Thursday, December 3, 2009


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Still cows, but my lens has moved from the slopes that rise above Twin Elms Farm to the top of Winchell Mountain and Pleasant View. It is late summer on one of those afternoons when I can almost feel the vital pulse of the planet, the ways it refreshes and rejuvenates itself. Here is the grand organism at work, even if this year provided rather more rain than farmers wanted

This is a large dairy farm, the kind of operation that takes the constant attention of a knowledgeable staff. In addition to twice daily milking, they raise and harvest many acres of corn and hay, and breed and raise calves. I know how much work it is running a dairy farm, and I'm thankful there are still people who do it, whose herds still graze on what's left of our Eastern farmland. For me there is a complex mystery, easily taken for granted, at the heart of the odd partnership of humankind and dairy cows. The mystery is not apparent when I read the stories of the great breeds of domesticated cattle.

In any case, I was thinking about this as I was driving back from a shoot today when a "Birdnote Moment," played on National Public Radio. It described another odd relationship, this between humans and a species of undomesticated bird. Somehow it seemed to shed light on why I think we underestimate the mysteries of our relationship with many animals. Rather than explain it myself, I refer you to the Birdnote text and/or the aired Birdnote mp3 where you will hear the bird's song.

Are we changed when there are no scenes like the one above to reflect upon, only cartons of milk and plastic-wrapped burgers?

Be sure to click on this image to see it large.