The New Beginning of Darkness

The New Beginning of Darkness, 2018, Archival Digital Print

We turn to winter and the short days and long nights. The rains have been continual from late summer and leaves are layered and matted in wetness now.  Today high winds. It will be a daunting cleanup in the spring but no time to consider that. Instead it is bird seed enough, leaks plugged, getting a heater for the chicken coop, bringing in wood for the fireplace and printing in the studio.

I found the shed skin of my resident snake who lives (I hope) in the walls.  I dread opening a drawer in the flat files and finding him sleeping cozy on my Fabriano or Arches.  He keeps the mice down for which I am grateful.

In this interval after the frenzied election and so much worry, the calm of the time before the snows is a gift.  I continue to be a hermit and see no one.  But on teaching days my train friends are reliable commentators on the state of the world.  Standing there together waiting for the first Amtrak from Albany I cherish their bonhomie, quick wit and insight.  How lucky I am to have found this place in our troubled world!

 

Webs, Connections and Lessons

Tuesday Morning Web, 7.28.15, 2015, Archival Digital Print

This morning as Winter lurks over the hills and the first frost came in the night, I reflected on the nature of our paths. I found this miraculous web in the grass while temporarily living in the Shenandoah Valley during what was the worst period in my life.  This utterly beautiful construction was made by an anonymous spider who invested hours of work in the cause of catching something to eat.  I wondered at the time if the spider was aware of its aesthetic or if it just spun a web because that is what a spider does.   Was it aware of how fragile and perfect this construction was?  We can’t know.  But there it was that damp morning, spectacular in the way it caught the light and turned it to diamonds.   It reminds me now that during dark times we must do what is in us to do.  Maybe someone in our web will have delight and catch diamonds from it.  Nature has lessons if we listen and look.

 

The Eternal Reliability of the Turning

TockTock Free Ranging in the Plant Shed, 2018, Archival Digital Print

There is reassurance in the turning of the wheel and in spite of the things that seem disruptive, each settles in and is absorbed as life continues, the sun rises and travels through the sky and sets in the west only to rise again into our eternity. Maybe not all of eternity but certainly in ours, the life of a mite relative to all time.

My new boy TickTock escaped his crate when I brought him home from a Connecticut farm and is free-ranging in the plant shed.  My confidence in being able to catch any living bird has been challenged by this fast and beautiful boy.  I keep telling him about the six hens who await his morning song and beautiful feathers but TickTock wants none of it.  He’d rather perch and poop on my washing machine.

 

The Artist’s Pleasure

Sunday Morning Convocation, 2018, Archival Digital Print

Photography as a valid member of the Fine Arts has always been problematic. What is there is there which means that the nuance and encapsulated time compression of Painting doesn’t hold the energy of a masterpiece or if it does, not in the same way. Photography is nonetheless a thrilling medium capable of both the outlandish and the sublime. The recent visit to my yard by a Bear set off ideas and potential events.  I was trying to get the feel of a Bruegel.

 

An Unexpected Visitor

 

Feeder, Lawn, Bear, 2018, Archival Digital Print

This huge fellow visited my front lawn on Tuesday morning around nine. He was only interested in bird seed and decimated the feeders. I was sitting on the back porch steps when he arrived in his black-hole black, a darkness I have never seen on an animal before and his huge brown snout. What good luck to see him so close!  After thirty minutes of looking around he wandered away.

 

July 31, 2018

The Back of the Rose at Dusk, 2018, Archival Digital Print

This has been a spectacular week in the Hudson Valley. The endless rains have stopped though it is still moist, the temperatures are comfortable and the foliage lush. Even the young Hawks are less noisy as they learn to hunt on their own. I put the first nest box in with the hens last night.   It was immediately popular.  They know what to do.  I am learning a lot and these new experiences feed my imagination and sense of wonder at the bounty of the world. There’s always too much to do, too little time and without sounding sugary I feel as if I live in an unending transcendental experience.  I do not understand how I got here but know it was destiny not mere chance.

 

Black and White and Tints

The Pond at Dusk, 2018, Archival Digital Print

Tinted photographs have appealed to me since I first tried my hand at making them. I was a child in a family with cameras. Our darkroom was on the third floor of the house, a long climb for me. The fresh prints would come into the dining room after a session (sweltering up there in the summer with no air conditioning) and we’d all look them over. My mother, a trained painter, was the prime mover in coloring them. We had a big set of Marshall’s. Those tiny metal tubes were precious jewels in comparison to the standard tube of paint. I applied the tints with Q-Tips and cotton balls.  My touch was awkward and the process required patience for the subtle effect it produced.  Too much for an eight year-old.

The effect still appeals to me.  Using digital media the work is done with the software.  Taken yesterday, the pond in the waning late light of early evening — I write “magical” too much — but it was just that.  This moment needed that haze of green accompanying the black and white underneath.

Hen’s Delight

Fresh Local Corn with a Side of Polenta, 2018, Archival Digital Print

The girls are eager for fresh corn; not so much about cooked polenta. I try various foods to see what they prefer.  It’s clear. They see the corn arrive with me and start making happy sounds — not clucks but other little sounds of pleasure in their throats.  Watermelon is a second on their goodie list.

 

The heat has broken

The Front Porch, 2018, Archival Digital Print

and last night we had soft rains which freshened the air and made everything glisten this morning. I like to the watch the vines take over and cover everything especially the chair on the left which is almost unseen now covered in lush vines and flowers.  It is a good time to read Somerset Maugham’s short stories of the tropics and savor the generosity of Nature.