Sometimes I drive or walk for hours to find the scenes I photograph. Usually, I have no idea where I will go, but I know it must be someplace where not very many people spend time. It has to be a place where the persistent loneliness that has become my consort emerges as a way of seeing what is beyond me, especially what is beyond me that is alone, too.
Inanimate structures begin to speak, to tell stories; trees that are nothing but curious intrusions to passers-by become the unassuming grace of stark landscapes; fields of majestic wind turbines become towering dancers against fiery sunset horizons.
I am, then, not alone anymore.
I posted this photograph for today's photo shoot on a social media network, and a good friend wrote these words about it:
I'm particularly charmed by this photograph. Reading some of Mary Oliver's essays this evening, I rediscovered this passage from Long Life. I think it dovetails nicely with many of your photographs. "People say to me: wouldn't you like to see Yosemite? The Bay of Fundy? The Brooks Range? I smile and answer, 'Oh yes' sometime. And go off to my woods, my ponds, my sun-filled harbor, no more than a blue comma on the map of the world, but to me, the emblem of everything. It is the intimate, never The general, that is teacherly."
I answered this way:
I share deeply the sentiment that I need not go far to find beauty, mystery, adventure, and wonder. When I am spending the hours finding these unexpected scenes to photograph, I am at once both at peace and in quiet excitement about what I'll find and how I will photograph it. I will allow other photographers the cities, the monuments, and the trappings of the unquiet world that far too often lives only for itself as it consumes its people who are so fearful of silence, self-reliance, and occasional loneliness.
As for me, I get to stand in the cathedral whose canopy is the sky, whose floor is the land, and whose trappings are nature in all its colors, aromas, and shapes. This land was here before me, and it will be here far beyond my lifetime; but in the finiteness that cabins my life, I am in the thrall of what rends from my thoughts the simple words, "I lived to see this."
That is more than enough for any lifetime.