mollyreesphoto mollyreesphoto

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Molly Menschel  recent work and writing at

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Sitting outside the open kitchen door at the onset of evening. The light from the kitchen window catches on a ribbon, a remnant from the last baby shower, as it dances in the wind. The wind, arriving first before the thunder and the rain - whipping through the yard. The young poplars almost bending to the ground then springing back as if in joyful defiance to the coming storm. They know, perhaps, the depth of their own roots and the sinew of their own form, how much their branches can give and if they were rigid, how they would break.
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I am nursing Julian in the old velvet rocker on the front porch until it starts to flood. Which it always does. I am picking up all the doormats as the rivulets of water rush in towards each other across the dusty cement. Julian has crawled outside to the line where the rain begins, is covering an old paperback book with dirt.
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How are we the same as the trees? How am I deepening my roots, practicing my flexibility? Sometimes it takes a force larger than yourself to feel whole again. Who can say that a spiritual life is not important if they have sat at the edge of a storm and watched the trees in the wind.

I always loved taking pictures, but this is the photo I took that made me want to be a photographer. I was visiting my friend up in the mountains and she let me try out her camera (I didn’t have a dslr yet). I took this photo of her husband and daughter, and I remember feeling this strange excitement when I clicked the shutter, like I knew I had caught something special. When I looked at the photo later I knew I wanted to make more photos like this. I didn’t know much about photography, or anything about this rich community of documentary family photographers who I am so grateful for today. The idea of being a “real” photographer felt like something so far away that I could only daydream about it. I had just had my second baby and was about to go back to work as a waitress. But I had this crazy idea, that I actually had more to offer the world than bringing people plates of prime rib - and that maybe I could get paid to do something creative that I loved. So I scrabbled together a hodgepodge portfolio of photos I’d taken of my kids with point-and-shoot cameras and I answered an ad looking for newborn photographers at a local hospital. And by some miracle, this girl got hired. It felt like I was taking a huge leap, but that moment has led to so many good things. I’m trying to remember to live my life like that now. I still feel like I don’t know enough, have enough experience or am worth enough to do half of the things that I want to do, but I’m remembering that all you need to do to make things happen is take the first step.

portrait of my brother-in-law on easter

on how to feel aIive
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It is 13 degrees outside and the sun is burning through the morning mist that hovers over route 36 where it leads out of town. It is January. In another lifetime I am unzipping a tent door to a swath of white on a mountain pass and melting a pot of snow. Pumping a camp stove that belonged to a youthful version of myself who understood that there were many ways to live.
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In this lifetime I am driving into Denver early on a Saturday with the heater on full blast and all the windows down. This may be as close as I come today to nature’s inexplicable beauty. The frost brushed on trees, everything an opal radiance. And even this is enough to remind my soul of all the neglected ways a person might feel alive:
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Wake up early, hair wet from the shower. Throw on a heavy jacket and step into the freezing world to roll the trashcan to the curb.
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Drive when no-one else is on the road.
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Give people gifts.
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Go without sleep until your entire body is tingling with exhaustion and when night comes, share your pillow with that tired, drunken mind. Wandering in and out of brightly lit rooms, unfolding memories as if they are taking place all around you.
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The moon in the dark and a summer lake underneath the moon. Your face, breaking up from the smooth surface into the moonlight. Suspended in the warm layer of water closest to the sky, an abyss of shadows beneath you. That stillness that these days is so impossible to find.
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