I sit here with my laptop perched. . .where else? On my lap. Before me parades a never ending collection of photographs, all of which I have taken on various treks over the years, mostly since digital photography came into being but a few downloaded from a distant time when photos were taken with film, the film taken to the photo shop, the photos printed on paper to be looked at a few times, then tucked away in a drawer and forgotten.
I love that the digital world has enabled me to look at these photos again and again, to remember where they were taken and sometimes when, to revisit the lake, the canyon, the isolated campsite on a ridge top. There are few things I praise about technology, old and crusty as I am, but digital photography is one of them, and today it has sparked some musings as I look at the photos and remember.
Here is an alpine tarn to which I scrambled in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. It is above timberline and far above the trail. I spotted the lake on the map and left the trail to scramble up the nearly vertical slope, and to my great delight found there was another one above the first lake, and yet another one and another one, the higher lakes too small to appear on the map. The lakes were connected by waterfalls so that when viewed from above they look like rosary beads and thus are called paternoster lakes, each lake a prayer, like the beads of the rosary.
Here is the ridge line of the Low Divide in the Olympic Mountains, suddenly visible as the clouds lifted on that morning after several days of rain. For that moment there were patches of blue, and then the ridge disappeared once again behind the clouds, and I would not see the mountain tops for the rest of the trip. But for that moment they were there, shrouded in mist, like a mystery revealing itself, then retreating again.
Here is the twisted trunk of a bristlecone pine, 1500 years old, sitting like a monk through the ages, watching without judgment as the world changes, holding on through the storms, the droughts, the heavy snows. I have often thought that if I get another chance at it, I want to return in the next life as one of those pine trees, sitting patiently for a thousand years or so, simply watching.
And so I watch these photos come and go on the screen. I am told that screen savers are no longer necessary, that technology now prevents the burning of images that used to occur on older screens. And so I will call mine my soul saver, a reminder that, despite the darkness and uncertainty of the present time, it is still a beautiful world, and my job is simply to love it.