It's a gray November day. Finally I have time off from the madness of work. At home there's a welcomed silence. Today I saw the first snowflakes of the season taunting my dislike of what's to come in the months ahead: The cold, the ice, the snow, and winds that suck the breath out of your soul.
Windy autumn days are stripping leaves very quickly. In summer I look out my bedroom window to see green leaves on old shade trees, and squirrels occasionally chasing each other across branches. It occurs to me that I don't take advantage of that scene nearly enough. We're so quick to grab the camera and take hundreds of photos of colorful, dying leaves, snapping up the moment as if color will never behold us again.
Yet, it's the same every year, every season. A couple of years ago I was sitting at this very window in autumn and one squirrel was chasing life; scrambling for food to store before there was none left. Looking out the window we came face to face:
sat a squirrel
on second floor branches
outside my window
sat a squirrel.
the leafless tree
staring at my face
I suppose that's one reason we're compelled every autumn to snap photos of leaves: Disbelief. Disbelief that the rest of the year has been spent chasing life, and with little pause to let the silence nurture our souls year round. Disbelief that the falling of autumn can be so brilliant and yet so swift.
Camera or not: We all need to be snapping up the moments every day. And rather than chasing life, we should let life chase us.
Rick Burnett Baker currently is self-employed as a narrative photographer, and is a member of the National Press Photographer's Association (NPPA). Baker, a native Texan, is a graduate of State University of New York (Albany) with a BA in Asian Studies, (minor in classical Chinese literature), a Graduate Certificate in US Urban Policy, and a Masters (MRP) in Regional and Urban Planning, Third World. He has worked with a mining company in Honduras, with a civil engineering firm in Saudi Arabia, and traveled andworked throughout Southeast Asia, China, and Northern Africa with Halliburton for nearly a decade, based out of Singapore. During his years living in Singapore he was also known for his radio and television voice-over work. Baker returned to the US in 1985 to complete academic interests and continues to live in New York.