Climbing a Dune in the Brilliant Light, then Curling Up in the Shadow: an explosion of joyous photos and an exploration of rest

If you consider heaven to be rainy, slick with mud, and sprouting wild mushrooms out of every possible crevice, then, yes, I live in paradise (also known as western Oregon).

There’s a flip side to this paradise. In the middle of winter, the rainstorms will vanish. The clouds will part. And the sky will shine deep blue.

rdg on the dune


It’s the blue of a kitten’s eyes. The blue of a tropical sea. A balmy wind blows through. We strip off our wooly sweaters and brave the sun with nothing more than long-sleeved shirts and jackets (pants too).

And then we hit the beach.

January was magnificent here on the Oregon coast. All the while I was voiceless and getting gabbled at by Art Harpies, the sun sang in the sky.

It’s done wonders for me. Nothing like a stretch of sunny days in the midst of the gloom to restore the spirit to its rightful throne.

So I’m sharing it with you. A long drink of sunshine. A tall dog leaping against the blue.


daisy leaping edited 2 border 30 px


We found a dune to climb on a beach named after the devil. I could barely crawl up its side — I had to carve out knee holds with my hands, then haul my knees up to the notches — but Gloria, Daisy, and Russell just barreled upward. Amazing.


russell and daisy on the dune


corgi butt on the dune edited


russell daisy glow on the dune


glowie coming toward me on the dune 2

 Daisy against the deep blue sky 2

When I came down the dune, I didn’t even bother to walk. My bottom has considerably more surface area than do the soles of my shoes, so I scooted down playground slide-style and left a remarkable track. (Which I forebore to photograph).

What Is (also) Really Going On

The weather is not always like this. From where I sit writing, I can crane my neck to see untold mushrooms bursting out of the moss that is our lawn. The fuchsias died back in a frost snap and are now just squiggles and twigs. And the sky today? Soft and gray, heavy with rain.

Lately, I’ve been taking creative risks, using my voice in new ways, practicing courage in the face of meanies, sharing my creative work publicly for the first time in my life, and drawing, drawing, drawing.

This week, as I prepared to write a post, I was shocked by how vulnerable I felt, and how tired. I didn’t want to write at all.

I wanted to hide.

It’s the opposite of the startling sunshine of the past few weeks. I feel inward-turned, curled and soft, heavy with sleep and rain.

In the creative swirl of cartooning, drawing, and making art, I’d forgotten how much work creativity can be. And how much work it can be just to share that with the world at large.

I’d forgotten that work — creation — requires regeneration: rest, comfort, gentleness, rain, and the willingness to honor my limits.

I have lots of new drawings to share (once I unpack my new scanner and learn how to use it) and many unholy thoughts about my love of erasers. But this week I am hiding resting behind my camera.

And oh, it feels so good.


glowie chasing the ball 2


glowie running


glowie catching a treat edited with 20 border


daisy leaping 2-1


daisy coming out of the puddle 2


daisy and harmony in shadow


I have a confession to make. Resting behind my camera is not really resting at all.

I’ve spent countless hours this week poring through photo files and learning how to make them come even more alive through editing. This has all been work. It has (mostly) been love.

And it has also been rest, in its way. It’s rest in the context of sharing. It’s rest in the sense that I’m sharing only what feels truly safe and gentle this week.

Anyone who takes creative risks — and I hope that’s you — knows what I mean.

Somehow, sharing my photos feels less risky to my heart than sharing my cartoons. I don’t know why.

Perhaps it’s the opposite for you. Maybe, just maybe, you feel the tiniest bit unsafe sharing your photos, especially if you’re like me and don’t know an aperture from an artichoke.

But I hope you share them anyway — come rain or shine or sand dune or sea.




25 Responses to Climbing a Dune in the Brilliant Light, then Curling Up in the Shadow: an explosion of joyous photos and an exploration of rest

  1. Andi says:

    I love that you’re discovering your artsy side and I hope you don’t give up, it takes bravery and overcoming doubt. I know how you feel, my art is considerably more risky than my photos too because it is dearer to my heart and my blood, sweat, & tears have gone into it. I love seeing your photos and what you have been up to in your life:). I hope you find some creative restoration this week, xoxo, Andi
    Andi recently posted…It’s Been A WhileMy Profile

    • Harmony says:

      Andi, your jewelry is stunning — and when I look at it, I can see all the love and focus that you’ve pour into every millimeter of your work. I so totally get it about the blood, sweat and tears. I will never give up — in part because there are people like you who support me, who I support right back. Lots of love to you!

  2. Robin says:

    Harmony – incredible photos of the dogs, beach, & sky. A reminder for me to get up & out to the beach with our woolies. I think we might need to meet for tea sometime soon. Many questions for you about digital editing or ways to improve my photos. Many eons ago I did take a few photo shop classes but remember nothing & the program has changed so much since then. I adore your creative spirit! Your blog is a treasure to me. Blessings of Love,

    • Harmony says:

      Thank you, Robin! Would love to meet for tea (it’s so fun to know some people in person who reads my blog). I’d be glad to share all I know about digital editing — in fact, I’ll share it ALL right now: I have a camera that shoots in RAW format, which preserves more data. To edit a picture, I open the RAW file in Photoshop Elements and then follow my intuition till it looks good. Following my intuition = doing what feels right. That’s really it! Thanks for all the love!

  3. Linda Watson says:

    Yes – creating IS hard work. You have to refill the well. Artist’s dates, down time. Julia Cameron’s first book, The Artist’s Way helped me learn this. You are wonderful!
    Linda Watson recently posted…Sunset Silence PracticeMy Profile

    • Harmony says:

      Oh, Linda, you’re wonderful, too! I love The Artist’s Way. I think I’ve done the program six times now over the course of sixteen or eighteen years. It’s really good stuff… though I admit I’ve become a bit of a morning pages wimp lately. But an artist’s date actually sounds like a really good idea right now. Thanks for reminding me of this!

  4. Patti says:

    I don’t know an aperture from an artichoke – actually I always want to spell it aperature. Anyway, taking photos makes me happy so I share them when it feels safe. Please don’t let the art meanies get to you cuz I love what you are doing.

    • Harmony says:

      LOL, Patti! You know, when I wrote the first draft to that sentence, I misspelled the word aperture. I had to go look it up. Then I read part of the Wikipedia entry, and I was like, “Ohhhh, so that’s what an aperture is…” I’m so glad that you share your photos and love doing so! And I will never let art meanies get me down for good!

  5. Jean says:

    Your rest is my JOY! Love your photos and am always in awe of those who can capture more than just images… personality, character and life, etc. through the lens. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos, family and self here, Harmony. Much love, blessings and peace to you!

    • Harmony says:

      Thanks for your kind comment, Jean. I don’t feel like I do much to capture personality – it just happens. And all dogs just overflow with character! For me, the only important thing is that the dogs are having FUN while getting photographed. They get lots of treats while they’re being photographed, and they know how much I just LOVE to see them through the lens. Because of this, they just adore the camera. I have to whisk it away to avoid noseprints on the lens! 🙂

  6. Harmony, dear Harmony–

    Oh I love this post, the story at the beach and climb up the dune–WITH PICTURES. Posting personal pictures feels very vulnerable for me and I can imagine how posting your cartoons would feel that way, too. I’m glad you’re okay with posting pictures. I love being here, being with you, taking walks on the beach with your furry family.

    Thank you for reminding me again that creative work thrives in regeneration, a type that fertilizes my soul. Huge hugs to you
    Susan Michael Barrett recently posted…I chose my word: smile. Oh, and I’m keeping a list of my laugh attacks.My Profile

    • Harmony says:

      I love that we get to take beach walks together, even though we’re 3000 miles apart. I feel like we share the same stretch of sand. Thank you for all the love and support for my photos, cartoons, and, well, everything! You are an inspiration to me.

  7. Such a timely topic Harmony. I had a long very informative (huge wakeup call for me) conversation with an IT chap a while back and as a result have changed up my photosharing. I’m now being a lot more selective. As to his advice – you are fine. No worries on a security front whatsoever. I understand that you are talking probably more along the lines of what you personally feel confident about sharing however since the security issue is now always on my mind that’s what I thought about as I read your post.
    On a sunnier note – love, love, love the pictures and your words. My west coast experience is exactly the same. Mushrooms abound, January was brilliant and I’m in regeneration mode myself. This blogging business is hard work! I love it. However I’m certainly not banging out the posts in 15 minutes.
    My favourite photo – the shadow one with your golden girl Daisy. Love that you included a weensy bit of her.
    Kelly McKenzie recently posted…An Olympic ExperienceMy Profile

    • Harmony says:

      “Banging out these posts in 15 minutes…” *cue maniacal laughter* So really, for me, each post is about a full day’s labor, sometimes two — and that doesn’t count the writing. So, if your posts (on your wonderful blog that everyone should visit) take you way, way longer than 15 minutes, you’re in good company. 🙂

      Thanks for all the love for the photos and the little tap on the shoulder about photo security. So glad to know you “get it” about the west coast/northwest weather!

  8. Amy Putkonen says:

    Hi Harmony,

    I love your photos! Especially the ones that show such personality in your sweet dogs. Awww! So cute! I can imagine that corgi thought nothing of bounding up that dune!
    Amy Putkonen recently posted…Understanding the Lunar CalendarMy Profile

    • Harmony says:

      I know! The dogs thought nothing of it! To them it was all fun and play, while I crawled my way up inch by inch. Oh, to have four-paw drive! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  9. Janet says:

    Harmony, What beautiful photos, so clear and joyous! The first one made me chuckle with the 2 dogs coming forward. They look kind of sneaky and the background music I imagine is the DumDeDumDum of the old Dragnet show. (Now we will find out how much older I am than you!) Re your feeling of vulnerability, my guess is that goes hand in hand with how much you value authentic sharing. The best to you!
    Janet recently posted…More Healing through HaikuMy Profile

    • Harmony says:

      Janet, it’s like you’ve met my dogs! Gloria, the corgi, can be super-sneaky. But she’s also really forthright in that way that all dogs are — earnest and honest, even while she’s sneaking off to go sniff something far away. Thank you for commenting — and thank you for noticing how much I value authentic sharing. It’s something I value almost as much as cats and dogs! (And that’s sayin’ something.)

  10. Sue says:

    You have told a wonderful story and given us a peek into your world with your terrific photography. So excited to see the rest of your work. It is hard to put your work out there for all to see but I think there is a part of us as creatives that we want to share our creativity with others. All in due time.
    Sue recently posted…Comment on What’s in a name? by SueMy Profile

    • Harmony says:

      I agree with you, Sue — sharing is a huge part of creativity and many of us truly want to share, even if it’s hard. All in due time… Yes, that’s it exactly. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  11. Debbie Goode says:

    Lovely photos….I just love that great big blue sky in the background! What a wonderful backdrop for your sweet pups…you can see and feel their joy! Can’t wait to see more of your ART….be brave…trust in yourself…let your creative light shine bright for it leads the way for others to follow!
    Debbie Goode recently posted…Sassy 6My Profile

  12. Marcie says:

    Oh…oh…oh – how I love that blue sky. Sharing is hard – but you’ve done so consistently and creatively. And those dogs? From my heart to yours (we have an Aussie…and my grand-dog is a Corgi – YES!).

  13. Ok what other part of medical research do you cut to pay for this. We need to think of a fixed size pie for the biological research community, and specify what else not to do to pay for this area. With the budget deficit one needs to not denounce every cut unless you provide a defined offseting cut, which is the essence of the pay-go concept. Maybe we should cut university research by the same amount to fund these programs. Perhaps a cut in post docs makes sense because they will likley never find permanent jobs, so the sooner they realize it the better.

  14. Keep these articles coming as they’ve opened many new doors for me.

  15. Riya says:

    Oh I love this post, the story at the beach and climb up the dune–WITH PICTURES. Posting personal pictures feels very vulnerable for me and I can imagine how posting your cartoons would feel that way, too.

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