Friday, December 2, 2016

Panning for Gold -- Year after Year

Ontonagon County MI, 2015

For most of my adult life I've enjoyed two autumns every year. The first in the Northwoods, then later on the prairie. That's a gift I've always appreciated. Never more so than this year, when it didn't happen.

I panned the October prairie for gold but it proved an unusual season. Uncommonly warm and wet, this year autumn on the grasslands slowly fell fallow brown.

On the other hand, we picked our last cucumber just prior to Thanksgiving, cut the final rosebuds after and our first really hard freeze is yet to arrive, so there's that. A trio of Dark-eyed Juncos down from the great northern forest has worked the stubble of our garden for the better part of three weeks. Most years, it's more like three days.

The world changes and it's only we who don't change with it.

Reviewing that slender stack of brown prairie images had me longing for better times spent in other places during richer years. That sent me back in my catalog to September of 2015, where I found a cache of uncollected work captured primarily on and around the Gogebic Range, about my favorite place in the world.

Rarely has the disparate character of the two landscapes seemed plainer to me, maybe because I didn't see them back to back as always and yearn for what I cannot have. At any rate, the contrast between these two places I call home – captured beneath similarly long light in the same (relative) season - is particularly stunning as this winter sets in. An awful lot's happened, in the course of that year.

What's called meteorological winter is now upon us. Though it promises to be long and cold, the countdown to solstice is set. Time counts and keeps counting. So before the world turns yet again, I thought to take a look back.

After all, that's what photography's for, right? To capture a moment of light and then hold to it as if suspended in amber for all time, or at least to the end of our days.

September, 2015

Keweenaw County, MI

Ontonagon County, MI

Iron County, WI

Iron County, WI

This next image is of a geologically significant place. Hidden in short woods just off Gile, WI. That's an actual split in the world:

Iron County, MI

October, 2016 McHenry County, IL

My boyhood creek runs through this prairie that rolls over rubble hills left by the last great glacier. Once a channelized, agricultural drainage ditch, it's since been restored to a natural meander by good people who care for the Earth. The overall benefits of that caring are rarely more evident than amidst these oak savanna islands once again afloat on a sea of grass…

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