From A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher:
“Does absence have a weight? I think it does, because I stood there feeling crushed by something I couldn’t see. It was a much stronger feeling than the one I had when looking at a landscape full of empty streets…. Like it had once been peopled — and very densely peopled — and now it just wasn’t. It was unpeopled, in the same way something can’t be undone unless it has first been done…. and it was a very different feeling to just being empty. It was more like loneliness, not mine from finding myself alone in this world, but this world’s loneliness without you….”
From The End of the World Running Club by Adrian Walker:
“We stood at the window and drank coffee while the morning light grew outside. We watched details of the landscape emerge slowly like drops of watercolor seeping across canvas — trees, fields, hills, and fences — all the features of a traditional, rolling landscape. In the gray shadows, it all looked normal and untouched, so much so that it might have been possible to trick ourselves into thinking that, maybe, the devastation ended here. Maybe, beyond these hills surrounding us, people lived normally, the sun still met the earth, flowers still grew, cities still prospered. Or even — just maybe — what had happened had never happened at all. But then the light grew a little more, and we saw dark blights appear…. I felt a nameless loss: a grief for something I had never known, a time and a country I could only hope to feel through osmosis, never firsthand.”
These two quotes are a bit dark, but the writing is good and they both capture the strange discomfort of observing an unrecognizable, untouchable world. A truck grumbles past as I write this — a sound of normal life that only takes hold for a few seconds, then fades away. I watch through the window: Bradford Pear tree branches wave in the wake left by the truck and clouds of yellow pollen dust blow from the hood of my car. I’ll hose the rest of it off lateron.
Back at the computer, I end out thinking that old concerns about spending too much time indoors poking at gadgets and staring at screens seem quaint now: we’ve swung to another extreme, where screens stand in for experiences we can’t have. With our eyes on the screen, our senses are reduced from six to one: sight dominates, the rest is memory.
Photography of course has always been in that position, as an art form that revolves around creating and presenting images detached from the events that produce them. The photographer is not in the picture in the same way the painter is not in the canvas — the presence of both is like the elephant that’s not in the room — yet both artists use their tools and skills to attempt to recreate and re-present something they experienced and impressions they felt. The camellia blossoms that I’ve included in the first gallery below struck me because their white petals glowed against rich dark greens, a glow that seemed even more intense in the shade than in the sun.
The flowers in the second gallery are from the Rosaceae family; the blooms stretched along leafy vines crawling through a magnolia tree, covering most of the tree’s trunk and hiding many of its lower branches. For the last gallery, I used variations of the six images and eliminated the backgrounds, shifting the perspective away from blooms among vines, to make them appear as if they were suspended in mid-air … since, in a way, they were.
I took the photos for these three galleries at Oakland Cemetery’s gardens — a place that so far remains open and safely underpopulated as the world stays paused — which is busting out with color as spring barrels forward, providing dozens of new subjects for me and the camera. As I’ve often done here, I’ll be separating and processing new photos in color clumps; purple, yellow, orange, red, and blue flowers are filling up my folder of images for posting soon — supplemented with some from my own gardens, where clematis, grapevines, and hostas, especially, seem to grow so fast I can see it happen.
Select any of the images in these galleries if you would like to see larger versions. Thanks for reading and taking a look!