Wood and Water

Usually the McCormick’s Creek flows gently into the White River, which itself is during dry summer months reduced to a muddy mess.
After winter rain storms, the White River floods into the plains, and pushes the McCormick’s creek back, forcing the foam caused by the recent storm to spiral in waiting — for what?

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Time like the water has come to an unnatural standstill.

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The trees that will teem with life in a few months look tired beyond hope.

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But ripples in the water shake us back to life. We have paused only for a brief moment.

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The Old People

About half way between the water fall and the White River, following the creek trail in McCormic Creek State Park,
there is a sharp bend in the creek, which makes the whole area a bit darker than everything else. In the middle of the creek one can spot a strange creature standing there and obviously waiting for us.

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At a closer distance, the creature reveals itself as the trunk of a dead tree, losing not much of its previous ominosity.


Its strong roots hold on to the icy water like the grip of a dead man’s hand.


The stump hints at the missing presence of a once magnificent tree. It is always what is not there that makes a place sacred.


This is a landscape that would best be illuminated by Paul Celan’s Fadensonnen. Elsewhere in the park, off the marked trails, a relative is still alive, barely, waiting as well.


Nature Morte

The french Nature Morte is a peculiar contrast to the english Still Life. For today’s images, the french version is better suited.

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The dead tree, resting on a large boulder in front of McCormick Creek State Park’s canyon wall, invites to contemplate about decay and the passage of time very much like many still lifes do.

The image also follows an iconographic pattern, which consists of a platform, a presented object on the platform, and a backdrop. Traditionally, in a still life, the platform is usually a table, the objects can be fruits and flowers, and the backdrop is often a dark wall or piece of cloth. Here, the platform is the rock, the object the tree, and the backdrop the canyon wall. Several of Francis Bacon’s paintings (e.g. the Figure at a Washbasin) not only rely on the same pattern, but are compositionally reduced to it. In his case, the platforms are tables or chairs, the objects distorted people, and the backdrop is often a door or window.

I have probably taken about a dozen images of this tree over the years. It survived several winters.


However, heavy flooding has moved the tree out of the frame, making room for the next object.