Southbound

I’m so proud to be a part of this remarkable exhibit of Southern Photography at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Some absolute luminaries of Southern imagemakers.

This is my photograph titled, “Cricket’s Birthday Party at Old Ground Farm, Big Pine, Maeison County,, NC

We Are All Local - Little Worlds - A Garden

 

Kate Picking Beans in Granny Faye's Garden, Valdese, NC 1994

 
 

Somewhere, sometime, I read a quote from someone, I can't remember who. It goes something like this - "Growing a garden is the most radical thing a person can do in this life."

I've thought about this a lot over the years and have come to believe the statement's simple and eloquent truth. 

A garden connects us with the earth, the soil, the dirt, the stuff from which we are made. To have our hands in this most fundamental ingredient of our lives, to which we are returned upon death, to smell it, to taste it if you dare; these are gifts a garden offers.

A garden gives us something real in our everyday worlds of plastic and electronics. In our lives of daily exhaustion, of noise, and crowdedness, and anxiety, a garden offers refuge.

A garden empowers us. It encourages us to take some measure of control over what we put into our bodies. It allows resistance to the mainstream culture and the junk it wants us to eat.

A garden requires faith. Faith the seed will germinate and grow. Faith it will produce a harvest that will nurture us and help us grow. Faith it will provide seed to start the process another year.

A garden provides us with memories - of earlier times, of our parents or grandparents, or of gardens we, too, have grown in our past.

I remember my first garden. It was my first taste of fresh spinach. Not the Popeye variety, in a can and cooked to death, but fresh crisp leaves that left your mouth feeling fresh and crisp. Swallowing, you could feel its goodness going down and know, from that day onward, it would be in your life every spring.  

 

 

 

We Are All Local - Little Worlds

 

Buckscrape, Madison County, NC, July 29, 2018.

 

RIP Richard McCracken, 1940 - 2018.

Travel safely,
one last time,
in these waters of life,
and rest peacefully with the earth.

 

Buckscrape, Madison County, NC,
July 29, 2018.

 

We Are All Local - Little Worlds - At Paul and Laurie's

 

Paul (left) with Jim Hampton, Anderson Branch, Madison County, 2018.

 

Nia Cook.

Harry Rutten.

 

I've been going to Paul Gurewitz's house for dinner, parties, volleyball in the old days, 4th of July yearly, weddings, farkell, and just hanging out for over forty years. I've made a lot of pictures while there. But more recently, I've found myself shooting fewer photographs, just wanting to give it a rest and enjoy the company. And after a lifetime of making primarily people pictures, the photographs I am making these days are more likely landscapes.

At Paul's last weekend, a small group came over for pizza and pork, and music and singing. I had brought my camera, more out of habit, than with any intention to use it. So I was a little surprised when the light sucked me in; that soft evening light that happens around here, coupled with the softness of a young person's skin. Where's my camera? 

The light on Mr. Rutten was awful, but he got my attention with a version of The Lowland Sea that he just began singing acapella. I remembered the song from my time with Dellie Norton and her family in Sodom, who called it The Golden Vanity. Like Mr. Rutten they sang without accompaniment and somehow remembered the numerous verses.

And I'm just beginning to know this guy Jim Hampton. But he knew most of the words of my favorite Willie Nelson song, Hands on the Wheel, from the Red Headed Stranger album. It's kind of an obscure song and not many people play it. So, the fact he knew the song and could make a go of it helped turn the evening into another successful Gurewitz event.

 

 

We Are All Local - Little Worlds

 

Bobby Lewis, Doe Branch, Madison County, NC 2018

 
 

I wanted a smoke, but had left my pouch of Drum at the house and was at a party where I sensed there wouldn't be too many people to bum from. Standing with my friend who was hosting, my eye settled on an older woman sitting under a tree. I watched as she performed a classic smoker's ritual of reaching into her purse and pulling out a pack of Winstons, I think they were. 

Deborah and I approached her and she introduced me. "This is Bobby, our daughter-in-law's grandmother. She's 90 years old." Ninety years old and a smoker, I thought. This is a person I would like and enjoy talking with. To break the ice, I said, "Well, I gotta say, you look great for ninety, not a day over eighty-eight." She had a great laugh.

So, we sat together for a time - talking and smoking. She told me stories about being in Paris not long after World War II ended and the years she lived in Santa Fe. We laughed a fair amount and teased each other. 

I remember talking with my Father one time a few years before his death. He was talking about feeling lonely and said, "No one wants to talk to old people these days. Young people just ignore them." 

I thought of that conversation with my father as I was speaking with Bobby, staying dry under the tarp, smoking and laughing in the soft light of early evening. And, contrary to what my Father might have believed, I thought this ninety year old woman is the most interesting person here. And she had cigarettes to share. At one point she asked how old I was and I told her seventy. "You look good. You could pass for fifty-three." She won me with that comment.