Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #84: Narrow

It costs a man just as much or even more to go to hell than to come to heaven. Narrow, exceedingly narrow is the way to perdition! ― Soren Kierkegaard

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, our world traveler, Amy, asks what “narrow” means to us.  OK, Amy.  I’m ready!

Eliza’s House, Middleton Place, Charleston, S.C.

Earlier in the week, we toured a beautiful southern plantation with magnificent gardens and manor house, belonging to the prosperous and influential Middleton family from the early Colonial years through the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the decades that followed.  The site also contains outbuildings, where their slaves lived, prayed and worked for generations.

On our tour, the docent reminded us that slavery was the economic engine that made fortunes for some and created misery for millions of others. Here you can see a bedroom in a freed slaves’ cabin–a simple 2-room home with a raised floor, a stove, and a porch–which was considered a “step up” from the traditional slaves quarters.  This house was named after its last occupant, Eliza Leach (1891-1986), who worked at Middleton Place for more than 40 years.

Those Amazing Eyes

We had the good fortunate to see a barn owl this weekend at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston.  I was struck by the beauty of this loved British bird with its distinctive markings shaped in a white heart.  Its eyes are small and fixed, no more than narrow slits, and they have no peripheral vision.  Even so, the owl has spectacular sight because its head can rotate 360 degrees and its retina is very sensitive, allowing it to hunt in very low light.

A Quiet Canal, Venice

Last year, we made a quick trip to Venice, which we had last visited decades before.  We were saddened by its faded glory and the effects of time, tide and tourism, which has battered the city.  This photo of a narrow canal with a few spots of bright color reminds me of that moment.

A Narrow Path On the Walk from Bray to Graystones, Ireland

Last year in Ireland, we took a long hike from Bray to Graystones, not far from Dublin.  The trail hugs the cliffs overlooking the Irish Sea for miles, but near the end of the walk, the path flattens and opens up to a large field.  Here you can see the narrow dirt trail leading to the town in the distance.

View of the Torre del Mangia, Siena, Italy

My last image encapsulates a recent visit to Siena, Italy.

View of the Torre del Mangia, Siena, Italy

As we walked down the narrow Via Salicotto, we spotted the famous Torre del Mangia in the distance.  This slim tower built from red brick and white travertine soars 102 meters over the Piazza del Campo.   At the bottom of the photo, you can see some of the crowds gathered to view one of the prettiest squares in all of Tuscany.

This reminds me of another meaning of the word “narrow,” which is reflected in the opening quote by the philosopher Kierkegaard.  In the figurative sense, “narrow” can also describe a limited mindset–something that I am very aware of as we travel.  I try to keep an open mind to new cultures, new places, and new traditions,  and try not to fall into the trap of vanity tourists who want to check off famous spots on their itinerary, but view the world from their own limited perspective.

In the case of the Torre del Mangia, I had to smile when I learned that the tower reportedly gets its name “The Tower of Eating” from its first bell ringer Giovanni di Balduccio, nicknamed Mangiaguadagni. His name combines the Italian words mangiare (to eat) and guadagni (earnings) because he had the reputation of “eating through his earnings.”

As I end my post, I’d like to give a special thanks to Amy of The World is A Book for hosting this week’s intriguing “Narrow” challenge.  If you haven’t stopped by her site, I encourage you to see her beautiful images from her travels.  I’m looking forward to seeing your wonderful, creative responses to her challenge.

For the rest of February, our weekly Lens-Artists Photo Challenge schedule will be:

As always, Amy, Tina, Ann-Christine, and I sincerely thank you for your support.  Have an inspiring week!

84 replies »

  1. Yay Patti, I see you made it to the plantation. I have very nearly the same image as I too was struck by the way it brought home such a sad part of our history. Loved your interpretation this week and especially your beautiful owl. As for Venice, I tend to agree with you. When we were there it was not at all what I imagined and I found myself very disappointed. I’m thinking it’s even worse now as it’s been a few years. Terrific post as always

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    • Hi, Tina. Yes, we made it! I was very moved by the contrast between the wealthy landowners and the slaves. Seeing it on one site was very powerful. Thanks for your kind words about the shots, too. The owl was great! What a great face! And it’s so sad about Venice. It is getting worse. Very sad.

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  2. Beautiful images and wise words for the narrow theme. The capture of the owl, Wow!! I didn’t know that the owl can rotate its head 360 degrees. I love Siena! Some years ago, we watch their annual medieval parade, people from seven towns participated. 🙂

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    • Hi, Lily. It was fascinating to see the cabin and realize that it was nicer than the slaves’ cabins. Unfortunately the original slaves homes were burned down, but we may be able to see others while we’re here in S.C. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  3. All gorgeous, Patti! As always! I chime in regarding Venice too…sad. And the owl – a really great image from up close. A fantastic bird – just look at the patterns of the feathers!

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    • It was funny, Jackie. When I was posting the shot of the owl, I was thinking you’d enjoy it!! I’m so glad you stopped by! Its colors, feathers, features were striking and beautiful. I hope all’s well with you!

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      • The window and gauzy curtain is striking and adds much warmth to the scene. Much earlier or later in the day it would have likely been so different. I think you visited at just the right time of day to capture the mood. Best, Babsje

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      • Thank you, Babsje. It was a good time to shoot the room. What a sad and peaceful place!! I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be both of them at the same time!!

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    • Hi, Jane. Thank you! I was amazed at the feathering of the owl and its eyes. Siena was a lucky find in my archives. I always love the story about the “tower of eating!” It’s so iconic! Thanks so much for stopping by, Jane. 🙂 🙂

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    • Hi, Siobhan. Yes, it is a very sad story. I really don’t think we’ve come to terms with our past and slavery in particular. I could almost “feel” the sadness in that room. And I keep thinking that Eliza lived there until 1986!

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  4. Lovely photos, Patti. The cabin reminds me of some of the early settler homes in NZ, often 1 room with a fireplace, a bed, a chair and a table. Interesting it was still in use so recently but having spent some years in a similar living situation, I can say that you don’t need much more in a house.

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