Year 2011. I sat on the wooden floor of a friend’s 5 Points Loft apartment in Athens GA. In my hands was a copy of William Bartram’s Travels, just checked out from the library. Did I want to do a blog series with this book, this man, as my muse and guide? Or was it just a passing fancy, an idea to be played with then put away as too expensive, to time consuming, too risky, too much? Then I read aloud to my two friends the following passage from the Introduction:
“Whoa Dude! That was really intense!” my friend exclaimed. Nodding, the other friend and she went back to packing, moving, focusing on the tasks of the day before them. I went home with Bartram’s words singing in my head and talking to my heart, and had a powerful dream. I was standing before a giant hibiscus flower, larger than life, larger than me, and it beckoned me to enter.
When I woke up, the project no longer seemed too much. It was real, and one of the blog posts would be about that plant growing on the beach, that bee, that spider, and the future repast of a lizard yet to materialize. All I really needed was to go to Jekyll Island when the spiders are mating, August, and capture it all with my camera. Right?
Except, when I went to Jekyll, while my grandfather was still living, I photographed the Sea Turtle Rescue Center and never even visited the beach in search of bee-hunting spiders. It was cool and very windy. When I returned to Jekyll last year, I focused on the driftwood.
Except, when I finally did get a close up of a spider, it was on my trip to the Birds of Prey Center to photograph Sky Kings, vultures, for Beth’s Travels on the Bartram Trail, not spiders.
Except, when I got close to a bee, it was at the Georgia State Botanical Gardens in Athens GA, with no beach or spider anywhere in the image, and it certainly wasn’t feeding on a native plant. Although, according to Bartram, honeybees are a European import to the New World as well as wisteria; which originated in Japan.
And finally, when I photographed a lizard, it was on a lovely vacation with my new fiancé, in a most unnatural environment atop a butterfly house in Brookgreen Gardens. And the last thing on my mind was taking pictures for Beth’s Travels on the Bartram Trail.
As for the Giant Hibiscus? Those don’t really exist—or do they?
The End of a Journey….
So now I am coming to the end of a journey, a journey begun with a library book written by a century’s long dead person and a dream about walking out of this world and into another through a Giant Hibiscus Flower. While there may or may not have been any hibiscus involved, my life has changed as I navigated my inner and outer worlds with William Bartram as a muse.
I have experienced loss, which wove its way into the blog with my grandfather’s passing. I have experienced love and am still learning about commitment with my fiancé. I have found my voice in my writing and developed an extensive body of work called Possible Perceptions. I have been blessed with a family that has journeyed with me on the Bartram Trail. I have learned that when I take the time to slow down, whether its by taking a tripod and shooting slowly in the forest moving from tree to tree, or by spending a day journaling and walking and connecting with loved ones rather than work, I create better, live my life better, connect with others better. That is to say, when I take the time to slow down, I am better. I have learned that when I think I have nothing to say, and I sit down to write anyway, I always fill up the page.
Here is that Spider from the Birds of Prey Center in South Carolina hunting the Bee on the wisteria at The Botanical Gardens in Athens, GA.
And here is Bee and Spider Possible Perception.
“Beth’s Journey on the Bartram Trail” will continue to post 52, which will be released in conjunction with my October 2015 Show at the Botanical Gardens, an exhibition titled “Travels on the William Bartram Trail: Beth Thompson’s Possible Perceptions.”
*Opening Stanza of reading from”The Slacks” by Trip Shakespeare.