Forest for the Trees

Forest for the Trees

worship
adoring reverence or regard

Deference. If asked, “What is your house of worship? Where do you find comfort and solace?”, my answer would be, “The forest.” I have always felt sheltered and present in the woods. Dysphoria melts into mindfulness. I am happily lost in the presence of such grandeur.

enduring
lasting; permanent

Perennial Questions. The strength of root and branch, the ability to bow and give to nature’s force, what is this balance? How does the constant weight of snow, the perpetual force of the wind shape trunk and limb? You are over a century old, will you live another?

root
the fundamental or essential part

Foundation. Root over rock, here my seed alighted and here I must stay. Granite and flora, a stark contrast between the inert and the living – an inspiration to adapt, remain steadfast, to prosper. I am awed by the energy it takes to root oneself.

community
an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location

Collective Ownership. Below the forest canopy, below the forest understory is a vast network of fungal connections known as the mycorrhizal network. These filaments of fungi, growing in amongst the roots, are the interlacing connections that bond each individual tree into an integrated system – transferring information and nutrients back and forth. Point in fact, a dying tree will share its stored supply of food with neighbors. Perhaps a last act of altruism to support the forest community.

path
a way or track laid down for walking or made by continual treading

Succession. There is something special about winding through a wooded area following the footsteps of strangers. The path becomes a metaphor for a journey, a culmination of all who have passed.

mystical
mystic; of or relating to supernatural agencies, affairs, occurrences, etc.

Metamorphosis. The magic of the woods is ever present – forms fading and thrusting forward, some geometric, some anthropomorphic. How can imaginary beings not exist?
I remember as a child, walking home at dusk. As the light faded and the katydids’ and peepers’ rhythmic drone filled my ears, the scrub pines of Cape Cod would transform into gnarled and wicked shapes. I would try to look straight ahead and tell myself not to run, for evil smells fear. Once I was through the woods, I would bolt for safety and the glowing lights of home.

ephemeral
lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory

Fleeting Moments. Left with a nagging sense of responsibility to record the moment, transience has always unnerved me. If not captured, the moment may never have existed. The forest has taught me to slow down and observe. I have learned that the celebration of ephemera is an everlasting practice. And, if you happen to record the moment, that is simply a bonus.

lucent
marked by clarity or translucence

Light. In the woods, I feel transparent.
Not invisible, but in a sense porous,
as if the light could pass through my skin and bones.
Forest shadows reaching toward me,
I half expect, when I turn around,
to see a continuation of their shapes
and not mine.

frame
something composed of parts fitted together and united

Acknowledgment. How noble these trees,
how they display the vista, pulling its
likeness between them into balance.
I return to this spot season after season,
hoping these trees will outlive me,
hoping this frame is never altered.

death
the act of dying; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism

Mortal Wish. When I die, I wish a thousand living things will sprout from my corpse.

 

 

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

“Here Today Gone Tomorrow – The delicate balance of sand, water and life.”

I have been drawn to a thin spit of sand and scrub pine for the past 20 years. The landscape is shaped and re-shaped by storm after storm. Sand dunes, sculpted by the wind and sea, slowly shift, creating an ever-changing mural. The quality of light is otherworldly. Sand, water and weather are the key – high and low pressure fronts change so quickly light becomes ephemera.

The Cape Cod National Seashore comprises a majority of the landmass on the Outer Cape. It is shaped by vast stretches of dunes, bogs, ponds, forests and beaches – all accessible to anyone willing to hike in. The delicate balance of sand and water is a tug of war between the land and the sea. It is a powerful, yet fleetingly beautiful place.

My wife, Ellie, is an impressionist painter. She is a student of the Cape Cod School of Art, established by Charles Webster Hawthorne in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1898. We spend our time together in the dunes and beaches of Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. We hike in and find a spot. Ellie sets up her easel, spending hours on one painting.  As she works, I wander, studying the landscape. This change of pace has taught me to slow down, be patient, have faith in my composition and wait for the light. More often than not, the storm clouds persist, the light stays flat and nondescript. But on occasion, one is given the gift of a moment, the clouds break and the landscape erupts in beauty.

I visit these haunts ritually, photographing and re-photographing the landscape. It is a form of meditation, a cathartic experience where the quality of the light transforms the familiar to the unreal.

As vulnerable as this habitat is, it pushes back against human attempts to protect it. Snow fences, erected to slow the movement of sand and inevitable erosion, are buried and crushed by the constant flow of wind and water.

Concrete piers and stone breakwaters are eventually broken by the tides, washed out to sea or left upended, a relic from the past. These crumbled and submerged forms are a testament to the natural powers that ravage the land.

The forces of nature are hard in the dunes. Flora is stunted and twisted, a wonderful contrast against the windswept sand. Competition between species, the perpetual fight for patches of fertile soil, creates a visual pallet of color and form. Natural boundaries between salt water species and fresh water species forge delineated lines that crash into a swirling patchwork of hue and texture.

It comes down to water. Frozen water formed the Cape. Glaciers deposited their till, forming the landmass. Water grinds the rock to sand. And water will eventually reclaim this thin spit of land, sucking it back into a dark and hidden tomb. One could say, what the water gives the water will take.

But for today, it’s the water that charges the light, opens the shadows, pushes the weather and gives the gift of this mystical place.

Thank you for taking the time to read and look at my photographs.

To see more of my photos, please visit me on: Instagram | Website.

error: Content is protected !!