Peony in Stillness

Abstract Peony

Peony © 2012 Bo Mackison

The need to listen carefully creates its own stillness. ~ Toni Packer

Quiet. Solitude. Stillness.

When I am out in my garden with my camera, I wait for stillness, for the wind to quiet enough so that my photograph, or at least the portion of the photograph that I want in focus, is in focus.

On a calm day, it is easy to take photographs outside. But on a breezy day, I decide if I want to add some extra work into the photography equation. From which direction is the wind blowing? Is it gusty? Can I block the wind with a building or a fence or the clear acrylic panels I built into a wind shield?

Some of the time, I choose to out wait the wind if it isn’t blowing steadily. And while standing or kneeling or even lying on the grass, motionless, that is when I begin to hear all of the sounds of minutiae. (Can I use the word minutiae in that way? . . . Well, I just did.)

First, I notice how incredibly loud the wind is, especially when I want it to die down so the swaying peony will stop its dance and hold still so I can take its portrait. But wind can be really loud. And of course all of the bushes and leafy branches are twirling about. Even the grasses I am resting upon are brushing against each other and sound like the swishing on a snare drum. Then I start to listen closely – do I hear the wind itself or only that which is tossed about by the wind’s movement?

And while I am listening so carefully, I notice all the other noises that I prefer to consciously block. The low hum of a neighbor’s lawn mower, a car engine revving as it passes on a side street, the loud thrumming of a descending airplane heading to a nearby airstrip.

Suddenly I am thankful for the winds’ blustery sounds, glad that its whooshes and whispers let me focus on the sounds in nature.

Eventually I get my photographs, one way or another, or change my plans. There is never a dearth of subjects for me and my camera.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She has discovered that when carrying a camera outdoors, she discovers much that hasn’t a lot to do with photography.

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. A lovely meditation on the difference between noise and sound.

  2. You and Kendalee are on the same page – listening to the universe. “Swishing on a snare drum,” is perfect. Just perfect. You have such a gift, Bo.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It was a rather amazing realization, Debi. Listening to the grasses with my eyes closed,it seemed like a lull in a symphony with only the snare in play.

  3. I failed to mention just how much I love this photograph. It’s true art. A vision. Thanks for sharing your vision with us.

  4. Gandalf says:

    beautiful image. Thanks for sharing

Leave a Reply