Mud in your eye: beauty hiding in plain sight

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, January 25, 2018

Seeing wintertime mud on Cochrane vehicles (lower set of images) with the eyes of imagination led to experiencing the mud’s intricate beauty hiding in plain sight (upper set of images). PhotoArt by Warren Harbeck

Our coffee companions are no longer surprised by my celebrations of beauty encountered in unexpected places. An intriguing knot in a trampled-on wooden floor? You’ve read about it here. A raspberry-red ruby found in a drop of jam spilled from a slice of toast? Yup, that, too.

But mud? Really?

More about that after this response to last week’s column on a critical moment during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Writer/historian Ross Lambertson asks: “Are you familiar with the name Vasili Arkhipov? He may have been the one who saved the world.”

And who is Vasili Arkhipov? Ross drew my attention to the Wikipedia article about him: “As second-in-command of the diesel powered submarine B-59” stationed near Cuba, he was the Soviet Navy officer “credited with casting the single vote that prevented a Soviet nuclear strike” during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

So, if one brave person could make the world safer, how about the power of mud to make it more beautiful?

In the accompanying photos are three of my encounters with the beauty of mud. Like most of us, I’m really turned off by winter mud on vehicles, as on the tailgate of a pickup truck (bottom right) – and on my own car (bottom left). Upon closer examination, however, I’ve often been rewarded with stunning beauty.

I’ve celebrated that beauty photographically here (top) by cropping the original images, then increasing contrast and colourizing them. In the case of the mud streaks on the back of the pick-up truck, I also inverted the bright and dark areas to create a “negative” of the image.

Which brings me around to the good-natured toast, “Here’s mud in your eye.” For this week’s column, let’s reword that a bit and raise our cups in a toast to beauty hiding in plain sight: Here’s mud FOR your eye!


© 2018 Warren Harbeck

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