Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #108: Sanctuary

This week, our talented and thoughtful guest host, Xenia who blogs at Tranature and Whippet Wisdom, asks us a timely and relevant question:  what does Sanctuary mean to us during this time of an unprecedented global health crisis?  Where have we found a sanctuary or how do we create our place of calm and healing?   In her beautiful post, she highlights images of her sanctuary in the Scottish highlands, so please be sure to visit her site, Tranature.

A sanctuary can be a physical place.  Often it’s a place in the wild or a refuge in nature.  It can also be a home.  As many of you know, Rich and I were full-time travelers before the pandemic.  Given that we had no permanent home, finding a sanctuary was a bit of a problem!  After we canceled our traveled plans, we decided to spend the next few months in Portsmouth, New Hampshire–a city we visited a decade ago, when we lived near the banks of Lake Winnepesaukee.  Since then, Portsmouth has become our home.

Your home is your sanctuary. You need to make it a place you love to be in.~Betty Gabriel

Part of the charm of this small town is its history as a seaport.  Many homes of sea captains and other historic buildings  have been lovingly restored and maintained.

The city is also the site of Strawberry Banke, a historic site with 32 colonial buildings that are over 300 years old.  Here’s one of the historic buildings on Mast Lane.

My parents, and librarians along the way, taught me about the space between words; about the margins, where so many juicy moments of life and spirit and friendship could be found. In a library, you could find miracles and truth and you might find something that would make you laugh so hard that you get shushed, in the friendliest way. There was sanctuary in a library, there is sanctuary now, from the war, from the storms of our family and our own anxious minds. Libraries are like the mountain, or the meadows behind the goat lady’s house: sacred space. ― Anne Lamott

The neighborhoods here have their own character–some by the water, others by the rail line, and still others surround the downtown.  Here, people are friendly.  On our walks, we’ve discovered a number of neighborhood lending libraries set up on front lawns by families who are willing to share their books with others.

Stories are compasses and architecture, we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.~Rebecca Solnit

Since I was small, I have found a sanctuary in books, in words, in writing.  So, as we get settled in our new apartment, I’ve set up a bookcase which holds some of my favorite books, like the one you see here in this photo.  I also have a desk with my notes, reference photos, and computer, where I work on my creative projects.

Like many of you, I’ve also found a sanctuary in nature.  We’re fortunate that Portsmouth has many public gardens.  The flowers in the formal gardens are spectacular.  This summer, we have taken many walks at sunset, so I can capture some of the wonderful blooms–like the ones in the image below.   Nature is a balm, a consolation, a joy.

In the Setting Sun. Prescott Park. Portsmouth, NH

 

During the past few months of the pandemic, we are all searching for sanctuaries from a grim reality that is strange, unique, and incomprehensible even as we live through it.  Fortunately, many of us have continued to create and plumb our imaginations as we struggle to make sense of “the new normal.”   Our creativity has given us an island of tranquility amidst the chaos.  That’s why I join Amy, Tina and Ann-Christine in sincerely thanking you all for being a part of our wonderful LAPC community.

We hope you join us again this week!  Please be sure to link your response to Xenia’s original post here, and use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find your post.  Next week we return to our regular schedule with Amy leading the challenge.

May your week be filled with islands of calm and creativity!

89 replies »

  1. An island of tranquility indeed Patti – well said! Somehow I knew you’d find a wonderful spot to settle and I greatly admire your ability to make any place you land a warm, loving environment. Your images are beautiful as always but I especially like the way you photographed the book and the flowers are gorgeous in the evening light.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Tina! The home was easy this time. It’s compact, but it holds everything we need. I just photographed the book yesterday in the afternoon light. I’m glad you liked that one. And the flowers are amazing…what a treat on our walks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful images Patti and what a blessing that you’ve landed in a wonderful place with lots of character and friendly people in these extraordinary times. Books can offer so much comfort too and I love the way you’ve captured this, both in the image of your own book and the image of the Little Library. Thank you so much for sharing this with us and may you both stay safe and well 🤗💜 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sanctuary is a great choice. Books are a sanctuary for me too, although I don’t think I’d have thought of that. I love the light and colours on the echinaceas.

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    • Hi, Susan. They are wonderful escapes from reality, but at the same time, they connect us to others. A wonderful conundrum! I’m glad you’re a book person too. I’m always up for recommendations, so let me know if you found a wonderful one. And thanks too for the name of the flower!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! Gorgeous. I am particularly fond of that flower photo. I am getting sad animal ads on your page, though, unfortunately. Do you have any control over what ads they put on your page?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Luanne. Wonderful to see you! I hope you’re doing fine amidst the craziness of the virus. Thanks about the flowers. They are absolutely spectacular. As for the ads…I had no idea they were posting ads with sad animals. I don’t have any control over what ads appear, but let me do a little digging with WP. Once again, it’s lovely to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We are ok over here, although a little stressed out! Covid is pretty bad in Arizona right now.
        Yes, it was disorienting to see those. I am kind of used to it, so they were probably targeted for me because of my animal rights stuff, but it was disorienting right after your pretty photos!

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  5. Wonderful post! You found a very beautiful place to be during this time. Your photos make me want to visit there one day. I love the lending library. There are a few of those around the little beach town close to where I live.

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    • Hi, Beth. Thanks for your kind words about my post! I hope you do get to come this way. It’s well worth a visit. NH has a distinct personality. Independent and definitely focused on the outdoors. And then, there are the famous state run liquor stores up and down the state highways! Take care. I hope all’s well.

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  6. What a lovely post Patti. I had no idea you were ‘nomads’ – I could easily live that life but the OH would hate it. He likes his routine and his own space and his guitars too much 😂 I love the book photo – books are a sort of sanctuary for me too I guess, though I have struggled to read very much these past few months. Even as a child I would always have my head in a book! Used to drive my mother crazy and I suppose not dissimilar to the kids today with their heads in some kind of electronic device.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jude. It definitely takes two…in terms of the commitment to that lifestyle. But maybe you can convince him to do it part-time? We travel with one suitcase each, but with backpacks filled with a camera, lenses and of course computers! It’s been a wonderful 2 years and we still want to continue our nomad life when it’s safe to travel again. And as for books, they are a great sanctuary. I hope you return to them. Maybe some light reading? Or a mystery? I re-read “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier, which was a wonderful experience…again!!

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  7. A lovely post. I love the little pop up lending libraries. I have seen them here in a couple of our towns. Also during the lockdown one of the second hand shops left a plastic box of books outside its closed doors where people could take and leave books for free.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that MM. A box of books for people to take on loan. These little libraries are a wonderful idea. I can imagine the fun kids would have with them. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. Very lovely photos! I’m glad you have been able to find a happy place to settle temporarily. …and I too find sanctuary in books. I absolutely love to read! I also discovered one of those tiny libraries on a road tip last year. So cute!! 💚💓 May you be able to get back to your travels soon 🙏🏻

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  9. A lovely journal of your present sanctuary Patti. I am so impressed when I read that you both were full-time travelers. In that case you don’t need unnecessary things in possession and hence less burden. How do you manage being a full time traveller?

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  10. So glad to hear you are enjoy this historical town. I saw a few photos of the beautiful beach. I, too, found a sanctuary in book when I was small. I have been struggling to make sense of “the new normal.” Your beautiful photos and writing have given readers like me a special place of tranquility.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is such a lovely post, Patti. Love the images – all of them, and the book and the flowers are wonderful. So glad you have found a lovely place to stay during these strange times. I feel a bit sad when I think of reading books – which used to be my greatest interest since I was a child. My last years as a teacher wore me out totally, so I have lost the capacity of reading novels. I can only read short stories and facts. Write I can still do though.
    I love that you do evening walks for photography – the light is fabulous. A photographers best!

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    • Hi, A-C. Oh…I’m sad you can’t read novels anymore. Maybe you can listen to them? Audiobooks are wonderful. I’ve enjoyed many books that way, too. I can understand getting worn out by teaching, though. I felt that way too when I taught for many years. And yes…evening light is the best. Early morning is great, too, but I rarely manage to get out early! Take care and stay well.

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      • Well, I have tried listening, but maybe it isn’t my thing. I hope for it getting better in years to come. Thank you for good advice. Stay well you too!

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      • I can listen to them – and read a chapter or two and then come back to it. You know – the female thing about always doing ones best. Too many years. Thank you, Dina, I hope I will get back to the old normal.

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  12. I love your places of sanctuary, Patti. Books and gardens are something we both share in common as I’ve found great solace in both, over the years. I’ve seen a few of those book boxes popping up in our neighborhood too.

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    • Hi, Sue. Thanks! What books are you reading now? I alternate between really light reading and more serious. It’s a good mix, depending on my mood. I even re-read an old Nancy Drew mystery–bringing back my childhood! Take care and stay well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Patti. My collection of books has quite a mix including everything from Dickens to Stephen King. I like mysteries by Dick Francis and also have a few by P.D James and Georges Simenon. Most of the books are fairly old and it’s been a while since I read many of them so it’s almost like reading them for the first time.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Lucky you to be spending the summer in Portsmouth. Prescott Park is beautiful (too bad you are missing the Arts Festival they usually have) – as your flower photo demonstrates. I think Portsmouth is a photographer’s paradise 🙂
    Books too…have you found RiverRun Bookstore yet? It’s a sweet little independent place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s true, OLU. We are lucky! Oh…many thanks for the bookstore recommendation. How’d you guess I love bookstores?? It’s true that a lot of cultural activities have been cancelled, but hopefully we’ll experience them next year. I hope you’re having a wonderful summer, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Patti, I enjoyed seeing your beautiful pictures and learning more about Portsmouth. My husband and I are driving to Wells, ME now to spend a couple of months in our home there. Your blog makes me want to take a few day trips back to Portsmouth and explore more!

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    • Hi, Sylvia. I hope you have a marvelous summer in Wells, ME. How far up the coast is it? You’ve been going there for years, right? It’s great that you have a seasonal place there. It must be great to be in a cooler place for a while. I’m so glad you enjoyed my shots of Portsmouth. It’s very historic and quaint. Take care and stay well!

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      • Hi Patti, know you will have a great summer there, terrific weather until the snow storms start! Wells is on the coast and literally sandwiched between Ogunquit and Kennybunkport. We bought a house on the golf course there eleven years ago. About 30 minutes from downtown Portsmouth on 95. I love going up the coast of Maine, taking pictures! Enjoy your summer!😊

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