odd noise coming from my front porch and when I stepped out there I realized it was the sound of heavy rain drops hitting the leaves and the concrete walkway. It rained for a minute. Just a minute. Enough to make us thirsty for its presence all the more. Summer rain is not that common here but when it does come I realize it is an experience that I love….which takes me back to the time it rained on my June birthday a few years ago…or when it rained that summer day way back when I was college and I sat on my couch with the window open enjoying the quiet because all of my roommates were gone….or when we were on our road trip last summer RV’ing through Wyoming and Idaho, driving under dark and bold clouds that dump rain on us the second we arrived under their cover. Summer.

Maybe this coming week I will sit down and sift through my summer photos I have accumulated thus far. Or maybe I will continue to put it off a few more weeks and instead enjoy what is left of our summer instead of sitting at a computer and talking about it as if it has already come and gone. Until then, here is a photo of my daughter and her buddy sitting on the diving board….that was attached to the dock….that was attacked to our lake-front home we got to stay in for a week with friends. It had been raining/hailing for the afternoon and as soon as the weather cleared they donned their swimsuits and ran out to jump into the lake.

Summer.

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  • Jessica - I love my life right now. Changing like we did has been very stressful, but we are finally in a place and time where we can truly enjoy summer. Florida summer is the yucky time of year, so I was always envious of your summer adventures, but Washington offers so much beauty and possibility in summer! Matt’s home now with lots of free time as well, so we’ve been packing up and heading out on spontaneous escapes. It’s wonderful. Over the years I’ve had such hard times and have often been grateful for your words of encouragement, so to be able to say these words to you now is just plain amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Heather M. - Love this. And yes to the escape of the daily realities. I love that. I love summer.ReplyCancel

  • Yi-Ching Chen - Beautiful! Looking forward to seeing more when you feel like posting before or after Summer. (waiting patiently..) :-)ReplyCancel

  • stacey - We are on the same wavelength today, T.
    xoReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Beautiful.
    Enjoy the rest of summer friend. I’ll be here waiting to see some lovely photos and hear about your adventures. For now just enjoy.
    This photo has such a classic summer feel to it.
    It makes me feel relaxed.ReplyCancel

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