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Category: The Crescents

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.

Tiny industry

Lake Crescent,  November 2008

Another from the same day, further along the trail. The trail is the Spruce Railroad trail, which connects Fairholm and the Discovery Trail along the northwest shore of Lake Crescent. All the abundant spruce was meant to be harvested for airplanes during WWI, but the railroad wasn’t completed until 1919, hindering it’s usefulness somewhat, and not a single log was ever run for the war effort.

Hard to imagine the scope of the project now. The ‘Milwaukee Road’ grade is now little more than a well worn foot path around such dramatic but very, very small tableaux; tiny coves, stunted trees and corkscrew trails, giving the illusion of a 1/4 scale enterprise, perhaps attended by Lilliputians and Rube Goldberg contraptions that run on steam and wishful thinking.

‘Your face is crap without shadows..’

Lake Crescent, November 2008

Only some short forays to the Lake so far this fall, for the spectacle of the big leaf maples, the mosses and the damp perpetual twilight of the Lake’s boundaries. I have a special hat for this trail; the rain under the canopy like a chronic condition, dripping well past sun and blue skies, grandfathered in somehow.

There is a density here like a warble in the manner of things, a buckle in the casualness of the moment, something that is difficult to portray except through failures; harsh light, flare and overbearing shadows. It somehow reminds me of misremembered conversations deep in drink late and early hours, fringed in numb poetry and practical impossibility, with people I once thought I would always know.

Inevitability training

Crescent Bay, November 2006

Oof, my scanner is down again. More literal snaps from the archives.

This was taken after a monumental (for us) 16″ snowfall several years ago. Not as much snow down at sea-level, but we are about 350 feet above this and got buried. This was a November just months after I finished building the 5×12 camera and one of the first hikes of significance I took it on. I was fortunate in finally finding a backpack where everything fit very well, with a decent harness for the 40+ lbs. Still, fully outfitted with boots and tripod I’m around 300lbs and tend to settle in the deeper stuff. It’s a 3 mile round-trip down to Crescent Beach and back. But it was a good way to stay warm, as out power was out most of that week.

Shoveling snow is of course another proven method. Earlier, I’d climbed up and shoveled off the roof instead of the driveway to the amusement of wife and neighbor alike. I was worried about 14-16 inches of snow half melting and turning to ice and collapsing the 4/12 pitch roof. Not much point in clearing the driveway as we wouldn’t start to see snow plows for a few days yet.

Yet another method to keep warm is sawing firewood from rock maple and oak woodscraps with a thin dozuki saw. As it was mostly too cold to sleep, I’d get up at 4 AM some mornings and dig out the firepit and build a fire with whatever scraps I could spare. I’m glad the camera was finished at that point or I might have been tempted to burn it.

All good prep for the upcoming… winter. I am attempting some preliminary leanness in good faith, but am irrevocably soft in spots. Which tends to take the poetry out of such withered optimism.

There’s always one that doesn’t want to go home

Lake Crescent, August 2008

I wonder how many pets get inadvertently left here on the peninsula after family vacations. Everyone seems to have a story, if not one strictly from here. I remember our ancient Scottish Terrier ‘Slash’ falling out of a moving van in the hills of Tennessee when I was young. We recovered him- although whether lucky or not wasn’t immediately apparent- the dog was a terror and promptly bit my dad. My wife’s and my newest dog Emily was a Clallam County Humane Society rescue, after being found wandering by the side of the highway in Sequim.

Our recent trip to Idaho and eastern WA involved two lost dogs- one was just a pickup slowing to ask if we had lost the dog they’d seen back down the highway. The other involved a friend’s border collie that disappeared in the Quincy Lakes Coulees. Blaze, a charge of our friends, was also a CCHS rescue, a sweet dog, if utterly inbred and nuts. The long trip in the back of our friend’s pickup with 2 other wound up dogs and a horse trailer clanging behind was enough to send him yipping off into the void when she arrived late that night to the campsite and dropped the tailgate. The unspoken assessment was that coyotes probably got him the first night, but I actually found the dog hiding in a draw by Dusty Lake two days later. Sadly, only a brief reprieve- Blaze ran off again a couple days ago on a horse ride in the lower Elwha area.

Anyway, all this reminded me of when I turned off 101 around Lake Crescent to take this shot last month. A camper across the street with a family I thought had stopped to enjoy the dramatic view was instead looking for a dog. The father trying to gather up the family, saying ‘There’s always one that doesn’t want to go home. Cmon let’s go.’

‘Die in a Happy City’

Ediz Hook, Spetember 2008

Walking the spit of Ediz, there is the sense of fringe decay, atrophy at the unattended frontier. There is a sense of depopulation, as if through plague or economic collapse. Looking back to the mainland, Port Angeles also slumps at the base of the Olympics like so much uncontested Brink. Only the grandeur of Miocene tumult saves the town from it’s true scale, and its own teetering references.

Camus comes to mind:
The town itself, let us admit, is ugly. *

Granted, I have a certain animosity towards the town, and vaguely towards the country beyond it. Its social conservatism, lack of culture, willing absorption into the harvesting combine of Walmart, Costco, and the big box socio-economic model make me feel a bitterness that is ultimately powerless against the futility of such a place, and such an era. I wonder about the level of inertia needed to introduce change into this place, and others like it. No one mentions sacrifice anymore. Am I prepared to sacrifice? Prepared, no. But willing…? I wonder.

To entertain thoughts of economic collapse and other such irrevocable devastation seems unpatriotic, anarchistic and probably even criminal to some. I can’t help it. The need for the populace to succumb to the first reassurances from candidates has so far outlined our doom, even if it’s a contented one. Maybe the violent cycles of regeneration found in nature are a good model to follow, something that will ‘Rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.’*

*Albert Camus The Plague

Meanwhile, an interlude of literal snap(s)

Crescent Bay, November 2006

It occurs to me I haven’t posted any actual ‘wintery’ (aka snow) shots here, so in the spirit of literal compliance, here’s one at least. I’ll post some more if I can ever find them.

My scanner is down, so I’ve been raking the archives. The weather has been cool and rainy lately and so I’ve already begun my forays back to the coast and am very excited about posting some new work, if my scanner issues get sorted out.

Devolution

Ediz Bay, December 2007

The infrastructure is regressing around here. Dams are scheduled for disassembly, the lower Elwha Bridge has been demolished, and this pier is no more. It would be refreshing, but the genetic drift of commercial structures is never what it seems, and I can’t be sure that this pier didn’t just disintegrate in a storm. And there may be something in the works to take it’s place.

Recessions are always interesting in a small town. I’m an early casualty, getting terminated as residential and smaller commercial construction takes the first wave. Large projects on the state or federal level fare somewhat better. But it’s a little irritating to see a guard rail project begun for the length of 101 in this economy. We must be protected from blackberry thickets, soft shoulders, ourselves. Our drunken driving and falling asleep at the wheel. The contractor appears to be from out of state.

Blessings, though. I get to work on my stuff, which is nice. I’ve never drawn unemployment before, so it’s been an learning experience. I’ve paid into it for around thirty years, and I have 8 months’ worth if I need it. It’s odd to reduce 28 years of full-time toil into an eight month stipend. All the injury, swollen knuckles and collateral damage that comes with learning how to deliver newspapers, stock shelves, bag groceries, wash dishes and make Béchamel, pour a perfect B-52, toss a drunk out on his ass, stick frame a Dutch gable roof or cut crown molding…I feel the indignation simmering, but the fact is I’m nothing special.

Monday I went to unemployment class, got a refresher course in bureaucratic comedy and personal uncertainty. The instructor was nice but had developed a dark almost desperate sense of humor. She joked as she showed us how to make a resume on the overhead projector. Everyone was distracted. Some seemed almost peripherally appalled at the levity, but few had the confidence to be offended outright.

Thinking about starting over at my age is chilling. I’m only 41, but the thought of building pole barns piece rate in Quilcene isn’t appealing. I used to love building, building anything, but the thought of getting up at 4 am some anonymous February morning to drive around the Olympics so I can run along icy purlins by 7 am…Build a barn in 3 days or be consigned to minimum wage… Gee, my mind almost sound made up! Think I’d rather go back to kindergarten and just start over.

The long dark night of the…housepainter?

Crescent Bay, July 2008

The rush is on to paint my house before the rains return. Not so much because you can’t paint in the rain- I’ve painted in the snow before- but because it’s my favorite time to head out to the coast and snap away. I started to re-side my house LAST summer and I’m only now agonizing over color chips. But the mind wanders, and such petty anxiety is generally symptomatic of larger concerns.

I think/hope this project will continue for as long as I live here. Humans bind themselves to the abstraction of purpose in odd ways, and this certainly qualifies. I feel I’ve found my reason. In doing so I’ve neglected my job, friends and any sort of plan for future security, so I guess I better make it count. So, trying not to seem self-important streamlines nothing in the process; it certainly doesn’t flatter the necessary vanities of creative impulses, or even neurotic impulses for that matter. Saying otherwise is pretense, and tiresome at best.

Kafka comes to mind:
From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back.
That is the point that must be reached.

Principium soberer: the uncorrected text

Strait of Juan de Fuca, February 2008

Good dag,

They had been the doomed passengers on a sinking rosewater, mingle it with a quart of cream, six had reasons, said sir charles. Quite natural ones. Sufficient light penetrated the place to reveal locked, our bodies intertwined, and that infernal m. Poirot! Cried jane. What is it? It is, said her room. A note was left addressed to the coroner.it would be taken direct to the hirondelle, so i say,’ answered rupert ‘i have just read miss and being cold, fill your poultry, either in cauls when the skullfaced man was taken away, it was and true men will not unfrequently damn their…

Can spam get any odder? This, to sell V1@gRa..The words seem designed more to trigger sleeper cells than sell pills. Like the line from The Manchurian Candidate: ‘Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?

Although, I do especially like the doomed passengers on sinking rosewater imagery, as mingled with a quart of cream. I’m thinking of compiling a tome of spam abstracts for bedtime reading. But should I worry about copyright infringement? :p