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The Hidden World of the Nearby


Water-shields Too

On the Path to Thoreau’s Cabin
Untitled photo

There is memorable and there is unforgettable.

I had first come to Walden Pond in early April 1991. Trees were bare, but I did find some beautiful roots on the path encircling the pond. These are in the Walden Pond gallery.

However, about noon, on October 19, 1991 I was on the Pike looking for images when Walden came to mind again. Now was prime fall time. I packed up and headed to Walden Pond. I took the same hike as in April and came to a small pond opposite Thoreau’s Cove. It is the first image below. I took note of some glimmers in the water but decided to look around the area a bit more. Just a little further on was the site where Thoreau had built his cabin and I thought it deserved a look.

After an hour or two I remembered the glimmers.

From a distance they did not seem especially dramatic, but I planted my tripod on the edge of the pond, chose my lens and looked on the ground glass.

This one moment enompassed all of the reasons why I photographed. It seems now something like “From Glimmer to Glory.” I don’t remember the exact first view, but I do know that I recognized that what I hunted for was there by the well trod path.

The water-shields were mixtures of green and purple and scattered in many packs, some dense and others sparce, around the whole pool with their tangled roots somewhat visible. But what made all the difference was what was happening on the north side of the pond where small fall trees were beautifully lit by the mid-afternoon sun and reflected in the water nicely surrounding the water-shilds with various shades of orange but leaving room for reflections of the blue sky.

I like to compose with only a subtle center of interest while leaving just enough structure to guide the eye. The arrangements of water-shields was perfect for dozens of images. I forgot about a meeting back at my gallery and exposed every sheet of film I had with me.

The image Water-shilds And Sky Reflections (formerly and erroniously, Water-lilies And Sky Reflections) has hung opposite me at our informal dining table as a 32" x 40" print on water-color paper for 15 years. I have come to appreciate it more over the years. Recently we were listening to Robert Schuman’s Piano Concerto and I noticed that the strokes of water-shields had a remarkable resemblance to the phrasing in one part of the concerto.

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