TIS03: The Folly
16cm x 24cm
also comes as part of a 12 book box set, TIS03
Every day Penelope, Julien and I would descend the steep slopes from our neighborhood into Washington DC’s Glover-Archbold National Park – an oasis of old growth forest that finds itself slowly being choked by poison ivy and other invasives (a category in which, during this period, we might have included ourselves) – to walk the shallow stream that runs in the valley. Under the unconcerned gaze of grazing deer, we searched for tadpoles and tulip poplar flowers, swords and gloop – we even once found a bat, near death, and were startled when it flung itself into the air, past our looming faces, latching onto a tree some 30 feet above us.
Forced off the trails by the rules of social distancing we explored every ravine and ridgetop, to the soundtrack of the Pileated Woodpecker, discovering secret hideouts and long-forgotten ruins. As the reality of the pandemic slowly built and its ravages were yet to fully reveal themselves, we turned our attention instead to the minute changes of the days – the first buds, and then first flowers, the trees damaged in the first summer storm. As the season slowly shifted, our relationship to this place changed; we became connected to it, and the kids wore it like an old pair of boots. A land within and outside reality, it was ours, and we came to call it The Folly.
The Folly Brook was the stream in our “night-night” book The Little Grey Men from which, every evening before bed, I would read to the kids, tired from their woodland wanders, of the adventures of Cloudberry, Dodder and Squirrel. The book begins “The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades; these I saw. Look ye also, while life lasts.” I was struck by this clear description of the photographer’s task and invocation to the power of seeing, by the challenge to look – while life lasts.
The pandemic has revealed more clearly the impermanence of life, a reality always pressing is now more present than ever; paradoxically, we have been given more time to look, and potentially, less time to last. These are a few images of looking and seeing and lasting.