Listening to What the Earth Says

I have been exploring a bit about different approaches to taking photographs.

Sometimes this kind of learning and exploring makes me feel wide eyed and excited, but sometimes it leaves me tied up in knots and feeling more confused than when I started. Having got into one such tangle by the end of the week, I decided just to go for a walk, down to the lagoons as I had but an hour or two before the light went, and to try holding two different questions in my mind:

  • What is it that the earth is wanting to show you?
  • If you listen, what might it be trying to say?

Photography like this is easy, it’s more like a conversation than anything, just watching and noticing and responding with a nod of the head and a smile and a thank you.

spring equinox, lagoons

Later that evening I was looking into the work of a poet, William Stafford – I’d seen his name in two side by side posts in my feedreader and it seemed like too much of a coincidence.

The first poem I found was called ‘In Response to a Question: What Does the Earth Say?’

The last verse goes like this:

“The earth says where you live wear the kind
of color that your life is (gray shirt for me)
and by listening with the same bowed head that sings
draw all things into one song, join
the sparrow on the lawn, and row that easy
way, the rage without met by the wings
within that guide you anywhere the wind blows.

Listening, I think that’s what the earth says.”

And I think really if I aspire to anything in my photography, or writing, or indeed my life it is that, listening with the same bowed head that sings.

bulrush reflections

8 thoughts on “Listening to What the Earth Says”

  1. Joanna, I love your act of walking out with two questions…and waiting. I think this kind of synchronicity you found only comes when you let go of thinking and are open to possibilities, and when you are listening with every fibre of your being. I often find that a feather or cloud that I notice, or a passage in a book that I ‘happen’ to open to that page, will often tell me just what I need to hear. Beautiful photos too.

    1. Jane, indeed, being open to possibility and connection is when the magic happens… I guess it’s a lifelong lesson and journey to remember to open the door though! 😉

  2. Synchronicity thrills me, the kind that led you to William Stafford, that particular poem and then the beautiful phrase that synthesises you so well. It must have made your heart sing when you found it!

    1. It is one of those ‘I can’t believe I just read those lines’ moments Janice, followed by, ‘but of course those were the lines I was meant to find :-)’

  3. Joanna, I really love the poems you come up with. I’ve been reading some of your archives and your Facebook page, and lots of the poems I found there are old favourites but some are new to me and happy discoveries. I hadn’t heard of William Stafford but I must look for more by him. I’m so envious of people who have the ability to find just the right words, just the right phrase, that paints a picture better than a picture can, or evokes a feeling of being totally understood – that it’s exactly what you’d have said yourself, had you their talent with words.

    1. I am very envious too Gilly! I was intrigued by William Stafford and the more I looked up about him the more I know I need to read more… There is a plain-ness about a lot of American poetry that I really like, and am a bit surprised hasn’t become better known or liked over here. I’m glad you’ve been finding some other poems in the archives too. By the way, I’m hoping to get to the Flaggy Shore again this summer, so plan to be reciting Postscript to myself as I walk again!

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