Cynthia Staples : Finding Beauty
Words & Images
By Cynthia Staples
It is a tiny square of urban landscape found behind a muffler shop. Forsythia trails wildly over a crumbling cement wall. Its branches fall en masse into an emptiness once filled by a mountain of dark tires. A dead tree towers above the chaos with its bark crumbling to the ground. Dead leaves from nearby live trees are strewn all about. Next door is a fancy house with its bright chain link fence and lichen covered basement walls. Most people called the area an eyesore and I found myself agreeing.
Then one day, from my house located not too far from the muffler shop, I stared down into that area through two panes of glass, one of which was old, rippled and a bit pockmarked. For whatever reason, I tilted my head just a bit. The scene came alive even though there was no wind outside. Branches moved and light trailed. The imperfections in the glass were ripping the scene apart and putting it back together in a fluid way.
That motion was like a spark that set my imagination on fire. As I stared into the evolving landscape, every fantasy novel I had read as a child came to mind. They had all been set in dark wooded lands, areas that on occasion were brightened by dappled sunlight and by bright blossoms that would soon adorn the heroine’s hair.
In winter, spring and autumn, mostly, pictures I have been taking through that window, positioning myself sometimes across the room, sometimes up close, always focusing my camera in the area where the ripples are. I use the morning light, evening light, and even the outdoor security light of the muffler shop. The collection of images grows. Perhaps one day they will illustrate my novel but for now I am grateful that I can capture the moments.
Over the years, the tree has lost some branches in the mightiest of storms but, overall, it still has not moved. The wall continues to crumble, quite slowly. The forsythia just keeps growing, unmanaged, because no one desires to remove its bright blossoms.
Near that window, I keep a copy of a book by Terry Tempest Williams called Finding Beauty in a Broken World. As the title suggests, it is a meditation on both seeking and seeing beauty in the harsh realities around us. There are times when I am racing around the house, finding it hard to catch my breath, but then guess what happens? I seek out the ripples. I pause, if only for a moment, studying the view. Fragmented, shimmering, and so imperfect the scene outside that window, and it is always beautiful. •
© 2014 Cynthia Staples. All rights reserved.
Cynthia Staples is a highly creative writer and photographer living in the Boston area. Her words and images capture moments and memories and weave together inspiring stories for her readers. More »