Efflorescent Utility Pole
Efflorescent Utility Pole

I travel this street nearly every day, and sometimes more often than that. It is my usual route out of town. This residential street lined with ordinary houses, tidy lawns, and arborvitae privacy screens is as familiar as a place can be.

There is comfort in familiarity. It is reassuring to get what we expect, to see the same old scene altered merely by time or season. And yet there is another side to this regularity. Sameness can make the eye lazy.

Surprise snaps me out of this kind of passivity.

I have learned to always carry a camera, which not only makes me ready for the unexpected, it actually shifts my mindset to see the unexpected. It invites surprise.

And sure enough, on this day I saw the surprising juxtaposition of a flowering tree and a utility pole. The pole looked like the tree’s trunk with full-blossomed branches growing from it. It was positively an electric spectacle! As Joel Meyerowitz says, “It is this kind of surprise that keeps me interested in things that might easily go unnoticed. It is paying attention that makes photography a vital form for me.”

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