“September”

Posted on Aug, Sat, 2020 in Gallery Image, Landscapes, Musings from Still Point, Musings from Still Point, Uncategorized

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September

My memory of Septembers in northeast Ohio are of crystal skies and filtered sunlight, a month as temperate as its equinox suggests.  The image here, taken September 8th, 2012 as I walked the center path of Squire Valleevue farm’s eastern meadow depicts a very different month, the portent of a seasonal change.  Stratocumulus clouds on the trailing edge of a cold front swept through that morning auguring an early winter. And in a moment of nature imitating art the landscape bore resemblance to layers in a Rothco painting, a study in color, horizontals and horizons.

This was the rare and restive September day with uncharacteristic temerity, an abruptness and “matter of factness” foreshadowing change, where the transition of seasons is rarely subtle. Even September with its few discordant days, skies prematurely brooding and bracing, still the meadow waiting, a renascent source for life through each season.

And yet most of the month a contrast, a nostalgic time when tall meadow grass makes its final surge then rests weary upon itself. Blue asters tenacious through their last days, Liatris and Ironweed bending reluctantly, folding and fading, their roots and rhizomes anchoring the meadow through time. I’ve often thought September in Cleveland, a mix of memories and wistful, melancholic longings for another place or for past friends and family. The comforting melancholy of  September is reflected in the last stanza of Robert Frost’s poem, “Reluctance”.

“Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?”

The barn, its weathered sides and growing clefts reminding us of changes ahead; each season – life’s measure and mystery.

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“Remains”

Posted on Jul, Tue, 2020 in Landscapes, Uncategorized


This abandoned farm in Oceana county sits parallel to Monroe Ave., eight miles due east of Pentwater, a small, mid-nineteenth century village whose summer cottages perch along the dunes overlooking Lake Michigan.

Next to the farm’s original entrance, a gravel road grown over with field grass and sand is still visible as are the imprints of tractor paths crisscrossing the land in faded depressions their vague intersections recordings of generations past. Goldenrod, milkweed, late summer asters, native Joe Pye, and other weeds and desiccated grasses languishing in the solitude of a late Indian summer, native flora advancing quietly, inexorably, consuming the landscape and family history. And strewn about in the foreground, waiting patiently, weathered stumps of cherry bleached by time and lake winds are all that remain of the farm’s orchard. Out of view, behind the camera, flames of scarlet sumac obscure the possible notice or contemplation for the few driving by.

I spent that late afternoon exploring, imagining the property and what remains, its productive, fecund days lost somewhere in the last century, its transient beauty and memories slowly absorbed into the landscape.

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“March Is the Cruelest Month”

Posted on Apr, Mon, 2020 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point

“Early Blush of Spring”

* This was an earlier Facebook post (Dec., 2019) that I felt warranted inclusion on our blog in the spirit of spring.  My hopes for an early spring in Ohio were premature.  As of today, April 13, there are few signs of flowering abundance save the random tulip trees and the blush of green and tinges of red on the landscape. The following then is a repost of my earlier December description.  Be safe in the days ahead!

“March is the Cruelest Month” (apologies to T.S. Eliot)

After a series of black and white, (“bleak is beautiful”) photographs this past week, I’m hoping to redeem myself with the promise of an early spring as had occurred at the time this photo was taken above the Chagrin river. The spring tease pictured here came in March, 2012 with the transformation of the winter landscape as average daily highs exceeded 60°, an all time record. The month included four days in the 80°’s and seven in the 70°’s and was 18° higher on average than normal.

The crabapple, in its premature cloak of green (foreground), had dropped its blossoms days earlier, and the flowering cherry trees punctuated the landscape as sycamores stood erect and bare among oaks and black willows, an early mantle of color spreading across the latter.

April that year returned to normal with a succession of frosts and temperatures below freezing proving March, not April,
the cruelest month of the year.

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“Beyond”

Posted on Mar, Sat, 2020 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point, Uncategorized

“Beyond”

A trip to Mentor Headlands last Wednesday afternoon yielded an unexpected gift of the landscape. The beach east of the Headlands has transformed since my last visit over twenty-five years ago. Low dunes have developed as a root system of switch grass has created a carpet for sand to collect.

Rolling, richly textured fields of switch grass bend in the wind, catching light and emotion. It reminded me of the Portuguese word “saudade”, one about which I’ve written previously and one which many Americans may not recognize. It really has no simple direct English translation. Briefly (and incompletely), saudade is a deep melancholic, emotional state of yearning for a loved one, a lost relationship, a place or even a time. What distinguishes saudade from singular emotions is its ambivalence, the dimension of melancholy and happiness at once. I think it may be the perfect word for the emotions that sweep this nation. We, many of us, long for the recent past, one that now seems distant and possibly never the same, never attainable. The lighthouse (Fairport Harbor) just over the horizon is leading us metaphorically, paradoxically, back to the light.

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“Pastels, Schweitzer Marsh”

Posted on Mar, Thu, 2020 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point, Uncategorized

“Pastels, Schweitzer Marsh”

“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them.” John Ruskin

I love this quote by John Ruskin, the great Victorian critic of the arts. His compelling observation has resonated with me over the years as I’ve spent much time trying to see and photograph the intrinsic beauty of the landscape. It should come as no surprise that he was a great admirer of William (JMW) Turner, especially his luminous paintings of the sea and other natural settings.

This image, taken at sunrise in early May, reminds me of Turner’s use of color and his remarkable ability to see the sublime.

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“Still Point”

Posted on Jan, Tue, 2020 in Gallery Image, Landscapes, Musings from Still Point, Uncategorized

“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.

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