Robin Loznak captured this photo on a dewy October morning on the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm in Oregon, as an industrious spider seeks breakfast in her dew-jeweled web before a backdrop of leaves in glorious fall color. She put me in mind of Halloween on this upcoming edge between summer and winter when we recall in one way or another the ancient celebration of the edge between life and death.
Deadly beauty spins a tale in pearls of light
As days rush by to Halloween.
Death to life, and life to death.
Strands gleam against a sheen of gold,
Leaves soon to scatter off skeletal limbs.
Chill runs in the air and down the spine
With pumpkins glaring in the dark
And children braving hideous things.
Blood, gore, goblins, cackling witches,
And gauzy webs a-streaming.
Look at death and laugh.
Who can be the scariest?
Look at the edge and shiver.
Life to death, and death to life,
Glimmering in our frightful dreams.
Deadly beauty spins a tale in pearls of light.
On this fine autumn day
As life around it ebbs,
One creepy, crawly, skittery, artful, exquisite creature
Hangs waiting for a meal.
Robin Loznak took this picture one September morning a couple of years ago along the hill road of our Century Farm–the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm named for my great-great-grandmother, subject of my new book A Place of Her Own. I imagine Martha walking this road before us, thrilling to the same kind of morning light. Below, I share some reflections.
Threads of Light
Threads of light weave through a warp of branches,
A living tapestry along a border of dusty tracks
That wind down the quiet mountain.
Seasons pass, summer into fall,
September into October,
And the fabric changes.
Washes of new color gild the fibers,
While rivulets mark the verge
With sinuous patterns.
Leaves drift, scatter.
The weave opens,
And the weft expands as gathering clouds allow.
Many beings large and small live on our farm Martha Maupin bought years ago. I couldn’t resist adding this to “Portraits of a Century Farm,” the new series combining Robin Loznak’s photos with my words. This busy family surprised Robin one day when he was out taking pictures on the hill road. He held very still when they ambled near. I wondered how he had the presence of mind to get such clear focus of his subject, but he said he just let the camera focus. The little fellows never expressed alarm. Only curiosity. One even left nose prints on the camera lens.
Photo by Robin Loznak
Dust lingers on the air like a memory of rich, loamy soil,
While crackling leaves recall lush spring days
And the sweet bouquet of their youth.
But what is this?
Something smells different.
“Something big, Mamma. And it’s looking at me. What is it?”
Whiffs of blackberry and wild mint ride past on a quiet breeze,
And grasses, thirst long unquenched, add a pinch of must.
I know those smells, but not this one.
Put my nose on it. Sniff it.
M-m-m. Smooth. Very smooth. And cool.
“What is it, Mamma? I can’t make any sense of it. But I won’t be afraid. Not today.”
Robin Loznak’s photographic portraits on our family farm are often of very small critters. He has an eye for their personalities sometimes missed by the rest of us. I particularly like this new photo that made me want to imagine how the world might appear to this graceful mantis in its whimsical pose. So here is “Grace With Lace,” the second in our “Portraits of a Century Farm” category combining a little poetic prose and select photos taken by Robin on the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm.
Grace With Lace
Sometimes I like to recline while I eat,
Sigh, and enjoy something sweet.
When the world’s upside down
I wear a frivolous green gown,
Flick my long, slim fingers this way and that,
A picture of grace, don’t you see?
And I really don’t care
If the ground’s up there
And the sky’s down below,
When the dappled shade of a lacy umbrella
Makes me the coolest creature
You could ever know.
I’m announcing a new blog category, “Portraits of a Century Farm.” Photographer Robin Loznak has kindly agreed to let me use selections of his wonderful photos taken on our family farm. With each photo I’ll do a little word-painting to share a bit of what’s special about this place Martha Poindexter Maupin bought for her family almost 150 years ago, a place we love to call home. The first I call “Reflections.”
Photo by Robin Loznak
Warm brushstrokes scatter across the river’s cool depths,
Shimmering like an impressionist’s vision,
A living palette stirring beneath curious steps.
Whispers of summer ebbing?
Images glance back,
Hiding timeless secrets in dim hollows far below,
While a ruffled likeness of her own face teases,