I am the eagle this August morning. First to feel the horizon pierced, first to see morning’s marsh expand, color chasing night’s shadow before the sun, summer’s songs rising. I breathe the world. C.G. Baker
I had the good fortune today to find enough time between doctor’s appointments to detour through Gates Mills. Many of you will recognize Chagrin Valley Nursery from the beautiful geometry of the plantings. I’m convinced whoever designed this landscape must have done so knowing it would make a remarkable painting or image. Stopping in the middle of River road I took this shot at midday. It was during a particularly heavy squall which made for perfectly diffused light. A weeping birch stands in relief in the foreground (right) providing more perspective to the scene. I hope you can feel the wind sweeping across the landscape.
“Still Point” 16″x24″ Collector’s Edition of 10 C.G. Baker, 2020
Is there anyone who hasn’t tired of the myriad reed and grass photos, most composed in early morning mist or afternoon fog? As a child, over 60 years ago, I recall a black and white photo from “Life” magazine featuring reeds reflecting on a smooth lake. With my mother’s hand-me-down camera I wasted lots of film and her patience trying to replicate that image in a neighbor’s pond. Amateurish would be a very generous description of those photos. Ever since, I’ve shied away from the reed pictures that have seduced infinite photographers and generated infinite images. The few I’ve attempted have been unoriginal at best.
With that preamble I succumbed to temptation this afternoon when I spotted this array of marsh grass at the far end of Schweitzer’s marsh. Today’s fog diffused the light making for ideal conditions to capture the subtlety of color. It also provided the unlikely possibility of finding something new in a hackneyed subject. A small, single reed in the foreground adds dimension and lends perspective. This image draws my attention for some reason – the geometry possibly but as much the color transitions from reflections on the surface.
See what you think. It may be nothing more than the addled effects of the years on me.
“Toward Heaven Still”
In a couple of his poems (“After Apple Picking and “Birches”), Robert Frost invoked both imagery and metaphor through the phrase, “toward heaven” and “toward heaven still.” I’ve often thought this towering pin oak, anchored in less than three feet of water at the north end of Schweitzer marsh, was “pointed toward heaven still”; ascending from its base, reaching into the firmament. Exploring the marsh and the beech groves as young boys of ten or eleven, my friends and I could always spot this tree above the others and orient ourselves. The pin oaks were already dead and ghostly by the late 50’s, almost seventy years ago, yet the grove “still” stands. More than I can say for myself at times.
“Like to the blackbird at break of day arising … “
The title, inspired and only slightly corrupted, was appropriated from a line in Shakespeare’s 29th sonnet. This is a companion to the April marsh image I posted three days ago. The sun, still diffused by early mist, was only about twenty minutes above the horizon. Returning from its winter migration, a redwing blackbird posed atop an pin oak remnant.
A subtle reminder we have only three months to go.
My preoccupation with geese traces to childhood and the scarcity of what now has become abundant. This is the second in a series. Note, the gander trails the female always protecting his territory.
What works (I think) about this image is the context (marsh grass in the foreground) and the center focused composition.
Late September and early October in northeast Ohio are warm in hue … landscapes changing subtly each day. Summer’s decedents, some lost in shadow, others flame. Field grasses disappearing in the moment; ironweed, goldenrod slowly burning until extinguished.
Seed-heads across Squire Valleevue Farm stand in relief against a background of goldenrod, asters and late meadow grasses, many verdant until a frost.
I do not know what grass or weeds these may be but I see them here every year before their seeds scatter on autumn winds.
Autumn brings to mind the last stanza of Robert Frost’s poem “Reluctance”