Awakening the Senses – A Photo-Heart Connection

Tucson Reflections

Tucson Reflection © 2012 Bo Mackison

Happy are they who see beauty in modest places. ~ Camille Pissarro

Beauty in modest places? Yes.

I went for an early evening walk in downtown Tucson just before I left Arizona to return to the Midwest. I was in a strolling mood, noticing architecture instead of desert scenes, and enjoying the many sights, the people leaving their workplaces, but with no rush to get anywhere. Rushing isn’t such a great idea when the thermometer hovers near the century mark.

I found beauty in the deep color of a textured wall, a red-earth color so appealing, I had to stop and not only photograph it, but touch it. Run my hands along the roughness, the ridges. That red, to my Midwestern trained eyes, was a Red Rock color, one of those desert colors that sang songs of the Southwest to me.

And then there was the purple-gray of the wooden window sill. So purple, I wanted to inhale its purple-ness, a purple so perfectly etched in my past that it grabbed a memory from my youth and held on tight.  It was the purple-gray of grapes fully ripe, grapes hanging in the arbor in my grandmother’s back garden. It was the dusty purple of grapes waiting to be plucked from the vine.

As I studied the contrasting colors, the memories came visiting. I was in the arbor, picking grapes just like my grandmother picked grapes — a handful for the pail and one to pop in my mouth and savor. I looked at the window frame and imagined my grandmother’s presence in the reflection, picking grapes just a few steps from where I stood.


When I went through my May photographs, I stopped as soon as I saw this photograph. The day I took this photo was etched in my mind. All of my senses were on alert that day, intent on remembering a city that I would soon be leaving. The touch of the red-rock walls. The song of the Southwest. The scent of ripened grapes on the vine and the taste of sweet juice. And a sense of connection with loved ones, long gone.

Photo. Heart. Connection. Oh, yes!

I’ve long understood that when I carry a camera, that mere act heightens my sense of seeing. And now I’ve come to realize that my camera and photography can offer me another gift – the awakening my other senses, too.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. During the first week of each month, she re-visits her photographs taken the previous month, searching for THE photograph to post as the photo-heart-connection photo. Bo is always quite thrilled when that special photograph finds her.

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. Oh – I so get this. How a simple scene or image can evoke such memory and connection. Love the colors in this!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It does seem that the simple scenes evoke the most memories and connections. Maybe there is more room for the mind to drift, fill in the spaces…

  2. Wow! I love the way you’ve described this scene and moment. Pure poetry.

    I’m also fascinated, once again, by your choice of image, which seems so different to a lot of the photos I associate with you / your site. A whole other side of you being revealed. It’s fascinating.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Janna. I think I was having a poetic moment when I wrote this! 🙂
      You observe correctly that this isn’t the kind of photo I typically post. But if you could only peek into the thousands of photo files I have sorted, you’d find all sorts of oddities.

      I will happily take a photo of almost anything. Vegetable? Mineral? Animal? Sure. All of the above.

  3. Kat Sloma says:

    Yes! Being in the moment with your camera brings so many gifts. I love the sensory nature of your memory, you’ve shared it beautifully with us. I can see why this is your Photo-Heart Connection!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Kat. While I was writing this post and thinking about the photograph I had chosen, the connection between the visual sense (always in a photo) and the other senses was striking. It was the first time I explored, consciously, just how many senses could be related to one photo.

      A fun discovery and one I intend to explore further.

  4. Lovely photo, I can quite see how the colours and textures caught your eye and I love the memories they prompted. Thank you for sharing them.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Aren’t they the loveliest of colors? I think the combination is quite stunning, and why I was attracted to the area. Those colors drew me right in.

  5. What gorgeous colors! Your words paint such a beautiful picture as well.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thank you, Paula. I find it so satisfying when I’m able to get the photograph and the words, both!

  6. Your image is wonderful and your words are so well written that they make me feel your connection to it! Beautiful photo-heart connection!

  7. Beautifully put – and also love the colour combination and how the reflection has a dreamy hazy look , with those same colours popping up again.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Yes, I love the reflection, too. Seeing, but not quite seeing. Gives me the space to see ‘more’ than what is actually there.

  8. I’ve missed reading your words. Simply lush and beautiful, Bo. As is the photo. XO

  9. Beautiful image and lovely thoughts in brought to mind. I love the composition and as you were drawn to the purple and red, my eye slid to the window where I pondered what was reflected and what might be inside. Well seen and captured. Is nothing better than being transported back to a dear grandmother?

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Yes, that window is the icing on the cake, isn;t it? And it is even more special when I get a connection like that with my grandmother.

  10. Wow, what an experience! Your image and words made feel as though I was right there with you… and brought back memories of a trip to Sedona! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. Gorgeous wall colour and texture. I love the purple window frame and like the memories it evokes for you. Great reflections which brings life and vibrancy to the whole capture!

  12. i enjoyed how you followed your heart and you found the memory of your grandmother, the grape arbor and the taste of freshly picked grapes. a lovely word painting and photo.

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