Suttree in the woods was surprised to find small flowers still. He fell into silent studies over the delicate loomwork in the moss. Annular forms of lichens fiery green that sprawled across the stones like tiny jade volcanoes. The scalloped fungus that ledged old rotted logs, flangeous mammary growths with a visceral consistency and pale indianpipes in pulpy clusters among the debris of humus and rich decay and mushrooms with serrate and membraneous soffits where under toads are reckoned to siesta. Or elves, he said. In breeks of kingscord, shirts paned up of silk tailings, no color like the rest. A curious light lay in the forest. He was squatting in the rich and murky earth, the blanket about his shoulders. He wondered could you eat the mushrooms, would you die, do you care. He broke one in his hands, frangible, mauvebrown and kidneycolored. He'd forgotten he was hungry.
-- excerpt from Suttree, by novelist Cormac McCarthy
4wd ... no coffee yet ... road block ... pre-dawn ... blur vision
Just before sunrise most mornings, we either hiked or took a 4wd jeep to where we were working on a landcaping project. These sheep greeted us each day somewhere along the road. It's blurry because I was half asleep, not having had my usual cup of coffee that morning.
An oasis of wetness in the surrounding dry desert canyons of Utah ... life is exuburantly concentrated in this pond and it's marshy edge: white egrets, blue herons, koots, red winged blackbirds, wild geese, dragonflies, damselflies, water striders and other insects, spiders, swimming creatues and wriggling water creatures, water boatmen, mosquito larvae and tiny fish, frogs both fully grown and immature tadpoles, deer, fox and bobcat... I saw these or found fresh evidence of these creatures each day I returned to this watery idyll.
Although others come here (note the path through the grasses) I imagine that it is my very own secret meadow because I have never encountered another soul on my many walks through this magical place. Sam (our old dog) and I go here 3 or 4 times a week to explore. There are dozens of deer trails through the grasses and wild rose thickets. Sam leads the way, almost always choosing a different route, sampling the many delicious smells he finds with his nose.
When I first came upon this meadow and forest of dwarf aspens, I literally stopped in my tracks and my mouth dropped open. I sensed something truly unique here. Entering through the dilapidated crooked gate was like stepping into a grand, hushed cathedral -- the place evokes in me the respect, quiet, mystery and honor Nature deserves. I determined on that first visit that I would try to document what it was about this place that touched my heart and spirit so profoundly. I wonder if any of the other people who come to this place have similar feelings. I wonder how long it will remain since it's on the edge of an area that is being re-developed and the old things here are being bulldozed for the new.
Besides the beckoning path, the textures and the shadows here ... the aspens were what stood out to me first: the spirit of this place is embodied and contained in the aspens. They are old, but short and full of character ... in my photographs of the meadow and wood, I have found it next to impossible to convey the stunted growth of these aspens. I have tried to capture their essence, their dwarfish forms with my camera but I don't think I have succeeded.
When I am there in the midst of the odd proportions of these aspens, I clearly see their size and shape relative to my own body. Yet when I see the photos on my hard drive, something essential is missing -- they look almost ordinary. I would be interested in anyone's feedback on this, as I am having a hard time articulating what I want to accomplish with these photos.
... The mesas creak and strain in the frigid air, audible only if I lay my ear to them. The colors in their flanks-terra cotta, blood-red, salmon, vermilion-bear the temperament of iron.
Against the steel-blue sky of a summer monsoon, the ridge bleaches to white. Moonlight blues it, and bright sun turns it pale cream or, if you are making love atop it, blush pink.
From "The Anthropooogy of Turquoise" by Ellen Meloy
We're back from our trip to the desert -- it was so, so, so beautiful there. This photo I took at dawn on the last morning we were there, in a canyon way off the road ... there was no trail, we just headed off the road in the pre-dawn cool and dark and ended up in the best place ever. NO people around but us. Only birds singing, the cool sand on my bare toes and these incredibly glowing firey colors!
Part of my experiment to get to know one special place ... very very well. To capture it's essence with my camera (and maybe with my pen and paper in the near future) as well as to document it's existence before it disappears.
I have been visiting this meadow for over a year, yet I don't have photos of every season. It's quiet, peaceful, solitary -- like the eye of a storm in the midst of urban noise and bluster. I can lie in the grass next to the wooded shadows, on a sunny winter day and be as content as I'll ever be. Or walk quietly exploring with Sam, all the myriad tiny deer trails that crisscross the clearings and track through the aspen groves. It is as if this is a grand cathedral of Nature .... a place favored by the mysteries of life.
The task I have set myself is to explore deeper into the genus-loci of this place, to connect with the spirit of the trees, the grasses, the clearings and downfall ... until it is part of me and I am truly part of the place. One way I can do that it with my photography.