Two of my favorite times to photograph nature in Missouri are at the edge of change during spring and fall. Although many photographers love to capture masses of color, such as a hillside full of autumn foliage or fields of colorful flowers, I prefer the more subtle transitions.
What makes this appealing to me is that in very early springtime, or late fall, the trees still show their structural elements. In autumn, as they have been stripped of their leaves one can find sparse color mixed among the bare branches. Alternatively, at the cusp of spring, one can find splashes of color, a lone flowering tree among the bare trees with hints of leafage beginning to show. The variation of tones between even the bark of different tree species, combined with dormant fields and flowering trees can be striking, especially when the light is right.
Recently, my life has taken an unexpected turn. My elderly mother suffered a stroke, leaving her entire left side (affecting her dominant hand) severely damaged. Since February, I have been making 40 minute (one-way) trips to visit her on a daily basis, supporting her as she works toward recovery. In the last couple of weeks I have watched (from my car window at 60 miles per hour) the wild Bradford Pear trees that have been blooming on the hillsides and out in the fields. These non-native species have been identified as a problem here in North America, yet there is a beauty in the creamy white flowers against the grey and reddish brown tones of winter dormancy. I have watched the interplay of light and longed to photograph the ever-changing scenes. Several times I have taken my camera equipment with me with hopes of finding a spot to photograph these trees only to find that other priorities consumed the time.
A couple of times I would take some detours on my way home to scout out a location. One day last week I managed to grab a brief moment, when the light was right and I stopped on the return trip. The result can be seen in my web gallery Wild Pears In a Field which showcases a series of these images. I believe that there is a healing property which we humans experience in springtime that touches us deeply, a sense of renewal. That short time I spent photographing this field of pears enabled me to tap those feelings.
As my mother takes incremental steps towards recovery (sometimes imperceptible) I am reminded of the subtle changes that take place in early springtime. Often we miss the beauty in the early stages of spring as we look for the colorful flowers and greenery to come. The other day the speech therapist asked my mother what her favorite month was. Her reply was May, because of the flowers and renewal it brings. It is my hope that, just as these wild pears have marked the early renewal in springtime, the incremental healing of my mother will give way to her own "month of May".