Summer isn’t usually prime time for poring over stacks of transparencies on a lightbox, feeding the survivors one-by-one through a Nikon Coolscan, and then painstakingly developing the resulting digital files before archiving them onto a hard disk, all-the-while wondering why am I doing this? Listening to Pandora® doesn’t help this effort very much, nor does the warm sunshine teasing behind the window shade. “Why are you sitting at a desk? Why don’t you come out and play?”
But that’s exactly the project I’ve started this week. Four deep drawers, crammed with plastic slide pages, the thumb drives of their day. Except for a road trip in late September, I’m happily planted at home this summer. And I enjoy revisiting the places and moments I collected on film between 1971 and 2004. Surprises are an inherent part of that.
I can tell you, though, nothing tops dusty, scratched slides for reminding you how fragile things are (never mind film emulsions). How quickly days and years disappear. Have disappeared.
Today’s picture came to me during a short hike in a forest east of town, where the Cascade foothills begin to take their elevation seriously. The day was bright, except for pockets of drifting fog. And there were remnants of that morning’s frost lingering in shadows the sunshine hadn’t touched. At the end of a short dotted line on my BLM map I got out of my truck, grabbed my gear, and wandered into the scene. Ferns drooped everywhere, heavy with moisture. The sun seemed very close, just out of reach behind a bright gauzy curtain. I had the impression of peering from a balcony onto a broad stage as the hillside dropped steeply away, invisible in the fog. In the short hushed moments I walked there I also sensed that this was a private rehearsal, for an audience of one.