Saturday, November 24, 2007

Memories of Fall

Suddenly the Wisconsin landscape is white and frigid. It seems like yesterday that there was color and warmth all around us. Still, having lived in parts of the world where seasonal changes were less dramatic, I really wouldn't have it any other way. Contrasts make you appreciate those things that you truly enjoy. It is now time to enjoy the relative sameness of winter scenes while holding on to memories of Fall and the promise of Spring yet to come.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

French street art

When people think of France and art, the Louvre and its Grand Masters come to mind. I enjoy the Louvre and other museums, but there is also something exciting about wandering down a side street and discovering an unexpected piece of street art created by an unknown artist. Its presence compels me to photograph the art piece and preserve it before it is worn away by the forces of nature.

The photos that you see were taken either in southern France or in the western coastal towns. While I am especially drawn to the earth tones used in two of the paintings, all four of them are my particular favorites from all that I took during my 2006 trip. The monk journeying through the Himalayas serves as a contrast to the urban music lover in his approach to life. The two beings gazing into the heavens cause me to wonder what they are seeing that I am not. The building that appears to have a side street view is a subtle statement of illusion.
The artists will probably be only known to themselves and a few members of the community in which they live. Their works of art, if stumbled upon and noticed, will touch the lives of countless people.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

the Kennebec River

Recently, I returned to Maine because of my mothers death. The event caused me to revisit some of the places connected to my childhood, one of them being the banks of the Kennebec River.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "the Kennebec River

River, west-central Maine, U.S. rises from Moosehead Lake and flows south for about 150 mi (240 km) to the Atlantic Ocean. It was explored by Samuel de Champlain in 1604 – 05. With its main tributary, the Androscoggin River, it forms Merrymeeting Bay, which extends 16 mi (26 km) to the Atlantic."

To me, this tidal river holds historical significance. It is the pathway that encouraged European colonists to settle along its banks starting in the 17th Century. The River was also the route that Benedict Arnold took on his way to Canada during the American Revolutionary War.

In more recent times, the River has felt the impact of Man in a variety of ways. During the 19th Century its waters were so pure that ships would travel to it, collect its ice, pack it in sawdust, and ship it all over the world as a source of refrigeration. Then came the mills that harnessed water power and produced industrial pollution as a byproduct. Add the growth of towns as industry grew and we observe the additional pollutant of raw sewage added to the once clear waters. The result was a river environment that was avoided whenever possible, one that I hold strong memories of (and not so pleasant at that).

Fortunately, my teenage memories of walking across Memorial Bridge in Augusta on my way to high school in the early 1960's are part of the unglorious past. The stench of the River is gone. Mills no longer add toxins to the River, and cities have effective water treatment plants. Boating along the Kennebec is now a pleasant experience. Native fish such as the Atlantic salmon have returned. Old riverside train tracks have been converted to scenic walkways. There is once more a balance of nature.

Revisiting the Kennebec River has restored a bit of hope for me. It has shown me that it is sometimes possible to undo the harm to nature that Man has thoughtlessly inflicted. Thank you, Rachael Carson, for telling us decades ago of a potential "Silent Spring". You did make a difference. If only others who are touting the dangers of global warming would concentrate upon resolving environmental impact rather than personal recognition, they too could make a difference.

If you ever have a chance, walk along the banks of the Kennebec, you'll enjoy the experience