Kitty Kolden

Photographing the ordinary,

Society's Outcast… Terry Spinks

Look at the old man; homeless, loveless.  
Watch how he shuffles along in his wretched rags.
He is hungry. I can see that.  
His needs are so few and so real compared to my perceived needs.  
Eyes downcast, society’s outcast - see how he parts the crowd before him like Moses before the Red Sea.  
He is the unseen, yet dominates our peripheral vision.  
He is the unacknowledged, yet the one thing the passing crowd has in common. 
He is the unloved.  
He is a reflection of what we have become. 

The Existentialist by Terry Spinks

Have you ever had a moment in your life when the words of another struck you quite powerfully?    Today, I want to share with you one such  moment. 

To give you a bit of background, the writer's name is Terry Spinks and he is Australian.    As with MANY of my subscribers, I have yet to meet Terry although we have exchanged a message or two aside from my "Kolden Reports".   Below,  (with his permission) is Terry's  response  to  my "Loving Kindness" report sent out last week.    I hope you are as moved by the wisdom in his words, as I am.    Thank you Terry, for sharing a piece of your soul.

Hi Kitty,
  Some beautiful photos in this report.  I'd be hard pressed to choose a favourite.  Perhaps "Light my fire", or maybe "Fly by".  I zoomed in on the bird in Fly by.  To my untrained eyes it looks like it could be an eagle.  And as I regarded it my mind began to wander.  Humans gained so much by climbing down out of the trees, didn't we?  But I think we lost a lot, too.  And for all of our intelligence, and wisdom, I don't know that we are actually capable of appreciating what we traded for self-awareness.  We are constrained by the inhibitions of society - thank goodness!  The thin veneer of civilization seems more weathered and frayed now than ever before.  It seems our own mortality and that of our loved ones is a filter that shapes our decisions as we plod through life.  Not so for birds and animals who happily never heard of Maslow.  Food, shelter, and if the sun is shining - a mate.  I shouldn't ramble, Kitty.  Though for some reason, your bird started a series of thoughts that reminded me of a short little piece I wrote a decade or so ago...

The Existentialist… Terry Spinks

I am surrounded by darkness as I fall headlong back into myself.  
Memories rush by and recede like one-dimensional projections on the walls of my unconscious.  I see who I am and I see who I once was.  
What is the purpose of this journey back through time, back through my time?

Slowing now, the reel nearly rewound.  Memories linger just long enough to tantalize, and to impart some sense of purpose or belonging.  
Almost within my grasp if I can but resist the urge to try and capture it there is a feeling of 'what' and more important, of 'why'.

I am at the first crossroad.  I have come back along the path that I have travelled retracing each step, each experience, and each choice.

The first crossroad; the point at which I have amassed enough experience to make my first decision - shall I stand or shall I fall, will I say "yes" or say "no"?  This is where "I" began.

I am now who I am and where I am as a result of all my decisions.  I am the sum total of my choices.  They have delivered me to this point; this sentence; this full stop.

"I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me."- Herman Hesse, Demain: Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend


The Mountain Can Kill You (or send its ambassador, the bear, to do the job) by Stuart Bruane

You never know where or when inspiration will strike but when it strikes's just there.  I'm sure you can tell when the photographer in me is particularly inspired or when the writer in me is feeling verbose. Tonight,  I am proud to share with you a poem written by Stuart Braune, inspired by The Kolden Report.  Enjoy!

The Mountain Can Kill You

(or send its ambassador, the bear, to do the job)

You know the mountain can kill you

The animals know this and live on the edge

Senses wide open facing a frigid wind.

In the bitter blowing winter we say

“This god forsaken place” - yes

The god of comfort forsakes you

The god of security forsakes you

The god of your fabulous plans for that self-involved dream life forsakes you

Your compass drops from your pocket

Birds scatter your supplies.

Ego climbs with frost-bitten fingers

Loses its grip and falls from a frozen cliff

In death blood-ice expands to crack open this tight little heart

It is said ”Become as a mountain”

Raw and exposed

In full view

Stone-cold (and majestically beautiful)

Open to the vast and unobstructed sky.

-Stuart Braune

Reflections on my Dad: The meaning of “Montana Tough” - by Karyl Rauch

When you’re beat up by something as randomly indiscriminate

 and impersonal as the weather

365 days a year…

you have to be tough,

 mentally and physically, spiritually,

—literally-- to keep on going—

 year after year –


 too much snow,

 not enough snow,

 and fires whipped by 80 mph winds—


 winds like dry hurricanes,

 grasshopper hordes

 and mosquitoes that make

 black fog where you irrigate,

 carrying West Nile 


old equipment

 that costs a fortune to replace or fix,

 and parts all having to be ordered,

 everything you do yourself,

fixing, feeding, planting harvesting,

 branding, driving, driving,

 miles and miles and miles and then--

low prices for the products

 you have extracted from the elements

 despite their best efforts to knock you down..


But you keep coming back,

 year after year after year,

feeding, calving, planting, harvesting,

 fixing fences and old equipment,

 being a good neighbor,

sharing, praying, going to church,

 thanking God,

 as if there were no other life,

 as if none of it was hard,

 as if all of it was pure joy…


As if just to be in Gods creation

 just to see the sun rise once more

 or the northern lights at nite another time


to watch baby pheasants cross the road,

 and wildflowers spring from dry ground –


to witness

 a rotund

 yellow harvest moon

 sliding up off the horizon


while inhaling

smell of sage


were reward enough—


and it was










Dedicated to my Dad,Harold Rauch, and this great state we live in


Karyl Rauch

"Pond scum" - by Stuart Braune

Beauty dissolved in the dank and rank
Complexity hidden in the mush
A mess (we say from high horses).
Yet deeper is your rich mystery
Alive in process and evolution
Wise beyond your (billion) years
The wisdom of the ancients - with no thought.
We young upstarts,
New to this world and top heavy with intellect,
The mush of thinking floating/suffocating our clear depths…
How can we honor these venerable cousins?


Inspiring others.

Other artists are gathering inspiration from my photography.   Paintings, sketches, poems and stories have been shared with me.  I'd like to share some of them with you!

It's here!

 This author, age 8 and a half, wrote his story after seeing my bull snake photos.   Teddy's message is quite powerful and as a result, I'm donating a copy of his now published book to all local elementary schools  and our local library, in hopes that each  student will have the opportunity to hear Teddy's message and hopefully learn from it.    If you'd like to purchase a copy, click "contact" on the menu on the left and fill out the form.  

How Snake Learned to Smile
By Teddy Wells, assisted by Grace Wells
    Once upon a time there was a snake who never smiled. He didn’t have any reason to smile. He always felt glum. He spent most of his time hiding under rocks or in a borrow. Sometimes he heard voices outside and came out to be friendly. But children poked him with sticks or threw rocks at him. Ladies would scream and run away. Men would say, “I hate snakes. Snakes are so ugly and awful.” So Snake started to feel ugly and awful.
    One morning, very early on the prairie, he heard men’s voices. They were talking about finding snakes. Snake hoped that here were some people who liked snakes. So he poked his head out, but what he heard next did not make him feel better.
    A tall man said, “We need just one more snake for our experiments. We can even make a hat band of its skin.” That was when Snake saw the cage the men were holding. He hurried back into his hiding place and didn’t come out again for a whole day. Snake still felt ugly and awful and now he was scared, too.
    When he did come out again things got worse. This time it was different men looking for snakes. Snake was a little more careful now. He watched from behind a rock to see if these men were good. The older man began to explain to the younger man why they needed to catch a snake.
    “We need a nice, big bull snake for the museum. If we could catch one today, I can get it stuffed for the museum over the weekend.” said the older man to the younger one. “Plus we can assemble the bones for a museum display as well.” Now Snake felt sad, scared, ugly and awful.
    Snake crawled deeper into his hiding place. This time he didn’t come out again for two whole days. When he came out, thankfully he saw no one. He hunted for awhile, warmed himself on top of a rock in the sun shine , watched clouds in the sky, listened to song birds on the prairie, smelled the lovely prairie flowers all around him, but he now felt lonely, sad, scared , ugly and awful.
    Just when he thought things could not get even worse, they did. While he slept peacefully in his borrow, something grabbed hold of him. It was a long stick with pinchers on the end. It pulled him from his hole. It held him fast. On the other end of the stick was a mean looking man. The man was laughing cruelly.
“This ugly beast should get us some good money. We’ll sell him to a zoo where he can live in a cage behind a glass window where he can’t scare decent people,” said the mean man.
    “Ah, its just an old bull snake. Who’d want that? We should just squash it right here,” said the skinnier man.
    “No, don’t do it. That dumb guy at the zoo will pay money even for bull snakes.” said the bigger, mean man.
    With a quick flip and a twist of his body Snake managed to free himself . He landed near his borrow and slinked into it and hid for three whole days. He got hungry again though and had to go out to hunt once more. He crawled along as quietly as he could and tried to stay hidden among the grasses. Because he was so hungry and so intent on finding food he didn’t hear footsteps approaching. By the time he heard them a woman was so near he could see his own refection in the camera she was holding. He froze from fear. Before he could get up the courage to slither away, she was pointing her camera at him and talking to him in a sweet voice.
    “Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you,” she promised. “You are such a fine snake. I just want to take some pictures of you. “
    Snake now tried to crawl away when she said in her kind voice, “Please come back. I won’t hurt you. You are such a beauty! Such pretty colors on your back! I will show your picture to all my friends. They will like you.”
    When he heard her words, he felt very happy--for the first time in a long time. Then something happened. He felt a smile starting on his face. He turned and looked right at the lady and really smiled at her just as her camera clicked. He no longer felt sad, lonely, scared, ugly or awful. He felt good about himself and felt like he really was beautiful. Someone liked him. Now he had a reason to smile.



Poetry by Stuart Bruane

 Pothole reflection (#3)

You are nothing Space A void Mist and oil

But when we meet I fill you completely

We are one

Damage done

In that brief moment I can think of nothing but you.

- Pothole reflection (#4)

I am broken

Even Mother’s crystalline fairies Tear at my very skin

I am undone

The mad rushings of men* Bear down upon me

Do not curse me

See… You and I are the same Traveler and traveled

Where do we begin and end

* Note: The pothole reflection series of poems harken to a literary period where gender-inclusive language was not the norm.

 Pothole reflection (#4, numerator b)

We are the same you and I

Do we not both carry the burden Of passing fortunes And mindless progress?

Does not our evolving Expand And yet Empty us?

Is not your heart broken too?

Yet on a clear day After a rain Our wounds reflect the passing clouds

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