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The Hidden World of the Nearby

Walden Pond

Ten Years of Seeing

A View From Above

I went to Walden Pond at the suggestion of one of my wife’s colleagues responsible for the care of the pond and its surroundings, what I call “greater Walden.” No other suggestion, recommendation or advice relating to my photography has had such an impact on my life.

I knew a bit of Henry David Thoreau’s writings and had driven by the pond many times, but there is nothing to stop you, no vista or drama. But I do occasionally learn my lessons well and one I had learned was to look anywhere someone suggested or my curiousity or instinct pulled me. And so on one afternoon in the fall of 1991 not just my photographic life was changed. Eleven years of year-round photography, two books, several exhibits and meeting a number of dignitaries, senators, scientists and so forth all a result of poking into every corner. Looking of course, but seeing. I met the wife of a famous photographer photographing Wyman’s Meadow and she took a snap or two.

On my first afternoon at this same spot, I shot every sheet of film I had with me and returned every year for ten years, and all because I placed my tripod at the edge of this little pool called Wyman’s Meadow and so looked harder and saw more and it changed my life.

The pond, by itself would not. It is a beautiful body of water but not so unusual, a kettle hole pond 100 feet deep and created by the retreating ice in the last ice age. But it was definitely a place to get lost in thought as you wandered closer and closer to the site of Thoreau’s cabin and then your mind would drift to words that had stayed with you from reading his unique prose.

New England is special, no question about that. I have wandered from Japan to Sochie, Russia. Perhaps it is a reward for familiarity and growing up among trees and ponds, and grasses like these.

The pond is not just special, it is Walden Pond and seeing it brings back so many words, phrases, paragraphs, chapters and books. And I have had the honor of adding two to that library with photographs from over ten years of — I think of it as hunting — sometimes to capture just the odor of New England, but other times to capture that which I have seen nowhere else, and in somecases, images I think no one will ever see the likes of anywhere no matter how long the wait. Of course I will never know, but that is what I feel.

The water-shields at Wyman’s meadow, or the sunset over the ice storm from the Fairhaven Cliffs.

Well, it is a big world, but it means not just being there, but being there the one time in a year, a decade or a life time. With a camera.

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