Statement on Women Poets, 1 – 26  

 

When I started this photo series I had no idea I was going to take on such a project.  I did know, however, that something was happening since I began taking photos in the park near my home where I walk daily.

 

I love going to this park.  It isn’t very big, perhaps only 1.5 miles in circumference, but it sustains me.  In the center of the park there is a lake that feeds into a creek system, and two small islands provide shelter for herons, ducks, and geese.  

 

I have been amazed, over the years, at how my “view” of trees has changed, developing into a kind of sensibility about them I’d never experienced; how the wind blows through their leaves, how they seem to have distinct characters, dare I say personalities

 

So how did I get here? 

 

I was gifted a small digital camera took my first photos in the park in February, 2011, on a very cold evening (-15° F).  From then on I began carrying my camera with me, just in case, and I began noticing the nature of this park across the seasons--and by that I mean its character, overall.  I also began noticing how the light fell throughout the year, and when I thought it impossible for me to take notice of anything new, there was a very drizzly day, March 9, 2013, a freeze and melt situation, droplets clinging to limbs, haze in the air, puddles on top of ice and puddles on the melt-clearing path.  I had my camera that day.   Lucky.

 

As I have gone along for two-and-a-half years, I’ve taken hundreds of photos.  Trees were a majority of these, and during this time I began to notice the everyday fracturing going on in the park, something common in nature; only now that fracturing happens with an added twist as the ferocity of storms, the stronger, straight-line winds, the weight of snow and ice from freezing rain, lend themselves to a different level of natural destruction in the forest cycle.  I began to see the problem not just as what is, but also metaphorically, as I developed my daily relationship with the trees and their surroundings, realizing how deeply embedded in my mind and memory is the feminine archetype of the tree.  I couldn’t help myself, as I witnessed tree after tree after tree breaking in two, losing large limbs, falling apart in front of me, laying in sudden death past the varying knells that offered little if only sudden and severest warning for anyone willing to witness them.  Photo 26 has been the most shocking for me, a rather young red oak fallen at the “waist” as it were, its trunk split in two, weakened, evidently, by a thing I don’t know, succumbing outwardly to the weight of an evening’s heavy snow.

 

I observed the trees, going back again and again, trying to feel them, glean their affliction.  One day I looked at the tree laying in the water at the edge of the lake (Photo 21), burnt at the base, a probable lightening strike.  A voice in my mind spoke: “Perhaps if I bow down to you.”  I thought, Yes, this is what is going on, and I began to view the trees in their relationship to the Feminine Divine, seeing their power and their vulnerable succumbing, the bending and breakage, the iconic She-Tree, bracing as best She can, attempting to hold on against the New Fury of Man-Made Effects now diminishing, now eroding, now quite incapacitating the balance of life as ecosystems in the Natural world shift and explode or collapse under climate change.  

 

Perhaps if I bow down to you is the supplication from the Natural World, headed, in my mind, by a symbolic Mighty She.  If humans can acquiesce to the plea before us, perhaps the situation under climate change could find ameliorative room toward restoration.  If we take part in it, we might instill the necessary reparations instead of contributing to the ongoing infliction of irreversible harm.  The metaphor of our own victimization has taken hold.  I realize we are none of us innocent.  We have done this, we are doing this, to ourselves, and every action that is non-action contributes to our negating answer for Nature overall, and to ourselves, ultimately. 

 

PERHAPS IF I BOW DOWN TO YOU is my offering as response to and for the Trees and All.  So that is the name for my photo series, Women Poets 1 – 26. 

 

I assert the conditions of a conquer-usurp-and control paradigm have brought us exactly to this moment in time when the Mother Root—and our umbilical ties to Her—is threatened by our human behavior and those who accept that slant of economics that would have us believe ongoing exploitation of land and water will lend itself to conditions of ultimate viability.

 

I can only hope, if we fail Her, Big Mama (Photo 5) will last us out. 

My greatest hope is that we do not fail.

 

Leigh Herrick

March, 2013

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