Essay No.1

My intention is to visit this woodland, flooded by beaver dams, over the course of the seasons. This idea of re-visiting a landscape and making pictures over time is certainly not new. And, honestly, I’ve never much seen the appeal. It seems easier to make pictures of the novel, the mysterious, the unfamiliar — and perhaps this is initially true. But I am beginning to see the value in deep over wide. Studying things deeply. Caring deeply. Working deeply.

When we drove up on this latest visit, I half expected the marsh to be gone, as though a mirage I willed into being. We pulled the car over and I stepped out to survey the land. Immediately, two ducks and a Great Blue Heron took flight, sending ripples across the long-still surface. Like the sound of a hymnal dropped unexpectedly in church, the ducks quacking and wings flapping broke the silence of this wildlife sanctuary.

I wished I had brought my boots. Without them I was left to move about the periphery of the floodplain forest, bordered by Jewelweed. I imagined the stream that started this process. The beaver, attracted by nature to slow the flow of water, works to build the dam that backs the water up to flood the forest floor. The trees die and become sculpture, like so many skeletons standing in a row. Every element of nature is showcased. Dragonflies and duckweed. Rocks, mud, grass and leaves. Wetlands. Dead trees making habitat and food.

When my head hits the pillow at night, I dream about this magical place.