This fall-winter-early spring I have been recovering an intense involvement with the vision of trees and shrubs that grow along the water, photographing autumn golden Aspen in Rock Creek and at Convict Lake, and this winter, Red Birch (or water birch) in Independence Creek and at Horton Creek.
Previously I had discovered my fascination with thicket imagery when I moved to Marin County in 1987 for a two year sojourn in the Tomales Bay environs of Point Reyes Station and Inverness. I often pulled over to the side of the highways to take a couple thousand photographs with my old Pentax, driving along Sir Francis Drake Blvd, up and down the road from Bolinas to Olema, and out of Marin on the road to Petaluma; roads winding along the water courses, rich with riparian growth. I went camping in desert oases with a group of avid bird watchers who searched for rare hummingbirds, owls and parrots while I photographed the grass, bushes and scrub trees they might be hiding in. And I painted oak trees and aspen clumps.
I left off stockpiling thicket photos (I have boxfulls of 4x6 prints in storage) and painting oak trees when I moved to Berkeley to attend GTU in 1992, when books and lectures became the objects of my fondest scrutiny. I took a class on nature and images of divinity for which I wrote a paper on thickets, thornbushes and woods, such as the desert Thornbush in which Abraham found a trapped ram to substitute for the sacrifice of his son, and the Burning Bush encountered by Moses in Egypt. Dante's pilgrim begins his adventure in The Divine Comedy by coming to an awareness of being caught in a Dark Wood, and so forth. The theology of my study was the recurring experience of encountering transcendent, prophetic reality manifest through the ever-whichaways, or fractal, growth pattern in bushes and thickets, the kind of growth that occurs in riparian woods. (More on this idea in the next blog.)
After I graduated I returned to painting and focused on the subjects of people and owls, and had pretty much stopped taking photos, until I got a digital camera to document my paintings. When I moved to Horton Creek, I began to use it to take pictures for this blog, and so took up where I'd left off, taking pictures of thickets along the creeks; and got hooked, again.
Next up: Riparian Woods — the Paintings