Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Cabin in the Woods

OK then.

We've been a full year together on the road. Though I've extended our plans into November as last year the late season light consistently proved the most perfect I've had the pleasure to work with, we're nearing the end of the fieldwork all the same. I've a midwinter coda in mind, but we'll just have to see how that goes when the time comes.

I begin my two week artist's residency at the Porcupine Mountains this coming Monday. Based on the state of things across the region just two weeks ago, we can expect Northwoods autumnal splendor to be peak or just past, depending.

Back in May when this residency was 1st scheduled for October, I expected the timing'd be perfect. And not just 'cause the forest so near the big lake is then typically bathed in elegiac glory. I'd anticipated then that we'd be at this particular point of the journey now and as is it turns out, I was right.

Truth is, I'm well worn. Ridden hard and put up wet, as an old boss who'd occasionally ride me hard used to say through a toothy smile.

Consequently, the landscape's inspiring poetry has recently begun to slip away from me. 

Always damnably elusive to capture, mostly only authentic in the moment, never answerable to any concern of ours that we must somehow translate the world we see and feel so others might see and feel it as we  -- the long miles and constant effort to chase down & capture a spirit have made transcendent engagement with that spirit harder to come by.

That's a mean thing, considering.

So it's exactly the right time for a recharge and two weeks of seclusion at a cabin in the woods should prove just the ticket. Afterwards we'll catch up on outstanding business then tie the disparate threads of this narrative together and finish strong while continuing to do justice to the complexity of this magnificent landscape.

And there's much yet to do. For instance, though we've seen both Omett and Nanabijou, there's another giant of more immediate concern and his footprint upon the earth justifies the word Promethean.

Where I'll be the next two weeks there's neither running water nor electricity. And Internet connectivity is mostly but a rumor. I get that young folk engaged in this sort of project would keep in touch no matter what, texting about this & that, maybe even describing in detail what it's like to use an outhouse on some 24° morning an hour before dawn. But I'm not that guy and figure to be pretty much gone from here. Best to save the charge on my variety of devices for if/when they're most needed.

Not to mention that by definition, solitude means being alone. I'm very much looking forward to that particular aspect of the residency.

It'll be a chance to properly reflect on where we've been, the places we've seen and what we've learned along the way. This late in the season, there promises to be a whole bunch 'o dark, so I'll spend a lot of time writing in longhand & reading by insufficient light.

For decades now, the Porcupine Mountains wilderness has held a special meaning in my life.

Johnny, Heather and I used to bushwhack our way up the steep shaded hills, covered in sweat and forest debris, looking in all the wrong places for Copper Culture artifacts we never found.

And a bit better than 29 years ago, Heather & I honeymooned at the Presque Isle in a campsite that's since collapsed into the lake, make of that what you will. I can't say there's been a year since that I've not had the pleasure of standing beside my river at least once.

Like most photographers not on contract, my chances to spend extended time in a single place with the sole purpose being to translate the landscape when at its finest have been exceeding rare. It's wholly appropriate that I have that opportunity now, at this time, in this place.

I've material prepared that'll run each Thursday while I'm gone, provided circumstances allow. It's my own personal, used to be oft retold Big Story of a single day in the Northwoods. I hope you'll enjoy it.

At any rate, thanks for coming along. I'll catch up with you on the other side. Then over the next few months, together we'll bring it home...

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