Growing up in a city of over a million people, they do not see much of wildness. They see it here and there, of course, but they don't live with it, the way we did when we were young.
They came upon this little thing, tiny and cute but wild nonetheless. I watched while they built a corral of sticks and fashioned a little trough from a bottlecap, picking clover so it could eat. They were disappointed that it scurried away so quickly, unhindered by their fences. Why wouldn't it stay, so that they could love it and protect it, so that they could look at its adorableness and smile? But, whatever their will, it had its own drives and soon went on its way.
Life Tucked Aside
A Quiet Moment
Bits of Wildness
The sun was just starting to set as I made my way back up the hill to my in-laws' house. In another hour there'd just be a pink and orange stain on the horizon, but right then the light was still bright, and low enough to cast a long shadow on the far side of the canyon. Just above the trees, atop the ridge, a house perched, and down at the bottom of the canyon was the road as it passed by a horse pasture. But in between the hillside was steep, and I wondered if these trees had ever known a human's touch. It's strange and wonderful to think that there are still bits of wildness left in the world, even so close to the places we called home.
We had been there all day, piling rocks one atop the other, and the dam was really starting to take shape. Who knows whose idea it was—things have a way of coming together when no one is paying attention. Here and there a tadpole darted between the shadowy places between stones and algae, tickling our feet as their tails and little legs brushed past us. We laughed, splashed, hollered, and kept building.
At last the dam was done, the river deepening behind it, tinkling and rippling over and through it. We took off our shirts and lay in the little pool, letting the water wash past us. It was cold, even in the heat of the summer, and we sat until our lips turned blue.
Hearing the Song
Although most of the photographs I show here are family-oriented, I have always had a deep connection with landscapes. I grew up in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world, a place people come to visit from all over the world just to see the hills and trees and rocky shoreline. The few times a year I get the chance to go back home, I always end up taking a bunch of landscape shots. And, indeed, the most landscape-heavy work I've shown is centered there, in my home town.
But although I do take a lot of photos around San Diego, none of them are what I'd really consider straight landscapes. There's some street work, a lot of urban/suburban architectural stuff, a smattering of still life, but nothing really of the land as land. I remember once when Juliette and I were talking about our life in Southern California, I talked about how, as much as I like having friends and having a job, I don't really feel connected to the place. "Back home," I said, "the land sings. I can feel it in my bones. There's no song here, no soul to the land."
Now, I do think it's true that things here are different, and a lot of it has to do with living in a city—something I'm never really going to be cut out for. But, more and more, I'm realizing that every place has some kind of spirit, and if I'm not feeling it, it's got more to do with me than with the place.
I recently signed up to participate in Stuart Pilkington's 100 Mile Radius project, the prompt for which is simply to "document the land using [my] unique voice." I think it's time I learned how to listen to this place, and hopefully this project will be just the kick in the pants that I need.
Little fingers, how did you wind up there? Were you reaching for something as your eyelids drooped? It almost looks like you are pushing your pillow away, holding it back from your face. Of course, by the time I come back, after putting my camera away, you'll have moved. I wonder if you'll ever sleep still. But then, I suppose I don't, either.