Friday, September 18, 2009

Spring on Skarf Mountain

VERLYN KLINKENBORG (from "Goldenrod Time," NY Times):
"Somehow my internal timekeeper failed this summer - broken down, perhaps during the utterly sodden month of June. Time passed, and all the natural events that happen on this farm happened in order. But when the goldenrod began to bloom a few weeks ago, I failed to make the connection between the two.

"The Goldenrod ripens with nearly the same power as the leaves turning. It's one of the strongest temporal cues I know, and I usually respond to it the way I respond to most signs of shifting season: with an inward emotional tug.

"This year I seem to be absent, or perhaps I'm just resting in the lull of late summer. Or perhaps I've become just another of the creatures on this farm."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: This has not been like other summers. For some time now I've been feeling what Verlyn Klinkenborg describes, a sense of having somehow come loose from the constant unwinding of the season, and now as the trees are suddenly starting to turn I feel unexpectedly reengaged with the ever-turning wheel. What happened to summer? Wrenched into autumn, can I find my stride before nature's pace quickens?

I exposed this image on May 18th, in the time between skunk cabbage and flox, exactly four months ago today. The fragile spring leaves had recently darkened. Six days later I would be driving in Nova Scotia and delighted to find a second spring just unfurling there. What timing! It was after that I became uncoupled.

Jane feels it too. She says it is not only the endless rain which extended well beyond June but also that the thermometer barely sweltered. That may be true, but it strikes me that before I began my photo and hiking regimen the gears of my life were not so tightly engaged to nature's clock, and a disjointed season like the one suddenly completed would not leave me feeling a bit unhinged.

Was there summer? I hiked almost every day back to favorite farms and into to much new territory, to Massachusetts and the Hudson, but I wonder if this year I didn't lean a little too comfortably on the feeling that summer was a lazy time, that its pleasures would last, that shots missed today would be much the same tomorrow. Would I have dug more deeply if summer had the urgency of spring or fall? Tomorrow begins today.

And yet I'm reassured when I look at the summer's farm images that I shot while processing and posting lilies. It seems I didn't miss it all. The next photo series explores some of the farms visited this summer.

I've been on top of Skarf Mountain before, but on the afternoon of May 18th the clouds put on a remarkable show. Because the fields surrounding these barns are open and vast, and because the sky that afternoon was dancing everywhere, I kept moving, taking in new angles. I didn't want to miss anything, but I didn't rush, and the clouds kept on dancing as I made a complete, great circuit around the fields around the farmstead.