“Rocky Mountain Columbine Cluster”

Rocky Mountain Columbine Cluster, Taylor Mesa, SW Colorado (c) Mike Utley

F39-1(S)—Rocky Mountain Columbine Cluster, Taylor Mesa, SW Colorado
One long-ago overcast summer afternoon I wound my way along a lonely dirt road on Taylor Mesa in the mountains of southwest Colorado. I was looking for wild flowers, and it was the height of the season for columbines. I came upon a lush meadow which was liberally sprinkled with these flowers and others, and as I stopped and began to walk around, this cluster fairly screamed at me for attention. It was as though they had expected my arrival and had dressed up in their Sunday-best and posed for me. I was more than willing to oblige them. The lighting was perfect for wild flower photography—high overcast, no shadows, brilliantly saturated colors—and the verdant green of the meadow provided an ideal background to make the flowers’ colors pop. Columbines are beautiful, but being long-stemmed, they tend to move around in even the merest suggestion of a breeze. Fortune smiled upon me that afternoon, however, and the day was calm and tranquil. In a strange way, the manner in which these four flowers are posed reminds me of a choir, and I can imagine them singing nature hymns in voices only mountains and trees and clouds can hear. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

44 thoughts on ““Rocky Mountain Columbine Cluster”

  1. Love the way you described everything. But how do you remember such vivid details? I’ve got a horrible memory when it comes to these kinds of things. I’m always in awe of your detailed recollections.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I suppose you could say I have a “photographic memory.” *rimshot* 😀 I can’t really explain it, to be honest. Every image I’ve made has its memory burned into my mind. I can remember the time of day, weather, general temperature and other details like my mood at the time. I believe it’s due to being so intensely focused at the time, being in The Zone. These images just kick-start those old memories and it’s as though I’m right back there at the moment of creation. It makes it sort of therapeutic to go back through my images. I really don’t have any bad memories associated with them. It gives me a pleasant respite from all the ills of daily life and world events. Thanks for your kindness, Michelle. Always appreciated. 🙂

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      1. I wonder if your other senses are heightened because of your inability to hear. It’s a fascinating thought to me. They say people begin to compensate when a certain sense is lacking. Did you always have this gift of memory your entire life? I’m just curious, and if you feel this is all too personal, I completely understand. But I stood out in an empty field today and closed my eyes. It made every sound come alive to me and I quite enjoyed the experience. I wonder if that’s how it is for you all the time, but instead of your hearing being heightened, it’s your sight that takes over. 🧐

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    2. This is interesting because I’ve always felt like my other senses have been a bit more acute to compensate for my deafness. A couple of years ago I asked an ophthalmologist about this during an eye exam and he said he personally didn’t believe this occurs. The reason I asked him is because out of all five members of my immediate family (parents, older and younger sisters, and myself), I’m the only one who never had to wear eye glasses, but I was also the only one who was deaf. I wear reading glasses now due to my age, but never have needed regular corrective lenses. So, my personal belief is yes, I think other senses compensate for the loss of one sense. As for memory, I’ve just always had a good one, but it’s not always a boon since I also recall the bad memories very clearly (PTSD, major depression). These bad memories come out in my poetry quite often. So, it’s a blessing and a curse. I don’t have a “photographic memory” per se, just a pretty decent recollection of the past. It could be tied into my deafness and my mind’s way of compensating for it. But yes, it’s been this way all my life, just vivid memories.

      As for photography, I always felt like I could notice things most people didn’t see. Not on a “superhero” level 😀 but just details, colors, the interplay of shapes and light/shadows, etc. I see the world through my mind’s filter, and so I see it uniquely according to my emotions and memories, and I think it comes out in my photos. I’ve always been a really sensitive person, highly introverted (INFP for all the Myers-Briggs fans in the audience). I think its a combination of a few things, many of which I wish had never occurred. Could even be sort of a coping mechanism from a severely dysfunctional childhood (being hyper-vigilant all the time causes one to be aware of one’s surroundings to a greater degree). I dunno. Lots of stuff. But it is interesting and I do believe my eyes have compensated for my ears. (I also tend to ramble a lot.) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I love your response… this explains so much about you. 😃

        And I agree with your assessment vs the ophthalmologist’s view. If you’ve never experienced it, how would you even really know for sure?

        I think I’m an INFP too. I took the test years ago. Would be fun to take it again.

        The part about your childhood made me think of my own, and I think you’re right. I had to be hyper-vigilant too in order to survive. I feel like that’s why I do notice the tiniest of details these days and why I have sleuth-like mind. Lol…

        Oh and I love it when you ramble. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    3. Thanks, Michelle. Your kind words always make my day! For those of us who have painful backgrounds, at least it provides a unique sensitivity to our emotions and helps in our creativity. Silver linings, eh? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I know… too true, Mike. 😃I always say I wouldn’t be who I am today without the good, the bad, and the ugly from my past. And I’m genuinely happy now. So yes, thank goodness for silver linings. Your kindness always makes my day too. ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “In a strange way, the manner in which these four flowers are posed reminds me of a choir, and I can imagine them singing nature hymns in voices only mountains and trees and clouds can hear.”
    This is a great description of these pretty flowers. Love the photo, Mike!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a beauty to look at and the way you described it makes it so much more stunning. As I read your description of the flower one song keeps ringing in my head, it was a song I learned at hostel when I was in high school called ‘Over the sunset mountains’. Keep on blessing us with your amazing pictures Mike, they are a joy for the eyes. 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Daphny. You’re so kind, and I’m happy to know this image brought back good memories of the song for you. I’m also glad to know the paragraphs I include with my images connect with people. It’s so cool that I can post something that resonates with people all over the globe. WordPress is pretty neat in that regard. Thanks again for your wonderful support. It’s so appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To me, they look like acrobats, balancing upon one another’s shoulders. And the beautiful colors are vibrant costumes. It’s amazing what we can see when we really want to. I’m glad that you wandered off and found that meadow. What a lovely discovery, Mike. And your photos are always so vibrant and lively. And your words are so meaningful. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Terveen. You know, now that you mention it, I can definitely see the acrobat image, ornate costumes and all. I love this, how different people see different things in the same image. I really get a kick out of reading the various interpretations. I’m glad I wandered around that meadow that day, too. Even on days where I never made an image, it was always worthwhile just being out in nature, getting away from everything for a while. Thanks so much for your constant and kind support. Your words mean so much to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, Xenia. I think it’s pretty cool that, even though I’m deaf, I can still hear the song of nature (ears not required). Flower-song is especially sweet! Thanks as always for your support and encouragement. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jeff. That area (Taylor Mesa) had gobs of flowers of many varieties. My wild flower guidebook got a good workout as I tried to identify some I’d never seen before! Glad you liked this one. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mike, those flowers are gorgeous and your description down there, oh brother, adds a better feeling to it. I’m glad i could also imagine them in the manner of a choir standing close to each other crooning a choral verse. Simply stunning. 👏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re too kind, my friend. I’m pleased to know you liked this and also envisioned the choir theme. Imagine: a field of wild flowers singing to the heavens… 🙂


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