#Writers, Discover Portals to #Fantasy in the Beauty of #NaturePhotography.

Winter’s a curious time in Wisconsin. As I mentioned in my post “War Against Writer’s Butt,” we can go from fifty degrees and mud to twenty below and ice-roads in a couple of days.

Capturing this transition is all the more difficult. Fortunately, good friend and professional photographer Emily Ebeling gave me permission to share some of her photos from a trip to Cedarburg Bridge.


Winter trees have such a sadness about them. Once I referred to them as “gravestones over their summer-selves.” The way their fingers bleed into the ice below turns the river into a portal, an other-world that I so often sense on solitary walks in my homeland.


The way they huddle together as if caught, and freeze, waiting for you to turn away.


The way a river calls to you, promising safe passage through nature’s spectral giants and their clawing bones.


The way a bridge impresses safety, dominance over nature. Sure, walk on water, I won’t let anything happen to you, for I was made by man.

As far as you know.


The way you stand at water’s edge, and peer down. Rocks both tall and flat, a mix of mashed teeth. Nothing stirs at the water’s surface, nothing peeks from the depths. Do you dare kneel, and cross the boundary?


Some winters will barricade you in your home, forcing you to find new worlds in “the solar system of the mind,” as Blondie once put it. Of course this isn’t a bad thing, but look at what curiosities await out there, like this covered bridge.


Where will this bridge take you at the break of dawn? At the dead of night? If you’re the tenth daughter walking on the tenth day of the tenth month in the tenth year?


Moments like this make me both envious and thankful for a friend like Emily; one who’s able to get out and document such beautiful portals, and does so with both the skill and equipment necessary to do these portals justice.

This is why I’ve always been a sucker for photography that captures both the intimate and epic scopes of landscape. I may never get back to Ireland. I may never return to the Dakotas, let alone travel farther west. Heck, I may never find this covered bridge right here in my state. We each of us live surrounded by beautiful portals to other worlds, many of which we may never get to find. But someone, like Emily, may stumble upon the portal before winter breathes the portal shut. She may steal it away in her camera, and share her findings with you. Then, when you are alone with your jumbled words and these borrowed photos, the magics may spark all on their own. Those sparks may burn open a new portal, and that portal may beckon to you, and you alone.

Don’t return without a tale worth telling.



51 thoughts on “#Writers, Discover Portals to #Fantasy in the Beauty of #NaturePhotography.

  1. Absolutely super photographs. The Water’s Edge a surreal photograph in many ways gem. However, what I’d give for a little mud and temps on the mere cusp of freezing. I’m jealous. Plainly you torture me dliberately Ms Lee; plainly you have seen the UK weather reports! All that said, a tremendous post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember when writing the lyric to ‘In Praise of Shadows’ the thought hit me that winter trees make the best tree shadows, yet as you rightly say, come winter the only bonus are the shadows as the actual trees become β€œgravestones over their summer-selves.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, winter trees do make amazing shadows, though fall has that physical touch of walking in the night among the shadows, and those shadows can unleash a little leaf or two to catch your hair and scare the hell out of you. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have to thank you. Reading your reply took me back to uni and one of the only half decent verses I’ve written, ‘No danger in a shadow, As constant as a heart, An island in a sea of light, A restless piece of art’. ‘Walking in the night’ is fabulous. What a great line.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is? I’m so fried by grading finals I’m thankful I can string any coherent thought together these days. Guess I should live on coffee, hardboiled eggs, and 3 hours sleep more often.
        I love that line, “island in a sea of light.” So much to visualize and feel in a single phrase. Have you already put these verses into a song? If not, you should.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful words too, Jean, to go with those evocative images. I especially loved the way you played with liminal moments, when one is not in one state of being or another; a bit like metaphors — which are neither the things they are compared with nor somehow the things they once were.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! There’s such a yearning in me to reach through these images and touch the water and the stone, to lean against a tree, and breathe. But then I realize there are characters who feel the same, and I cannot help but bow out of their way and remain on the periphery to see what they do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fickle Winter – we are certainly experiencing it over here in the UK as the country is blanketed with snow with the Beast from the East and Storm Emma. So far we haven’t had much down here, but the sub-zero temperatures are a nasty shock. I think I’ve lost all my echiums:(.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lol… thank you so much for the link! No… we are in the territory of bleh. The rest of the country has snow, we just have icy winds with small deposits of the white stuff scoured into corners:((. I hate it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh no! That’s been a problem around here, too. I consider us very VERY lucky to have working water, heat, and no rodents in the house, because there’s quite a few critters who like to burrow under our deck.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes… I’m hoping we aren’t going to be coping with this much longer, given it is so very unusual to be struggling with these weather conditions in this part of the country!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “Where will this bridge take you at the break of dawn? At the dead of night? If you’re the tenth daughter walking on the tenth day of the tenth month in the tenth year?” This is just so characteristically you. I can imagine it coming out during some improvised scene in a class at Second City.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh, how striking! My daughter is drawn to/loves taking photographs of trees – I must show her these. Trees definitely have their own portals. In fact, there are articles about trees having their own internet, called the ‘Wood Wide Web’, transporting information between each other via fungi. But I wouldn’t want to put them in the same (sub) league as the crass information highway we humans use. No, there’s something more ethereal going on there, as you have beautifully described.Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚
    Love the “..solar system of the mind”, Shout out to Blondie for that one! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooo, I didn’t know about the WWW! Sounds fascinating. πŸ™‚ Yes, Blondie has some real zingers. One day she asked, “mommy, what if the whole world is a book? What if someone closes it?” And I didn’t know what to say. πŸ™‚
      Hello to your daughter for me! πŸ™‚


  6. Thanks! And my daughter loved the photos. Your friend, Emily, has a real talent. Thanks for the share!
    But, whoa! The questions get better from Blondie…and very scary…what indeed, if someone closes the book we are all living in? Snuffs us out? What a huge philosophical question there! She needs to hold on to how she sees the world; from the other end of the telescope, I think, which is most refreshing. That would have stumped me! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! Sadly she’s not asking such questions as often, the little realistic scientist (“That’s not real, Mom. That can’t happen, Mom.” Sigh), but her brothers now do it–in stereo, of course. Usually with poop somehow involved.


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