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№ 75 Posts

New growth

Secondary Growth, Burnt Mountain, February 2009

The irony of my unemployment hasn’t been lost on me, in fact it was mostly responsible for the idea of this project. Working on it continues to be a painful reminder of the nature of economic downturns, which is a reason I’ve been avoiding it of late. It’s easy to see your future, or some unwelcome version of it, driving through some of the outlying boom towns. Most seem fated to meth production. Towns like Clallam Bay crumble like so many rotten teeth. Houses have doors shot off, kicked in, ripped off the hinges by a parade of angry customers or dealers and ultimately law enforcement.  Even impounded, many counties don’t bother confiscating the properties because of the contamination: apparently for every pound of meth produced there are something like six pounds of toxic waste left to deal with.

So the town seems a victim lighter and a house darker each time I pass through. It’s rare to see people outside, but then it’s rare for me to stop at all.  The fact is I don’t care really. But I do care about circling the same figurative bowl. There is a point when all that’s left is carrying out the physical law.

I hesitate to delve into personal circumstance too deeply, I know it’s likely to come across as self important whining. But without doing so, I suppose this log would be of amazingly little use. Can’t wait to look back and chuckle.

Winter Trees

Beach 1, February 2009

I thought I’d celebrate the 1 year anniversary of this blog with a little WCW. I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about spruce, but what the hell, other parallels might find their home here.

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

-William Carlos Williams, Winter Trees

Light front

Beach 1, February 2009

This is a revisit of an earlier photograph,  this time looking north.  This one nags a little more than usual; I like many of the elements but it’s missing something as a whole. I’m posting it because it won’t occur to me what that might be until I do. But it does represent what I like most of the coast here- an astonishing sense of light and brightness always battering at the edge of an immovable darkness like some terminal meridian, a storm of light struggling against the impenetrable treeline.

The landscape marches on

Beach 6, February 2009

I came across this yesterday crashing around in the salmonberry and salal above Beach 6, trying to pick up a trail that vanished. I soon found the reason the trail disappeared- a good portion of the bluff had been undermined by relentless surf and storm and collapsed. And continues to do so, really- the collapse is taking a good part of the forest with it in an exquisitely minute, almost glacial ride down the incline, like an amusement of epochal measure.

Note: I  tilted the horizon out of level to the left a bit to visually counter the leaning of the trees, and the lilting cloud line. I considered leaving it level, and using the optic trickery to emphasize the sense of imbalance and general flailing, but I just couldn’t see anything past it. Funny how that works.

The shallow end

Kalaloch, February 2009

Anticipating tide patterns is great fun, almost like sorting puzzles out of the infinite. All the more so with a view camera  because there’s no way to see what’s on the viewscreen when you trip the shutter (er, lift the lenscap- no shutter on the Protar). It’s easy to burn up film walking down the beach as your focus deepens and new patterns emerge. But then that’s also the hard part:  resisting the temptation of waiting for just one more tide cycle. But I got lucky this time out- only 3 shots and a half-decent triptych for the day’s work.

Executive function

Ruby Bluffs, February 2009

A bit frustrated with the road closure hindering my other project, I went back out to the west end yesterday for this first time this winter. Something about seeing the ocean is recharging, especially after seeing the yellow creep back in my eyes in the bathroom mirror and standing on the scale and seeing it up another 10 pounds, 15 pounds- most of that muffling my decision making processes,judgment and higher functions… I was surprised at how different everything looked, just climbing out of the car at Ruby, and equally surprised at the instant boost in my energy level and level of focus; even the dim sun and mist seemed to burn through the cottony convalescent haze and backbedroom winter headaches. I felt like I’ve had a thumb in my eye for six weeks.

So Kalaloch seems new again, and within the margins of inspiration and reaction, instead of stagnating project quota.

Way out west

Roadside Burnpiles, February 2009

Speaking of roads, Highway 112 west of here has been closed since the heavy snows of December. All the melt and runoff destabilized the road bed and the highway collapsed at milepost 37 between West Twin and Pysht. This is the coast highway along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and a significant commercial corridor between the logging parcels around the Pysht River and Port Angeles.  It’s also a recreational corridor, so the ATVs that frequent the abandoned BLM and forest service roads have quieted considerably as well, even without the fresh insulation of new snowfall.

Tomorrow is cast in the oven/ Lucid dreaming on the clock

Crescent Bay, February 2009

I actually dreamt about this photograph, which is a new one for me.  I always dream about 9-5 work,  but never about taking pictures, or the pictures themselves, which is just now striking me as fantastically odd. Most of my dreams are simple filterings of the day’s minutia, but with the workfront quiet and anxiety on the rise, this one danced in my head even while the negative remained undeveloped and nestled away in the film holder overnight.  This dream was like  a sleepwalking grant,  a shift paid to spend on the bench, supervised by particle drift and accelerating erosion with no clear task, shoes tied to the wings of scavenging and brawling birds, pecking at my kneecaps before ultimately climbing into the ribcage to roost.

After developing the picture it couldn’t not disappoint, but I’m hoping for a sequel, or a least some Cliffnotes.

The road in

Abandoned Road, Lake Crescent, February 2009

The dogs and I made another trip up this miniature mountain and I had a another silent… remark… about the difficulty of it. I noticed the recently planted and flagged seedlings are mostly confined to the logging road in- the inclines are left for natural progressions to fight over. Even in the roads, it must be a struggle for the seedlings against the burgeoning alder. This spot has great southern exposure so it’ll be quite a show to see the alder come up so quickly. A reliable way to find old roads if you’re lost out here somewhere is to seek out and and follow the stripes of alder back to civilization.

I notice my work is trending dark, and low-fi. There’s a chronic dusk in this threadbare economic  environment; if not so much a nuclear winter then a wherewithal winter, and the uncertain shadows and  bony periphery seem to suit it.

A mindbend in the river

Salt Creek, February 2009

I’ve been messing with the color scheme here and on my website. The black background with white text used previously was good for some interesting cluster headaches, which in turn made me flee the computer and seek out some shady areas with my camera. Beneficial, ok; I know headaches can be a significant part of my personality, but lets not get carried away.

The shade is perpetual in this spot, as is the quiet. I’m not sure I would have noticed it without the mindbender. It’s a visual anesthetic of sorts, which feels oddly different in the eye with the headache. Interesting, at least for now.