Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hudson River Schooled

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Climb from the Harlem/Route 22 Valley into the hills along its western side, and you'll find mostly horse country until you get up north near Winchell Mountain. It's the highest spot around, a broad spread of corn fields and grazing land for the dairy herds of Pleasant View Farm. Whether or not it is quintessential, this image is an unexceptional glimpse of quiet countryside; unexceptional except that readers of this blog who pass through the area will be trying to recall exactly where it is, and others will know it instantly. It is a place where you can often see people stop to take in the view or just let off steam. One might even put a dot on maps at this very spot and mark it, "Pleasant View."

Before I started photographing in this area I occasionally scorned the work of the Hudson River School painters, but the quiet grandeur they found here is irresistible.  From this gap in the hills where the road passes near the broad top of the mountain, we can see across the Hudson Hills and past the great river to the Catskill Mountains whose crests are 30 miles away and the better part of a two hour, hilly drive. It is easy to forget that we are looking out across a scurrying suburbia of traffic lights, honking horns, and trips to the dentist.  There, along the river's edge especially, the traffic snarls along Route 9 can be maddening.

Sometimes there are cows in this field. Though they might add to the composition, a look at the sky and you ought to realize that any cows in the field now, will be lying down beneath the trees, on the hill to my right, waiting for the weather to change and radiating karmic energy with, I'm certain, no notion of scurrying suburbia.