Welcome to still more of the essay about illustrating Counting on the Woods -- we're up to section 5, which took place in mid-July 1997. Next week I will post the last section. Two weeks from now is Christmas, and I won't do a post that week. I couldn't give it the full attention I try for, and most folks wouldn't have time to read it anyway! I will happily return here on New Years Day.
section 5: I DO HAVE AN OTHER LIFE
One picture left, three days to do it in. Sounds easy. Luckily by this point I am so far removed from reality that nothing seems too much. Not even having Emily's family of four for their first visit, for 36 hours, not even getting ready for a nineteen day trip to visit family, having a potluck for 23 people the third night, or making a four hour round trip to Lexington to drop off two last rolls of slides. (Thank goodness the book's author is able to pick them up later, sort through them, and send some off to New York. Which ones, I wouldn't know.) Eight trees? What could be challenging about that? I am surrounded by one hundred acres of trees.
Of course there is a clear reason why this shot is the last one. I have tried many tree views, but it feels impossible to get only eight. Or just nine. Or five and five. My original innocent Dark Ages plan was to find the tree groupings and then put the kid in one of the trees. But I was being "stumped" by such logic. I had already tried ridge lines, cow fields, inner woods, east-facing wooded hillside as well as west-facing ones, and fortunately, field edge trees.
It turns out I had at some point been on the edge of some field and had made a shot of eight trees that worked pretty well, though I felt I could do better. [Remember, the Kyle-in-the-tree photo I want to use ended up showing him in two trees, so I now needed eight in order to match the ten trees in the words.] But where had I been to find that grouping? I'm surprised it's so hard to relocate the precise place. I usually remember clearly where I've been and what I saw there.
This is when the three days actually make a difference. My brain had time to sift, and I had time to reenact some earlier tripod locations. All that other stuff in my life simply went on without my full participation, and of course with no problems. The kids and my husband did the potluck, Emily entertained her family, our neighbor, Michelle, stayed in our house while we were gone and cleaned the house at the beginning and at the end of her stay [thanks again, dear friend] -- and broke up with her boyfriend!
What I finally discovered was that those eight trees could be viewed only through my trusty 300 mm lens. The image on the slide doesn't exist to the natural eye. Luckily that field was only a short walk from the house. And I found the place in time to film the trees in the Sunday evening light -- leaving the potluck briefly -- and again early the next morning, the last day I could film, the day I went to Lexington.
Someday the world will see a straightforward photo of eight tree trunks, one picture out of many, in a book, one of many, many. But I will always count eight trees as a miracle.
|a study for the trees page|
|a snap of the final result: two plus eight|
|hard-to-count trees on this hillside!|
|hard-to-count trees in this summer's steamy forest|
|turning to the page before: nine vines, earth to sky they climb|