Monday, August 4, 2014

My Own Personal Walden Pond...

The Poetry of Place: 
Reflections from the Edge of the Pond 

 I had decided to take a sabbatical from the blog for the month of July. I needed rest and
recuperation...a break from the daily posting.  I had no intention of putting my camera away however.

   What I needed was a focus close to home.  I found it less than a mile from my own personal Walden Pond.  I'd photographed it before, of course, but in a more random way.  On the 29th of June I began a systematic photographic study of the pond.  I plan to visit a few times each week over the course of next year at different times of day and in different weather.

   Little Clemons Pond is a bit smaller than Walden, only 25 acres to Walden's 61 acres, but it has no buildings along its shores...very unusual in this part of Southern Maine.  This is because one family owns all the surrounding land.  I received permission to walk its shoreline for this series.  Of course, they don't "own" the pond, no one can own a body of water in Maine, and I hope to take to a canoe to explore the pond from another viewpoint.

   I am no naturalist to be sure but I hope to take a cue from Thoreau and keep a journal of my observations. This is a project that I can envelop myself in on so many levels.  I look forward to sharing some of the images I receive with you as I progress through the year.  On this first day, it was the reflections that captivated me.

   I had been so consumed with my Threshold Pilgrimage for so long that the let down when I returned was more like a crash and burn experience.  Now, I felt I had a new, less stressful, focus for my camera work and writing.

   I've visited the pond 5 or 6 times since my first visit on the 29th and have amassed dozens of images and pages of journal entries.  I am also re-reading Walden and I feel closer to Thoreau, on an emotional level, now than I ever have, even after nearly 40 years of visiting Walden.  I can understand his fascination for a place.

   A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.  - Henry David Thoreau

   Have you ever considered finding your own Walden?  Maybe it won't be a pond but for me the concept of 'Walden' represents a place of retreat and contemplation for the seeking soul and it needn't be faraway or hard to get to.  Find one if you can and then make a commitment to visit on a regular basis over the course of a year.  See what it has to teach you...


kimmanleyort said...

I'm so excited to see this pond through your eyes. What a great project.

For a class I took, we had to visit one place a few times a week for the duration of the class (about 4 months). The idea was to combine the left and right sides of the brains. We were to draw or dance or write while at our place and also do a scientific research paper on the ecosystem or one particular aspect. I chose turtles. I was amazed at how much better I knew this place after four months than I did just visiting it off and on for several years.

Patricia Turner said...

Thank you, Kim. I've just finished my first month and already my relationship to this place has changed. It is a wonderful exercise for any contemplative photographer.

Carolyn said...

I have a place that I am called to return to again and again. It is a bit of an ironic place for me since it is a historic Catholic mission, and I have felt very detached from religion for many years.

Yet, this place calls me. I go there and walk very slowly through the church and its grounds, and I've discovered many beautiful gifts waiting there when I approach with an open heart. I often take my camera and many times I am surprised by what I find in my photos when I return home.

Patricia, I have also been taking a small journal when I visit there and drawing and writing as part of the listening process. Thank you for that suggestion. It has helped me to slow down and be where I am. I send thankful thoughts your way every time I pull the journal out.

I hope you are doing well. I so wish I could join you and Kim on Star island, but unfortunately, it's not possible for me this year. Best wishes for a peaceful autumn.


Patricia Turner said...

Thank you for your lovely words, Carolyn. I am so glad you have found your personal "Walden" and that the visual listening exercises aid you in forging a real relationship with the landscape. I wish you all the best as you seek out the unique poetry in your place!