Batrachomancy: Wagenaar and Kydd

 

Chelsea Wagenaar / Sal Taylor Kydd

 

chidren holding polywags

Pollywogs, 2016, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

 


Batrachomancy
—divination by frogs

Somewhere they leap on soft wet banks,
crouch in clear waters, their mottled skin
as dew brilliant as the spiderwebs were the spring
my father saved them. They don’t know how
they were spared, of course, the wrist-thin skin
of their throats pale and pulsing to sound out
the hours, each other. Perhaps only a few
still survive that spring twelve years ago,
when their mother trekked up from the wooded stream
that bordered our yard and emptied her belly
in our swimming pool—nebulous cluster
of milky globules suspended there, each an eye
with its black, pinpricked center. There,
to our spellbound disgust, they hatched—
the pool a frantic bevy of heads and tails,
the luck or curse that placed them there.
If I follow them back through their afterlives,
bellowing and skin-darkened to herald
a coming rain, voluble with warning
when storms approached, some lost,
perhaps tweezed apart in junior high labs,
or caught again by my father, cupped too tightly
in the hands of his new daughter—if I follow them
back through their chorused, forested lives,
I can trace them up the garden hose
that poured them in synchronized frenzy
into their rightful waters, the hose
a sinuous lifeline climbing the yard to our pool,
where its other end siphoned the tadpoles
from a water thrilled with their darting chaos.
Look harder, farther: I see my father
by the stream, kneeling in damp clay,
his lungs full, his mouth around the hose
inhaling a deep, slow gasp, then another,
until the summoned water met his mouth.
The bodies pouring out into the life
they had not known to imagine.
And his watching them arrowed away
in the current like undoused green flames.
And the bitter, secret taste on his tongue.
young girl backbend

Backbend, 2015, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

plant floating in water

Flotsam, 2015, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

 

 

 


child legs under water swimming

Elliot Diving, 2015, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

edge of still water with tree line reflection

Linda’s Cove, 2015, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

swimming girl head out of water

Lola Rising, 2015, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

Lullaby in a Drought

In the drawers, in the cabinets,
we find pecan casings and pellets,

the answer to the question
of what patters in the walls at night.

We are not the only lovers here.
If the lights go out, we used to say,

you pour the wine and I’ll find
the matches. But we dare not tempt them

in this tinder town—where sycamores shed
parched unready leaves, where yards are fringed

with thistle barbs. If the waters rise,
we used to say, you pour the wine

and I’ll tear out the best pages.
But now the baby’s in her seventh week,

pulled from the secret waters
of my body into a rainless topography.

Who is more sorry?
She sleeps the sleep of rivers.

In the nights I sit cradleside when she wakes,
humming Brahms’ famous notes—

a song he wrote to sway an old love.
So we are always singing

what we cannot change.
The walls fill with patter, rain clouds

form somewhere else. The wine
grows older, finer. If the funnel forms,

if the hail falls.


The Gospel According to the Ant

You unbeautiful unwelcome creature,
spring-herald, anti-chef,
I find you

mired in malbec spatter,
freckling the sugar bowl,

a moving pixel among the strawberry’s
seed-pocked flesh.

Little needle threaded
with these traces of my life,
you sew me

to the whirring world underfoot.
In perfect sync with the 5 o’clock train’s
westward heave,

you bear your crumb freight—
a piece of rind nearly twice your tercet body—

with what I have no word for
except maybe grace. Grace

that stays my hand, grace
that doesn’t lessen your load

but lets you carry it
until you reach your pocket of earth

where the others rise, finally,
to help you set it down.

 

dead goldfinch

The Goldfinch, 2015, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

girl in old-fashioned farm watering station

Girl Bathing, 2015, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

 

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from in a single hand emerging from water

A Frog in the Hand, 2015, ©Sal Taylor Kydd

Sal Taylor Kydd writes of her photographs from OriginsMy work is primarily an exploration of memory, how we preserve memories and how they shape our lives moving forward with sometimes illusory certainty.  It is also a reflection on time, and an examination of the fleeting moments where we behold change within ourselves and the world around us. I see the photographic object is a keepsake of our experience, and as such is a way of recording discoveries that serves as a reminder of what we have lost and what we are attempting to preserve.

In my most recent work I have been looking at how memory shapes and distorts our understanding of what is real.  Specifically it is an exploration of truth through the lens of our relationships – how what we know to be certain about ourselves and the other, changes in the course of that journey. What do we keep for ourselves and what do we share? In a world where everything is shared and exposed, what is left that is sacred. 


Chelsea Wagenaar is the author of Mercy Spurs the Bone, selected by Philip Levine as the winner of the 2013 Philip Levine Prize.  She holds a BA from the University of Virginia and a PhD from University of North Texas. Her work appears recently or is forthcoming in The Southern Review, The Normal School, and Poetry Northwest.  She currently lives in Indiana, where she is a postdoctoral Lilly Fellow at Valparaiso University.

Artist Sal Taylor Kydd has a BA in Modern Languages and an MFA in Photography from Maine Media College.  She has exhibited nationally, with shows at A. Smith Gallery in Texas, Gallery 69 in LA, and Pho Pa Gallery in Portland ME. Sal is also a book-artist represented by Priscilla Juvelis, Inc.  She resides in Rockport, Maine.

In The Southwest: Keane & Fogel

Kristin Keane Harris Fogel

Caught

I.

I am not sure who made the Grand Canyon so wild—it is hot, petrified, ready to bake you alive. In summer, the air strangulates, suffocates, smothers. The way it takes you by the neck, you must dip your entire face—your whole body, even—into the Colorado River for relief, the residue evaporating from your skin as quickly as air releases from a punctured balloon. Dehydration comes regularly and the canyon takes lives that way. Sixty-five to be exact, lifeless and seized on the switchbacks off the rim. Some come for the beauty, but usually it is for the risk.

Once a man waited out the heat by resting, foregoing the hike down towards the river because of fatigue. When his friends returned, they found him dead. I would like to ask that man: Were his last moments with the canyon as intimate as two hands pressing together? Did he see inside himself? Was there a choice?

dessert landscape

Backyard, Pioneertown, California, c. 1999 – 2003 ©Harris Fogel


II.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the Grand Canyon because deep in the gorge I fell into a rapid and the river and I had a moment with one another. I traveled with an outfitter one hundred twenty-six miles in, two billion years of geological history and layer upon layer of eroded rock, a deep gash inside the Earth’s crust. A silty river, colored like chocolate milk rests below the rim, one hundred twelve rapids dotting the surface, shifting and changing every moment; it does not die. The crests of them are entirely whitewater, turbulent and frothy. Formed by holes, formed by heavy, collapsed things; formed by blockages; formed by waves themselves—breaking white-capped haystacks. They are not all the same of course, and a guideline indicates their power by numbers one through ten. We went there to ride across them, hang on for dear life and fly through them, the river guides cowboys armed with wooden-oared reins. The danger was the draw: it made us feel more alive.

The water, remarkably, is not the only peril inside the canyon. Dust storms take you by the throat and during monsoon season, the way the river sweeps into the craggy channels between the rocks, you can get pinned against a boulder and drown. That’s not to mention others: sunburns so intense the layers of your flesh become as powdered as a cigarette sleeve’s ash. The winter temperatures drop so far below zero, the frigid water can freeze your extremities so they snap off the way you break a candy bar in half. Sheer cliff edge’s hairpin turns and rattlesnake bites, the thorny ends of catclaw acacia brushing against your bare legs, poisonous scorpions, the bulls’-eye shaped targets of mayfly bites, left for other animals to sink their stingers inside. It goes on.

When we arrived at Lava Falls, one of the most technically difficult American rapids, the guide turned and said right before the drop, “You really don’t want to go over, so grasp the raft tightly,” after I asked what we should do in case of emergencies, in case the whole plan fell apart down there. In fact I asked this just moments before we got slammed, before the raft lifted up and licked the sky one last time and we hit the wave train in a way that we might as well have been striking the stony surface of the canyon wall. She had also said, “Just make sure you have thirty seconds of air in your lungs,” and something else about not getting caught on anything.

But thirty seconds is a big stretch, after all. It is enough time to forget why you’re there, to make a terrible choice, yield to something. When I saw the guide fumble the oar as the rapid approached, bending down towards us high and glossy in the arch of a snakes’ tongue, I thought: that’s really beautiful; and then: it’s over.


III.

The rapid. Days of getting beaten down by swells of water, pummeled at the edges of the rafts’ frames, made it hard to tell we had flipped, but then I felt my feet looking for a place to anchor themselves where the foot straps should have been. I opened my eyes under water and saw the detritus the canyon spit out floating around inside, brown as a nut. It was quiet under there. I was quiet under there, twisting around the places where the water’s velocity shifted me. I realized I couldn’t really hear the rapid because it is thing you feel, even after breath has been knocked clean out of you, even when your ears are wide open. My heart met the rapid’s heart, they fastened, and we slid down a drain together.

It was a bludgeoning like a baton to the right cheekbone with the rush and force of two magnets’ poles: a tethering that could not be undone. Days could have passed under there, who knows? We compared notes. Bodies: my extremities to its jagged, pencil-thin twigs; the mosaic of its bedrock to the freckled constellations of my shoulders. We have both dreamt of butterflies. In mine their crab-shaped bodies fluttered inside my grandmother’s antique jewelry box; in the rapid’s, their wings were made from weighty arrowweed, sinking them in the river just as soon as they pitched themselves into the sky. The rapid lined my regrets and secrets up like smooth river rocks and held my face up to each buried one: I’ve toiled too long in places I should have left sooner, spent too much time in worry. I hide from myself. It is hard to weep in water, but right then I found a way. You might not believe me, but the rapid shifted shape and showed me myself.

I paused trying to recall what Betsy had said right before the drop. (Be careful not to get caught up, or be careful not to get caught on, anything?) The rapid and I agreed this was a moment when time appeared to fold in on itself.


IV.

I don’t know how I came up, or where. I remember immediately trying to commit to memory the things felt inside: arousal, pulling my heart from inside of its heart. I turned back from the rescue raft and suddenly it was gone. The waves barked up from the other side, and considering the mess of the current, there was no going back. You might tell me that a wave never dies, but it also never doesn’t.

dessert landscape

Cholla Study No. 2, Joshua Tree, California, c. 1998 ©Harris Fogel


V.

The last night on the river, a guide is struck by lightening. Chasing pineapple upside-down cake with thimbles of bourbon, we sang “Happy Birthday” while fingers of electrostatic zipped across the canyon’s edge.

“Lightening rarely comes off the rim, so we’re fine,” someone actually said right before a bolt hit the umbrella we stood under to keep dry. The passenger we were singing to still held a plate of cake in his hand, seven candles stuck into the slice, one for each decade. At first I thought the struck guide was gazing at the lightening from his back like he was watching clouds form—unicorn, bear, ice-cream-cone-riding-turtle. I was reminded of the rapid, how it could reshape itself into anything. But then someone said, Is Jim dead?, just like that. A few of us stepped towards him. He was blue as a starling egg, but breathing.

Yucca Valley landscape

After the Fires, Pioneertown Road, Yucca Valley, California, c. 1999 – 2003 ©Harris Fogel


VI.

I went there to bake under the sun, contort myself up rope ladders, travel into something famously perilous. I went there not to be remembered of death but to push against it, to ride the river’s wild edge and feel more alive. The awakening was supposed to be in the risk of the rapid, not in falling for it: it lives unapologetically, moves the way the stars and shifts of the moon’s gravity go, careens and turns and bends for itself because what makes it up is everything else—it is the rapid, but it is the river, the dirt, the rocks—living by its own accord, unafraid and unapologetic of what’s next. We see danger in the way that light flashes against a rapid’s foamy ridges, and the rapid just sees the light.

Nine Mile Canyon landscape

Nine Mile Canyon, Above Owens Valley, Inyokern, California, c. c. 1999 – 2003 ©Harris Fogel


VII.

I could have done things differently down there. I could have reached harder for a handhold, pinched the tips of my fingers between a slot in the rock bed’s surface, wedged my feet inside a gap, bowed my head to exhale. I could have punished myself, ended things. I could have caught razorback suckers with my bare hands, ripped their heads clean off with my teeth. Under is where fear finally stops. Under is an uncomplicated surrender. Under is a good place to hide. The guide got struck by lightening that night, and he went back the very next summer. I wanted to ask him what he experienced inside that streak of electricity, how he felt underneath the pulse. I didn’t get the chance to, but I’m guessing I probably already know. If the opposite of cheating death is dying, then what do you call the place in between?


VIII.

Somewhere along the way we learn fear, we worry for what’s coming next, relinquish ourselves to control, to loss of pure unrestraint. Then we hide from ourselves. I’m no good at learning from the past, but I know now there is a place under that rapid more powerful than the roar of the water ricocheting between the canyon walls, a place where you can go get caught. A rapid doesn’t drown anyone: it lives primal and intrepid, unafraid of broken bridges.

Here’s a trick I’ve found to feel more alive that is not in dodging rattlesnakes, their forked, smelling tongues: I imagine heading for the edge of the vertical drop, but do not ask what will happen next. I see the rapid ahead, prettily misshapen and speeding towards me. I do not sink my feet into the footholds of the raft; I do not grip the straps so tightly my knuckles go white. Instead I let go, press my hands together. I think about time, butterflies, drain holes. I pull my fingers apart and set the palm of my hand against the place on my chest where my heart is under. I listen. I wait for time to fold.

De Anza Cycle Park landscape

On the Road to De Anza Cycle Park, I-60 east of Moreno Valley Near Banning Pass, Riverside County, California, c. 1999 – 2003 ©Harris Fogel

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Kristin Keane lives in the Bay Area where she teaches at the University of San Francisco. A Vermont Studio Center writing resident and LitCamp juror, her fiction has been shortlisted for a Glimmer Train prize in fiction and has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly and Fjords Review. 

Harris FogelThese photographs were made using an 8×10-inch Deardorff view camera; for most of the images the camera was fitted with a Fuji 250mm F6.8 lens. The original book maquette of a Few American Cultures was created in 1993 at the request of the late Reinhold Misselbeck, then curator of the Museum Ludwig in Köln. Housed in a black plastic negative binder, it was filled with one-of-a-kind Cibachrome 8×10-inch contact prints printed on the glossy print material when I lived in Palm Springs, California. The advent of digital imaging allowed me to revisit the work and reconsider it in a larger framework.

The project began in the 1980s, with several themes; water politics in the West centered in California, the western landscape, portraiture, the South, etc., all cultures unique to themselves, but overlapping at the same time. I have continued to work on the project, creating new images, evolving and expanding. The shift to the 8×10-inch view camera not only slowed me down, but it allowed an exploration and description of texture instead the rough jottings of texture that smaller formats provided.

Natural Phenomena: Thomas & Hines

Osprey of the Blue Refuge

I come over the dunes into morning light, white light, the kind of light that makes my tripod and 600-millimeter lens worth the weight.  I am hunting osprey.  For two weeks, I have walked the beaches of the bird refuge, sleeping in my car at the park campground.  I’ve found two nests.  One sits on a wooden platform beside the campground, its stick-and-sod lattice woven with denim thread and fishing line.  The other came down from its nest tree after the last hard rain.  I stood right there.  I watched it fall.
Early this morning, I went to the visitor’s center to ask after ospreys.  I shook hands with the ranger, whose name I could not recall.  He knew mine.  He stood up behind his desk when I came through the door.  “If it isn’t John Cossman,” he said.  He waited for his name.  The visitor’s center is not air-conditioned, so he sweat.  I sweat.  Since I could not ask his name, I asked for a map of the island.
He was wearing a park ranger’s Stetson.  If he’d taken off the Stetson, I might have known him.  I knew we’d gone to school together, to the only island school.  I knew he was one

 who never managed to get away.  Growing up on Santa Rosa Island, you hear it from your parents and your teachers and Mrs. Lewis at the grocery: “If you want to make something of yourself, you’ve got to get off the island.”   At seventeen, I did.  Four years later, when my choices were Southeast Asia or medical school, I chose medical school.
He asked what work I’d been doing, and I told him I was working as a pathologist in Charleston.  I did not tell him fifteen months ago, I diagnosed a cyst from the left breast of a woman—we’ll call her Ms. Lydia Harris—as a radial scar, benign.  It was malignant.  One year later, they diagnosed tubular carcinoma, stage three, metastatic in five of seventeen lymph nodes.  You can’t know what might have been, but her prognosis now is nine months of hell and then fifty-fifty.  They printed an interview with her in the local paper, covering the malpractice suit.  She said, “I just want him to admit he made a mistake.”  But a man doesn’t make a mistake like that.  I have diagnosed tubular carcinoma more times than I can count and never gotten it wrong before.



I told him I’d retired.
He said, “Good for you.”  He said he’d seen my father a few weeks ago at the food mart.  My father lives waterfront on the island’s eastern shore.  “Said he was thinking of selling the house, heading north.”
I shook my head.  My father built that house fifty years ago.  My wife Sandra has been trying to get him to sell and move up to Charleston, closer to us.  She thinks he’s lonely.  I tell her he likes his space, same as I do.  I said, “We’ll have to pry him out of that house.”
“Lots of people are selling,” he said.  “Going inland for work.  I’ve had every fisherman on the island come through this office in the past three months.  They stand just like you’re standing, asking have I got work for them.”
“I’m not looking for work,” I said.
He said, “I tell them like I’m telling you now.  I tell them if I had work don’t you think I’d give it to you?  In a minute, I’d give it to you.”
“I’m not looking for work.”
He rolled his chair back from the desk, tipped his hat up on his head.
I nearly had his name when Charleston called.  I let my phone ring itself out against my hip.  It was the lawyer, wanting to confirm tomorrow’s meeting.  In the message, she said, “Eight in the morning, doctor.”  She said, “See you then.”  We are to meet before the deposition.  The deposition is tomorrow. The deposition is at noon.  I could have left 

 

then, poured a small coffee to go and taken I-10 into the sun.  I could have been home in time to eat dinner with Sandra.  But I had remembered his name.  I leaned across the ranger’s desk, tapped two fingers down on the laminate.  “Russell,” I said, “I am looking for osprey.”

Untitled from series Spirit Stories ©Jessica Hines

I walk east, skirting the loose sand of the dunes, because Russell pointed me east.  He said there is a nest this way.  “Keep to the shore.  You can’t miss it.”  I keep to the shore.


From the air, Santa Rosa Island looks like a body afloat on the tide, the bridge a single arm stretched overhead, fingers sunk deep into the Florida coast.  The migratory bird refuge runs along the island’s southernmost point, three miles of undeveloped shoreline.  I am glad to be here, herding sandpipers up a lip of shore, dodging the stranded jellyfish that shine like blisters. Tar balls pebble the beach.  I kneel at intervals, steady my camera on my knee and try to photograph the hurried sandpipers, but the sun is too high.  Even underexposed, the sand behind them is too white.

Untitled from series Spirit Stories ©Jessica Hines

Sandra calls.  I feel her humming against my hip.  I take the phone and hold it in my palm.  She will want to know what time she should expect me home, to know if I hit traffic in Mobile, construction outside of Atlanta.  “Where are you?”she asks in the message. She asks twice.  If I called her back, I would tell her, “I’m leaving now,” and she would say, “I’ll wait up for you,” and she would wait and wait.
Last time I talked to Sandra, she told me they could take our savings if malpractice didn’t cover the suit.  They could take the Roth where we’ve been putting money every month for retirement.  They could take the house.  She said, “I’d hate to lose the house.”
Ospreys orient home by the sun on their biannual migrations.  They come to this island from Cuba, following a trail of floating rigs, whose derricks offer places to perch, to rest their wings or lock talons and sleep.  At night, when there is no sun, they fly by the stars—not single stars, star patterns, constellations.  If clouds obscure the stars, they follow the grid of ultraviolet light.  If they are blinded in the name of science, they use magnetic cues to find their way.
I haven’t slept in the house in Charleston in weeks.  I wouldn’t mind if they took it.  I could stay here, sell prints of my photographs, maybe work as a docent in the visitor’s center, make enough to keep myself in boots and canned peas.  I’d enjoy that sort of work, put-your-feet-up work, work that doesn’t help anything, doesn’t hurt anything.  When I get back to Charleston, I’ll tell them take the house.  I’ll tell them take it all.


At the fishing pier, a male osprey flies reconnaissance over the water, flexing his wings as though he might dive.  I pause, focus the osprey in the viewfinder of my camera.  I only have one photo of an osprey diving, and that one was an accident.  I’d brought my daughter Lacy down to see her grandfather and was taking pictures of her out in the surf.  She was maybe seven.  In one picture, right in the corner, I caught an osprey with his wings tucked, tipped down toward the water.  Lacy is just beside the bird, with her skirt bunched at her waist and one hand skimming the surf.  In the print it looks as though the osprey is coming to land on her shoulder, tame as a hunting hawk.  Lacy’s studying now in Virginia, studying biology, planning on medical school.  I’ve told her there are worse ways she could go.
On the fishing pier, a man works a cast net, his cooler open and empty at his feet.  His hands spider across the webbing—limber hands, young hands.  My hands are stiff.  About a year ago, I started having trouble grasping the fine-focus knob on my microscope.  I took to working just with the coarse focus, playing it out and back until the tissue came clear.  And I have thought about that.  I’ve thought if the image was sharper maybe I would have caught it, would have seen the slight pinching of adipose tissue stained orange, a rusted carcinoma.
Behind the net fisherman, a blue heron skulks, hoping for a handout.  Last summer, the pier would have been packed shoulder to shoulder, families sleeping at night in lawn chairs to keep their spot, farming their narrow patch of ocean.  That was before the spill, before word came from the trawlers of eyeless shrimp, crabs without claws, two-headed fish, fish covered in boils, in black lesions, fish that bled black at the hook and were black inside, gills and muscle and bone, like they’d been charred.

Strung along the pier’s railing are animal bones, threaded on fishing line with pop tabs and shells as spacers—the bones of fish washed up on shore, of birds and turtles found dead on the beaches in the months after the spill.  I walk past a large pelvis, a pelican’s perhaps, and a skull that looks distinctly canine.  Someone has added a Marlins cap and a strand of holiday tinsel.  At the end of the pier, a sign reads “Make Them Pay.”  The oil company has paid.  If I look to my left, I will see the cranes and backhoes, quiet for the weekend, which have started construction on a twenty-five-story hotel made possible by the county’s claim check.

Untitled from series Spirit Stories ©Jessica Hines

Santa Rosa Island was spared the worst of the slick.  Off the Louisiana coast, it is said the oil sludge was so thick you could walk between barrier islands without sinking into the water. They burned what oil they could off the surface.  


Families gathered on Louisiana beaches to watch the lighting of the Gulf.
On the shore beside the pier, a man wearing headphones plays a free line in shallow water, catch and release.   He hasn’t bothered bringing a cooler.
My osprey has ceased his arcs and settled on a branch overlooking the waves.

Untitled from series Spirit Stories ©Jessica Hines

“What are you after?” I ask the man with the free line.  He pulls his headphones down from his ears, and I repeat my question.
He says, “Anything that’ll bite.”

We get to talking.  He’s headed through to south Florida, comes down every year about this time and stays until spring.  “For the warmth.”  He asks about my camera, asks if I’m shooting for a magazine, and I shake my head.
“Retired,” I say.
“These things happen, John,” Gary said after the summons. Gary and I shared an office.  We shared cases, the head-scratchers, passing them back and forth until we came to a consensus.  The day I misdiagnosed Lydia Harris he wasn’t in the office.  His son was pitching a little league game, and he had gone to watch.
“You’re a good doctor, John,” he said.  I stood looking at my microscope in its heavy dust cover, at the slide trays stacked ten-high on the desk beside it.  “You think you could take them for me, Gary?” I asked him.  “Just for today?”
He had a stack of his own, but he took them.  They asked me to resign the next day.
I tell the fisherman, “I’m living like I should have been all my life.”
He tells me he’s retired as well.  He was a conductor, he says.  “The Cincinnati Orchestra.”
The osprey leaves his perch, and I raise my camera.  I watch him fly.  “You miss it?” I ask him.
He shakes his head.  “It’s the nerves,” he says.  “You get so a body just can’t take it anymore.”
The osprey shades the water with his wings, searching the shadows for the flash of a darting fish.  At that shine, he will hover, positioning, then plummet feet first, extending his head at the last moment so beak and talons enter the water together.  He will miss just one catch in fifty.


The net fisherman has brought up three small herring and lowers them carefully into his ice chest.  I lift my camera.  I take one photo—the ice chest, man, and heron all in a single frame.  The light is heavy, iron light.
I tell the conductor I’ve been photographing ospreys.  “Keeps me occupied,” I say.  He can understand that.  He’s fishing just to toss the fish back.  “Only found two nests so far,” I say.  I tell him there’s some who blame the oil for that, say it’s made for bad fishing, say the ospreys are staying away.  “Somebody cut corners,” I say.
He shrugs.  He says, “Somebody wasn’t paying attention.  That’s my guess.”
I shake my head.  I’ve thought about it, of course, thought I might have been distracted.  I’ve thought maybe the Saturday Gary’s son pitched his first game was the Saturday Sandra told me she was going to visit her sister for a few weeks, maybe a month, said she needed some time away.  “I’ll come with you,” I said.  She said, “You’ve got work.”  I told her I’m ready, anyway, to be retired.  “Work three more years for me, John,” she said.  “Just until we pay off the house.”  I told her she knows, doesn’t she, that I need her here.  She said she knew.  But it can’t have been that Saturday.  That Saturday I didn’t go into the office.  I stayed at home with her.
“Grossly negligent,” I say.  That is the phrase the courts will use.  I say, “They knew what they were doing.”
The  conductor has caught a fish.  He wades out into the water to take it by the tail, gets it unhooked and tosses it up to the heron on the pier.  It is a fifteen-inch sea trout, one-headed.  The heron does not, of course, want it.  Too hard to get down and keep down.

The  fish flaps against the pier, tugging for water, jumping like the ground beneath him is hot enough for cooking.
The  net fisherman comes away from his net to stand over the fish.  “That’s a catch,” he says to the conductor.

Untitled from series Spirit Stories ©Jessica Hines

The conductor shrugs.  “Been at it a few hours.  About time.”
The  fisherman nudges the sea trout with one toe. “You see the herring out there?” he asks us, pointing over the water.  “I bet this one was after the herring.”


I look where he points, and I see them, flashes of silver, fish flying from fish.
He says, “Man tried yesterday to charge me three bucks a pound for skipjack.  Three bucks a pound, and the fish so thick out there you could shovel them up.”

Untitled from series Spirit Stories ©Jessica Hines

The  conductor says, “I’ve never heard herring to leap like that.”
“Any fish’ll jump if he’s got cause.”
My osprey hovers above the school.  I lift my camera.  I catch him with kinked wings.

“You got a boat as nice as that camera?” the net fisherman asks me.
I shake my head.
“I’m in the market,” he says. “They took my seiner to Luling to help with the clean up.  Might as well take my legs, I told them, but they just needed the seiner.”
“I don’t have a boat,” I say.
I’d lease her from you if you didn’t want to sell,” he says.  “Schools like that I’d turn a profit quick.”  He tugs at the brim of his ball cap.  He is looking down at the trout, which has more meat on it than six herring.  “You just going to leave it?”
“I was meaning the bird to eat him,” the conductor says.
“Bird doesn’t look interested to me.”
The conductor shrugs and pulls at the cord of his headphones, which dangles, cut, at his navel.
The net fisherman stoops and takes the trout by the jaw.  “You don’t want him.”
The conductor says, “I wouldn’t eat anything out of the Gulf.”
The net fisherman lowers the trout into his ice chest and starts packing away his net. He says, “What else is there to eat?”  He lifts his cooler onto his shoulder and makes his slow way down the beach.  He stops once to rest, and I point my camera at his back, but the sun is out in front of him, shining directly into the lens.  He is just a shadow, the world brightened to rainbow around him like oil sheen on water.
I turn back at a splash.  The osprey is coming up out of the Gulf, shaking the water free of his feathers and gaining altitude.  He is not carrying a fish, not carrying anything at all.


It is almost noon.  I have followed the call of a female osprey into brush so thick I cannot see the Gulf.  I did not think to bring a machete, so I swing with my tripod, with my arms.  My camera I do not swing, but tuck safely beneath my shirt.  The map, I have decided, as I fold and unfold it and turn it in my hands, is useless.  It does not show, for instance, the copse of pines shading my bare head from the advancing sun, nor the prickly pear which has just, obligingly, inserted a slender needle through the sole of my right boot into my largest toe.  And the marsh visible beyond the acacia could be any of three marshes.
I tighten the belt of my jeans and wade into that marsh.  The water is black and warm, folding around me.  I come up onto dry land soaked and blooded and feeling altogether good, because a female osprey is perched on a branch just two yards ahead of me, and my eye is level with her lizard eye.  She sees past me, past all the heavy-browed hominids right back to Homo erectus egg-snatcher.  She knows better than to trust me.
I wander the sand pines, searching for her nest.  Last week, I watched a nest fall from a sand pine in a grove like this.  It was an old nest, a decade old or older—four feet in diameter, two hundred pounds at least, enough seaweed and grass to start a slow process of decomposition, generating heat for the nestlings.  There were two nestlings.  When the nest fell, I was squinting through my viewfinder at their snaking heads.
The fall was quiet, marked only by the whistled two-note alarm call of the female osprey hovering above the newly barren tree.  I left my camera and crawled into the thicket of sweet acacia surrounding the trunk of the nest tree.  I spent forty minutes working on hands and knees, searching for the fallen nest.  I found it on its side—sticks and seaweed, down feathers, a scrap of denim.

The nestlings were alive, black-skinned and scaly, reminiscent of their reptilian ancestors.  They pulsed with their rapid, whole-body breathing, hissed, flicked their narrow tongues.  I took a few pictures, and that’s all I did.  I shot them

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zoomed in tight with the aperture wide open.  I caught with my camera the vein of each pinfeather, the bristled legs of the bluebottle flies that swarmed the nest.  In the pictures, the background is blurred.  In the pictures those nestlings might be twenty yards up in the air.
I wander until I lose the light.  I do not find a nest, but I know it is close, because twice the female osprey flies a tight circle over my head.  I lift my len
s to shoot her agitated. 


She wheels with spread wings, sounds her alarm to the standing pines.  I play the manual focus out and back until she is so sharp through the lens I can count the ruffled feathers of her necklace, which mottle her white breast.

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I walk back to the campground along the narrow seawall surrounding the old naval fort.  As a boy, I rode my motorbike along this seawall, picking up speed and lifting the bike onto its rear wheel. In those days, colonies of plovers nested on the island, thousands of them, stretched for a half-mile

 

along the shoreline and packed so tightly you couldn’t pick your way through without putting one foot down in a nest.  You could walk right up to a brooding plover, take her from the nest with one hand and wring her neck, easy as collecting shells.  We used to cook and eat them when the weather kept us from fishing.
One night I took my motorbike down onto the beach and through the center of the nesting colony, plovers blowing up before the front tire like scraps of shredded paper. I came away from the colony scratched and splattered with urea.  My father, when he heard, was furious.  In part, because the bike’s sprocket and chain had to be replaced, but mostly because I had proven myself capable of malice he had not expected.
After that night, I could not get within fifty yards of the colony without being mobbed by a dozen birds, sprayed with excrement.  Every year it was the same.  Even when I returned after eight years away, the birds remembered me.  The plovers are protected now, the shells of their eggs so thin they shatter at a touch.  They don’t nest on this island anymore.
Sandra calls.  I answer.  I don’t want her thinking something happened to me on the road.  I don’t want her worrying.
She says, “John.”
I ask her if she thinks I made the misdiagnosis on purpose.
She says, “No.”  She says, “Where are you?”
I say, “What other explanation is there?”
She says, “Have you left yet?”  She says, “It was a mistake, John.  They know it was a mistake.”

 


I tell her I haven’t left yet.  I tell her I don’t know when I’m leaving.
“You can’t miss the deposition.  It’s against the law to miss the deposition.”
I say to her, “I know.”
“No one thinks you’re a criminal, John.”
I say, “I knew what I was doing,” thinking not about the Saturday I misdiagnosed Lydia Harris, but about all the other Saturdays, the Saturdays I remember.  The Saturday Lacy broke her wrist playing softball, and I signed out two frozen sections before meeting Sandra at the emergency room.  The Saturday Sandra’s mother passed, and we stopped at the office on our way to the airport, so I could sign out a lymph node biopsy—sarcoidosis, benign.  The Saturdays I bickered with Sandra over cold cereal and came to the office head-pounding.  I imagine the day I misdiagnosed Lydia Harris was a Saturday like any other Saturday.  I woke in the morning and left Sandra sleeping.  I made a pot of coffee, put Sandra’s mug in the microwave, so it would be ready to heat when she woke.  I drove twenty minutes to the office and parked in the lot reserved for doctors.  The office was quiet, as it always is on Saturdays.  It’s one of the reasons I like working Saturdays, you get the place to yourself.  I took my time over the frozen, just the single frozen, and finished the handful of cases left from the week before.  I returned home for dinner, and when Sandra asked how was it, I told her, “A good day.”  I told her, “One frozen, benign.”  I told her, “She got lucky.”

I call my father, because it is Sunday, because we eat dinner together on Sundays when I am on the island. He is free,

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he says, and so I pick him up from his house and take him toJoe’s, the only diner on the island that doesn’t serve seafood.  After dinner, I ask him if there is any place he needs to go, but he says Mrs. Parker took him into town that morning.  She takes him once a week for groceries and to refill his prescriptions.  On Saturday mornings, she takes him to the brunches Gulf Power puts on for their employees, past and present.  He wears his denim work-suit and the gold star he was given at retirement for putting in forty years.  He retired at seventy-two, though I suspect they kept him on, those last few years, just out of obligation.  He’s the only one at the brunches with a star.  The other attendees are all kids in their thirties.  Pole boys, he calls them.


I bring him to the refuge, driving slowly to miss the ghost crabs that scuttle across the beach road.  We stand on the path leading from the campground to the water catchment tanks.  We have a clear view of the turnip nest, so named for its shape and the patch of turnips growing feral in front of   

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it. There are three chicks in the turnip nest.  I steady my camera on its tripod, the viewfinder centered on them, just in case.

My father hasn’t been in the refuge since I came down with Lacy three years ago.  On that day he had to double the strings of his swimsuit around his waist to keep it from slipping down.  It was a green flag day, a calm day.  We went out into the waves, the three of us.  Lacy grinned every time I looked at her.  She was seventeen and already keeping her distance, but I like to think she enjoyed herself that day.  Dad lost his footing in the surf once, ended up tipped backward, working his arms in the water, head dipping under and surfacing again, spluttering.
I didn’t move.  It’s not something you expect to see, the man who striped your thighs with a Sam Browne belt panicked like a beetle on his back, swallowing water.  Lacy was the one who pulled him to his feet, and after she stayed close right beside him.  She put one arm around his waist, taking his weight, struggling with him up out of the water and into the dune fields.  I came behind them, watching her, thinking she was going to be all right, Lacy, thinking kids mostly raise themselves, wondering at how easily she loved him.
I asked him this evening if he wanted to go out into the surf, but he said he’d rather not, so we are watching birds.  The female is on the nest.  If we watch long enough, I say, we’ll see the male fly in with a fish.  He’ll have eaten what he can of the head and torn the rest away to lessen the weight.
He says, “I talked to Sandra this morning.  She seemed to think you were heading home.”
I say, “She doesn’t need to worry about me.”
“When are you heading home?”
I tell him I don’t know.


He says, “You’re a smart man, Dr. Cossman, and you’re throwing that away.”  He doesn’t approve of my early retirement.  He doesn’t know anything about Ms. Lydia Harris, who is right now walking through her house to her children’s bedroom, walking as though through sand, heavily.  She rubs at her neck, her shoulder, tired and aching in her limbs and right to blame me.
I bend again to my camera, focus it on the silhouette of an osprey on the near shore.  It might be the female from the nest that fell.  I can’t be sure. She is perched high over the waves, scanning for fish.  I wonder if she has abandoned the nestlings, and if some part of her is relieved to have finally failed, glad to have the evening to fish just for herself.
We wait another thirty minutes, though there’s no point.  The nest is quiet, and the light is low, western light, rusted light.  He is impatient, and so I drive him home in my car, which he does not like, crowded as it is with dirty clothes and an unrolled sleeping bag, canned food, camera equipment.
“Is there a restroom,” he asks me, “at the campground?”
We’re past the campground.  “I can go back,” I say, but I do not turn around.
He says, “I’ll be fine.”
He wets himself three minutes from his house.  I look over when I smell the ammonia, but he is backlit by the window, and I can’t see his face.  When I pull up into the drive, he says, “You go on in.”
He comes in a few minutes after me, says, “I’ve got sheets put on your bed.”  Says, “You sleep here tonight, and in the morning we’ll take your car to the wash to get the sand off of her.  You’ll ruin her with that sand.”

I wait until he is in his bedroom, running water for a shower, then I take a towel and a bottle of stain remover from the laundry closet.  He has tried drying the seat with a wad of Kleenex.  Bits of the Kleenex are stuck now to the upholstery.  I towel it dry, soak it with stain remover and towel it again.  I leave the windows open.

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 We sit together in the breakfast room where I once fixed up an old Nikon rangefinder.  I shot two rolls of film with that camera, developed them at this table, in a darkroom I made by draping black canvas over a hat stand.


I stay long enough to share a pot of coffee.  He cuts coupons from the Sunday paper.  “I’m selling the house,” he says.  He looks at me over the paper.
I say, “This house?”  He built this house after we moved down from Virginia.  He was happy in those early years, living on a 34-foot sloop, trucking lumber over from the mainland.  I was happy.
“You don’t want the house,” he says, “and I’m getting too old to live like this.”
I say no to the first, no to the second.  I say, “You’re doing fine.”
He works his scissors around an advertisement for turkey sausage.  His hand shakes.
“If you want a smaller place,” I say, “I can find you a smaller place.”
“I thought I’d go with you to Charleston.  When you go.”
“I don’t know when I’m going.”
He nods.  “When you do.”
“We don’t have the space,” I say, “in Charleston.”
“All I need’s a place to sleep,” he says, but his house is full of things, and our house is full of things, and we might not have the house.
I say, “You built this place.”
He says, “I had a son to raise and no place to raise him.”  He says, “No one would build it for me.”
I drink my coffee.
He says, “I watched them bury Lutt Parker in sand so shallow next storm he’ll be above ground again.  You hit an age you start thinking practically about these things.”
“There’s time and time,” I say, “to figure all that out.”

“Virginia’s solid ground.  I wouldn’t mind Virginia.”
“You came to this island.  You left Virginia.”
“I came to this island to raise a boy up.  And I did that.”  He raps his finger down on coupons offering fifty cents off Selma’s Blueberry Spread or two stone-baked pizzas for the price of one.  “Island like this, you want to be just passing through.”
The visitor’s center at the refuge is closed.  I walk past it, east into the pine forest, toward the place where the nest fell.  I pass a park ranger headed the other way.  “You can’t sleep out here,” she says.  “You have to stay in the designated camping grounds.”
I tell her I’m just walking.
She wants to know if I have a camping permit, and when I tell her it’s in my car, she wants to walk with me back to my car.   We walk together.  She stays behind me, as though given half a chance I would turn and bolt.  She says, “There’s no camping in the park without a permit.”
It takes me ten minutes to find the permit. While I’m looking, she bends the brim of her hat in her hands.  It is the traditional park service hat, the Smokey Bear hat, the lemon squeezer.
I hand her the permit.  She looks it over.
“I haven’t broken any rules,” I tell her.
She hands it back.  She says, “Have a good night, Mr. Cossman,” and I do not correct her.
“At the campground, the conductor has built a fire using two-by-fours as fuel.  When he lifts a hand to me, I go to sit beside his fire, though the sun has just set, and it is still eighty degrees at least.  We sit in silence. I pinch the sand flies that


land on my arms and drop them into the fire. At intervals, he hums a few measures of nothing familiar, and when he realizes he’s doing it he glances over at me, grins, embarrassed, and slaps his left hand with his right, as though in reprimand.
There is nothing at his campsite but an army-issue tent and the chair he is sitting in now.  “Where are your things?” I ask him.  “Your car?”
“Sold the car,” he says.  “Ten years ago, it was.”
“How’d you get down here?”
“I had a buddy coming as far as Atlanta.  I got down all right.”  He kneads his hip with one hand.
“It’s the wet,” I say, because my knees have been aching and slow to bend.
He shakes his head.  He tells me he shattered the joint years ago.  He fell off the podium halfway through Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.  “Ten feet.  Down into the orchestra pit.”  He tells me they don’t list his name with the other conductors for the Cincinnati Orchestra.  Every other name, but not his.  “Nine months I waved a baton for them, and they can’t be bothered to remember my name.”
“I ask him what is his name.  Daniel Hartzog, he tells me, and I say it back to him to be sure I’ve got it right.
“What about you,” he says.  “Think they’ll remember you?”
“I say, “Yes.  I do.”
“Well then,” he says.  “That’s something.”
The other campers come from their air-conditioned fifth wheels and Winnebagos to join us.  They would stay in the cool if they could, but the conductor has built a good fire, and so they come with folding chairs and children and easy
talk.  The conductor is quiet.  A fly has landed on his cheek, just beneath his right eye, and he does not lift a hand to brush it off.  But when a man takes a guitar from a black leather 

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case and starts to strum, he puts on his headphones.  He leans over and tells me to have a good sleep.  He stands, offers his seat to a woman standing behind it, and ducks into his tent.


I leave soon after, because someone puts a piece of driftwood on the fire, and it burns with a smoke thick and black as tar, smelling of diesel.  I walk to my car.  If I left right now, I’d arrive in Charleston by nine in the morning, late but not too late.  In Charleston, Sandra is lying awake in our bed, not expecting me.  Ms. Lydia Harris sits in an empty
bathtub, fully clothed, nauseated.  Her eyes are shut.  The tub rocks beneath her, and she waits, waits for the rocking to cease, for the tide to pull back and leave her steady on the shore.  In Charleston, they have photographed the slide of adipose tissue using a lens dipped in cold immersion oil.  There is nothing in those photos I haven’t seen before.

 

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Award winning artist and storyteller, Jessica Hines, uses the camera’s inherent quality as a recording device to explore illusion and to suggest truths that underlie the visible world. At the core of Hines’ work lies an inquisitive nature inspired by personal memory, experience and the unconscious mind.

Morgan Thomas graduated with an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Oregon.  She is currently a Fulbright student, teaching English and creative writing in Darkhan, Mongolia.

Farming: Of Earth, People & Stone Barns

Jeffrey Myers

Stone Barns: Farming in America’s Oldest Suburbstones-4

The tall pasture grass is still soaking wet with dew, and the air is warming fast under the mid-June sun. As I approach the first Egg Mobile, I can hear the clucking and wing-fluttering of 75 Amber White laying hens waiting to be released into the pasture. It feels like the coop could explode with their eagerness to get out as they anticipate my arrival.
The girls are restless. They’ve been, well, cooped up all night against the skunks, foxes, and hawks that would decimate their ranks if given a chance. Now they’re ready to burst out into the sun and grass, to peck for insects, to bathe in the dust, and—a few bold ones—to hop the low, moveable fence that surrounds their pasture and run loose on the farm.

I open the hatch on one side of the coop and with a swift motion pull the ramp into place onto the floor of the coop. The hens stream out, some flying, some running down the ramp. One flaps into my face, another bounces off my chest, and a third is already pecking at my shoelaces, mistaking them for worms.  With most of the hens out picking at the grass, I climb the rickety ramp and enter the coop to top off the hopper with organic feed and refill the trough that holds the grit they need for proper digestion.  The inside is dark and cool. Though there is manure everywhere it smells surprisingly clean.



Emerging into the light again myself, I begin to collect eggs. Separate hatches open on the straw-lined laying boxes where the hens lay. Each holds four or five eggs, more or less, and I place each carefully into a large, blue metal basket. A few of the boxes are occupied by hens, and I have to reach beneath their warm, feathery bodies, nudge them aside, and snatch the eggs they are sitting on. The variety of their responses is interesting: some are rather good-natured about it, walking off without a struggle; others cluck annoyedly; a few peck sharply at my hands to show their disapproval.
The same process is happening at the other Egg Mobiles lined up across the large front pasture. Maggie, John, Rich, and Christie are all releasing hens, topping off feeders, and gathering eggs. Already Chris is hooking up the first of the coops to the trailer hitch on one of the Kubotas, the all-purpose vehicles that we use on the farm, to move the coops 100 feet or so to fresh pasture. The grass in the pasture we’re in now is matted and thick with manure that will fertilize the grass, which will be lush pasture in just a few days’ time. We’ll put other animals, probably the sheep, on it then, in a process meant to mimic the process of a healthy natural ecosystem. In the meantime, our baskets now brimming with fresh, brown eggs, we head back to the Western Barn, which serves as a kind of headquarters. It’s 8:45, and there’s a lot to do: pigs to be watered and fed, sheep to be moved, and the brooder barn, with our growing chicks, to be attended to.
I’m not actually a farmer. I’m a college professor living in Westchester County, New York—America’s oldest suburb. I commute to work, teach classes, grade papers, and go to meetings; I drive my kids to soccer practice and music lessons; I go out to dinner with friends and watch a little

 

football on Sunday. It’s a life that most contemporary Americans can identify with—a good life, and an easy life, with no concern about where or how we get our next meal.

Turning Wheel Farm in Bowdoinham ME, owned by Cate Stoner. Cate grows the majority of her crops for local Food Pantries and the GSFB Mainers Feeding Mainers Program. ©Brendan Bullock

But once a week this summer, I have been volunteering at Stone Barns, an experimental farm a scant ten minutes from my suburban town. Built on land donated from the Rockefeller estate and named for the magnificent stone barns built on the property 100 years ago, the farm is working “to change the way America eats and farms.”  With an emphasis on local, organic produce and pastured, humanely-raised livestock, Stone Barns serves local farmers’ markets and restaurants—including the gourmet Blue Hill at Stone Barns


on the property itself, where “fresh” and “local” take on a quite literal meaning. More importantly though, the farm, which is open to the public, serves as a model for bringing back local farms, a working experiment in post-industrial agriculture, and an incubator for young farmers eager to begin their own farms. I’m just a weekly volunteer, but the rest of the crew are either full-timers here at Stone Barns, or one-year apprentices who are hoping to begin their own farms or to learn about farming as a prelude to careers as diverse as chef and veterinarian. There are crews that work in the greenhouse, in the produce fields, in the farmers’ market—and a whole crew devoted to composting, which this farm has down to both an art and a science. I work with the livestock crew, helping to take care of chickens, pigs, sheep, and other animals.

Jay Robinson carries buckets of fertilizer at Sweetland Farm in Starks, ME. Jay has been producing food for Good Shepherd Food Bank since the beginning of the Mainers Feeding Mainers program.©Brendan Bullock

My own motives for this are frankly a little vague, even to me. In the 1940s my grandfather had a twelve-acre farm with produce, chickens, and pigs just outside the city of Baltimore.  His was the kind of mixed, local farm—common in his day—that the new locavore movement is trying to bring back. My mother grew up there, and though he sold the farm in the decade before I was born, it always figured significantly in our family lore. I have always yearned—even as that kind of farming gave way to the Big Agriculture of the 1960s and beyond—to return to the land. With the trend toward sustainable agriculture, organic produce, and humanely-raised animals growing, I wanted to see first-hand how such a vision played out in a practical way. But most of all, I think, I wanted to be involved in the production of food, that most basic of life essentials—what Thoreau called the “gross necessaries”—in a way that nearly all individuals in our society have lost. I wanted to take on a sense of responsibility for what comes out of the earth and into my own body.  That it means finishing each day on the farm speckled with mud and poop and blood I take as a mark of success, though unsurprisingly, no one wants to ride in my car.
Mid-mornings find us in the brooder barn, where the Stone Barns meat chickens begin their lives. The chickens are a pasture-raised breed called Freedom Rangers, and they’ll spend their short adult lives out on one of the farm’s pastures. But they’ll spend their early weeks as growing chicks in the large, spacious, and well-ventilated barn until they are ready to move outside. There are several hundred birds in here, grouped by age in open enclosures, and it’s a daily chore to keep them fed, watered, clean, and comfortable. A layer of fresh wood shavings goes on each enclosure to absorb odors and keep the barn as hygienic as possible. Each


enclosure has several troughs and hoppers of organic feed that need filling, and different sizes of grit, according to the age of the birds in each. Two waterers in each enclosure are rinsed clean and the large blue barrels supplying the waterers are topped off with fresh water. The long passageway in the center of the barn is swept clean and watered down, while a ventilation fan cools the barn and moves fresh air around.
On a Monday, four new boxes of day-old chicks have arrived at the farm, courtesy of the US Postal Service. The Postal Service has been delivering chicks this way for decades, taking advantage of the fact that day-old chicks who have just ingested their yolk can live without food and water, warming each other with their combined body heat. Only the USPS will deliver live birds—not UPS or FedEx—and I like the fact that there’s at least one item not available on Amazon.com.  While others finish the barn chores, Maggie shows me how to take the baby chicks from the box and place them in the enclosure. With a deft motion and a firm but gentle touch, she lifts a chick from the box, dips its beak in water with a dilute solution of sugar, and watches as its tiny throat pulsates in swallowing. Once the chicks show they can swallow, they’re placed on a litter of fresh wood shavings. They’re surprisingly quick and lively as they run around the pen.
Maggie is far more knowledgeable and experienced than I, but she too is somewhat of an unlikely farmer. A former English teacher and a gifted poet, Maggie Schwed commutes to Stone Barns from Manhattan three days a week to work as a farm hand, a reverse commute that also runs counter to the ways factory farming has distanced us from the sources of our food. The author of a moving book of poems, Driving to the Bees, based on her experiences at Stone Barns, she is uniquely positioned to observe the intricacies of life on the farm. I expect her to speak of the pastoral beauty of the

landscape, but as we drive back from the barn after chores, she tells me that what impresses her most is the knowledge that farmers have, how much they have to know about animal physiology, pasture management, soil chemistry, zoonotic diseases, slaughtering and processing, composting—the list is endless. Under her wide straw hat in the hot June sun, this cultured and highly educated woman deeply admires the intellectual skill that farming requires along with the hard physical work.

Hannah Semler of Healthy Acadia gleans spinach at Four Season Farm, Harborside, ME. ©Brendan Bullock

One noon finds me feeding and watering pigs with John, a farm apprentice who embodies the new locavore movement. Born and raised in Queens, John Aghostino is refining his skills and knowledge of animal husbandry with the hope of starting a farm of his own, within a few hours of his native New York City. Apart from his interest in animals  


and the land, he’s deeply interested in food preparation and food culture, as are all the farmers and apprentices at Stone Barns. His goal is to make a living for himself and his young family by humanely raising pastured chicken, pork, and lamb in a sustainable way for farmers’ markets, restaurants, and anyone else who is interested in delicious food raised in a sustainable and humane way on farms close to home. He’s also motivated to remain in the New York City foodshed. This is not an easy proposition. Marginal anywhere, the economics for small farms within a short drive of New York City are tough—the high cost of real estate, of course, being the chief obstacle. When I ask him if he would consider moving somewhere where land was cheaper and socio-economic conditions friendlier to small farmers, he shakes his head.

Samuel Cheeney of Salty Dog Farm in Milbridge, ME cultivates peas.©Brendan Bullock

“No, this is where I’m from—where my family is. Also, I want to help bring this kind of food, this way of growing food, back. It wouldn’t have the same meaning if I couldn’t do it here.”

What about some place like California, where the growing season is long?
He laughs. “I wouldn’t understand the seasons there. What I know are the seasons of the northeast—the rhythms of the weather and when things need to get done.”
John (who has gone on since I first began writing to start his own, Fatstock Farm, in Stuyvesant, NY) will be my mentor in my early days on the farm, showing me how to hitch up the trailer with the water tank, how to feed pigs without getting gored or trampled, how to stretch the long bundles of electrified fence we use to move sheep from one pasture to another. This last task goes to the heart of this kind of grass-based agriculture. With the goal of reproducing a healthy natural ecosystem, the sheep and cattle that we raise are moved from pasture to pasture on a rotating basis, just as herbivores in the wild would move on before munching the grass down to its roots. Meanwhile, their manure is a natural fertilizer that encourages grass to grow. The meat chickens or laying hens who come onto the pasture later peck at worms and insects in imitation of wild birds that would follow in the wake of animals such as bison. And so it goes with everything on the farm. The Berkshire pigs are kept in shady, wooded areas outdoors, where they can wallow in mud and forage for acorns that supplement their feed. The piglets live with their mothers and are kept separate from the large boors, like Don Juan, who has a prime spot all to himself. Heritage breed turkeys are moved in small flocks from pasture to pasture and brought in at night to keep them safe from predators. The key to this kind of farming is the use of portable electric fences that roll up in bundles and can be moved easily from place to place. In a matter of minutes a new fenced pasture can be created, and sheep or chickens can be moved to fresh grass.  It’s a labor-intensive process and in many ways an inefficient one that sacrifices cost-cutting efficiency for sustainable use of resources and humane care of animals.


After several weeks at Stone Barns, I begin to get the rhythm of the chores and become more useful than cumbersome. Each week I am entrusted with new tasks. I feed and water the pigs on my own, which means driving a water tank on a trailer behind the Kubota around the farm to the shady spots where the pigs are corralled behind an electric wire. It also means getting into the muddy pen with three hungry sows and their young. The sows are a more than a little aggressive about their chow, and I can never get their feed into the big, rubber dish fast enough to avoid being knocked about and stepped on. Always I watch for their tusks, which though short could cut open a leg like a sharp knife.  Once a pig gets loose in the brooder barn area and runs amok. John, Chris, and I take sheets of plywood and play matador with the pig, chasing it around with our “shields”; it takes 15 minutes of frenzied running back and forth before we corral it again.
One Tuesday, I help Dan slaughter the chickens. This is a task that I have been approaching with anticipation and a small amount of dread.  On a practical level it’s a skill I would like to have, although I don’t believe the day will come when I’m forced to feed my family from animals we raise in the backyard.  But on a deeper level, I’ve come to believe that those of us who eat meat should be willing to do the work of slaughtering and processing the animals we eat, to face the fact of animal death, to bear some of the karmic burden that killing animals for food surely entails. This is hard work, both emotionally and physically, and it’s no coincidence that in the industrial model of farming we have pawned off most of this kind of work on an underpaid and exploited immigrant labor force.
Dan Carr, who still looks like the college football player that he recently was, is a gentle soul who speaks softly, keeps bees, and will soon be going to Africa to 
teach bee-keeping techniques. Raised in Montana, he seems born to this kind of work. We begin by putting the chickens in crates, and
 I’m struck by Dan’s gentle manner as he handles the birds, trying to minimize any sense of trauma or pain even in their last moments of life. I try to emulate his manner by staying calm, speaking softly, not making sudden moves.  

Cate Stoner of Turning Wheel Farm in Bowdoinham is a single mother, and a one-woman farming operation. Here, she’s pictured planting carrot seeds with her dog, Anomi. Stoner leases her fields from a local landowner; her farm is off the grid, and runs on solar power. Last year she harvested seven tons of food for the Mainers Feeding Mainers program. ©Brendan Bullock

As we bring the crates into the slaughter room, I note how he keeps the chickens out of the sun and positions them so that they can’t see what is happening in the slaughter area. This consists of seven or eight metal cones lined up along a wall over a metal trough.  Beside this is a machine, a scalder, that moves freshly-killed birds through a tub of hot water to loosen their feathers, and another that whirls the birds through rubber “fingers” that strip their feathers in seconds and deposit them into the next room, where they are quickly processed into what look like the product you would find in the supermarket—only far more delicious.


Dan shows me how it’s done.  Six at a time, the chickens go head first into the cones. They are strangely calm, with their wings pressed gently to their bodies. Deftly and deliberately, Dan takes a sharp knife from his apron and quickly severs both arteries on either side of the windpipe. “Never cut into the windpipe itself,” he explains. “Don’t cut off the head—you want the chicken to bleed out so that blood doesn’t taint the meat.” As each chicken bleeds out, it goes into convulsions

Reflection, Sweetland Farm, Starks, ME.  ©Brendan Bullock

for what is probably ten seconds—but seems a lot longer.  And then they are motionless, limp, and obviously dead. There’s no getting around it—it’s messy and bloody. And though Dan has taken every care to minimize it, the birds obviously have at least a moment of stress.

Some larger humane poultry producers are beginning to use CO2 to render their chickens unconscious before slaughter to avoid even this level of stress, but I doubt whether producers on the scale of Stone Barns can afford such systems, which would mean keeping small farms like this from proliferating. And the scale of a farm like Stone Barns, which processes about 200 chickens a week, ensures that the animals are living virtually stress-free their entire lives. They live in clean brooder barns as chicks and on fresh grass as adults. They aren’t trucked to a slaughter-house or put into crates until the very hour before they’re slaughtered. Everyone is scrupulous about hygiene from the beginning to the end of the process.
I take the freshly killed birds and put them into the scalder, then into the plucker, which whisks them through a small door into the adjoining room, where they are quickly processed by other farmers. Everyone in the livestock operation at Stone Barns participates in this process, breaking down the layers of specialization that would occur in industrial farming.  Christie cuts off the head and feet (the feet go into a clean container for a special customer who “likes chicken feet”—I don’t ask what for); Craig and Adrian quickly and expertly eviscerate them. They are cooled immediately and taken into an immaculately clean, refrigerated room where others vacuum seal them in plastic bags as whole chickens or chicken parts and then immediately refrigerate or freeze the bags. The birds go from chickens to “chicken” in less than an hour. Their lives in the pasture, their high-quality organic feed, their humane manner of death, and their careful handling make these chickens both sustainable and delicious. At the farm stand, I have heard customers rhapsodize these chickens, in hushed tones, as the best they have ever eaten.


After watching Dan several times, it becomes my turn.  I feel remarkably calm as I take a bird from the crate and position it in the cone. The pressure to do this right—to give the bird the quick death it deserves, that I feel I owe it—somehow steadies my hand, and I quickly cut one artery, then the other. I get it perfect, and it’s over in seconds.
“Good job,” Dan tells me. “That was just right. Now keep going, because we have a long way to go.”
He’s right. Once the process begins, it’s crucial to keep going. Soon, I’m into a rhythm, and the two of us efficiently take turns slaughtering birds and moving them into the scalder and plucker. It feels efficient but never mechanized, and I can honestly say that the birds experience very minimal distress. Sooner than I would have thought, the crates are empty and the last plucked chicken has gone through the door into the processing room.  As we clean up—a big job, and again, one that is scrupulously done—I have time to reflect. Do I feel a sense of remorse? I do—but only a little. I think that there should be some psychic cost to meat eating. But more than that, I feel that I have really participated for the first time in this process that has sustained me for over 40 years.
And indeed there is a cost to eating anything, from wildlife habitat lost to fields of soy and grain, to energy used to transport produce from grower to consumer. Like any other animal, we cannot subsist without taking other plant and animal life. We can only try to do so in a way that it is as humane and sustainable as possible—while also respecting and valuing human cultural customs around sharing food and allowing farmers to make a decent and honorable living.
By the end of the summer, I catalogue the various experiences that I’ve taken part in, none of which I had ever

 imagined myself doing—or even, as a consumer of food, given much thought to. Beside the continuous feeding, watering, and moving of cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese, I’ve run across a dewy pasture with a bucket of alfalfa and 40 sheep and lambs running behind; 

Jay Robinson plants squash at Sweet Land Farm in Starks, ME has has been producing food for Mainers Feeding Mainers program since it began, and says it accounts for about half his yearly sales. Jay believes that agriculture is a starting point for economic and environmental justice in general; he says that by staying in one place and forging deep ties with one’s community, there is more incentive to give back.  ©Brendan Bullock

repaired electric fences; line-trimmed and staked out new pastures with electric fencing; caught and sorted a barnful of heritage Bourbon turkeys; scraped sheep hides all afternoon to prepare for tanning; ran an egg washing and packaging line; processed chickens from whole chicken to shrink-wrapped parts; and helped inoculate sheep, jar fresh honey, 


set up a farmers’ market, and castrate a piglet. I’ve also been stepped on by a boar, butted by a ram, pecked at by geese, stung by bees, and scraped by the wings of turkeys. Much of this was hard physical labor and most of it on hot summer days in open, sunny fields or saw-dusty barns.

Sarah “Sass” Linneken started volunteering at Veggies For All in 2013, as a student pursuing a degree in Environmental Writing and Media Studies at Unity College. Now graduated, she runs an organization called Resources For Organizing and Social Change. Like many people across Maine, Sass herself was once food insecure she relied on programs like Veggies For All to feed her family healthy food. Now that he own situation is stable, Sass gives back by volunteering, and often brings her husband and kids to help too. She also keeps a vegetable garden at home. ©Brendan Bullock

Craig Haney, Stone Barns’s thoughtful—even cerebral—livestock manager, told me, when I asked about working on the farm, that volunteers “have to understand that it’s less about taking care of the animals than about tending to their environment.” He told me this mainly because his experience with past volunteers was that some don’t understand how

 

much physical labor is involved. It’s more about moving fences, filling watering troughs, and collecting eggs than direct contact with the farm animals, who are mostly not that interested in contact with human beings—with the exception of Stanley and Stella, the two sweet Italian Meremma sheepdogs who watch over the sheep. But his phrase “tending to their environment” stuck with me. Because this of course is what farmers do—they tend to an environment, shaping it in conscious ways for the health of the animals, human and otherwise, who depend on it.
More and more this is what we are called upon to do as a species in the time of climate change—just at the historical moment when most of us are doing it less and less. When my grandfather farmed in the 1940s, nearly twenty percent of American workers worked on farms; now, fewer than two per cent do. Where farming does exist on a large scale in the US, giant combines make the it possible for a few farmers to manage thousands of acres of land planted fencerow to fencerow—or, in the case of factory-farmed livestock, for a few farmers to raise thousands of chickens or pigs in confined spaces. And where large-scale farming does still involve copious labor—in the harvesting of produce—the work is done almost entirely by migrant workers, whose value to the society in doing this often brutal work is severely underestimated and whose plight is largely ignored, sadly even by those who are looking for more sustainable food. In places like Westchester County, which was still largely agricultural almost until the 20th century, farmlands have reverted to forest, which many people think of as a more “natural” or “environmental” form of landscape, forgetting that even the Algonquin peoples who lived here before the colonial farmers “tended to their environment”—by clearing land for their crops of squash and corn and improving the habitat for deer.

 


Most of us are not “tending to the environment” in any meaningful way, but perhaps things are beginning to change. Farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), and the farm-to-table movement are creating space for a new/old way of farming to grow. At Stone Barns I met a new generation of young people interested in careers in sustainable agriculture, “individuals who are observant, like physical work, and can appreciate the adventure of farming,” as Craig Haney characterized them to me. Even among the vast majority of people
who will never farm, many are awakening to Wendell Berry’s observation that eating itself is “an agricultural act.” If more and more people expect their food to be sourced locally and sustainably, animals to be treated humanely, and farmers to treated fairly, then perhaps the landscape can change. I realize that there are serious political and economic obstacles to this kind of agriculture on a meaningful scale, but at Stone Barns, in America’s oldest suburb, I met people who are able to imagine it.

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Feeding Maine: Growing Access To Good Food
When you see the phrase “food insecurity,” you might picture scenes from distant places hit by the global food crisis: barren fields marked by drought, families fleeing wars, or people waiting in long ration lines.
You might not picture Maine.
Yet more than 200,000 Mainers are food insecure. The term encompasses hunger and scarcity, as well as lack of access to food that’s fresh and healthy.  Meeting this need for good food is where Maine’s farmers, workers, and volunteers come in. We are fortunate to have at hand everything required to feed our state: abundant farmland, skilled farmers, and people invested in forging ties between farms and low-income Mainers.
In making fresh ingredients accessible to those who need them most, the projects featured here are also forging new opportunities for Maine farms by opening up markets, diverting waste through farm donations and gleaning, and creating new customers who seek fresh, local food.
This series is a collaboration between Maine Farmland Trust and Good Shepherd Food Bank. It seeks to document some of the many people working for change in our communities across the state, with the hope that these efforts will continue to grow into a resilient food system that serves all Mainers. Images by Brendan Bullock, text by Annie Murphy.

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Jeffrey Myers is Professor of English at Manhattan College and the author of Converging Stories: Race, Ecology, and Environmental Justice in American Literature, as well as essays in African American Review, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, and several anthologies. As both a scholar and creative writer, he focuses on race and the environment in literature and culture, with particular attention to the implications for environmental justice.

Brendan Bullock is a freelance photographer and photographic educator based in Bowdoinham ME.  His work has been published in a number of publications including the New York Times and Virginia Quarterly Review, and exhibited in numerous exhibitions nationwide.

Climbing: Schaidle & May

Allen Kenneth Schaidle

Climbing Rocks

For many climbers,
climbing becomes spiritual,
religious,
transformative,
community,
identity,
art.

Not for me.
It’s just climbing rocks,
Big and small.
Finding beauty in the simplicity.

Life is complicated,
work is difficult,
and school is dense.
Sometimes even climbs can be, well, complicated too.

There’s anticipating travel logistics,
destinations,
routes,
brushing,
and beta.

I want climbing to be transparent.
No grander meaning,
I’m already overwhelmed with life’s meanings.

I don’t want a relationship with because then I’ll take, take, take and never give enough.
I’m struggling with this.
Just leave it as it is.
You know,
“leave no trace.”

And climbing certainty isn’t art
because then it can be judged
and that causes rivalry.

I want climbing just as climbing rocks.
Nothing more.
Just climbing rocks.

 

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

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Allen Kenneth Schaidle is a diehard Midwestern, educator, and activist. He holds degrees from the University of Kansas, Columbia University, and the University of Oxford. A native of Metamora, Illinois, Allen considers the creeks and forests of central Illinois his boyhood home as he continues forward in his life. 

Jesse May grew up on a small farm in the mountains of Virginia where his explorations of the farm and the surrounding woods were a constant. A large part of his exploration as a kid were supported by his Mom, who still supports his adventures to this very day. Recently, Jesse has been exploring  South America, Northern California, Utah, and South Dakota with his camera, all while camping and still enjoying the outdoors as much as he did when he was growing up.  It’s been a fun couple of years adventuring for Jesse, and he looks forward to at least a few more good years of seeing cool things. Jesse is a 2015 graduate of Unity College. You can follow him on Instagram.

American Landscapes: Brodie & Doucette

Nathaniel Brodie

My settling bag hit the eddy current and inflated like a parachute. I had to use both hands to heave it out of the river and stagger it onto the small beach. The water inside the bag was turbid with suspended sediment. The silt would need a couple of hours to drift to the bottom of the bag, but I’d take what the last hour of daylight gave me—at least the larger grains would subside, and my water filter might last that much longer.
Scrambling up a series of sandstone ledges, I found a nice spot to sit: a bedrock backrest with a view of the wavering line where the waters of the Little Colorado River joined those of the Colorado River in the heart of the Grand Canyon. The LCR is usually an opalescent 
turquoise blue,

milk-bright with dissolved travertine and limestone. But the rains from a few days earlier had rusted the color to that of an ancient ceramic pot, a few shades browner than the grey-green Colorado. The LCR eased into the Colorado’s corridor, but the two rivers didn’t immediately merge, they simply ran, side by side, down the course of the Canyon. They’d maintain their distinct flows for a good half-mile before rapids disrupted them into unity. The meeting of any waters is mesmerizing to watch; especially so here, with the LCR’s suspended silt mushrooming into the silt-strained Colorado.
Silt-strained From where I sat at The Confluence, I was only sixty-one miles downstream of Glen Canyon Dam. Behind Glen Canyon Dam, the silt-laden, rusted-red


Colorado River becomes Lake Powell. At the exact-if-ever-fluctuating spot where river slacks into reservoir the river drops its sediment load, just as the particles of suspended earth were settling to the bottom of my settling bag. This is a load that wind, water, and humanity has scraped from 108,000 square miles of mostly arid, barren, and highly erodible land. Estimates on the exact annual size of this load range from 45 million tons to nearly 200 million tons, but even the lowest of these estimates is an enormous amount of sediment being deposited into the head of the impounded river (so much so that it’s been estimated that in only forty years of existence, sediment has reduced the reservoir’s carrying capacity by four percent). Some 180 miles later, when the dam releases the river from the bottom of the 300-foot deep reservoir, a different river emerges: a deep green, bitterly cold, enslaved river, its soul having settled down with the silty coagulum burying the drowned contours of Glen Canyon.
The Glen Canyon Dam, completed in 1963, has wreaked havoc on downstream ecology. The seasonal flux of spring flood and winter ebb was replaced by a mechanical, anthropogenic rhythm: the dam now doles out the river in accordance with Phoenix’s electrical needs. Before the dam, the rise and ebb of floods would deposit and rearrange the river’s sediment into ecologically important fluvial formations: sandbars, islands, beaches, backwaters. With the replenishing floods stifled by the dam and the sediment dropped at the top of the reservoir, the Canyon’s beaches and eddy sandbars are slipping away, grain by grain. No longer scoured by floods, the remaining beaches are increasingly impenetrable with tamarisk, Russian olive, and willow. No longer swept aside or rearranged by floods, the debris fans that form at the mouths of tributary canyons constrict the river, forming narrower, bonier rapids. Before the dam, the

river could reach a high of eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit; the river is a now a consistently frigid forty-seven degrees Fahrenheit—for this alone I hated it, how it spoiled one of life’s greater pleasures: the ablution of swimming in a summer-warmed river.

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #1, ©Carolyn Doucette

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #1, ©Carolyn Doucette

The dam’s effects are geological as well as ecological. Before the dam, the melting of the Rocky Mountains’ deep snowpacks sent spring floods raging through the Canyon. The highest recorded flood (in 1884) peaked at 300,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (the dammed river now fluctuates between 7,000 to 30,000 cfs). And yet even that historic 300,000 cfs deluge was dwarfed by floods that have ripped through the Canyon in recent geological history. Within the last two-million years, the cyclic melting of the Quaternary Ice Ages sent flood after flood—some as large as a 1,000,000 cfs—coursing through the Canyon. These floods significantly contributed to the downcut topography of the Colorado


Plateau; the geologist Wayne Ranney estimates that as much as half of the Grand Canyon’s current depth—so, some 2,500 feet—occurred within this time. After all, the Colorado River did not carve the Grand Canyon by the steady rasp of sediment-laden waters abrading bedrock. A thick—in some cases seventy-five-foot thick—layer of silt, mud, and sediment protects the bedrock from the river’s scour. Only when the river swelled in floods big enough to sweep away the sediment, and the giant boulders suspended within the flood hammered the bared bedrock into clasts the flood then whisked away, only then did the Canyon deepen.

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #2, ©Carolyn Doucette

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #2, ©Carolyn Doucette

No more. The once diluvial Colorado River system is now constrained by more than 100 dams between headwaters and delta. The once volatile river has been reduced, as the riverguide and author Kevin Fedarko has written, “to little more than a giant plumbing system” consigned to slake the thirst of some thirty million people. The river that carved the Grand Canyon in a scant six-million years has been fettered;

the canyon this river carved no longer deepens.
After an hour, my muscles beginning to tighten from the day’s miles and the evening’s cold, I stood from my stone seat onto a shatter of scree. At the exact moment that I stood a fish jumped: a flash in the corner of my eye, the distant sound of a splash, and the quickest of ripples. Probably a rainbow trout: an invasive, predatory species that has flourished in the cold, clean waters the dam has effected upon downstream ecosystems. The fish brought to mind another meeting of waters, this one of a bright, fast creek into the dusky, slow Rogue River. One summer my wife and I walked, every afternoon, to perch above that confluence and watch the congregations of three- to four-foot Spring Chinook. Once only one fish, a four-foot long beauty. A few days later a dozen. Then a half-hundred salmon in that bedrock cleft, mouthing up against the cold, oxygen-rich waters of the creek, some spooling out into the deep green current of the warm river, some flipping over on their sides so that the stippled light flashed on their dark and silver fluidities, these dark fish flashing in the green river that itself flashed with the white sun and green hills. Absolutely hypnotic. But my ecstasy was cut with the lament that once the whole river would have been choked with salmon, that this spectacular clustering was but a shard of what used to be a common miracle across the West, another reminder of the loss of the richness and abundance that we used up or wasted or threw away one way or another, that we can somehow go on living our days without accounting for, but that nonetheless shadows our presence, permeates our world.
The Japanese have a term: mono-no-ware, the beautiful sadness of temporality. I am particularly susceptible to this feeling, especially when alone in wild places. I have experienced it again and again in the Canyon: the crumbling slopes around me signifying dissolution and death; the stars wheeling across the sky the same stars my wife had


seen, hours earlier, on the other side of the country; the sound of the wind at eight-thousand feet soughing through the boughs of the evergreens the ever-present expression of the end of summer and the looming offseason, when so many of us seasonal employees who are dependent on the river and Park are set adrift. What I was most susceptible to, in terms of mono-no-ware, was not simple transience: I did not mourn change in and of itself. Nor did I mourn that which I did not value. I mourned loss, especially what I considered needless, or at least preventable loss.
The losses attributable to the Glen Canyon Dam are more myriad and complicated than the diminished fish runs of the Rogue River. And yet when it comes to native fish, both rivers rippled with what the Portuguese call saudade, that bittersweet tumult of loss, longing, and hope. Before the dam, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon supported healthy populations of eight native fish species. Six of these species were endemic, meaning they were found nowhere else in the world. But then the Bureau of Reclamation plugged the river, and shortly thereafter the Colorado Pikeminnow, a six-foot long, eighty-pound torpedo of a fish, was extirpated from the Canyon. As was the Roundtail chub. As was the Bonytail chub, now considered functionally extinct. A small population of Razorback sucker has recently been located in the lower stretches of the Canyon, but is still considered endangered, and might not be reproducing. The humpback chub, perhaps the most well-known of these piscine marvels, a fish that evolved in time with the six-million-year-carving of the Canyon, its cartilaginous hump allowing it to press against the riverbottom and remain upright in floods, its small eyes, depressed skull, and highly streamlined body adaptations to the aphotic conditions of that once turbulent river-of-stone, is also endangered. The LCR near the Confluence supports the largest of the six remaining populations of

humpback chub in the world, and the only population in the Grand Canyon known to still spawn.
A truly impressive array of government agencies has spent over four decades and tens—if not hundreds—of millions of dollars in humpback chub recovery efforts. Grand Canyon National Park’s current chub recovery measures include “translocations of humpback chub into tributaries, non-native fish control, and the establishment of a refuge population of humpback chub at US Fish and Wildlife Service fish hatchery

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #3, ©Carolyn Doucette

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #3, ©Carolyn Doucette

in New Mexico.” And yet, on a whole, these efforts have been ineffective: chub populations continue to decline.
A few concerned ecologists have voiced their dismay that we seem not to have the resources, capability, or political fortitude to save the Colorado River’s—indeed, the American West’s—native fish by eradicating predatory, nonnative fish, much less dams. It simply may not be feasible, regardless. There is no chance of eradicating nonnative, predatory fish like rainbow trout in the mainstem of the


Colorado through Grand Canyon; in fact, the National Park Service’s 20-year Comprehensive Fisheries Management Plan includes the plans of maintaining the recreational rainbow trout fishery in the tailwaters of the dam and continuing to restore native fish populations in the tributaries, despite the fact that the same tailwater trout decimate the same native fish populations.

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #4, ©Carolyn Doucette

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #4, ©Carolyn Doucette

I stood for a while, watching the water, waiting for another fish to jump. Nothing. Only the pale moon in the diming sky, the rivers joining forces to flow downcanyon, and a bleached log, high up on the riverbank, settled atop a boulder by the subsidence of the last great flood in ’83, likely never to drift again.
I had crossed the LCR and walked upstream of the confluence to pump my drinking water, and not just because the LCR was running thick. The Little Colorado’s water is some of the foulest in the Canyon: heavily mineralized, slimy, brackish, stank. Jack Sumner, one of Powell’s crewmates on

his first trip down the Canyon in 1869, found it “a lo[a]thesome little stream, so filthy and muddy that it fairly stinks…as disgusting a stream as there is on the continent … half of its volume and 2/3 of its weight is mud and silt. [It was little but] slime and salt.” A hundred years’ worth of human effluvia: battery acid, car oil, tires, trash, dead dogs, as well as traces of one of the worst radioactive spills in U.S. history, when one-hundred-million gallons of radioactive water were accidently released into a major tributary in 1979, has done little to improve its flavor.
But honestly, by the time it reaches the Canyon, the Colorado River’s once-Rocky-Mountain-meltwater isn’t all that much more palatable. Reaching my settling bag, I noticed that the river-level had already sunk: the dam engineers let out less water at night, when electrical demand is low. I pumped a liter and took a sip. Alkaline, almost curdled water. The rim of my bottle was gritty; I could feel the grains of rock rasp my tongue, the sand grind my teeth. Despite the dam, the Colorado through the Canyon is by no means devoid of silt. According to Gwendolyn L. Waring, author of A Natural History of the Intermountain West: Its Ecological and Evolutionary Story, the river below the dam still conveys some 12 million tons of silt a year. 12 million tons of silt still makes a raspy river. Much of the silt comes from the Pariah River, which enters the Colorado hypersaturated with the pink, hematite-rich soils of Bryce Canyon. Waring claims that the Pariah, a Paiute word meaning “muddy” or “elk water,” has “carried greater concentrations of suspended sediment than any other river in North America; concentrations of up to 2 pounds of sediment per quart.” The LCR also supplies a significant amount of the below-dam Colorado’s sediment; the rest comes from the Park’s hundreds of tributary canyons. And thus a drink of the river, despite the twist of the mouth at the taste, is a desert communion: the dolomites and mudrocks of Nankoweap or Kwagunt basins clouding into


the Colorado and now billowing into my bloodstream, bolstering bone.
The Southwest’s intense monsoon thunderstorms play an integral role in the conveyance of tributary silt. For those few wet months, for the approximately two-hundred-and-ninety mile stretch of river between the Glen Canyon Dam and the waters of Lake Mead, the Colorado scorches its namesake red. Flush with runoff, again the river moves the wasted continent to the sea. You open your eyes underwater and it’s like being buried alive. Black as a cave. If you go overboard in a rapid the suspended sediment collects in every fold in your PFD or drysuit and weighs you towards your watery death. The most impressive thing about a video of a flood ripping down National Canyon in 2012 isn’t the hugely aggrandized volume of the normally-small creek, but the quantity of mud that the flood was expectorating into the river: a foamy goo that settled into a few-foot thick scum in the downstream flatwater.
And yet, because of repressed riverflow, most of this tributary sediment settles to the riverbed shortly downstream of the tributary canyons. Since 1996, the various federal agencies managing the dam and river—mainly the Bureau of Reclamation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service—have been experimenting with short-duration, high-volume dam releases (aka “high-flow experiments,” or HFEs) designed to mobilize theses thick mantles of sand and sediment in hopes that when the flood subsides, the mobilized sand will have replenished downstream beaches and riparian areas. They have conducted six such experiments, with no flood larger than 45,000 cfs. The latest tactic, now part of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, is to strategically time the high-flows with the episodic flooding of tributaries, as when, in a three-month, end-of-monsoon-season span in 2012, the Paria River

debouched at least 538,000 metric tons of sand into the Colorado River.
However, according to a 2011 USGS report, the relation “among sand supplied from tributaries, short-term sand enrichment in the Colorado River, sand transport during HFEs, sand transport between HFEs during normal operations, and the resultant sand mass balance” is complex, and delicate, and “uncertainties still remain about downstream impacts of water releases from Glen Canyon Dam.” For example, the experimental floods may have had a role in the 800-percent increase in the catch rates of rainbow trout—the humpback chub’s main predator—at the

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #5, ©Carolyn Doucette

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #5, ©Carolyn Doucette

Confluence between 2007 and 2009. On a wider scale, the question remains of whether tributaries even supply enough sand “to provide the elevated suspended-sediment concentrations needed to build and also maintain sandbars.”Because of this, environmentalists have urged the Bureau of Reclamation to install a slurry pipe that would


inject reservoir sediment back into the river, though the Bureau has indicated no more willingness to do this than it has to install a native-fish-friendly device that pulls warm water from the surface of the reservoir though the penstocks. They have valid reasons: sediment released from Lake Powell will only further reduce the already-diminished capacity of Lake Mead, a far-more strategic reservoir, and warmer water, while bad for trout, might increase the populations of other, voracious, warm water nonnative fishes. Still, the Bureau has been historically, notoriously recalcitrant concerning anything other than the Glen Canyon Dam’s main purpose as a “cash register” dam, and even getting them to conduct some of the high-flow experiments required litigation.

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #6, ©Carolyn Doucette

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #6, ©Carolyn Doucette


So it goes with the Colorado River these days; as Marc Reisner put it in the classic Cadillac Desert, “The Colorado’s modern notoriety…stems not from its wild 

rapids and plunging canyons but from the fact that it is the most legislated, most debated, and most litigated river in the entire world.” Though there is a great and necessary deal of cooperation over this miracle of a desert river “resource,” scarcity and complexity breed conflict, and often enough it’s the Bureau of Reclamation vs. the National Park Service vs. the Fish and Wildlife Service vs. the Navajo Nation vs conservation organizations; urban Phoenicians vs. Pima cotton farmers vs. whitewater rafters; “upper-basin” states vs. “lower-basin” states vs. the federal government; the Endangered Species Act vs. electricity production vs. recreational sport-fishing, on and on, all the parties with their own vested interests, competing values, institutional ideologies, and narrative blinders.
And yet for all the tangle of acronyms, abstractions, and differing philosophies is the squat, concrete reality of the dam. So too, for all the ways the thickness of our individual and 
cultural conceptions allow us to see or not see the Grand Canyon, as much as it may be the most staggering, unknowable, sublime phenomenon that I have ever experienced, the Canyon is still rock, and wind, and river. “No ideas but in things,” William Carlos Williams proclaimed, and I understood that best, there; that sublimity, mystery, time, love, passion, loss, and sorrow are aspects of the Canyon and life I’d only and ever truly understand if they burned through me as physical experiences: as sweat stinging the eyes, lungs gulping the air, a stone tossed as far as I could into the void, the rasp of sediment against skin, tongue.
I was born sixteen years too late to have experienced the Canyon before the dam. I couldn’t—can’t—see the suckers and pikeminnows and chubs slipping towards extinction. I haven’t yet spent enough years on the river to witness the beaches waning to nothing, the rapids choking with boulders. There is only so much my mind can bear to read about 


acre-feet allocations, fluvial geomorphology, and adaptive management programs. But every year, as the monsoons waned, I watched brown-green veins more frequently marble the firebrand red until, in time, the entire river flowed that sullen, incarcerated green.
Conversely, during those months when the tributaries are flashing, turning the river brown, or during those brief days during the rare high-flow experiments, one understands that the central miracle of the Grand Canyon is the staggering amount of material that the river is capable of conveying. It’s so obvious that it’s commonly disregarded, or slips past without notice, but the exposed and spreading rock is not the Grand Canyon: the Canyon is the absence of rock. The Canyon is a lacuna—a gap, a segment of earth torn from its surroundings, the 1,000 cubic miles of rock that the river has excavated. And not just the iconic gorge itself—in what the geologist Clarence Dutton dubbed “The Great Denudation,” strata a mile thick was removed from the top of the Grand Canyon region. An entire landscape, gone. The Moenkopi layer, gone. Chinle layer, gone. The Moenave, Kayenta, Navajo, Templecap, Carmel, Dakota, Tropic, Wahweap, Kaiparowits, Wasatch, Brian Head—almost two-hundred million years’ worth of sedimentary deposition—gone. Slab by slab and grain by grain, the arterial riverflume sluiced the broken landscapes to the Sea of Cortez. Wells sunk along the river’s delta have penetrated eighteen-thousand feet of alluvial fill without hitting bedrock. Fifty-thousand cubic miles of sediment may lay buried under the Gulf of California. In time that material will be subducted and reabsorbed into the hot crust of the earth, and, in even greater scales of time, again rise to the surface as new earth.
And yet, for a geologic gasp, no more sediment disgorges into the gulf. None.

Of course, in the deep reaches of geologic time, a few centuries’ or millennia’s’ lack of silt won’t affect the tectonic cycle in the slightest. And that’s part of the magic of the Grand Canyon: all I had to do to feel, if not hope, then at least a comforting sense of context, was to look around me,

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #10, ©Carolyn Doucette

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #10, ©Carolyn Doucette

press my bare palms against that unbearably ancient rock, slide my bare feet in that cold, indifferent water. Despite the abundant instances of sorrow and loss, despite that I may mourn that I’ll never get to see a 200,000 cfs flood scouring and deepening the Canyon, or that I’ll never get to sit at the confluence of the free flowing San Juan River and the free-flowing Colorado River and watch the sediment of one curl like spiral galaxies into the deep space of the other, I find some small, fatalistic comfort in the fact that the dam is a temporary barrier, that the river, as Robinson Jeffers put it, is a “heart-breaking beauty [that] will remain when there is no heart to break for it.” It’s an almost inescapable thought. As


Ed Abbey so characteristically wrote about the dams he despised: “In a few more centuries the dams will be filled

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #11, ©Carolyn Doucette

Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3 #11, ©Carolyn Doucette

with silt and mud, and will become great waterfalls…Any river with the power to carve through the ancient limestones, sandstones, granite, and schists of the Kaibab Plateau will [in time] have little trouble with the spongy cement deposited, once upon a time, by some dimly remembered clan of ant folk known as the Bureau of Reclamation.”
My water bottles full, I poured the remaining water in my settling bag into the shallows. The force of the water plumed sand into suspension, some of which settled back to the bottom, some of which was whisked away by the eddy. I watched the gauzy ribbons of sediment flow past, allowed myself to fancy that they made the main current to be carried past the Confluence, past the endling schools of chub, and down the length of this ancient river to the waters of Lake Mead, where the individual grains will again succumb to their miniscule gravities and drift, slowly, to the bottom.



Carolyn Doucette’s Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3, invites viewers to challenge the construction and implications of traditional Western dichotomies between nature and culture. In this series, I visually disrupt conventionally composed landscape imagery by printing digital designs created with iPhone applications over sepia-tinted photographs digitally altered in Photoshop to resemble historic processes such as the wet plate Collodion. The photographs themselves reference Ansel Adams’s and Edward Weston’s iconic homages to the North American landscape. The geometric forms interrupting these familiar landscape images evoke designs by American modernist and postmodernist architects such as Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne and Richard Meier. These architects’ perfectly proportioned structures abstractly allude to organic forms but defy nature’s logic. In this style, my designs’ hyper-vivid colors and strict symmetry clash with the geologically and historically complex landscape.

Underlying my imagery is an awareness that the American West is the site of significant historical trauma. The brutal history of colonization in the area, as well as contemporary ecological destruction, demonstrates the peril of Western notions of nature versus culture. As a person of mixed Mi’kmaq and French ancestry, I have a heightened awareness of the temptations and dangers of over-simplifying and mythologizing the landscape. In today’s world, corporate greed posses a major threat to the global wilderness. The forms that I impose on the landscape in my artworks represent humanity’s destructive desire to force itself on the land, in one form or another.

Inspired by Anselm Kiefer’s statement, “how can you just paint a forest when the tanks have passed through?,” this series urges us to explore how our aesthetic attitudes about nature influence our actions. Great North American Landscapes Vol. 3, raises the question of whether we can develop alternative understandings of humanity’s relationship with the Earth.

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Nathaniel Brodie has worked for many years on the Grand Canyon National Park Service Trail Crew. His essays have appeared in a number of magazines, literary journals, and anthologies, and can be read at nathanielfbrodie.com. He currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, with his beloved wife and daughter.

Born in North Dakota, of Mi’kmaq|Acadian ancestry, Carolyn Doucette is an American transmedia artist with a BFA from the University of Victoria. Her work has shown and screened at art galleries and film festivals in the US, Canada and Europe. Her work and research concerns the connection between humans and nature, the ecological implications of a nature/culture dichotomy in Western thought paradigms and the natural landscape vs. the “sublime” landscape. She lives in Santa Barbara, CA and is currently working on a mixed-media series exploring her indigenous heritage.

How hemlock got its name

Chris Marshall

  Hemlock (eastern hemlock, as it is properly called) is a tree of some distinction, and worth getting to know more closely. It grows straight and tall; the largest hemlock on record measures 165 feet in height, and another famous specimen had a trunk seven feet thick. Hemlock shows a pyramidal shape, much like spruce from a distance, with an elegant taper. Flexible branches slope downward and out at a gentle angle from the trunk and turn upward at the ends with elegance, like the fingers of a South Indian dancer; this is the way they bend without resistance and shed accumulated snow. Young hemlock tops aren’t stiff like other conifers but yield gracefully under the pressure of snowdrifts. This soft supple quality distinguishes hemlock from spruce and fir, its forest-mates, whose bristly needles and firm branches we experience every Christmas. Hemlock foliage has been described as airy, feathery, delicate, fine.  From a distance the tree has the feel of a soft green cloud.

A    lot of people associate “hemlock” with poison.  Socrates drank hemlock and died, and we’ve never heard the last of it. In fact, there is a plant called poison hemlock, Conium maculatum, a weedy flower about three feet high that looks something like the common Queen Anne’s lace. It grows by water margins, roadsides and waste land throughout North America and the Old World.  The seeds and leaves bear a toxic compound much like South American arrow poisons. It causes death by disrupting the workings of the central nervous system: an ascending muscular paralysis gradually reaches the respiratory muscles, which results in death due to lack of oxygen to the heart and brain.

INDENT
The man . . . laying his hands upon him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said “No”; then after that, his thighs; and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And then again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The chill had now reached the region about the groin, and

uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said – and these were his last words – “Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Pay it and do not neglect it.” “That,” said Crito, “shall be done; but see if you have anything else to say.” To this question he made no reply, but after a little while he moved; the attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed. And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes.¹ ~

  So here we have a tall, handsome, deep-green tree of the dense forest – an eighty-foot-tall plant that can live for nine hundred years – sharing its name with a scrawny two-foot annual weed of damp pastures (and a lethally poisonous one at that!)

  Rural Northerners know one hemlock from another, even though city people might get nervous about a hike through the hemlock woods.  Robert Frost wrote, “The way a crow/ Shook down on me/ A weight of snow/ From a hemlock tree// Has given my heart/ A change of mood/ And saved some part/ Of a day I had rued.”  A student asked Frost about this sweetly quiet winter scene: “What did you mean by 

such a sinister image?” Frost was puzzled, and the student explained, “You know, the black crow, the poison hemlock…” Frost, Yankee to the bone, made some sharp observations about people from away and left it at that.

  But how did such different plants get the same name? For years writers have speculated that the tree’s needles resemble the plant’s leaves (they don’t), or that its foliage smells like the plant when crushed (it doesn’t). Evidently these guys didn’t get out in the woods much. The answer is deeper and more interesting – it takes us into the minds of the American colonists, and even further back to the Saxon occupiers of England more than a thousand years ago. The Anglo-Saxons’ name for the poisonous streamside weed was hemlike, a combination of hem” (a border or margin) and “lik” (a leafy plant) – literally a “leek” that grows on the “hem” of the land. The plant was notable for its wildness and its ill-will towards humans – it grew on wet wasteland unfit for human gardening, encroached on productive fields, and poisoned

their browsing cattle. Other plants were beautiful, blessed, obedient to the human hand, helpful in our God-given work to improve the Earth and make it a garden.  Other plants lived under our care and settled happily on our fields and forests. This hemlock was otherwise – a contrary creature growing in useless and accursed places, resistant to our care, deceiving our cattle, and contributing only death. The hemlock plant epitomized evil.

  The British newcomers to North America found the poison hemlock herb growing here; they called it what it was and regarded it the same way as had their forebears.  They found the hemlock tree problematic, though, because it didn’t grow in Europe. It was clearly a conifer, and back in Britain any conifer was loosely called a “fir,” sometimes even the indigenous Scots pine. But how to distinguish the new species from the true fir, a familiar timber tree that grew on both continents? To choose a name, the British did what they had done a few centuries earlier when England began importing Baltic wood for ships

and buildings. The fine tall timber of Latvia and Prussia was a “fir” of a variety unknown in Britain, and so they had called it “Prussian fir,” “pruce fir,” and eventually “spruce.” In like manner, this new “fir” of the Americas became “hemlock fir,” or “hemlock pine.

   They called the tree “hemlock” because it was accursed. Other conifers milled out as clean, clear boards and timbers; this new wood, compared to pine and spruce, was rough-textured, splintery, and tended to warp.  Other conifers grew on broad uplands and slopes where the human hand could be turned to productive lumbering and farming; this contrary tree seemed to prefer cold gullies, northern slopes, and terrains that resisted cultivation, wild marginal landscapes hostile to the civilizing mission of the farmer. In the world of trees it was a perverse sinner living in a godless place . . . just like the poison hemlock in the world of plants.

  Every kind of tree had its own moral character in those days. Oak, walnut, and chestnut were generous in feeding the farmer’s livestock, 

and strong and helpful for tool-making. Ash was beneficent in providing good firewood and straight-grained timber, and gave shade to cattle in the summer sun. The evergreen boughs of the “priestly” cedar served to remind humans of everlasting life (and so was planted in graveyards), but also brought welcome cash to the farmstead as homemade shingles went to market. Pine was king – straight grained, huge in diameter and height, growing everywhere, immensely valuable in the boards it provided. Trees like these represented virtues of dignity, strength, productiveness, religiosity, or courage, according to the temperament of the species. Think of phrases like “hearts of oak,” or “Old Hickory.”

  Always, though, Americans found those trees most beautiful that indicated the most fertile soil. In selecting a good farm, you would draw on the tree lore of several European nations, as well as locally acquired knowledge of tree habitat, to help you recognize good land for husbandry. The virtuous trees favored the same land humans did.

  In that world Hemlock was clearly evil. It chose for its home a terrain that resisted the divine will to cultivate Nature through human husbandry; its wood was uncooperative    
and resistant; it produced neither quality firewood nor good lumber nor useful fruits,nothing to aid its human neighbors. It was a moral poison … just like the herb known as hemlock.

¹ Plato. Phaedo, 117e-118a. In Plato, with an English translation by H.N.Fowler. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966.

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Chris Marshall studies the historical ecology of land-human interactions on the Maine frontier. He is a retired Unity College professor.

The Hemlock Ecosystem Management Study is a multi-year study of how the loss of eastern hemlock trees affects ecosystems and people in Maine. The project is directed by four primary faculty members: Amy Arnett and Erika Latty from the Center for Biodiversity; and Kathleen Dunckel and Brent Bibles from the Center for Natural Resource Management and Protection with assistance from Unity College students.

Featured Artist: Eliot Dudik’s Broken Land

Eliot Dudik

Broken Land

We live in times of great unrest ‐- politically, socially, culturally. The beauty and old violence in Eliot Dudik’s photographs remind us that generations of people have lived on this earth in similar times. The stillness in these photographs both reassures and disturbs us. The land abides and heals, regenerates, but the violence emerges elsewhere year after year. How do we flourish despite our collective stumbles? The schisms are many yet we look for meaning in the face of adversity. Like the land, we seek resilience. Resurgence. Equanimity. As we reflect on the year behind and launch in to a new year ahead, we want to pause and consider how we might learn from our own mistakes or missed opportunities. To cultivate beauty among the decay. To act as better humans, better neighbors, better friends. To flourish despite our stumbles.

~ the Editors, Hawk & Handsaw

Words from the Artist. The idea of history repeating itself generally associates with the notion that an attempt to recognize mistakes of the past leads to prevention of recurrence. Current political and cultural polarization in the United States seems to have blinded citizens to the effects of historical schisms: divisions that, having not been recognized and resolved, led to the horrific and devastating events of the American Civil War. The current political divide in this country is not dissimilar to that of mid-nineteenth century America, and to severely compound these issues, political leaders today, as before, are apparently incapable of lasting and formative solutions.

Perspective on the Civil War and contemporary culture are vast and deeply engrained in our heritage. Prying open and examining viewpoints objectively is exceedingly difficult, but an essential responsibility for all citizens to allow any possibility of cultural and political cohesion. My goals are to create landscapes that come alive with the acts of war, and cause, at least, contemplation of the nature of being American, to allow understanding, communication, and cooperation with fellow citizens. These photographs are an attempt to preserve American history, not to relish it, but recognize it cyclical nature and to derail that seemingly inevitable tendency for repetition.

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Eliot Dudik is a photographic artist, educator, and bookmaker exploring the connection between culture, memory, landscape, history, and politics. He was awarded the PhotoNOLA Review Prize in 2014 for his Broken Land and Still Lives portfolio, resulting in a book publication and solo exhibition.  Broken Land was most recently published as a feature in the July/August 2015 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.  FLASH FORWARD 2015 chose the series for publication and exhibition in Toronto and Boston.  His photographs have been installed in group and solo exhibitions across the United States and Canada including Dishman Art Museum (TX), Morris Museum of Art (GA), Masur Museum of Art (LA), Muscarelle Museum of Art (VA), Cassilhaus (NC), Annenberg Space for Photography (CA), Columbia Museum of Art (SC), Southeast Museum of Photography (FL), New Orleans Photo Alliance (LA), Carlson Gallery at the University of La Verne (CA), and the Division Gallery in Toronto, Canada, for examples.  Upcoming solo exhibitions also include the Griffin Museum of Photography (MA) and the Center for Fine Art Photography (CO).  Eliot is currently founding the photography program within the Department of Art and Art History at the College of William & Mary where he is currently teaching and directing the Andrews Gallery at the college.