6th Annual Photo Alphabet – Elephants to Highways

E is for Elephants.

Magic Kingdom

Flying Elephants © 2013 Bo Mackison

Realizing a dream can be as unlikely as seeing a flying elephant.

Once upon a time, I used to ignore the elephant in the living room. Eventually I accepted the elephant, figured out what needed to be done about its occupancy, and I did the work.

Now I go in search of flying elephants.

And, once in a while, I find one!


F is for Freedom.

Pelicans in Flight, Kure Beach North Carolina

Free Flight © 2013 Bo Mackison

“. . . as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.” ~ C. Joybell C.

There is a certain freedom that comes with spreading your wings and taking flight.

Whether that flight is to a new country, a new home, or a new idea, embarking on a new beginning has a freeing quality. One can never leave the past entirely, but dragging it all along makes for slow travel. Leaving the baggage behind makes it easier to let “the winds carry you.”


G is for Gifts and Grandmothers.


Grandmother © 2013 Bo Mackison

I grew up in a house filled with grandmothers.

Or so it seemed to me. There were two grandmothers – a grandmother and a great-grandmother.

I do not remember playing with either of my grandmothers.

But I do remember being unconditionally accepted, appreciated, and deeply loved by them.

I remember learning to be of help. If my grandmother was sewing – she was a seamstress, a business woman, a solopreneur  in the middle of the last century – I was given the job of sorting thread by color or winding yarn or finding a dropped needle. If my great-grandmother was making noodles, I cracked eggs and kneaded dough. My grandmothers usually included me as they went about their work.

One of my earlier memories was after dinner, when the family gathered to relax and read the daily newspaper. I always impatiently waited as they slowly read each page, every column, every want ad.  Then they discussed the news in detail. But once my grandparents finished with the paper, they would call me.

“Dear, I circled a letter for you in this headline. Do you know the name of the letter?”

“Yes,” I’d eagerly reply. ” A ‘P'”.

Then I was given a colored pencil and told to circle as many ‘P’s’ as I could find in five minutes. When the timer buzzed, we’d count the circles together, and I would proudly write the number on the kitchen wall calendar. No pressure, no goals, just a loving, learning practice.

Routines, rituals, traditions. Another way to express love.

This October, I became a grandmother. What an amazing experience. As I look into the eyes of this three-month old baby, my heart swells with love.

It is my hope that I offer my granddaughter a fraction of the gifts my grandmothers gave me.


H is for Highways.


Desert Highway © 2013 Bo Mackison

Nothing heightens my anticipation and excitement more than a road trip.

I love following highways, especially the kind that zig around mountains, pass through open spaces – desert, prairie, grasslands. This year I discovered that I love driving the open road, solo. Stop wherever I want, photograph whatever and whenever for as long as the subject holds my attention, take a detour just to see what is beyond that next rise in the road.

Traveling cross-country from the Southwest to the Midwest this past spring was ten days of delight.

Only once did I question my sanity — when driving on a 12,000 foot peak in Colorado, negotiating hairpin turns with no reassuring guard rails. It was  the first spring snow melt which scattered mini-avalanches of snow and tumbled rock on the road. But even that turned into quite the adventure. Once I descended the celestial roads, I knew I’d negotiated those roads with care and good sense, and conquered my fear of mountain driving on the outside lane.

I took my time, pulled off at the designated places for plenty of calming and rest, took a few photographs, had a snack and a drink. I gave plenty of space to the passing timber trucks, whose drivers had much more experience on these roads than I did (or so I hoped), and I planned my route so I was settled in a town by evening.

I acknowledged my limitations, and appreciated the skills I possessed.


Want to read Part I? Here it is — Arizona to Desert

Coming tomorrow, Part III : Invitation to Labyrinth

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I love this Bo! The flying elephants, the solo trips n becoming a grandmother!! I too was brought up in a house of grandmamas, more women than men.

  2. I enjoyed this post immensely.

  3. I loved this post so much, Bo! This Christmas with my first ever grandchild makes me feel your Grandmothers and Gifts section deeply. They are such a gift, these grandchildren. However, I adore the memory you shared of your grandparents and the newspaper. Such vivid images were created – I “felt” it. As well, I share with you the love of a road trip. As you know, this is my first cross-country road trip and I understand your passion. Oh, yes…I do. Looking forward to the next chapter of your alphabet!

  4. Bo I love seeing your photos and reading your story, learning a bit more about you – and all on your beautiful new website. This is so luscious and I’m glad to be along for the ride. xoxo

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thank you, Vicky. I am so very glad that you are along for this photo memory ride, my labor of love and my salute to the past year. What a year it has been!

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