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Thanksgiving Point Gardens Outing

Jul 26, 2011 • family

I'm not sure why, but I've decided to keep a better journal, and to carry my camera around taking lots of pictures. For one, taking pictures is a lot of fun. But also, I sense that my kids are growing up, cementing their sense of identity, and soon they will be going off to high school, and then college, and then they will be gone. I guess I am trying to capture and preserve these moments.

I love how these flowers droop. I'm not sure why -- maybe it was evening and the clouds had formed overhead. The flowers look more emotive this way.

Tonight we went to Thanksgiving Point Gardens. We have a family pass, so we go about a dozen times a year. When we first got the pass, I found the gardens somewhat boring. After all, they're just flowers, right? But tonight the flowers seemed so much more interesting, and I'm not entirely sure why.

An endless meadow of color. I have grown to appreciate and enjoy looking at flowers.

Part of it is that I'm taking pictures of flowers. Taking pictures heightens my interest in the visual world around me.

Alden is playing with Lucy here. The kids love having this room on the grass to play around.

And in taking pictures, I'm starting to think about what makes a good photo.

One of the best parts about these gardens is just lying around. We're here at the edge of the amphitheatre. This is Tara (Shannon's friend from Arizona) holding Molly.

One principle of good photography is contrast. Contrast in light, contrast in color, contrast in mood.

Contrast is also important in writing and for life in general -- mixing up tasks at work, giving variety to foods at dinner, variety to activities during the week, and so on.

The blue Popsicle matches Lucy's blue eyes. Her blue eyes always stand out in photos.

When I started to look at the flower arrangements, it's partly the contrast that gives the arrangements appeal. Stick some small white flowers next to large green funneling ones, and suddenly it looks interesting because of the contrast. Or stick a wild flower in the middle of calm ones, and it jumps out more.

"Wild one. My hair/attitude is like this some days.

Another principle of photography is light. A cloudy day is perfect because it gives soft shadows to everything.

Little Molly is just happy to cruise along. So happy, curious, and still can't say a word.

Photos that capture an emotion are also appealing. If everyone looks straight at the camera and smiles, it's somewhat boring.

The four girls we are raising -- I love this picture. Notice how your eye moves around to each person in the picture, because they are looking at each other.

Candid shots are the best, but it's sometimes hard to get people to ignore you as a photographer.

Our friends Aaron and Tara visiting us from AZ.

But there's perhaps a downside to photography-- if you're taking pictures, you're somewhat removed from the moment itself.

Put Molly anywhere near water and she goes nuts to get in. She just loves to kick her feet around.

Which is why it's good to pass the camera around and let others take photos too. Avery and the kids love taking pictures -- they'll take pictures of pretty much anything.

I'm not sure why kids like water so much, but they absolutely do. They're born with water in their genes or something.

I am not sure where I'll be in 10 years. Hopefully right where I am now, but with an even stronger, more tightly knit family.

This is the entrance to the Secret Garden -- my favorite place at Thanksgiving Point Gardens. I told Shannon that if I die, spread my ashes here.

I once read that happiness comes in learning to live in the moment and enjoy it.

Standing here, I look so old. I can hardly believe it.

I find that to certainly be true. If you live in the moment, you have to sometimes forego goals and other to-do's in order to pursue what's hot or interesting at the moment.

Kids get tired and I carry them on my shoulders -- esp. Callie and Lucy. It's a lot of walking in these gardens.

The thing about photos is how nostalgic they makes me towards everything. It seems like this day was everything, and now it has slipped into the past.

Kids absolutely love masks, especially Callie.

One day I'll slip into the past too. I am happy and alive now, but one day I will only be a memory, or a marker in a graveyard. When that day comes, I will think about all the time I spent and wonder why I didn't spend more time at places like these with my family.

Even catgirl can't resist hijacking a stray wheelchair. Callie is wearing this mask because it's superheroes and faires night at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens.

The theme of this post is carpe diem, I guess. Is it the influence of the flowers?

he gardens were peaceful and cool tonight. I could have stayed there for hours had it not started raining.

I'm not sure where this sentiment is coming from. It seems to be somewhat productive, though, to think on a regular basis about a day in the future when you will be dead, and then to think about the life you are living now.

Shannon looking lovely as ever. Her purple shirt matches the bright colors of the flowers.

What will have made it worth it? What are the activities that make everything come full circle into one continuous meaningful whole?

So bold and powerful.

The answer, I think, is perhaps just as much in the family as it is in learning to see flowers.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.