I was rehearsing a concert way out in MD–choral/orchestral works including RVW’s “Five Mystical Songs,” which is one of the best things ever–and then had to run straight to play string quartets for a wedding back in DC. Since we jockey for first place in the competition for US-region-with-the-worst-traffic, I’d planned lots of time but still expected to be rushing to make the wedding.

When, by some miracle, I crossed into the District with almost an hour to spare, the National Arboreteum fence caught my eye. It’s a “wildish sort of park,” out of the way but always worth the stop–and I’ve only explored a tiny part. This time I discovered the fern gully, and this photo.

Then I tied my tie, cleaned up my shoes, and went on to my wedding gig.

I don’t really know how music and photography interact for me; I don’t, like, see colors to represent notes–as some musicians do–or, I don’t know, hum Bach while I compose a shot. Maybe there’s something subconscious…I certainly couldn’t abandon either practice. And I spent this particular weekend with disconnected snatches of Vaughan Williams flickering in and out of mind around these ferns, and around George Herbert’s texts.

Speaking of which, here’s one of the texts:

LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.

‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’

‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.

Vaughan Williams called himself a happy agnostic, but his settings of Herbert breathe life into my own faith–and keep it in these realms of flesh and blood, hunger and weariness, grass and sky and rain.

Technical Info

PENTAX K-5, smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
1/1600 sec, f/3.2, ISO 400
Processed in Lightroom