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I Want To See The Trees


The Tree Canopy

The discovery of these images, images only seen from the breakdown lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate Highway 90) was fundamental to the development of how I saw the landscape. Texture, as in the buds on the trees in springtime, often became an essential element in how I composed images. In fact as time went on I found myself looking for textures first and using them to make the composition. I believe it created a direction for my work.

However, photographing the canopies requires a vantage point above and also close to the trees. By great luck when I-90 was built in 1957, at the eastern end several valleys were filled and the highway (fortunately and not) cut through the forest. But that was just the beginning.

My first encounter was near where I often traveled, it required driving in the right hand lane and looking to the right and then you could see the valley and what I saw made me nearly shake with excitement. I knew from the first sighting I had to photograph these trees. The silver branches, the haze of red in mid to late April and the gradual blossoming of other species created a pointilist version of fall.

I photograged the Pike for 11 years at two locations.

Only recently I began to hear a simple song, over and over in my mind: “So you want to see the trees my friend, you want to see the trees.” It must be me talking to myself and presenting a challenge. So you want to see the trees...and the song went on and on without my thinking but it was my experience of the trees where I could look down on the canopy.

Early Buds on Maple Trees I

Early Buds on Maple Trees I

Interstate Highway 90, Weston, Massachusetts. May 1982 cat. 4841


I want to see the trees like this, I want to see the trees—

birds do it, and flying insects too but only artists

and those stranded in the breakdown lane

will see the canopy of the tree as the bees and I do.

But conversation I did not expect.


However, troopers are expected to inquire when

an odd spectator was not by the Authority hired.

What are you doing he growls?

Why making a photograh I mumered.

Of what? He was clearly puzzled.

Of the trees I said.

He paused— and stared at this grand valley

and said not a word.

He just drove away, to his accustomed work.


A canopy is the way to see a tree, not from the ground

where its glory hides, but as its buds flower

it gives a thrill for its mass of color from crimson to silver.

Each spring its blossoms turn to leaves in congregation that

if we are of suitable mind, will bring a worship of creation.


Trees do not just exalt in sunlight and rain,

they breath for us,

so the sea of carbon becomes the sire of all that grows,

and for our lungs and spirits it provides, and —

Oh! a tree with the spirit of Van Gogh.


My god...I cannot tell you of the glow in me to see

from all places The Pike!, and sitting on a steel rail

with Boston’s morning business roaring by a photograph

now forever in a museum. What fortune to find hidden

so nearby. I had never thought to look.

Peak Color

Peak Color

Interstate Highway 90, Weston, Massachusetts
May 1982, cat. JW 4839

Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

Interstate Highway 90, Weston, Massachusetts. May 1981
cat. JW 0013

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