Northumberland county

I believe it is fair to say that my first source of blogging inspiration was derived from the work of photographer Kathleen Connally which you may view at a  A Walk Through Durham Township Pennsylvania. A quick review of my archive shows that, after something of a false start in March of 2011, posts began to accumulate here in earnest in January of 2012. I remember wondering, at the time, what exactly a blogger was supposed to do. I had just taken up photography again, after a hiatus of more than 30 years, and didn’t feel my photos were ready to stand alone. I have never fancied myself a writer and didn’t feel my words were ready to stand alone. My solution, as you have seen over the last three years, has been to do a bit of both. A Walk Through Durham Township Pennsylvania speaks, although not always in words, volumes about that place. Whether Connally’s images depict harvest, farm animals, or the simple beauty of a rural landscape, her work has an honesty that I like. It is uncluttered and tells stories of the places and people she loves best. That is what I have wanted of my own contributions. As I look back over these years of work I can see that sometimes it’s been about the picture, sometimes it’s been about the words, while all the time it’s been about this life within which I find myself. Sometimes my words are directed toward a specific object while other times they are cast broadly in the hopes of snagging some elusive thread. The last few weeks have been trying at work and the farm has found the transition to winter a bit bumpy. The combination has limited my opportunity to be out with the camera, and so I was pleased to have a couple of hours to wander as Joanna met with her sheep-to-shawl team on Sunday. The group last practiced two weeks ago and it was then that I had driven past an Amish holding. I slowed to view the steers in the front yard, an active windmill in the back, and shocks of corn in the fields behind. There was no one home. I would have loved to poke about in their absence, but resisted the temptation to do so. This time, when I drove past, I saw children playing in the front yard. I pulled in and knocked on the door. A young woman answered and I asked if it would be alright to walk out back to take a look at the corn shocks. I remarked on how she might think that an unusual request and explained that I was a photographer. She said that the shocks belonged to the neighbor and added that she was sure he wouldn’t mind if I took a look. She was very kind and in possession of a beautiful smile. So, off I went. It was windy, and the field was muddy, but I got my picture. Although many Amish use automated corn pickers, a few still produce shocks, an old tradition indeed. After removing a quantity of mud from my shoes I ventured back to Wayne’s and ducked into the barn. Shafts of light illuminated the dim interior. The wheel rake caught my eye. I liked the way it had been positioned for its long, winter, rest. Soon, it will be brought out into the warmth of June, greased and oiled, and put back to work. So in the same way that Kathleen Connally has treated me to views of her little corner of the world, I do the same for mine, and for you.Apple1
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27 thoughts on “Northumberland county

  1. Thank you for sharing your world with us. I had to look up both ‘corn shocks’ and ‘wheel rakes’ to gain greater understanding. I have not seen these before. I don’t think we have corn shocks in Australia. Is Wayne’s wife running the farm on her own now? Sounds like a really big job.

    1. Hi again Tree Girl … yes, Wayne’s wife has taken on the responsibility of running the farm. She worked to bring in last season’s crops (corn and soybeans) while holding down her ‘real’ job as well as taking care of herself and her extended family. She’s a force of nature and a strong woman, to be sure. D

      1. I appreciate and admire the wisdom and thoughtfulness that you put into your photos and your words.

        You remind us of the hardship, rhythm, and beauty of a life on the land.

    1. Thanks so much Darwinontherocks … I promise to swing by beauifuliceland today but I’m afraid if I do that I’ll develop a bad case of scenery-envy. Iceland is such a beautiful place … and we here in Pennsylvania have been plagued by clouds and dull weather for what seems like a month! I’ve been meaning to report that I did purchase the 16-35 and was out with it for a test-drive yesterday … first images to be posted shortly! D

  2. A very interesting contrast – I looked at the images for quite a time before reading the post, and I figured these are “art from the field” versus “machinery art”. The beauty of natural structures versus technical ones really seems to be a specialty of yours. (And I enjoyed the first posts you have linked to 🙂 )

    1. Perhaps that will be the title of the coffee-table book that I could publish, someday … “Art, from field and machinery.” Thanks for the commenting on the older posts as well … a bit embarrassing at this point but they do allow notice of something of an evolutionary trend (for the better, I hope). D

  3. That wheel rake (I’d never heard of such an implement) immediately reminded me of Art Nouveau sculptures and carvings, especially as the green provided an extra connection to nature.

  4. It looked a little cold; a fine day to get to walk around and explore. Nice to see you found and shared two things that I was – until now – unaware of. Lovely pictures. I love how you show things; they’re never ‘ordinary.’ That, of course, makes them extraordinary!

  5. I am struck by the strong diagonals of both images, and of the sense of the powerfully swirling roll of time moving across the year, and the solar system.

    1. Thanks for these observations that obviously required you to take a few steps back. When you eventually teach a course in art appreciation please let me know. I’d love to spend a semester, sitting around a table with lots of available coffee, commenting on various works of art. The medium is no matter. We can trade observations back and forth, read between the lines, and even talk nonsense of we wish. Doesn’t that sound like fun? D

      1. Let’s sign up for something online and annoy the hell out of the instructor! We can be pretentious together 🙂 I can’t escape the feeling that the corn shock is huge swirling storm of a galaxy against the calm backdrop of the universe. That lovely serene empty scene, with this swirling dervish in the foreground. And the John Deere nebula in the second image 🙂

  6. Those corn shocks look like they take a lot of work and strength to build! Something so structurally interesting from remnants! I’m assuming you touched up the color on the wheel rake It looks so bright and clean! You have a knack for making ordinary farming equipment look like art! I am always amazed at the quality of the prose in your blogs. English and writing were never my forte … still aren’t. Your writing is easy to understand and you choose your words wisely. When you add in your images, it really is a full experience. It’s not easy to come up with fresh images and prose on a regular basis. You make it look easy. The sign of talent.

    1. Kind of you to say so. As I explained in my post, I see myself as doing neither tasks very well … and I hope that the combination works tolerably well. I enjoy both the photography and the writing quite well. I just wish I could make something of a living at it. I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw a long, long time ago … when the world of gaming was just beginning to grow – big. I remember a cartoon which depicted a grade schooler sitting at a computer monitor and his parents commenting that he was going to drop out of school to become a full-time gamer. Somehow I don’t think there’s money in blogging … at least the sort that I do. Oh well. I suppose I’ll have to keep going to school semester-after-semester-after-semester. I remarked to some students just this week that they are lucky, for they eventually get to graduate. I have no possibility of doing the same in the near future at least. Thanks for the supportive pat on the back. D

  7. I like that you have shown the silo in the distance behind the shock. The wheel rake is both interesting and scary. I bet that thing would hurt if one was not careful. You statement about not being much of a writer is funny as I feel the same way about my meager efforts and … I look to yours as an example of where I might go if I work at it a bit. Every time you post about farm life, whether it is the machinery or the work required to produce food, I am that much more informed. Same goes for your science writing.

    1. How kind of you to say so. I think the same can be said about your photographic technique and post-processing skills. I look at your capacities as something of a standard to pursue … that is why you find me asking questions about technique. I would certainly downplay the significance of my writing for it is very much like the way I view the relationship between the disciplines of biology and chemistry. Students are always asking, ‘If I want to go to medical school … should I be a chemistry major or a biology major?’ I often tell them that Chemistry is tough … the Biology will follow. In that same way … the photography is the tough thing … the writing will follow. I wish my images were keeping apace with the writing. D

  8. I’ve somehow never noticed corn shocks before … so then is the idea that it hopefully won’t rain much once they’ve been piled and until they can be put up?

    1. Yup … it’s a way to keep the majority of the harvest dry. The shocks are either harvested as they are needed … or until they are all put up (as you suggest). I think they are mostly used as needed. The ears are removed, de-husked, and either fed cob-and-all or deshelled and then fed as is or ground for chop. The husks and stalks are chopped and can be fed as well or used as bedding. Waste-not-want-not. Putting shocks up in this way is done by hand and is lots of work which is why many Amish have adopted the use of the corn picker. Discarded stalks can then be run through with a baler to make a nice supply of bedding or chopped as forage. There aren’t many who put up shocks in our area. I could guess that they are more common down south, near Lancaster. They are pretty though, set out in nice-straight-rows. D

    1. Again Charlie … you’ve managed to say just what I was hoping to hear. If your observations are genuine, then I’m really on to something … at least as far as the development of my artistic ‘eye’ is concerned. And, that is very good news to me. It’s tough making those determinations from the inside. Outside, and detached, observations are what really matter. Thanks for the pat-on-the-back. D

  9. Love the clarity, the shapes, the color and the balance of your compositions. They all work together to inspire the imagination. I especially admire your writing. It is honest and deeply felt.

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