Spring

Today is the spring equinox and as it turns out, my fourth anniversary with WordPress who’s software greeted me with a nice electronic congratulations πŸ™‚ Can’t say I even remember signing up, but four years ago today was exactly nine days before Tricia went into surgery to try to save her spine from the tentacles of the cancer she was so bravely battling. Unfortunately although they called the surgery a success, she never walked again. I don’t even remember blogging the first year of my membership here. Every day consisted of pushing her wheel chair about a mile down to the coffee shop and back. The coffee shop had the only chair on the planet, as far as I know, that she could be comfortable sitting in. The sun would stream into the windows there and that warmth and comfort was about all there was to look forward to. By the next spring she was gone and I was starting life anew… Thinking back that first year alone in the campground was crazy! I’m sure I had plenty to blog about then, perhaps I should go back and read some of my entries πŸ™‚ I remember every weekend through the spring and summer I spent hauling the remnants of our lives together off to an auction house in Denver.

Sangre de Cristo Spring

Sangre de Cristo range on the first day of spring

Today didn’t feel much like spring though, yesterday the windchill was -1 and today the real feel was 10 accompanied by a couple of inches of blowing and stinging snow. That didn’t stop me and Big Dog from making the trek down to the mountain, it was cold but with a couple of inches of fresh snow and some beautiful sunshine it was a splendid day πŸ™‚ The alpenglow was some of the most pronounced that I’ve seen yet, but I shot that yesterday and felt like sleeping in a little today. By the time we got there the view to the west was obscured a bit from blowing snow and haze in the air from the spring snowstorm, but the view of the Sangre de Cristo range was stunning anyway. Although not award winners, the pictures from today are pretty and a good record of the first day of spring for 2018!

Snow on Pikes Peak

Fresh snow on the foothills of Pikes Peak

Was hoping to see some deer out early this morning but no luck with that. I wasn’t paying much attention on the return trail and missed the turnoff which produced a view of the Pikes Peak foothills and some blowing snow off to the east that I haven’t noticed before. Some wispy clouds in the morning sun added to the scene which kind of made the day πŸ™‚ However, plans to get out on my mountain bike were definitely dampened by the wind and snow, maybe next week!

I hope that this spring brings hope and joy to everyone, especially my readers and that all your plans for the warmer weather come to fruition! I know many are struggling with all kinds of issues and it is my fervent prayer that with the onset of the warm sunshine peace and prosperity will seek out and find each and every one of you πŸ™‚

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Solstice 2016

The new year holiday is meaningless to me, based on nothing but someone’s idea of a chronological date indicating an arbitrary division of time developed centuries ago. However, the Winter Solstice is real, something significant in the alignment of stars, planets, the sun and the earth. It is a mark in time that has a profound effect on my life as I squeak out a life here in the mountains of Colorado. It is the day when the hours of light stop becoming shorter, a day when I can count on more time under the beautiful light of the sun even if it is only a few seconds more than the day before. There is something psychological about knowing that the next day will be longer, perhaps warmer and without a doubt a bit lighter. It is also a day we can count on, a day that we can say without a doubt will be a division in time, the day that identifies an exact moment in time where something changes for the better.

Summit-HikerFor me, in two days it will be the new year… a time to reflect on the previous year and look with hope towards a new one. It is also a time to review whether the previous year will be a year in which I will receive the only thing that really matters, the words of the Almighty, β€œWell done good and faithful servant.”. I could not bear to hear the words in my mind… β€œOf him will I be ashamed… ”, speaking of those who were ashamed to speak His Name.

2016 was supposed to be simple, beginning with a trip to REI, my happy place, to invest my yearly dividend on some new bike riding gloves. A year when I was going to prosper, to enjoy life after years of caring for my wife of 25 years as cancer ravaged and eventually destroyed her body. A year that was going to be free from conflict and strife, pain and struggle. A year that began with a great victory, a winter climb to Colorado’s highest peak…

But it was not meant to be so… The war rages on, if not in my life in the lives of others. Early in the year I prayed to the Almighty, let the struggle be over let me just enjoy life now. Fortunately He did not listen to my prayer… the war is not over and neither is my part in it. As I look back it is hard to comprehend that the events in less than 365 days could be confined to just one year. You would have to go back and read all my blogs to gather it all in, but the short story is without my participation it is very possible that two lives and two souls may have been lost. I don’t know for sure, but I hope that as a result of my efforts some suffering may have been averted, a few lives made better and for some there will be new hope and a new chance for a future.

SummitIn spite of the struggles of life, the year also found me in two more of my greatest moments, summiting the three highest peaks in Colorado, counting the winter climb to Mount Elbert my buddies and I also summited Massive and Harvard in the summertime. The west face of Pikes Peak in wintertime has continued to elude us, but also resulted in an experience of a lifetime. Buddy Ralph and I were literally blown over by the strongest wind I have ever experienced… followed by a quick and desperate struggle for survival that will be fuel for stories for years to come! I wish we had some pictures of our frozen faces and beards but the sprint to lower elevations didn’t allow for time for that. However, now when we see the snow blowing a thousand feet in the air over the top of the Peak we can look at each other knowingly… well aware of what life is like on the Peak when that happens!

mariah-steve-summitThe year also yielded another first… my first drive to the summit of Pikes Peak on the Pikes Peak Highway. Barely squeaked that one in on a work day with my friend and co-worker Mariah. A beautiful day down at the base of the Peak was followed by a very cold and windy visit to the summit, but for sure it was a day I will never forget!

But the end of this year finds me tired, injured, and in doubt for my own future. For the next year I must depend on the blessed words of scripture, β€œBut without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”. I have to know that my efforts this year on behalf of others will not go unrewarded, and that β€œFor I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”. I have to know that He is watching over me and that there are plans for my life that I am not yet aware of. This year saw the demise of the news company I was writing for as well as any hope for a future with my main photo agency iStock / Getty. I have begun anew with a fledgling portfolio at a newer agency hosted by well known media giant Adobe, but it is only hope at this point. At this time I am out of pictures to upload, out of ideas for new ones and left praying for ideas.

For the new year, I am devoid of ideas for my own plans… spiritually drained and wondering how to start over yet again, but I am confident that the Author of the Future is not taken by surprise, not discouraged and not deterred. I go into the new year knowing that the Blessed Hope has plans I don’t know about and that my best days are before me and not behind… Knowing in my spirit that the next year will be a better year than the last.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Order

Sitting here at Starbuck’s in Englewood passing the time until lunch and thinking about how far I’ve come since that fateful day last March. I am amazed at how many things had fallen into disrepair and neglect from the battle we were forced to fight against Tricia’s cancer. Almost three months have gone by and I am now starting to see some semblance of order taking shape. Both my vehicles are maintained and in working order again, most of the move and cleanup are behind me, physical strength returning to these old muscles and my stock photography work is proceeding full steam ahead with almost 500 images added this spring.

A new normal is emerging as I build a life for myself that doesn’t include space for a spouse. I have noticed a subtle change in the way I think of her as I go about my new daily routine. At first everything I did that reminded me of her just hurt but now I don’t think of her all the time while I am doing my new things. Now I actually like to take some time out and go somewhere or do something we used to do together just because it makes me feel close to her again. Close without the pain. Kind of a peaceful reconciliation I guess I would call it.

Kayaker

Kayaker competing in FIBark 2015

I have somehow found the strength to start doing some of the things that I have been meaning to do for many years, like photograph the Garden of the Gods 10M race and go to FIBark in Salida. I am starting to feel less like an unemployed nurse and more like a photographer again. And today, up here in Denver, I am just enjoying being in a place that I called home for over 30 years. Lunch with Dennis today will be at one of our old favorite places on Santa Fe, the Platte River Grille. Haven’t been there in probably 10 years and am looking forward to having a burger on the patio under the amazing blue Colorado sky on this beautiful summer day.

Writer’s Block

I have heard of Writer’s Block… a situation where a writer cannot seem to write anymore for some unknown reason. I have had some Writer’s Block lately, but I know the reason. I know what I am supposed to write, I just don’t want to do it. So I guess if I’m going to get past here I’m going to have to write it. The last couple of trips to Denver have been very depressing. There is a particular intersection that Tricia and I encountered hundreds of times, usually on our way back from a day of errands or projects. Santa Fe is a main artery out of the city and parts further north and is where we would make the turn to the east for the home stretch on the highway. My last couple of trips to Denver brought me to that place and for some reason as I sat there waiting for the light I was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of memories. Memories of our twenty years together in that place. Memories of return trips from the antique malls up north, of holiday shopping in Littleton and of the Christmas store on Santa Fe. Memories of DJ gigs in that part of town, of trips to Southwest Plaza, Chatfield and Waterton Canyon. Memories of trips to the thrift stores to hunt for treasures in the piles of rubble dumped on the shelves. Romano’s was our favorite restaurant in the whole world, a little place just off of Littleton Blvd. and how I have missed it since we moved away. And of course there are good feelings of the financial security and good health we enjoyed while we were there. We had friends and co-workers, there were company parties, church functions and a sense of belonging. There were also calls from work, people with questions, problems to solve, and a feeling of being needed. I had other things I wanted to do this week while I was in the Denver, but the pain I felt sitting at that intersection was too unbearable. So I just headed straight down Santa Fe past C-470 where it becomes Highway 85 and a great way to miss all the traffic on the way back to Colorado Springs. I sped away as quickly as I could but the depression remained for days, same thing with this weeks road trip. So I was praying to have the depression lifted and for a way through the impenetrable wall of pain. As usual, the answer came from the Word of God. One word, Egypt, one of the earliest stories in the Old Testament. Of course it is the story of the Ten Commandments. The Hebrews were at first overjoyed as they left 400 years of hard bondage and slavery behind, but soon the heat and desolation of the desert had soured their mood toward the journey to an unknown place. Food and water were in short supply, the days of walking long and hard. They started to murmur, β€œAt least we had food in Egypt.”. They said to Moses, β€œHave you led us into the desert to kill us?”. They had quickly forgotten the pain and merciless toil of life as a slave. And it occurred to me that five years away from there has dulled the memory of the hardship there. I had forgotten the torture it was to sit in a cubicle for eight, nine, ten and even more hours of mind numbing tedium. Forgotten were the one hour commutes morning and night in heavy traffic, driving to work in the dark in the morning and coming back in the dark at night. Forgotten were car accidents caused by too many trips and too many cars on the roads. And of course there were the ever present problems with the old house which we not so affectionately called the Money Pit after the Tom Hanks and Shelly Long movie. I had also forgotten the rage and hatred I fostered towards a nit picking homeowner’s association manned by busy bodies with nothing better to do than spend their days trying to find ways to torment people. Forgotten was the dismay when we discovered that the landing pattern for DIA was right over our house. Forgotten was the road past the lake that turned our street into a thoroughfare for delivery trucks on their way to other towns, turning our quiet little street into a roaring truck route where deer and dogs and cats were routinely run down by careless mentally challenged delivery drivers. I had forgotten the heartbreak we experienced when they cut down the forest where we loved to go snowshoeing in order to clear the way for the mansions they wanted to build. Forgotten were the anger I felt when the bosses would make the announcement that profits were too low for raises this time, and the next time and the next. It was then that I remembered how much we hated the place and how we had tried for so long to find a way out. Our hatred for the city is what drove us to try all the businesses, to find something that could sustain us somewhere else so that we would have the confidence to make the break. And we did finally make the break to our new start here in the mountains. Of course life in the mountains comes with it’s own set of hardships, but they are just problems to solve not the insidious spirit crushing stress of city life that has no beginning, end or identifiable solution. Sometimes we need to take a step back and recognize that God knows to take care of His own. He had been telling us for a long time to get out but instead of obeying immediately we tried to work every detail. When this is done or that is done, or this amount of money comes in, then we will go. Perhaps if we had gone sooner Tricia wouldn’t have gotten the cancer. In any case, the place is my Egypt and I am certain that the flood of memories I experience the next time I’m there will only serve to remind me that I don’t miss that life at all, and of how happy I am to be living in the mountains. There is a saying up here, β€œIf you are lucky enough to live in the mountains, you are lucky enough.”. I agree and I hope that this writing helps anyone out there reading this who is missing their β€œEgypt”.

Dreams

Today’s sorting through the chaos of the last few years was a journey through the dreams we had together. Tricia was always up for some new venture and we tried a lot of them! And as I was combing the cottage looking for things I would need I ran across remnants of all of them.

Tricia running her sound mixer

Tricia running her sound mixer

There was the wedding photography business in the early 90’s memorialized by boxes of prints, glossy previews and piles of negatives. I found office supplies, flyers and advertisements for the photo studio that we ran in Denver for awhile. There are CD’s, costumes and props from the mobile DJ service we tried in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I loved that business and will never forget some of the beautiful parties that we had the privilege of MCing. She was so beautiful all dressed up in character for the sock hops, the disco parties, and in her tuxes for the weddings. The house is filled with trinkets left behind from our attempts at the collectibles business. I can still remember her scurrying around the house packing sold items and running off with armloads of stuff to take to the post office. Don’t miss the days of dealing with the post office and once when they lost something Tricia furiously told the postmaster that she was going to sue the post office, to which he sanctimoniously informed her, “You can’t sue us… we’re the federal government!”.

We came to Woodland Park filled with hope when we found a commercial property for an antique store. I think she would have succeeded if the cancer had not begun to take it’s toll. But it didn’t work out and we turned our minds to retirement. She dreamed of parking our camper trailer by a stream and going fishing, something she had never done. She excitedly asked me, do you know how to fish? I had to laugh since my dad worked for Berkeley Fishing Company his whole life and I was probably fishing before I could walk πŸ™‚ Her idea sounded fine to me and I hoped we would get the chance. Today as I was digging through the past I was saddened when I found my rod and reel stashed in a corner, knowing that she would never get the chance to try it out.

Fishing on Crystal Creek Reservoir

Fishing on Crystal Creek Reservoir

On the other hand, what would heaven be without some pristine streams filled with trout, or mountains and the smell of pine trees? I will see her again there and maybe she will be fishing, accompanied by wolves, bears and our beloved dogs and cats that have already made the journey. As for me, the dreams have not died and I will carry on. She would have wanted me to.

The Road Ahead

Day three of radiation therapy. Can’t see any improvement yet, but she needed less pain medication yesterday so that is a good sign. Three down and seven to go. The beauty of autumn is quickly passing as the wind and the hail are taking their toll on the brittle golden leaves. The mountains will be barren until they take on a fresh mantle of white that comes with the cold of winter. Meanwhile I am given some time in the waiting room to reflect and look ahead.

In the ebb and flow of the photography business I’ve had to change focus many times and these times are no different. Many years ago wedding and portrait photography were abandoned for stock photography which more suited my desire for the peace and solitude of the wilderness. Stock photography has had it’s ups and downs as well and adjustments have been made there too. In the early days of digital stock, such simple subjects as solitary trees and isolated fruit sold like hotcakes and life was easy. However it wasn’t long before word got out and cameras got better. The picture world has become flooded with imagery and it has become more and more difficult to stand out and make consistent sales. Agencies have experimented and made improvements and mistakes. By the end of the Y2K decade I was finding nature photography and the Royalty Free model to be on the wane so in 2008 I concentrated almost exclusively on sports photography and the Rights Managed license model, giving up my exclusive crown at iStock and having my most prolific year ever at the Alamy Agency.

Then came the Getty acquisition of iStockPhoto and with it some great benefits for exclusive photographers. Such cool opportunities that I had to backtrack and get the crown back. It has been a great ride since then but I sense the tide beginning to change again. Upload limits at iStock have been removed and the ensuing massive influx of imagery has once again cut deeply into contributor profit.

Lead-Pack

So in late 2014 I am considering another major change in focus. For me the pendulum has swung back to producing more exclusive editorial imagery and reportage. So to begin my move forward I will be looking back to the beginning of the year at the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series. The rest of my time in the Radiotherapy waiting room will be spent scouring the year’s events for suitable editorial images for my Rights Managed portfolio on the Alamy agency. However I will never tire of the solitude of the woods and the communion with wildlife and nature high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.