Walk and Wonder

Peonies in Pastels

Peonies in Pastels © 2012 Bo Mackison

Seeing form with the whole body and mind,
Hearing sound with the whole body and mind
One understands intimately.
~ Eihel Dogen

I walked the perimeter of a nearby pond this morning. I have been walking it weekdays for the last few weeks, and it is my intention to continue walking the pond path until the snow flies and the way is no longer negotiable.

I continue to be surprised by all the activity that takes place near the pond. The American Lotus are gradually emerging from the water, first as mere bits of green, now many are flat pads floating on the surface.

An egret and a blue heron – I suspect both are males – eye each other from a safe distance. I have not seen any large nests except for the geese, so I surmise those mama birds may be on the other nearby lake.

The male red-wing blackbirds are also out in force, alert and watching the passers-by for their mates and nests are in the above trees. These blackbirds are the main reason I always walk with a wide-brimmed hat for protection. After experiencing the males swoop at my head on several occasions serving me with warnings to “move on,” I keep my head covered. I do not enjoy their startling game of “scare the humans.”

Today I had to make a detour through the woods as a papa goose was giving his seven babies some play time on the path, and since he eyed me wildly and threatened me with his wide-opened beak, I gave in and turned around. I was in no mood to take on an aggressive father.

Then while passing through the trees, I saw a snapping turtle, maybe two feet long including tail, digging at the side of the trail. She was preparing to lay her eggs, and had dug a hole four or five inches deep. Since I purposely do not bring a camera on my early morning walk, I have no photographs, only the memories I stored in my mind, and a few sketches I penciled in my journal when I returned home.

I am experimenting with the camera free walk. I have well learned the habit of close observation in the last five years of carrying a camera almost everywhere, but there are times when it seems the need for a photograph interrupts a train of thought I would like to follow, or a time of quiet I am enjoying. I will try it for a month, and then choose whether to carry my camera again or continue with a camera-free hour first thing in the morning.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is spending the rest of the day in her studio, matting and framing photographs for her first summer art fair — this weekend.

(57th Street Art Fair in Hyde Park, Chicago – June 2 and 3. More info to follow)

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. They’re such different experiences aren’t they, with and without camera. I’ll be interested to see what choice you make at the end of the experiment!

  2. Gandalf says:

    Sounds like a nice routine. Enjoy

  3. You have more discipline than I if you can go for a morning walk without a camera!

  4. I love the way you can tell the season, the time of day by the tiny constant changes of the natural world.

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