What is Awkward Beauty? Grab some kettle corn and take a short walk with me.

January 17, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Landing Heron.. awkward beauty---As plain as the web page in front of me are these words in the page header. Awkward beauty? What is that? We all have definitions of beauty. There is a huge range in the world of human emotion and points of view, covering images, events and memories. With a special flower, an entire crowd may agree it is beautiful and lovely to see. Move away from the obviously lovely and the the label beauty is somewhat awkwardly taped on the corner like an afterthought. An image of dead hostas in winter was beautiful to me and when uploaded to a photography website a commentator expressed surprise. Every year she was compelled to rake up the dead and fallen foliage at her home because it was dead and fallen. To the eye of the beholder the label of beauty may be awkwardly affixed with a piece of torn and soiled tape. Possibly she took a moment to look again at her fallen hostas and saw more than an automatic chore of raking up the dead. I suspect hers went quickly and were long gone when I uploaded the photo.  That photo resides somewhere on this blog.






The title awkward beauty came to mind when the heron in the header photo was landing in the tree.. The entire maneuver appeared so awkward with long legs at all angles and large wings trying to maintain balance and gain a secure hold in the branches. I thought the bird picked the wrong place to land but it knew better and the end was a different sort of gracefulness well adapted to the heron.





This post will tell tiny stories with photos to illustrate. Cart before the horse or the other way, the stories came and so did the photos. Do enjoy the points of view presented here. Or, consider me mad, mad, mad and someone who if running naked in the street would make more sense…maybe to you. To me, that would be very awkward and anything but beauty. I do have a full length closet mirror. A roll of tape would not fix the label to stay on out of the starting block. Mothers would cover the eyes of young children, like at the zoo.  The rest would laugh and cheer it on!  Run, Run! Ask them through their laughter, "That sure was funny. Was it beautiful?" ..."NO". 


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I think you might see  a sort of beauty in this post...take a look and find no need to cover any eyes..


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The King House..abandoned today but prior to 1956 it was cheerful and home to school teachers on snowbound evenings...so I was told.



Photo taken just in front of the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton, Tennessee.
The center is now a museum and reminder of the events leading up to and following
integration of the local high school in 1956. 
 We went to the town and visited the center several years ago. The abandoned house
caught my eye and I asked about its story.
 

The governor of Tennessee was wise when he said, "Go ahead and get it done. Integrate the schools," In 1956 it happened in Clinton, Tennessee, said to be the first school integrated likely anywhere in this country.  There was at least one which was integrated earlier but that distinction is not important. 

If you don't know what integration was or is, think of black kids not being allowed to attend the city high school and being bused instead to an all black student school in another city. The opposite of integration is segregation, a divide of people "justified" by race or other reason and which generally favors the ruling class. Some folks knew better and others did not give it much thought. Believe it, when the judge said we are moving on this now to get it done in Clinton, ears perked up and people reacted.  They say outsiders came in to stir the tempers and subdue supporters of the integration. Were some local folks involved? Of course...someone and the culture was wanting those black kids kept out of the white high school long before the governor spoke in his determined words and local law listened and decided to move on it. Some like a local white Baptist minister knew it was time to move on to better values and acceptance of fellow man. Others along with outside instigators believed big sticks and violence was justified to maintain status quo,  leaving things alone and no change tolerated.

The integration problems did happen but that is not the story or the beauty of the King house, shown here much later after more recent owners left it,  apparently abandoned and in disrepair.

Up the hill is a school building, an old one.  That is where the black kids in town went to school up to when they were old enough for high school. The home owners saw a need for education and for the teachers to be comfortable.  Maybe there was more snow back then because I am told when the teachers were snowed in or would be taking a risk driving home and returning to school the next day, they were offered congenial lodging at the old house.  Of course, the house was not old back then but a nice home with room for the teachers to spend the evening.  My first thought was that nowadays school would have been closed for even the threat of snow.  Back then, I reckon it stayed open and the kids walked to school.  The now caved porch would be a fine place to sit and visit on a summer evening, too. There is beauty in this old house, more than I first thought.


 
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A view from an old hotel on Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

The hotel is real and so is the view. It is different at night when with
little else to do, one looks around at the buildings and
sees someone else looking from their window.
What follows is fiction.

"I saw you look out of your window last night. Are you there now? Is everyone gone, are you in the dark alone or with others? You are there. I saw you last night...did you see me when you looked up? My building is higher than yours; yours is only a few levels. I am on the 13th floor with more above me. I feel those floors pressing down on me tonight. I suspect we will never meet, well, no consequence. I have been in this room too, too long. When will you look out your window!"

It might be a stretch to find the beauty in this one, even in a awkward sense.  I saw it in the daytime working hours of the city along this street and all the view from the hotel window. Nighttime was not the same, yes, people on the streets and in clubs but with too many dark corners to suit me. 
 
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This photo was arranged to portray an idea and the  beauty of getting beyond this image.

Tea parties in her mind: This a fictional depiction of reality.
I ask you look beyond a bleak scene to see a woman who once sat in this chair, in poverty on the streets and in the mission shelters..
With assistance of specially able people who understand how to help, she now has a little home and and is employed. She now has
a lovely tea party and all her friends are there to share the scones.
 
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The photographs shown are older ones picked from stored files.  Editing technique was less sophisticated than today
  but with the same eye behind the shutter. 
The point of view has changed in several ways over a few years.
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Clear Wing Moth, also called Sphinx and Hummingbird Moth
 
This beautiful moth got my attention, flying very close to my face as it passed quickly to land on a brick wall.  At first look was a pretty but unknown insect with all the warning colors of a huge, huge bee or wasp of some sort.  With a side view, I recognized a moth-like face and body structure.  The awkward introduction and trepidation turned to curiosity at seeing a beautiful creature for the first time. It sat a while then flew away, boasting extra long legs for a moth.

These photos were taken with an old Minolta point and shoot in 2005. Modern point and shoot cameras with a macro capability will do better.  Be certain to keep unedited original files and only edit copies of your digital photos.  The moth photos had been edited and the originals were not available. Today I would have done better in processing the photos had the originals been saved properly. I have seen only one moth like this since 2005.


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Can a large crawling bug be beautiful?
I believe so but many folks will want to get away
or even squash this harmless millipede.
This creature makes for an awkward encounter and
by all appearances is dangerous..
red and black and 3 inches long.
People jump and back away, women scream,
 men pretend to be brave and are tempted to step on it...
watching for it to attack or swing up and get them.
The Tennessee Flat Back Millipede is not dangerous;
the warning looks are possibly for self protection.
 
 
The flat back millipede lives in southern states where weather is suitable, You will see these large bugs in garden mulch, under decaying leaves and in areas of downed vegetation. They prefer to be under cover.  Beautiful..depending on the eye of the beholder!   Here is scientific link with better photos:  http://tolweb.org/brachoria
 
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Cedar Waxwings
The beauty of these social birds is well known and appreciated.
 
 
The body feathers appear like a soft velvet, smoothed and fresh.
Red tips on the wings look like a fine sealing wax. There is nothing to deny this beauty. "Awkward" was standing beneath branches of a tree full of these migrating birds.  I looked up and saw bird bottoms, everywhere. 
 
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