SLOWLY I REALIZED that the photographs I had been finding came in unexpected places. My wife, Susan Ziegler, worked for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management. One of her colleagues suggested that I go to Walden Pond which was managed by this department. So following my experience I went in the early spring of 1991. There was little to photograph except some beautiful moss covered roots on the path that encircled the Pond (these are in the gallery WALDEN. So I forgot Walden for the remainder of the spring and all of the summer. Then on October 19, 1991 I was roaming around the Weston Overlook when I remembered Walden.
From Massachusetts Highway 126, Walden Pond looks ordinary. It is a kettle hole pond about 100 feet deep and about 43 acres in area. The path that encircled it is very popular and somewhat worn and so a constant struggle for Mass. DEM to keep it looking natural. Nevertheless, it was the only place to walk so I put my camera gear on my back and started to hike.
Near Thoreaau's Cove. I noticed the reflections of the orange colored fall trees in a small vernal pool but decided to keep moving. I wanted to go to the site (a few hundred feet away) where Henry David Thoreau had built his cabin. But after an hour or so, having found nothing interesting, I remembered those reflections in that little pond, which I later learned was known as Wyman;s Meadow, after a local farmer. I set up my tripod and camera as close to the edge of the pond and pointed it down at the water. I saw something like A Brilliant Stillness II and nearly lost it with excitement. As I moved around I continued to find more wonderful compositions. And the leaves, although they reminded me of water lilies, I later found out were known as water-shields. They had a beautiful green color and many with a shade of violet added.Those water-shields combined with the orange and yellow reflections from the opposite shore was heaven for a photographer such as me. I ignored a meeting I had scheduled (this was in the days before cell phones) and photographed until I ran out of film. I returned several more days and the reflections turned a deep violet and oak leaves started to scatter on the water.
I returned to Wyman's Meadow for 11 years until I had enough photographs for my book, The Illuminated Walden, and never once in those 11 years did Wyman's Meadow look anything like it did that first year. Sometimes in overflowed; sometimes it nearly dried up. Some years there were photographs to be made, some quite wonderful. And in winter, the ice produced some interesting compositions of a different kind.
THE WATER-SHIELD (BRASENIA SCHEBERI) I found is native to the eastern half of the United States and to large parts of the west generally west of the Rockies yet I had never encountered it until that day in 1991.