God's Art

Monday, August 27, 2012

God is the best artist I know.

Last week I grabbed my camera and drove to Gibson Woods Nature Preserve in Hammond, Indiana. My primary objective was to find butterflies to photograph and I saw a few, but they didn't want to sit still while I took their portraits. I did get some pictures of birds, although they were far enough away that even my telephoto lens had trouble spotting them.

The plant life was another matter. I love taking pictures of plants because they don't run away from the camera. And because plants are some of God's best art.

Consider the first picture. The stems and swirls remind me of a decorative chandelier. (I haven't identified the flower, so if you know what it is, please leave a comment.)

Or how about this tapestry? Unimaginative people might see dead leaves. I see artistry.

And who besides God can sculpture a bird bath out of giant mushrooms clinging to a tree trunk?

I like to think that my photography is art. That I am an artist who sees the possibilities in ordinary subjects and knows how to frame them to achieve a particular effect. But I don't create the subjects, I just photograph them.

God is the master artist, and I am his devoted pupil.


All photographs © 2012 by Kathryn Page Camp.


Monday, August 20, 2012

This week I'm going to focus on one small part of God's creation. I don't know what inspired me, but I recently found myself writing verses about butterflies. Here they are.

Common Buckeye

A buck's eyes prance across the wings
That hover low above the ground
From gravel path to grassy verge
And roadside park.

Red Admiral

A ring of fire encircles him
When wings are spread apart,
Or underlines the white and black
When raised in victory.

Orange Sulfur

Alfalfa fields a common haunt
For your night-feeding frenzy,
A pretty sight to untrained eyes
But no friend to farmers.


Milkweed stalks with silken heads
Become a Monarch's throne.
Then winter comes and orange and black
Aims south and flies away.

Colorado Hairstreak

The Hairstreak floats on Gossimer Wings,
Enjoying the light mountain air.
Without a worry it flies through rain
To rest on a sturdy oak.

The poems and the picture of the Monarch butterly are © 2012 by Kathryn Page Camp.

The pictures of the Common Buckeye, the Red Admiral, and the Orange Sulfur are © 2010 by Kathryn Page Camp.

The picture of the Colorado Hairstreak came from Wikimedia Commons and is © 2010 by Megan McCarty. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en) license.

Remembering World War II

Monday, August 13, 2012

There are still a few people around who lived through World War II, either on the battlefield or here at home, but it won't be long until they are all gone.

My mother's brother landed with the troops on D-Day and survived, although he didn't talk about it. My father tried to enlist as a chaplain, but they wouldn't take him because of his eyesight.

World War II was a truly global war. Although there have been wars since, none have carried that territorial scope.

So why am I writing about it now? Because we saw a couple of WWII sites on vacation, and they reminded me not to forget. Not to forget the patriotism. Not to forget the sacrifice. And especially not to forget the atrocities that incited the war. To remember even after the people who lived through those times are no longer around to tell us their experiences.

Except that isn't quite true. Their stories live on in letters and books and at places like the D-Day Memorial at Bedford, Virginia.

The top picture is a sweeping view of the memorial. The second is a sculpture showing the troops landing at Omaha Beach. You can see the landing craft in the rear and a dead soldier lying on the sand.

Initially, Roland and I wondered why the D-Day Memorial would be located in a small town tucked among the Blue Ridge Mountains. But there is a good reason. As a percentage of the population, Bedford had more D-Day casualties than anywhere else.

If you are ever in or near Bedford, make sure you stop and see the D-Day Memorial.

The other WWII site we visited was the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, which is now a museum at Charleston, South Carolina. You can see the flight deck in the third picture.

I'm sure the Yorktown is quite a bit different from the aircraft carrier my son will serve on. But it is impressive as both a miniature city and an airport.

People who have served their country in wartime say that war is hell, and I'm sure they're right. I'm not a pacifist, and I even believe that some wars are ethical obligations. World War II is a good example: Hitler had to be stopped. Still, we should always consider whether war is justifiable under the particular circumstances, because it does have consequences.

That's why it is so important to remember World War II.

A Civil War?

Monday, August 6, 2012

War is never civil, but soldiers can act like gentlemen.

While in Charleston, South Carolina, Roland and I visited two sites dedicated to the War Between the States, commonly known as the Civil War.

This picture shows Fort Sumter. In late 1860, the fort was under construction and unmanned. A small federal garrison was located at nearby Fort Moultrie under the command of Major Robert Anderson.

South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. Six days later Major Anderson moved his forces, by night, from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, which he thought would be easier to defend. South Carolina was outraged and demanded that the federal forces evacuate. They refused.

The Confederates tried persuasion first. It wasn't until April 12, 1861 that Confederate forces began bombarding Fort Sumter with cannonballs, firing the first shots in the Civil War.

Outnumbered and unable to get supplies, Major Anderson surrendered. The victorious Confederates allowed a ship to enter the harbor, load up the federal forces, and take them to New York. A gentlemanly resolution and a civil beginning to a war that would take over 600,000 lives.

Our other Civil War stop in Charleston reminded us of another type of gentlemanly behavior. First, though, here is some background.

The H.L. Hunley is the first known submarine to ever sink a ship. It was nothing like the submarines we are used to, however.

Today's submarines are built for long-term living and extended underwater stays. The Hunley had no place to eat or sleep and could stay underwater for two hours at most before the air supply would give out.

The picture shows a replica of the interior. Eight men sat on a bench and cranked the submarine along. Not a job for someone who was claustrophobic.

The Hunley used a barbed spar with a torpedo attached to the end by a rope. The idea was to ram an enemy ship below the waterline and back the submarine up while releasing the torpedo, which would explode when the submarine was far enough away to be safe. And it worked that way on February 17, 1864, when the Hunley attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic.

But the successful mission had an unsuccessful ending, and the Hunley never resurfaced. Well, not until it was excavated in 2001. What happened is still a mystery, but one theory is that the submarine stayed under too long and the soldiers inside suffocated.

You can find out more about the Hunley at this link: http://www.hunley.org

But what does that have to do with gentlemanly behavior?

The artifacts found in the Hunley included a ring and a broach made of gold and covered with diamonds. The submarine's commander, Lt. George Dixon, had apparently carried them in his pocket. But what they were doing there is another of the mysteries surrounding the Hunley.

Some people believe that Lt. Dixon carried the jewelry for safekeeping. Their owner may have entrusted the ring and broach to Lt. Dixon to keep them out of the hands of Union marauders. If so, the strategy succeeded but the owner still lost.

That's speculation, of course. If true, however, Lt. Dixon's agreement to hold the jewelry was the act of a gentleman.

War is never civil. But individual acts during wartime can be.