Kate, as most of you know, is my daughter, "Child #2" in family speak. Now, everyone believes their child is the most incredible child ever was, and that's how it should be. But I just have to say that Kate is truly extraordinary and I couldn't be prouder of the young woman she has become.
Unquestionably the most difficult photograph I've ever made in a career that includes many emotional images. Our daughter is amazing and strong. To be with her Aunt in her last days. I am in awe. We are so very fortunate.
Born in the year of the cicadas
Your colicky wails mimicked the shrill cries of the bug
To create a voice unique to our ears, and to the world.
It has been that way ever since.
Under the sign of Gemini, on Dylan’s 50th,
We thought -
This is going to be a wild ride.
Ain’t that been the truth.
Too many moments to prove otherwise.
It’s hard to pick a favorite.
Perhaps when you were two years old and
You walked away from your mother at the mall.
Only to be found fifteen minutes later,
After the mall had been placed in lockdown,
Talking to two elderly women ten stores away from
Where you’d last been seen.
You never did know a stranger.
Or sending Steve Garrison’s mother to the clinic with a nasty bite
When she mistakenly backed you into a corner at daycare.
Or putting poor Leroy the cat in the freezer and
Claiming your brother did it.
Rebar on the soccer field. The last line of defense.
The endless parade of friends and critters brought to the house,
Most of whom, to our joy, are still in our lives.
You’re the perfect mix,
Your mother’s calm and nurturing ways.
And your father’s hypersensitivity.
Like mixing yoga and football.
Pensive, moody, fierce, unyielding.
Joyful, expansive, embracing, giving.
At work, it’s always, “May I help you?”
At 22, still figuring when to be which.
And I suppose, which to be when.
It’s a rich journey.
At what point in time does a place become your own? Is it when you finally finish paying off the mortgage and have the deed of trust in your hands? Is it when you realize you love it so much you will fight and die for it? Does it take living on it for a specific amount of time before you know it is yours? Is it when you've birthed children on it? Or buried a family member in it? Perhaps the better questions are: does a place ever become your own? Is it possible to ever really own land?
When I was documenting the construction of I-26, I had a conversation with Richard Dillingham, a seventh generation mountaineer who at the time was curator of the Rural Life Museum at Mars Hill College. Richard described to me his evolution on the subject of land ownership in the wake of so many people losing land to eminent domain for the new interstate highway. During an archeological dig prior to the road construction, Dillingham said, a 12,000 year old clovis spear point was discovered close to the land that had been in his family for 200 years. The realization that people had inhabited his family land for thousands of years put his own family's ownership of that same land in perspective for him. He began to understand we never really own anything – that we are mere stewards, charged with the responsible management of land entrusted to our care.
When my daughter was a child, I would often tell her bedtime stories of a young Native American girl who visited our land hundreds of years ago. I would talk about how that girl, and her family, had stayed for short periods of time hunting game and berries, and perhaps even hid from soldiers during the Great Removal. I spoke of how that girl, like my daughter, had played in the woods and creek, slept under the stars, and drunk water from our springs. It was a story based on the facts of pottery chards and broken arrow points found along our creek bottom after plowing. It's doubtful that Native girl of my imagination thought of this place as something she owned, as most Native peoples eschewed ownership of land. But I wonder if she thought of this place as hers. Did she, like my daughter, hide in the crevice of the big rock and find secret places in the woods? Did she come to feel at ease in our forest, even in the dark of night, and during the storms of summer? Did she have a sense of care for this place, knowing in turn that the place would care for her? And is this reciprocal nature of care and time the true measure of when a place becomes your own?