Short Lived Magic

Snow in April is a rare thing in southern Indiana. DSC 8396

The snow cover was very light and didn’t stay long on the warm ground.

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But the trees were decorated with lots of tiny white accents from snow flakes and water droplets, creating an unusual winter landscape.

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Instead of the typically harsh winter sun, everything was bathed in ambient light.

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The pictures were all taken with the Lensbaby Velvet 85, fully open at 1.8. The stopped down images I took also look gorgeous, but have an entirely different, less surreal character.

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More snow is predicted for Friday night. I can’t wait.

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Patterns of Ice

After almost two weeks of deep freeze, the ice at the local creeks is making feeble attempts to melt.DSC 0248

This has resulted in patterns that are, of course completely useless.

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They don’t reduce unemployment, make people smarter, or cure insanity.

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But they don’t cause damage, and that is already something these days.

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Unbelievable that all this is just water.

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Reflections on the Letter T

Almost a year ago, when there was still hope, I posted a few Fall themed images with the title Yellow. The third image shows a view of McCormick’s Creek with a tree trunk that looked in 2008 like this:

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The perspective of the two images is not quite identical, but you will see that in the older image above there are two prominent trees, the right of which has become the trunk in the second image of the image of last year’s post.

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Above is another image, from 2009, tree still standing, again from a slightly shifted perspective. The view has always tantalized me, because it looked promising, but I could never turn it into a picture I was happy with. Below is a view from the other side, another year later.

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Then, in 2015, this unexpected change:

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With the tree reduced to a stump,

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the place has become more balanced and serene.

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Sometimes it is worth the wait.

Time to Leaf

This year, times seems to be running faster, as if everything wants it to be over.

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The freshly fallen leaves already look like they are from last year. And they don’t even read the news.

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This is the game I played, called Still Live, ironically: You walk around and take the leaves as they are. You may remove a stem or piece of dirt, but you may not add.

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So one fights against the randomness of every appearance, without creative power, only allowed to select.

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This makes for a nice morning walk in the woods, despite.

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Another Form of Recovery

After a long summer, when heat, humidity and bugs are slowly retreating, it is time to visit some old friends, like here in the canyon of McCormick’s Creek State Park.

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The plan was to capture some of the spots I remembered so that they appear like my memories. The lens of choice was the Lensbaby Velvet which wide open blurs the landscape into oblivion. There is, for instance, the wonderfully maturing tree trunk which I had first seen as a still healthy but otherwise unremarkable tree,
or the overhanging tree that (against all odds) has survived this year one of T.

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There are also the long views into the canyon that seem to support direction and focus, but instead limit choice.

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Another trunk (near the sacred spring) has been sprouting new life – not a miracle, but symbol for resistance.

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Of course there are also the frames I have written about before I am sure but can’t find anymore – – –

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Things become clear when I encounter new friends, like this unlikely pile of rocks in the middle of the stream.

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Verticality

Near where McCormick’s Creek merges into the White River, the area becomes quite swampy and is often flooded. There are two views from a boardwalk trail through this swamp that have caught my attention. The first is a quadruplet of sycamore trees in the foreground.

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Clearly the weeds are about to conquer the world, you might think. Of course, the sycamores know better.

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The other spot is a hundred yards further down the board walk, where the view opens up into a stage like space where we wait in vain for a performance to begin.

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But it is us who are lacking the patience: The performance is happening, all the time, mostly without us.

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Sources of Healing

Last October I went on an early morning to McCormick’s State park, not expecting to see anybody.

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But there was this guy, sitting next to the little waterfall in the dark. We started chatting. He was from Florida, evacuating for the week because of Hurricane Matthew. Friends had told him to check out this place, and he was quite impressed.

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They had also told him of a Spring of Healing that could be found here, and he wanted to know about it.

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I couldn’t help.

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But it is true that some places are special. My virtual substitute here can only be a reminder that they still exist.

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They need our protection.

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Yellow

When Giacinto Scelsi went through a personal crisis, he spent hours listening to the sound of a single key on his piano. The haunting music he composed afterwards is my favorite music for the Fall.

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Appropriately once in a while the leaves make a concerted effort to display just one color.

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The yellow fall color is particularly difficult to catch, because the leaves fade too quickly when on the ground. This fragility makes yellow ideal to increase tension in an image.

I have difficulties pinpointing what I like about the image below. I keep returning to the pale yellow tree in the center that seems hover over the slanted lines of nearby rocks and trees,
ready to exert more pressure downwards, but not quite doing it yet.

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Fragility is also part of Scelsi’s music. The first time I heard his music was at a concert in Cologne, and one piece was for solo guitar. Half way through the piece a string broke. The player just sat there for a minute, seemingly uncomprehending. When he recovered, he looked into the audience, went up to get a new string, and recommenced playing. This one minute of silence could very well have been part of the music.

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The Quarry

The quarry is an interesting design pattern. Our daily lives need nurture, and while some of the nutrients are free or at least easily available, there are some that require hard work: Seek out the sources, mine them with skills and stamina, and transport and transform the goods into desired place and shape.

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We all should have our own personal quarries (which is why I declared them a design pattern, not for computer science but for the architecture of our own lives). My personal quarries, in a pre-internet life, used to be bookstores. They had their own personality that you needed to get acquainted with, invited into, so to speak. There were unforgettable moments, for instance, when I went into one of these quarries in Marseille, found Marcel Béalu’s L’Expérience de la nuit, and was told by the wise person at the cash register c’est une très beau livre. Indeed it is.

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Another key experience was my visit to a museum book store in a city I hadn’t been before. I was instantly struck by a déjà vu experience next to none: I had been in this bookstore before. To prove this to myself, I went straight to a shelf in a particular aisle and retrieved the book I knew was there. I don’t believe in these things, and they don’t happen to me.

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It took me a few hours to remember that I had been to a another museum a few years back, and visited their museum store, which had the exact same layout as the one that caused my déjà vu. This was long ago, and in Europe, and I was not familiar with the fact that store owners had discovered design patterns and used them for cheap and successful replication.

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Since then, times have changed again. Not only are my book quarries mostly gone, but even the chains of near identical book stores have largely disappeared, replaced by electronic online retailers. I don’t object the internet (how could I). But I believe that we need to resist the total commercialization of our lives. We can do so by creating little quarries for others. Maybe.

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The pictures here are from the Old State House Quarry in McCormick’s Creek State Park. Southern Indiana is limestone country, and the lime stone from this particular quarry was quarried in the late 19th century.

Bending but not Breaking

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When I first saw this nicely bent tree in McCormick’s Creek State Park in the fall of 2008, I did not expect to see it again.

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Arch like trees have become something like an archetype for me, or rather, as I am not so fond of C.G. Jung, a pattern, as in pattern language. They serve the (purely symbolic, of course) dual purpose of creating a connection between two sides and signaling a passage through, and all this under the apparent duress of being bent to the verge of breaking. In any case, this arch was still there in winter, the next summer,

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and the following years.

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Is it still there? I leave it to you to decide whether this year’s image shows he same tree again.

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It does not matter. Thomas Mann explains in his tetralogy Joseph und seine Brüder his concept of time: Events, or motifs for stories, or patterns, reoccur or are at least thought to reappear over and over, with no hope to trace their origin or future repurposing.

There will always be trees ready to bend, even after countless others have been broken.

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In Memoriam, Orlando 6-12-2016