Episode 8- In Situ
Mostly photos this time- I want to show the beauty and some of the quirks of the place I’ve been living for the last five weeks. These are shots I’ve taken mostly on walks in the area. When it wasn’t pouring rain I got out most mornings for a ramble in the hills- to clear my mind and to absorb the patterns of a landscape before I turned to trying to create the image of one on concrete walls. One of the challenges facing a landscape artist is to avoid too much regularity. We moderns spend our time in well ordered grids of boxes. 90 degree angles and straight lines dominate our visual environment. A walk in the woods, especially woods as beautiful as the ones I’m living in, serves to counteract the tendency to align trees in a landscape or to space shrubs too regularly. Given the steepness of the hills a walk out here also serves to move blood within and air through my corpus.
Over time I started to incorporate features of the landscape around me into the mural: lichens, mosses, ferns, boulders, stream banks and even whole trees. So here is what I saw on my walks, with a few notes to fill in some of the blanks.
Huge year for acorns- huge numbers of band-tailed pigeons. Hundreds and hundreds flying past each morning, their wings filling the air with a shooshing sound.
I have this fascination with what happens to human artifacts- recent ones- when left alone for a while in a big ol' world of entropy. The hills around the house are rich with examples- trailers parked and left, shacks succumbing to fungi, rain working it's way through every crack and crevics, devices slowly being swallowed in leaf litter. I don't find them ugly- quite the opposite. In their gradual demise I see the cycles of nature in operation and see evidence that we are part of the gang. The fungi and bacteria that digest our works are simply responding to opportunities. No hard feelings.
But here is my cozy cabin, still operating quite in opposition to the forces of decay. Little woodstove in there is my good friend on cold days.
Acorn woodpeckers deserve the name. They choose and oak and drill thousands of acorn sized holes in the bark, then load them with a winter's worth of food. Woodpecker pantry! These birds are really beautiful and lots of fun to watch- they travel in gabbling families, talktalktalking.
Lichens digesting rocks- it may take a while.
Leaning trees- a favorite place. A dark holler.
I took to talking to the deer- the four of them that cruised around the area. They were coming to realize that I wasn't much of a threat and would startle up at my arrival but not flee. I would stop and say hello, ask them how their day was going- all very conversational. This one approached, alert and curious and stood for a minute or two, staring at me while the other three sauntered off. Wild life is a good thing.