Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Webshots Pictures

I have belonged to Webshots for years and you could practically monitor my passions through the photos I've downloaded over that time. In the beginning, the pictures that scrolled through my screensaver were weighted heavily toward scenery and animals. Even within those two categories, there were divisions of interest. The coastlines of any large body of water appear more frequently than mountains but of the mountains, the rolling wooded hills of Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas take center stage more often than the pointed spires of the Rockies or the red table tops of Arizona or Texas.

You can tell from Webshots that, far and away, my favorite season is fall. I have lots and lots of woods decorated in gilt and copper and scarlet, lots of multi-colored Chrysanthemums and orange pumpkins. Second best are the pastels of spring - dogwood and redbud and lilacs, daffodils and tulips blooming in spring gardens. There are a few crystal-glazed winter scenes but summer gets short shrift. I am attracted to roads and rivers. I like lonely rural roads that wind through woods and past farms and over hills. I've never been able to figure why waterfalls don't appeal to me more. I think they are beautiful but except for one photo of Niagara Falls, I never download pictures of them. Trees predominate in my collection. I'm turned on by trees, any kind of trees - huge sycamores lining creekbeds, Spanish moss-draped liveoaks in Alabama pastures, neighborly maples on Main Street, cypress in southern swamps, golden Aspens gilding western hills, soaring lodgepole pines.

Dogs and horses take precedence among the animals. I would guess that horses of all kinds and colors make up my very top category. There are Arabs and Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds in bay and brown and chestnut. Heavy draft horses and tiny Shetland ponies, horses grazing and horses racing. But my favorite breed is Arab and my favorite color is black so you'll find more black Arabs than anything else - and more running than standing still. I like flying manes and tails. My horses almost never have people on their backs unless they are jockeys or cowboys. I prefer them free.

Ditto with dogs. I like lots of domesticated breeds but I admire wolves and coyotes and foxes even more, especially wolves. I have lots of wolf pictures. Because I wrote a book in which a Canadian Lynx played a large part, I lean toward this species of wild cat more than any other. Pelicans are my chosen birds but I also like cranes and herons and Cardinals, especially if they are perched on pine trees in the snow, are my top small bird.

You could definitely tell my political leanings through my shifting screen scenery. Taking their places in my political pantheon are Bill and Hillary Clinton and General Wesley Clark. Although I tend to support Democrats over Republicans with my vote, these are the only three I have ever liked well enough to actually download. You'll find no Al Gore, John Kerry or Barack Obama. A vote is one thing, wallpaper on my computer is something else altogether.

Whenever I've traveled to a place I fell in love with, I've come home and tracked down pictures of those places. I have photos of Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Panama Beach, Padre Island, Myrtle Beach, Cedar Key, New Orleans, Cape Cod, Charleston SC, Biltmore in NC, Lake Michigan, Ruidoso, the Garden of the Gods, Nogales, Eureka Springs and of course, Las Vegas! The most recent are Atlantic City and New York City from Mom's and my vacation to see John and Lisa. Whenever my travel pictures scroll past, I pause a moment and savor the memories. Actually, most of my traveling was done to pick up prisoners and bring them back to Wabash to face justice. Even the various personalities in the backseat in handcuffs and shackles added to the color of the trip although mostly, I just imagine me and Bryan flying along the highway in a squad car.

Like the Lynx who played a part in a book, some of my photos come from being featured in my writing. Ireland, for instance. One of my heroes held dual American/Irish citizenship. I knew almost nothing about Ireland so I did a huge amount of research, becoming captivated by that gorgeous country along the way. Now there are many pictures of Ireland in my Webshots collection. In the same way, I found illustrations of Native Americans to remind me of another book. And I got interested in NASCAR because I made one of my characters a driver. That's initially why I downloaded NASCAR pictures but the thrill of the sport took on a life of its own. I eventually adopted Jimmie Johnson as my driver and of people, Jimmie holds the place of honor for the number of photos.

Some interests don't lend themselves to Webshots. Reading, for instance. You hardly want to download a picture of a bookcover. I think I do have one photo of the Firth of Forth Bridge (or maybe that's Forth of Firth) in Scotland which was almost a main character in one of Iain Banks' books but other than that, it's difficult to express love for an author's work by way of Webshots.

The pictures serve as a constantly evolving scrapbook of your life. They can serve as reminders of places you've been or places you'd like to go or even goals you hope to accomplish (all the ones of Cape Cod remind me that I'd like to move there someday although I'd have to have a - big - lottery win to do it). The photos that call to mind the book manuscripts in my computer make me determined to keep trying to get them published. Sometimes, they're just about things you enjoy, like Jimmie Johnson and the Number 48 car, or the slot machines in Vegas or waves sliding into shore on the ocean. Or they simply wash your heart with the beauty of the world whether that's in the form of an autumn road or a diving pelican or a red fox poised on a log.


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