Inside and out

I enjoy capturing images of abandoned structures. I enjoy capturing images of them in ways which juxtapose their interiors and exteriors. My inclination is to process these using selective desaturation as a way of enhancing the contrast between these two spaces. Maybe this helps to emphasize the difference between that which we cannot know, the history of the structure, and the realities of the current moment. Click any image in the gallery to see each in a carousel.

A matter of degree

View to the east

Route 88, eastbound, near Worcester.


Portrait ..

On swimming and a fear of heights

She begins her swim by walking straight into the water. She moves with determination and does not hesitate. Her walk ends when she is afloat. Her skin senses the dramatic differential in temperature. Her practice reduces peripheral blood flow quickly. Her skin cools, and the unpleasant sensation attenuates as the differential is reduced. She is comfortable within a short time.

I begin my swim by walking into the water to my ankles. I pause to get used to the unpleasant sensation of cold. I proceed to my knees and pause. The water stings as I walk to my waist. I stand high on my toes and retreat when waves splash onto my chest. Cycles of advance and retreat continue as I inch toward her. The cold bites with each step. Rather than allowing time for equilibration, my habit postpones it. The seemingly unending advance continues until I am standing with water just-below-the-chin. It is excruciating. By the time I begin my swim, hers is complete.

She argues that her habit makes more sense. Surely she is correct.

Neither of us managed more than two flights the first time so we made our way there again. The skies were clear and river mists remained. Up we climbed, hands to the rails. We stepped directly, and with determination. We did not hesitate. Within a few minutes we were there. We are glad to have conquered that which kept us from enjoying the view.


1° of separation

We visited an exhibition of works by Childe Hassam; it was pleasant enough. The lighting was soft and canvases were spaced widely about the gallery. There were Kennedy rockers; an audio track of gulls and of breaking waves played quietly. Forty works were on display; a few showed colorful sunsets and the balance rendered the rugged coast of Appledore Island, Maine.

I was disappointed by the exhibit for it failed to present the range of Hassam’s Appledore work and ignored his signature canvases (for example The South Ledges, Appledore). Moreover, not one of the gallery pieces showed either Hassam’s well known and accomplished patroness, Celia Thaxter, or her famous island garden (see Isles of Shoals Garden and In the Garden I).

Although disappointed, I was glad for the opportunity to have seen, for myself and at satisfyingly close range, the work of an artist I much admire. By close examination of several canvases I like to think I could see the artist at work; and by that I do not mean that I could see him, in my mind’s eye, sitting at an easel by the seashore. What I mean is that, if I looked closely at the medium, the very paint itself, I believe I could see evidence of Hassam’s own thoughts. Bristle traces told of forceful movements in some areas and of delicate strokes in others. Could thought and emotion be inferred in the varied topography of colored emulsion? I like to think so.

S. J. Gould once wrote The real and the replica are effectively alike in all but our abstract knowledge of authenticity, yet we feel awe in the presence of bone once truly clothed in dinosaur flesh and mere interest in fiberglass of identical appearance. Seeing Hassam’s work was, for me at least, bone once truly clothed in dinosaur flesh.


Simple observance

As we turned she pointed to an enormous fungus, on a tree, at eye level.

My immediate thought was that it was a mezuzah.

In the Jewish tradition the mezuzah is, rather than a talisman or charm, a reminder of God’s presence. It is a small case intended to be placed by the doorpost as a simple observance, a mitzvah. It contains a parchment with words that read … Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you are to be on your hearts. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6). If you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.  I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied (Deuteronomy 11).

I thought the sentiment particularly appropriate, given the environment within which we found ourselves.


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