Oaken Post

SSA Photography (160 of 400)

This photograph was taken in the Pisgah National Forest outside of Asheville, North Carolina.  The hollowed stump was in a grove of chestnut oaks (Quercus Prinus), and the cavity had become a repository for layers upon layers of chestnut oak leaves, where a small seedling was beginning to grow from an acorn, which had fallen in just the right spot.  As I spoke about the ephemerality of nature in the Emergence post, just days ago, I am also astounded by the rhythm and circularity of nature.  In the chaos of the ferns and brambles, an old hollowed stump sheltered and fostered a month-old seedling, which will some day soon overtake the stump and take root itself.

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Kintsugi

SSA Photography (78 of 400)

In an series of three poignant essays, F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that he was fractured like a dinner plate that you would hide from the neighbors if they came over.  One of the greatest writers of the early 20th Century had indeed “cracked” under the pressure of his own success.  I identified with Fitzgerald’s essays—and Fitzgerald himself—on many levels, except that once cracked up, Fitzgerald never ventured to put himself back together again.

The Japanese have a beautiful word, kintsugi, which is the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer, generally mixed with powdered precious metals like gold.  Kintsugi, however, stretches far beyond the art form.  It has become a philosophy, which accentuates the breakage and repair of the object as evidence of its history—rather than something to disguise or sweep into the dustbin.  The fractures are part of the object’s story, part of its beautiful memory.

We are all broken, some of us more than others, but these faults, these breaks shape who we are when we come out the other side—but only if we venture to put ourselves back together again like a shattered vase in the hands of an artist.

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Shadow Play

SSA Photography (89 of 400)

Taken at Big Talbot Island, north of Jacksonville, Florida, the lines and shadows of this photograph of driftwood cobbled together on the beach draw the eye to the center of the mass of wood.  After the hurricane last year, this particular grouping of driftwood is no longer on the beach, so I was fortunate to capture it when I did.

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Stepped Ruins

SSA Photography (107 of 400)

This photograph was taken in Brevard, North Carolina.  The property was once home to a summer camp and hippie commune, and was frequented by Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger and their ilk.  All that remains of this cabin are low walls and these steps.  Though I usually opt for monochrome photographs, the colors of the stones were so unique that I did not want to lose them in converting the photograph to black and white.

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Chip off the Old Block

SSA Photography (13 of 400)

This photograph was taken from the shore of the bay, in Bar Harbor, Maine.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my father is from southeastern Maine, and the place has always held great memories for me.  The weathered geometry of the rocks on the beaches struck me more during this trip than as a kid, when I was wont to be found between and betwixt the ocean-side boulders with knees perpetually skinned by the barnacles.  Though not taken at Goose Rocks or Old Orchard Beach, where my dad would have been found in the summers, Maine is synonymous with him, and I am nothing, if not a chip off the old block.

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Pisgah Bridge

SSA Photography (114 of 400)

This photograph was taken in the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina, near Asheville and Hendersonville.  The Pisgah, as it is known, is a stunning forest with dozens if not hundreds of waterfalls and scenic trails.  There are multiple creeks and rivers running through the forest, with the Davidson being the primary tributary to the French Broad that runs the length of the forest.  The simple beauty and shadow-play of this stone bridge struck me to such a degree that I pulled off the side of the road to try to capture the chiaroscuro in a photograph. I may have nearly fallen down the embankment, but I got the picture…

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Passage

SSA Photography (378 of 400)

This photograph was taken outside of Haworth, West Yorkshire, England during a walk about the moors.  The beautiful wall has been disassembled by hand in the middle to make a small passage for wanderers, like we were, to pass through.  Many, if not most of the walls were installed in the Victorian era as a result of the Inclosure Acts, which required landowners to enclose their land to stake a claim to it – a departure from the manorial, open field system, an antiquated remnant of the feudal system.  As with many of the sturdy walls in Yorkshire, this one has no mortar, but instead relies on the skill of the stonemason to create an edifice that has lasted and will last for many generations to come.  Notably absent from this picture are the two curious Swaledale sheep (the breed most often found on the moors) that accompanied us assiduously through these large, adjoining acres.

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