Friday, November 29, 2013

Walking In Nature - In Sioux Falls

Photo by David L. O'Hara, copyright 2013
Cardinal in Tuthill Park, Sioux Falls
Thoreau writes that not many people know the art of Walking.  I am trying to learn it, and I think part of it involves learning to see what is there.  My friend Scott Parsons has helped me to see better by teaching me to draw, since the pencil forces me to pay attention to what I actually see rather than just what I think I see.

Lately I have been trying to walk more - that is, to Walk more - in and around my city, Sioux Falls.  I find, as I step off the sidewalks and walk a little more transgressively, the city is transformed.  The habits of sidewalks and cars speed up the world around us until much of it vanishes in a blur.
Photo by David L. O'Hara, copyright 2013
Whitetail deer, east Sioux Falls

Thoreau recommends trans-gressing, that is, stepping across paths and fences rather than letting them herd us to the destinations that habit and tradition and fetishized commerce want to lead us.  Once he wrote that we should sometimes bend over and look at the world upside down.  Sometimes this is all the "transgression" that is needed to overcome the aggressive habits that constrain us in daily life.

Photo by David L. O'Hara, copyright 2013
Ice on a single blade of grass on the Augustana College campus
Another tool I have used lately is the camera, peering down its glassy pipe at single, simple things, trying to break up the landscape by gazing intently at just one point.  Or, at times, using the lens to draw the world together, to see how much I can gather into its frame.

When I first moved to Sioux Falls almost ten years ago I thought it was a homely place, a city that did not care for design or good planning or beautiful architecture.  Slowly, one frame at a time, I am changing my own mind.  As I Walk through and around it, I am coming to see that it is, at times and in places, quite a lovely place to live.