Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Humpback Tale a Fluke?

In what surely must be among the strangest whale photos ever shot, a mother humpback whale and her calf frolic in the Pacific north of Ixtapa. I watch both breach a dozen times. Between the electrifying leaps, both casually wave their fins and then smack them down on the water.

But then, in an instant, there is this curious study in the unison of opposites. The calf's smooth, jet black body completes a fluid leap, just as the cow raises her gnarled, graffitied flipper as if to show her approval.

Both forms, with little evident splash, look for all the world as if they'd been copied and pasted onto an empty sea. In perfect alignment, they appear to be the same size, but somehow it all looks impossible. It is not.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Reluctant Shooting

Zihuatanejo—in fact, Mexico in general—is full of photo-worthy images. Rich, vibrant colors everywhere you look. A surprising range of land- and seascapes. Amazing flora and fauna.

These are the easy images to capture.

Not so easy is trying to portray the beautiful, generous spirit of the Mexican people. I see it all the time, but I'm always reluctant to take the picture for fear of intruding, offending. It makes a lasting impression, but it is one I cannot often share.

This serious little girl and her young mother were standing on the pier in a village a couple of hours south of Zihuatanejo. The woman had been helping her husband and father-in-law pluck small fish from their cast net. She was so open, so quick to smile at us, so obviously proud of her daughter, that I couldn't help myself.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Panic in Zihua Bay

Roiling schools of bait fish glide like cloud shadows across Zihuatanejo Bay. Here, as in all of Nature, life's drama reveals itself to the patient eye. Pity the last to join the swarm, for predators ply its edges, where panicked flight sweeps the surface like invisible hands.

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Lime Bisque

Mexican architecture loves dense, delicious color. In this detail, though, one savors the color for its understatement, a tart slice or two of lime surprising and delighting in a creamy bisque of shadow white.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Carved Alabaster Wings

The egret's strike, quicker than human reflex, snatches only water this time. The elegant mechanics of the bird's legs are drafted in a perfect "X." But neither leverage nor its golden grasp can counter the thrust without this single splendid beat of carved alabaster wings.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Cast-net Concentration

At Playa La Madera, the cast-net fisherman scans the surface for signs of ojotones or lisas. They might darken the water like cloud shadow or roil the surface, but the signs are subtler the closer he gets.

He waits for his moment, for his range. In one fluid motion, his body gathers and then uncoils, his seasoned hands releasing the net with just enough spin to unfurl.

His extended tongue speaks to his effort and concentration, yet this time -- many times -- he is unsuccessful.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Apparition

Left by one wave, erased by the next, this 12-second image presented itself to me in the wet sands of Playa La Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico. I am the only person ever to see it. What do you see?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Sombrero Spirit

A sombrero seems to hover, weightless, over the stonemason's work-in-progress, evidence, perhaps, of oversight by a departed spirit of this ancient craft.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Rolling Through Time

Two wagon wheels roll through time, one draped in a dusty woven rug. A sombrero, in silhouette, hangs from a post. An image comfortable in the 19th century—but for one gripping anachronism. Can you find it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Guitarrista

A guitarrista's music, like the sweeping washes and staccato dry-brushing of the watercolorist, captures the ebb and flow of life along the Paseo del Pescador.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Mystery Gizmo

An odd contraption has landed atop a building near the central market. With what looks like a motor and gearbox, what does it do?
And, once it's done it, where does it go?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Playa La Ropa

Zihuatanajo Bay wears her jeweled necklace with such grace. Of the four gems, Playa La Ropa, bordered in scalloped white gold and frothy silver filigree, catches the light with a special shimmer today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Tiger Fish

Tiger fish, fresh from the sea, seem
to make one last desperate rush
for the surface of a medium
they don't quite know
has done

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Thatch

Under all those scruffy, weather-grayed palapas—from the little beach cabanas, to bars, to lofty hotel lobbies—lies an exquisite system of layering, weaving and wrapping and tying, a golden lattice where beauty and function are warp and weft.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snapshots from Zihuatanejo - Bougainvillea

A bougainvillea blossom is actually a flower within a flower. 
What a curious pair! He arrives discreetly, elegantly attired in dapper white. She swirls and flaunts her gaudy gown, utterly stealing the show.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

CHOOSE! – Paying Attention in a Fragmented World

The other day, in a story about returning Google CEO Larry Page, NPR reporter Laura Sydell was interviewing Ken Auletta, author of "Googled: The End of the World As We Know It," about Page's notorious lack of social skills. 

Barry Diller
Auletta recalled the first time Page met media mogul Barry Diller. The whole time Diller was trying to talk, Page was looking down, typing away on his PDA. Diller called him on it. "Larry, I'm trying to talk. Can you just converse with me?" Page replied, "It's OK, Barry, I can do both. I can look at this device and talk to you." Diller insisted: "No, no, Larry, choose!" Page, eyes still on his PDA, replied, "I choose this."

Wow! At least the guy knows his priorities.

We all encounter this kind of choice every day. In fact, with the horde of communications gadgets and media chasing us around, the assault, for some poor souls, is nearly constant. So what's wrong with that?

If there's one piece of advice I'd give to anyone who wants to be more aware, curious and appreciative, it's this: do one thing at a time and do it all the way.

As little as some people seem to appreciate it, choosing one thing means not choosing something else. If you go for a walk while you're on the phone, either you're paying attention to the call or you're noticing what's going on around you. Not both. Okay, maybe you can go back and forth—a sort of serial awareness—but that still only puts you 50 percent in touch with either pursuit.

It doesn't matter what you're doing; if you subscribe to the multi-tasking myth, you're missing more than you may know. You're squandering creative inspirations. You're failing to get to know people at more than a superficial level. You're putting yourself beyond the reach of those little instincts that guide us now and then. You're looking right past a world of little miracles playing out all around you.

Do you want to truly experience such rich experiences or will you settle for their being just background music for what you're really doing?

If there's one piece of advice I'd give to anyone who wants to be more aware, curious and appreciative, it's this: do one thing at a time and do it all the way. That's what wonder is all about, being present, allowing yourself to be fully in the moment with whatever it is you're doing.

That, my friends, is the modest price of admission to a world of wonder.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

HOW TO BE IN THE MOMENT – 101 Little Tips

 TIP #77  (inspired by my present vantage point, looking out on the vast, black Pacific from high above Zihuatanejo Bay)
Watch a distant ship or plane; imagine being aboard and all the characters you'd meet.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

OFF TO MEXICO – Yum-m-m!

I'm like a hungry man about to sit down to a hearty four-course meal. That's how I'm feeling on the eve of my 23rd trip to Mexico.

As beautiful as Minnesota winters can be, they starve us of sensation. Against this backdrop of bland whites and grays and taupes, we're challenged to find the sustenance of color in detail and nuance—like a rosy cheek or a tenacious crabapple. Smells are served unseasoned, frozen in midair. Sound, too, seems squeezed of its luscious fullness like dried fruit. Even touch is blunted by layers of nylon, feathers and fleece.

In most of Mexico, including Zihuatanejo, Guerrero where I'm headed, climate and culture collaborate to nourish one with colors, sounds, smells and flavors.

The colors: a Minnesotan would be dragged before the neighborhood association for painting his house these vivid shades of pink, blue or gold. The smells: so often they reveal, where sights may not, the real life that's going on beyond the sphere of one's sanitized tourist experience. The tastes: there's nothing dried or preserved about them; they're fresh and true and sometimes surprising. And the touch, oh, the caress of that soft, warm, delicious air pouring in over the Pacific!

       The sensations of Mexico stir in me
       a subtle sense of urgency.

Maybe that's it; maybe it's the warmth that unlocks both stimuli and senses. Belying the laid back, unhurried lifestyle, the sensations of Mexico stir in me a subtle sense of urgency. A mango, for example, just picked from the tree outside our villa door, is such a beautiful form just to look at. But no sooner than it begins to blush with full color you have to eat it or it loses its tang and turns to mush. So many beautiful things are transient.

And Zihuatanejo's a place of seamless flow between indoor and outdoor life. With little notion of that confinement we Minnesotans suffer during winter, you sense everything going on —in El Centro, down at Playa La Ropa out on Zihuatanejo Bay—and want to be a part of it all. But it's okay; anything you do—even nothing at all—feels completely satisfying, completely nourishing of body and spirit.