A green anole greets me on a walk near Fort White, Florida, mid-December, 2016.
With this post, I at long last resume Commonplace Nature. There is a delightful symmetry to this event. After my last entry exactly two years ago, my wife and I traveled south, to Florida, and ultimately to the Keys. While staying in Everglades City, a town perched on the northwestern edge of the glades, I received a call from a former Montessori colleague from my earliest days in Georgia, asking if I might be willing to jump back into teaching after years away, taking over a class of half a dozen 4th graders after their former teacher’s abrupt departure. I dove into the heart of the whirlwind: somehow, despite a heavy teaching load at multiple universities, I balanced that with working in the classroom every day — and even starting down the road to Elementary 2 teacher certification. Then, a year later (and again on vacation in Florida — I start to see a pattern here), I sat in an unfinished wooden gazebo beside a dying 1980s shopping mall, and had my final interview for a full-time teaching position at Ashford University. Again my life abruptly changed; I transitioned as gracefully as a I could from the elementary classroom into a full-time job as course lead for an introductory environmental science general education course. Two months in, I discovered that the class was on the docket for revision, almost immediately. I shepherded it through, did myriad other teaching tasks, and returned again with my wife to the Florida Keys, two Decembers later. This time, thankfully, nobody called me.
Throughout all this time, my thoughts have rarely left this blog. What I thought would be a sabbatical from photography and writing has become, instead, two full years. I have grown rusty with my Olympus 4/3 camera, though I have gone so far as to purchase Lightroom and I have plans this year to begin capturing raw images. Meanwhile, I discovered the charming simplicity of my iPhone camera (a blessing, one of many, of my new life at Ashford University). I have added a Ztylus Revolver, a device which makes the iPhone look like a conventional camera, adding a circular polarizer, fisheye lens, and macro lens. Equipped with this, I have taken and uploaded various photos on Facebook, but never to the blog. I wasn’t ready yet.
Now, at last, I am. My dream of another yearlong project, though, is still on hold. Escaping every day for new photos simply is not possible now, though I have every intention of posting something every day (though not the 19th of March; see below). I have quite a few iPhone photos to share from my last year, and that will probably occupy most of January and February. Many of the images are from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens; for a time, my wife volunteered there, and I would serve as driver, savoring the morning hours to roam with my iPhone camera in hand, finding inspiration among the foliage. In-between, I hope to take an occasional outing to a local park to enjoy the bare bones of winter. And then, in March, I set off for Australia — my first time there in 25 years. I will spend about 6 weeks Down Under, partly in Tasmania, partly roaming the Outback and the coast south of Sydney. And this blog will accompany my journey, celebrating the not-quite-so commonplace (for me, at least). I hope that you, dear reader, will join me, too. My journey takes me, for the first time in decades, across the International Date Line; I leave Atlanta on March 18th, and arrive in Sydney (and from there, fly to Hobart) on March 20th. The 19th of March will not exist for me, so I apologize in advance for not posting on that day. I return Stateside on the first of May.
Come summer, who knows? I had plans to spend a year documenting Cochran Mill Park near my home, perhaps taking a few hikes every month (though probably not every day). I might get that started at last. But for now, a few weeks looking backward to begin the New Year…..