Last Friday evening (June 12th) a Silent March in support of the Black Lives Matter protests drew the participation of an estimated five hundred Vashonites. As the march proceeded through Vashon’s main business district everyone took a knee for eight minutes and fifty eight seconds in memory of George Floyd’s murder and all people of color unjustly killed.
The silence on our typically noisy main street was profound and surreal; no chatting or even murmuring, nor vehicular traffic although the roads were not blocked. Social interaction was largely absent among these people of our small community, people who are familiar to themselves and had not had the chance to interact for months. Personal visits set aside for a common expression of support and solidarity and grief and resolve and love. The pictures tell the story.
On our way to the Quiraing mountains, Mary Liz and I detoured to check out an old stone sheep pen that was set off, away from the road. About the time we walked in and started to look for photos who shows up but the crofter himself, Calum MacDonald with his trusty dog Pip! His purpose that day was to round up a couple dozen sheep for their annual sheep-dip plunge but he was willing to chat for a while, discussing the crofter’s waning lifestyle; those skills learned from his father and now being continued with his herd of sheep but more as a tradition than that of a business.
The afternoon highlight for us both was watching Pip herd the sheep while Calum strolled along offering minimal commands and hand signals. Once the sheep were at the stone pens, Calum managed the gates while Pip penned the herd with a firm stance and stare. It was a beautiful performance to watch, and made us both wonder how many generations of crofters and dogs have worked sheep into those stone pens over the years, and how they will continue.
Circumstances dictated that Mary Liz and I stick closer to home than usual this season. No grand expeditions or road trips seeking fall colors. While missing the opportunity to visit new and familiar photographic hot spots, I’ve had time to mark the season’s progress closer to home.
Of the two or three nearby locations I’ve been revisiting these past weeks, one is this small, mature orchard with maybe two dozen fruit trees which I’m told is about 45 years old. It is adjacent to our friends’ Froggsong Gardens.
Specifically there are two trees in this orchard I find engaging for various reasons; reasons like the evolving colors, the shape or gesture of the branches and the relationship of these trees to their surroundings. The ultimate force inspiring me to photograph them however, is the quality of light and the moods it creates filtering through these trees.
Typical of the soft Pacific Northwest light, conditions here are laden with atmosphere, often foggy. With these photographs, I worked to capture variations in color and intensity of that light, and the magic it creates among the trees; the way it penetrates, sometimes glowing on the branches, then dense and seeping down to the ground beneath the canopies.
For a number of years I’ve been working in this orchard with my mind set on a collection of the four seasons. I think I’ll remember 2018 as the year I watched it in autumn.