Snippets of Winter

We are in the depths of winter here still, though someone forgot to tell the tulips.  I hope my excitement at seeing them emerge isn't matched by an equal amount of dismay when they get frostbit.  The first of spring flowers are waking up, we are noticing more birds singing in the morning and temperature highs are climbing, but still we have ice on the front steps this morning.  It's deceiving, that ice.  No visual clues of the usual kind for winter like snow everywhere and going to bed the night before with rain pattering on the roof makes you think nothing of stepping onto the porch at full-trot in the morning  That could make for a very sore behind, but we've so far avoided that fate.  No snow, but lots of ice.  It seems to like to rain when it's just below freezing here.

Our little gal is coming alive even more these days.  When your first child is born, it's like all you have to compare it to is caring for a pet.  But now, she is undeniably her own strong person and it's fascinating to watch her consciousness awake and her personality form.  I have to say that she's more like her dad everyday.  How lucky we are to be entrusted with this little human!

A piece of poplar after being split; lots of wood splitting going on to get us through the end of winterPoplar sure isn't our first choice for the woodstove, but it happened to fall and dries quickly.



A gorgeous, sunny, freezing day; we couldn't resist a walk in the woods. 



February was full of traveling; Greg to Mexico for a friend's wedding, a visit to Great Grandma's house for Sienna and then we went to Alabama to see Alex, Anny and the kids.  How lucky we are to be close enough to visit this often and we will cherish these times when he's stationed elsewhere.  For now, we make the most of it and I can't wait for our next visit! 

A float trip we took a month or so ago.  We saw beaver tracks in the mud but all was silent as we floated along.  Even Sienna slept on the bow.~



"Instead of teaching people to take better photos, why not teach the camera?"

This ad on the back of a magazine stopped me in my tracks, and I had to re-read it.  Maybe it's me and the fact that I'm out of the loop; I've seen very few ads on television and in magazines recently, but I was surprised at the role that technology has slipped its way into. 

The iPhone ad blatantly and unapologetically admits the very thing I suspected had been gradually happening.  And that is supposed to make you want the thing?  They're not even trying to mince words anymore.  Secret's out.

In the weeks before seeing this ad, I had been turning over in my brain things like Google searches and the internet, Facebook, and even digital cameras and especially photo editing programs.  What do all these things have in common?  They basically make us look like we know what we are talking about or doing with minimal work from us, when in fact our understanding is pretty slim. 

That's exactly what the draw is, I think.  We can do a simple word search, scan an article or two, and impress our friends with trivial (or not so) knowledge on any random subject.  With Facebook, participants are (usually constantly) plugged into the latest news and gossip on friends' marriages, children, births, illnesses, etc, without actually having to stay in touch, or put time into a relationship.  It's like the fast food of the social world!  With Photo Shop really any standard photo can be tweaked to have magical color, softened edges and a fairy-tale-like lighting.  How far we have come from the person in the dark room, pouring chemicals, watching temperatures, tinkering with the light table; and before that having an intimate knowledge of the camera and the light and image it captures, knowing without an instant LCD screen what turning one of those knobs will do.

Technology has given us the gift of illusion; illusion of understanding, friends and skill to name a few. 

But what's wrong with all this?  What's wrong with the average person being able to take/edit great photos?  What's wrong with knowing more about your friends than you ever would have without Facebook?  What's so bad about all of us being able to feel smarter, like information is accessible to all??  Isn't that why these things were designed?  Don't we want to progress out of the technological dark ages?  More knowledge for all!

When I was younger and still in school, frustrated by studying and lower-than-hoped-for grades, I sometimes wished for a magic spell that would let me know everything-answers to tests, quizzes and questions-instantly.  Then I would wonder if that would even be as wonderful as I thought.  You wouldn't technically be smart.  You'd just know the answers.  What's the difference?  The reason we respect smart and skilled people is because they were willing to do something that others weren't.  They put in the time and the hard work to gain an understanding that others didn't have.  An expert is set apart because no one else has hit the books like they have.  In a lot of cases a love or curiosity for a subject precedes the study of something, making the whole process happen in a natural way, and for, if you will, a "pure" reason.  Subjects were digested more wholly instead of picking out the best parts.  (We are eating the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms and leaving the boring cereal and everyone knows you just don't do that!)  I can't help but feel that not only does this technology advance our world to a further position, but also steals something from those who once had an edge because their desire to know was big enough to drive them to LEARN.

Moments are experienced through the screen of an iPhone.  Events exist to be recorded and posted on Facebook.  Facebook exists for bragging rights.  People are afraid to be alone.  No one looks up anymore unless they have to.  Things are only interesting if they are instantly gratuitous.  These are my more cynical thoughts.  They make me want to crush an iPhone under the heel of my shoe and go in the woods and smell some dirt.  Just to remind me that the real world's still out there...somewhere.  Somewhere you can't get cell reception.

I am by no means detached from the world, or apart from technology, but I can't help but be irked every time someone wants to 'show me the radar' on their iPhone in speculation about the weather.  Does the average person have any idea how to look at the clouds for a clue to the winds above, or the pressure system building?  Do I?  The daughter of a pilot and a child of technology, I feel I am right on the cusp.  The skill will either be lost with me, or if I choose, passed on to my daughter.

Soon, we won't even need to know how to spell, write in cursive (or at all), adjust camera settings for a proper exposure, read a map, know where we are, know how to calculate how much further we can drive on the gas remaining in our tank, look up a word in the dictionary, or remember anything because it will all be photographed and videotaped for us and instantly announced on Facebook.  How wonderful.  With all this spare time, we can languidly lounge about not learning anything because we don't have to, discussing our depression and sense of emptiness that moved in to replace our desire to try and strive eerily soon after our imaginations and minds were replaced by computers.. 

Here I sit on the internet, writing a blog post with the wood stove heating the house and my cloth diapers on the line.  Spellcheck will edit my post for me, whether I want it to or not.  I still don't have a GPS and wish I didn't have a cell phone.  Why are you so paranoid?  Who would fight convenience for no clear reason?  Why would you do things the hard way?  What fool would be willfully ignorant?  These are things I ask myself.  I especially hear "willfully ignorant" in my head a lot lately.  All I do know, is that it seems like the smarter and more equipped we become, the more it seems we have blinders on to life.  I don't think it's knowledge I'm opposed to.  It's the thinking I know.  Appearing to be adept, and ringing hollow when put to the test.