After the temperatures finally dropped to proper levels for January, it was time for another serendipity walk in the lightly frozen landscape.
Usually I know when I have taken a decent photo. This time, I was not sure. When the warming sun came out, the reflections of the light and the doubly layered images of ice and ground beneath created unusual opportunities.
Thawing is a violent process. This has never been made as visceral as in Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris, in the scene where the visitor thaws.
There, it’s the likeness of the alien that frightens. Here, the familiar shapes of leaves become alien when superposed with the fragile patterns of the ice that still covers them.
There is a strange esthetic appeal in this violence, a desire to explode, and come to life.
Not yet. It’s January still.
This morning I decided to replay the game Still Live that consists of walking around and taking pictures of things on the ground as they are. It is an exercise in acceptance.
It was a crisp morning, nobody was out there that early on the first day of the new year.
This time I made it even harder, by reducing everything to black and white, to dark and light.
Maybe this modification of the concrete into something abstract is an escape to avoid comprehension.
But by hiding the obvious, either the structural core becomes visible, or the underlying noise.
Everything depends on what we want to see.
Walking a bridge always takes courage.
This is particularly true if the bridge has been abandoned, become treacherous, or otherwise suspect.
Why do we do it anyway? Walking across a bridge is the quintessential metaphor (the pattern) for change.
When done right, it is a slow process, and involves looking at what we are transcending.
It also involves facing, eventually, the other side.
And finally, the test: Can we look back and accept where we come from? A bridge is not about abandoning the past, but connecting it with the future.
While the absence of light in winter has it’s own appeal, we humans prefer it bright. We would be nowhere without having mastered fire. The pottery studio in New Harmony gives multiple evidence of this.
For the photographer and everybody else who likes to see, these early hours just before sunrise are the most revealing.
Everything appears gradually and returns to existence.
Sky and earth are still in perfect balance.
We get ready to continue to walk the mazes of the human mind. A new day has been born.
Now is a good time to approach darkness: You know that this is it, from now on the days will get longer again.
It is also a good time to approach silence. New Harmony, at this time of the year and this time of the day, is nearly deserted.
In the Roofless Church I met James. He was making music, just singing and playing guitar. This is also a form of listening.
We talked for a bit. He is there sometimes three times a week. He also likes the Athenaeum, and the Bridge, but hasn’t been on top of the Athenaeum or across the Bridge.
It is also a good time to approach light.
We have learned simplicity,
we sing in the choir of cicadas
In 2004, the midwest of the USA became the region of the largest outbreak of biomass on the planet. Brood X emerged, the largest of the periodical cicadas, with a life cycle of 17 years.
They spend most of their life underneath as nymphs, going through several instars, and feeding from root juices of trees. Then, almost all on the same day, they emerge, and crawl up.
They molt into adulthood, which takes up to an hour. All this takes place above an abyss. If they fall, the soft wings will not unfold properly.
In the last stage, the wings unfold.
They hide and rest for a few days. This is supposedly the time they are most delicious.
Then, they tumble around, with their poor eyesight and clumsy bodies, causing harm to none, and begin their irresistible mating chant, droning sound patterns that move through the landscape like ambient music.
17 years underneath, for a few weeks of a single song. Who will question the meaning of life?
This has been an extraordinary summer. Weather wise, flooding rain falls were followed by torching heat, and now we are enjoying a dry summer weather that would be more typical for Northern Michigan. Time for a visit to the DePauw Nature Park, whose quarry enclosed space I would avoid on regular summer days.
It’s as green as it gets, promising a gorgeous fall coloring. Everything seems to take advantage of its given time and space.
The abundance of vegetation creates patterns that are unusual for this place.
More typical are the lonely little ones, like the young sycamore trying to make roots in the harsh ground,
or the singular dandelion, gazing into our future.