Wednesday, July 20, 2016



 "Fire and Ice"

Last Saturday, I’d planned to take Flo over to one of our favorite nature sites and shoot some new photos of the area, with a 950nm IR filter. For some reason, I felt a little “off” about going there at this time, so I came up with a different plan. Another one of our nature photography haunts had some unusual additions in the past couple of years – a yurt of sorts, and some other hand-built wooden shelters, along with a wooden box on a post, for the sharing of books. Earlier this year, I’d ordered a used book Flo wanted, but the bookstore shipped the wrong one, a duplicate of one she had – they said we could keep it. I thought of dropping that one off at the book box, then we could wander around and look for more photo ops.
At the first stoplight near our house, we were blocked from turning left for an escorted funeral cortege – in itself, not an unusual site, but I’d never seen one pass through this intersection in more than fifty years. It made me feel a bit more of that “off” feeling. We waited for another light, then went on our way.
As I turned left into the parking lot that backs up to the yurt, the pickup in front of us turned right, turned around in the parking lot, crossed back, and took up a position where the driver could follow what we were doing. He was far enough away to cause no concern, but I kept an eye on him while he feigned not watching us.
The yurt, the other wooden constructs, and the book box had all been removed since I’d photographed them last September. Some music was blaring nearby, though I couldn’t make out where from exactly. Just past where the yurt had been, down the hill toward the creek, is where I shot the “Fire and Ice” canvas print featured in an art show last fall. I took a few photos, then decided to move on to one of our other areas. As we headed to our car, the fellow in the pickup apparently lost interest and left. I drove about a city block’s worth, just across the parking lot, heading for a highway overpass, where I’d shot some photos of Flo she used for her blog.
I parked in front of the dialysis center where I took my mother for several years. Strolled over to the side of the building, next to the drop-off overhang where I’d parked and helped her into her wheelchair dozens of times. I started taking photos of the cattails on the embankment next to the driveway, when a female cop who had been chatting with patients in front of the dialysis center came running up to me – “Sir – SIR! May I help you!” She then ran us off. I was a bit sarcastic, asking her if the cattails were now classified secrets.
Walking on a public parking lot, snapping photos of cattails and trees. I didn’t dare tell her I was shooting infrared.
One of my go-to places to wander and take nature photos, for 39 years, since before any development of the area… I’d never been kicked out of there before.
It would take me a while to count up the photos I’ve had published, taken in various corners of this odd-shaped, urban-encircled woods. A few, off the top of my head – a shot of the railroad bridge accompanies a story of mine in Static Movement. The shot Flo took of me that I use on my Amazon Author’s Page, is from these woods. One of Flo dressed as a gypsy, an illustration for an e-Zine. The above-mentioned yurt is in an issue of Not One of Us. A book cover I designed a few years ago is cut from a panorama I took in the snow, in another section. The following blog is also about these woods:

An infrared shot from 2001 earned an Honorable Mention ribbon at the Indiana State Fair:
The Long Road Home

A friend told me some strange stories about these woods, and took me over for a visit, nearly forty years ago. It was a bit of an oddity, an expanse of field and heavily wooded forest, undeveloped, completely surrounded by urban and suburban sprawl. One could still see decaying telegraph poles paralleling the railroad tracks which bisected the woods, and a row of high-tension towers cut through the field on the opposite side. Still, the rest of the woods remained untouched, almost primeval. The development of this shopping area took years to remove ancient wood, re-sculpt the land, and dredge the creek. In a few short years, business after business there failed or abandoned the region. A “Cheddars” restaurant drew in business for a couple of years, before it suddenly burned to the ground – and what remains looks eerily ancient.
Still, enough of the woods remain to retain some of the feel the land once had, and nature has returned the gouged and dredged creek to a state almost matching what it was before.
To feel unwelcome there, after all these years, is unsettling…