WE ARE FALLING

Fallen objects tend to have negative associations, but is that necessary? A tree falls and begins a new life as a support for moss, fungi, insects and other life forms. Fruit falls from the tree and you pick it up; maybe you take a bite. A ship falls to the bottom of the sea and becomes a coral reef, sugar falls to the bottom of your cup, you stir it, and sip.

And what is this notion of a fall from grace? How about a graceful fall and a new beginning?

1. My scarf falls at my feet at an art gallery. I photograph it. Manhattan; October, 2017.

2. A Camel cigarette pack fell to the ground (intentionally or not?) and was crushed by a passing truck. I photograph it. I have come to this obscure corner of a busy city to explore an old railroad trestle but I’m distracted by the artifact at my feet – the fading colors, the roughened texture, the surprise of printed matter on the ground. Bellevue, Washington; September, 2017.

3. Leaves fell, it rained, and the tannins leached out of them, staining the new concrete. Now leaf shadows ghost the sidewalk. I photograph it. Kirkland, Washington; October, 2016.

4. A pear falls to the ground. I photograph it. In the mid-1980s I worked sporadically for a New York catering company, The Perfect Pear. The owner, Stuart, made memorable sesame chicken. I wonder if this pear gradually decomposed, like my memories from the 80s are doing, or if someone took it home and made it into preserves. Washington State University Research Center, Mt. Vernon, Washington; September, 2018.

5. Trees fall into the lake and drift into a cove. Snow falls. I photograph it. Fidalgo Island, Washington; March, 2019.

6. A 64-year-old ship fell to the bottom of a channel and is being recovered. I photograph it. After a violent, mid-January windstorm tore the boat from its mooring at Lovric’s Shipyard, it drifted along the bottom of the channel for a half mile and came to rest near a busy dock. The state officials who monitor safety hazards of derelict vessels contracted with a diving and reclamation crew to raise the ship. The 197-ton MV Chilkat was the first car ferry in the Alaska Marine Highway System, built in 1957, when Alaska was still a US territory. It was a rough ride (people called it the “Vomit Comet”) but it could load and unload vehicles straight onto a beach, using its bow ramp like landing craft from WWII. After serving the Alaska ferry system for many years, the ship found other lives: there were years of scallop farming, tuna trawling and Christmas tree deliveries. Recently the MV Chilcat was in storage at Lovric’s. A local family was trying to raise money to get it seaworthy again, but now it may finally be scrapped. Anacortes, Washington; January, 2021.

7. Rain falls. A man celebrates the sudden deluge with a handstand. I photograph it. My son is in the background, giving two thumbs up. He’s just returned from fighting the Taliban in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as part of the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines. His friend, Sergeant Sean T. Callahan, was killed in combat three months before their unit was to return home. My son was thrilled to be back in New York, but struggled with guilt. West side, New York, New York; July, 2011.

8. A dead goose has fallen to the ground. Overnight, a delicate layer of frost coated the bird. I photograph it. Chances are good that it fell out of the sky after being shot because in this particular field, people hunt ducks and geese. The bird won’t make a meal for a human, but beings of one kind or another will soon take the goose to its next stage of life. Duvall, Washington; January, 2013.

9. The groom falls to the ground during a raucous wedding shoot. I photograph it. This fall from three graces will be remembered with smiles. Battery Park, New York, New York; October, 2017.

10. My shoes look happy amongst discarded bits and pieces that fell onto the brick road by the flower market. I photograph them. Most of the market’s flower sellers are first and second generation Hmong immigrants from Laos. The older Hmong once were farmers in the Laotian hills. During the Vietnam war they aided the American CIA against the Communists. Afterward, to escape retaliation, many of them fled into the jungle or entered Thai refugee camps. Eventually some made their way to the Pacific Northwest. They have adapted to different ways and different weather, growing flowers instead of food in the green fields outside Seattle. The growers drive their flowers to Pike Place Market, where city residents and tourists are happy to buy pretty bouquets of seasonal flowers wrapped in big white paper cones. The pandemic has changed business practices but the farmers have adapted (or should I say pivoted?) and have found alternative marketplaces. Seattle, Washington; April, 2016.

11. Cherry blossoms fall to the sidewalk. I photograph them. When I bring the image to life half a world away and months later, the detail in the dandelion leaves makes me think of Albrecht Durer’s “The Large Piece of Turf.” Durer included a dandelion in the painting that he completed in Germany in 1503. Apparently, the dandelion (der LΓΆwenzahn) flourished in Nuremberg in the sixteenth century just as it was flourishing the day I took this picture, 500-odd years later. Dandelions flourish in my own yard too, 5000 miles from that sidewalk. Amsterdam, Netherlands; April 2019.

12. A yellow work glove has fallen onto the concrete in an alley. I photograph it. I have stumbled across it while exploring downtown Seattle one summer day and I’m drawn to the unexpected pop of color. This fallen object was probably forgotten by its owner long ago, but it lives on in my archives. Maybe it will linger a while in your mind, too. Seattle, Washington; August, 2013.

13. Fallen fruit, barely bruised, litters the ground at a botanical garden. I photograph it. People may be hungry a few miles from here, but this fruit will remain where it fell – as if arranged by an artist – until a gardener scoops it up. I suppose it will become compost. Chinese Scholar’s Garden, Staten Island, New York; July, 2011.

14. Broken glass from an old greenhouse has fallen onto the concrete floor. I photograph it. I stumbled on this abandoned greenhouse in the early 1980s while picking flowers in a nearby field for the altar at the Zen Community of New York, where I lived. A year or so later I found out that my father’s first real job was right here, at the Boyce Thompson Institute. He had skipped two grades in school and was too young to go to college so he worked for a year at the institute, a 15 mile commute from his family’s modest Brooklyn apartment. He made $75/month doing research on plant hormones. The abandoned field where I picked flowers 50 years later may have held descendants of that work. When I saw it, the institute’s facility was in ruins but later, the historic building was restored, spiffed up and turned into a business/retail complex. Someone must have cleaned up all the broken glass. The field is gone. Yonkers, New York; April, 2010.

15. Glitter has fallen onto the boardwalk at a nature preserve. I photograph it. Why is there glitter at a nature preserve? Because photographers use the boardwalk as a location for shooting wedding and family photos. It may be pretty but it won’t do the environment any favors. Kirkland, Washington; May, 2018.

16. A tree appears to have fallen half-way down an embankment, then secured a foothold by rooting into the ground even as it dangles precariously. I photograph it. The tree is an integral part of its environment, surely supporting life even as it appears to be dead. Cape Perpetua, Oregon; September, 2019.

17. Apples and leaves have fallen under a tree wrapped in a net, part of a research project to determine best practices for growing fruit trees. I photograph it. My neighbor asked if I knew how to prune the young fruit trees that grow between our houses. I said that I didn’t know the exact technique and he should check with the people at the research center. I don’t think he ever did. He fell one night, harder than the apples, onto the pavement beside his car in the dead of night. It was cold. When we found him the next morning the car door was still open, his keys were in his hand, his mouth barely open. He did not come back to life, though we tried. He did not get back up. Like everything else in life falling is temporary, a transition between states of being, some of which we mourn, some of which we celebrate. Mount Vernon,Washington; September, 2018.

18. A sign has fallen down at a nature park. I photograph it. I walk past it. Will entering here be a new beginning? Mercer Slough, Bellevue, Washington; June, 2017.

***


79 comments

  1. Great theme. Nicely explored with words and in photographs πŸ™‚
    My favourite has to be the handstand in the rain. A small moment of pure joy and smiles from your son who was able to be in that moment to enjoy it along with the guys in the van. Great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was going to do a post about trees that fell but I found many photos of other things that fell so I enlarged the topic, and then I had fun with it. I’m pleased that you like it. You noticed the guys in the food truck – cool! That photo was a lucky one!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Really wonderful pictures and very absorbing stories, and I VERY much like your repetition of “I photograph it”. And very good to see your son and hear his story; I can very well imagine the guilt he (quite wrongly) feels; you must have been endlessly worried in those days.

    Hahaha! yes >>> and “fall from grace”!!!, the notion that heaven is up there and hell is down there, and if we fall at all we are going to a worse place – wonderful stuff! We really are quite a strange species, our heads full of all sorts of notions that are, well, only in our heads … πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very good to read your comment about the images and words being absorbing. And you noticed that repetition – to me, it’s an important part of the whole and I’m thrilled that you mentioned it. πŸ™‚ When my son was deployed there was a wonderful group of parents of the men in his unit. We were constantly in touch online – that made all the difference.
      Only in our heads, for sure! And what heads they are! πŸ™‚
      I appreciate your philosophical comments. I have to wonder whether your geology training gave you that unusual and valuable ability to see life objectively and from a great distance, or was that always your way, and was it one reason geology appealed to you?

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      • Well before I was 10, I got interested in history and had an urge to go ever further back in time, and so from history into archaeology, and thence into geology. And it has given me a wonderful insight into everything. A few years ago, I read “Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind”, I read about Imagined Realities, discussed them in depth with a psychologist friend >>> and suddenly realised they are everywhere, and fundamental to most people’s existence – tho not mine. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it…I was going to do a post about fallen trees but it morphed and took on a life of its own, for the better. Finding our neighbor was beyond hard. He was a lively presence in our lives and it’s very quiet around here now. He was only 46 and healthy. You never know!
      I’m waiting for the snow pictures, OK? Have a good week and don’t strain your back shoveling. Thanks for commenting and take care! πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. Great pictures and many good stories and of course, a good question about “falling” (from grace or whatever). Always a point of view, isn’t it? We are falling, and then, we usually get up again or we change direction.. You made it clear with your pictures: everythings possible. Often we don’t appreciate the things we find at our feet or better: we don’t find them worthy to take notice of them, but you do πŸ™‚ I like the structures and signs on the ground. The older they get the better they look πŸ™‚ the fallen tree is amazing! So is the dandelion inmidst the cherry blossoms (the frozen goose could have been a picture from DΓΌrer right?). The connection of time and places is fascinating and lets me think of a united world. So far away and then we share so many things that are equal. Absolutely fascinating is the story of the greenhouse your father used to work! I have the feeling you do timetravel πŸ˜‰ The pictures that are most appealing to me today are your son in this funny moment and the groom, fallen from his “graces” / wives ;-). Besides you have quite a nice collection of shoes πŸ™‚ Pretty post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s the point of view that makes the difference – look at Adrian’s comment above – he’s saying that we are such interesting creatures, the way we make up these ideas. I like your positive, straightforward (we would also say “no-nonsense”) attitude to falling – everything’s possible. We both know how worthy the things at our feet are! πŸ˜‰ I agree about time improving the look of certain things when they’re just being lying there. That tree is strange – I’m not sure if it’s still hanging on with its roots but I think it is. You’re right about the goose! It looks just like those old still life paintings with fruit and dead birds. I saw a lot of those in a museum we visited in Antwerp.
      Your thoughts about being geographically distant but sharing many of the same experiences, plants, etc. are interesting. I did time travel when I found that greenhouse! I’m always looking for abandoned fields where I can pick flowers. That field had lots of flowers, and rabbits, too. I don’t remember why I mentioned it to my father but I’m glad I did. An amazing coincidence. The photos you mention were very lucky ones – I think you know that!! πŸ˜‰ Thank you, Almuth, have a good week!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A frost-covered dead goose: how strange.
    Re #16: I’ve also seen precariously living trees like that one.
    Your question in #15 was mine, too; fortunately you answered it right away.
    The broken glass in #14 looks like pieces of ice.
    Sorry to hear in #7 about your son’s unhappy experience in Afghanistan.
    #10 conjures up The Wizard of Oz.
    “This fall from three graces” brings Botticelli to mind. Now you need to find a woman named Grace and photograph her dropping something so you can label the photograph “Fall from Grace.”
    Leaf shadow ghosts: how nice. And did you realize that ghastly is actually ghostly? And that prune in the tree sense may have come from Vulgar Latin *prōrotundiāre, meaning ‘to round off’? And that Spanish has the idiom caerle bien a alguien, literally ‘to fall well with/on someone,’ meaning that someone likes the thing in question?
    As music to accompany your “falling” post, how about this?
    [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DndK5hZBgu0]

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to hear that you’ve seen trees hanging on like that one. I wish I had investigated it more closely to see how exactly it was anchored.
      I don’t know if this is true where you live, but over the last 5 or so years, I have seen more and more young entrepreneurs doing photo shoots in parks. They don’t add anything to my enjoyment of the park, I have to say. I sound mean but there you have it.
      You made me laugh when you said you thought of the Wizard of Oz! πŸ™‚ And that’s a good idea about Grace dropping something. πŸ˜‰ I’ve been a fan of Three Graces art for years…and then there are the seven sisters, up there in the sly.
      You must know that all of your word origin facts are new to me! And all are very interesting. Ghastly=ghostly, of course! I love that Spanish idiom, that’s fascinating. But whoa, “Please Help Me, I’m Falling!” takes me back…so very far. πŸ˜‰ Thanks, Steve!

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  5. Wow! I love your photos and the descriptions that you wrote to go along with them. We are all slowly falling through time and it’s an interesting comment on the act of falling. I love the story between and beyond the images. Captivating! Very well done ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by and letting me know what you thought, Kara, I appreciate the feedback. I’m so glad you enjoyed the narrative as well as the photos. The topic of falling is a rich one, right? One could go on and on…

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a rich topic, isn’t it? I barely scratched the surface. Originally, it was going to be about fallen trees but then I realized that I had many interesting photos of other things that fell, so I decided to enlarge the scope of the post. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Stay well and have a good week!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Lynn,
        falling means insecurity and decline, it means loss of security at least in the European symbolism. The fallen angel, the falling sinner etc. was a often painted f.e. by Hieronymus Bosch in the 15th c.
        We think “falling” is an interesting topic that needs a modern interpretation.
        Wishing you all the best. Take care
        The Fab Four of Cley
        πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Don, and sorry about the sad goose. I was passing by that wedding shoot. I think they may have been having their pictures taken between the wedding and the reception. I was very lucky to be there just when they were all having fun. I think the official photographer is on the left in the photo. I’m glad you liked the theme, Don, take care and have a good week. πŸ™‚

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  6. “I photograph it.” This simple sentence sums up the motivation as an artist to document what you see. I enjoyed every image along with your descriptions. Your lead image (with your cool shoes) shows how stunning this simple moment can be. The joy in the photograph of your son in the rain with an acrobatic friend is heartwarming especially given the trauma he had experienced. And joy and laughter captured with the falling groom is such fun. The pear, the frozen goose, the broken glass, the snowy fallen trees to me are what is so special about the art of photography. All of these are fleeting, beautiful moments that are seen and captured forever. And a reminder to always look down! πŸ™‚ Thanks, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s gratifying to read your thoughts about the repetition of those three words through the post – thank you so much, Jane. Fleeting, beautiful moments, you’re right. I see that emphasis in your work. Thank you for being a thoughtful friend and critic. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Howard. I see those leaf marks regularly around here but I don’t remember noticing them back east – I’m not sure why that is. I hope all’s well with you – have a good week!

      Like

  7. A beautiful, creative and positive way to collect archival photos from many years. There is always another possible look at situations / moments. I really liked this look.
    Just as I liked to know that your son returned from Afghanistan, even though he was sad and blaming himself. And I hope that afterwards he overcame that “emotional drop” … and got up!
    I really love nΒΊ 3!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is always another way to look – yes! It’s funny how images can fit into different categories and how story lines build themselves. Originally I was going to do a post about trees that fell but then, I had many photos of other objects that fell and I realized a bigger theme was possible. My son has had a difficult time – lots of ups and downs – and likewise, his experience as a Marine had positive and negative aspects. Such is life!
      Thank you, Dulce – I hope you’re having a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jean, I had that thought, too. I don’t know if I have enough to expand it that much but the fact that you mentioned a possible book tells me I should give it more thought. I hope the snow was mostly pretty, but it sounds like it was a cold, windy one!

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    • Thank you, Sheri, I appreciate your good thoughts. This was fun to put together – once I got started, it just rolled along by itself for the most part. πŸ˜‰
      I hope all’s well with you – it’s nice that you’ve moved to Phase 2 – we’re still struggling up here, I guess!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Even walking is a form of
    controlled
    falling…..

    Lovely all. And yes, I can see your affinity here for Cole’s “Blind Spot” with your use of mnemonic glimpses and associations from the substance of the images. A most engaging use of text and image.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your photos — and words — are beautiful and thought-provoking. I’ve been thinking about falling lately. Falling from, but also falling in.
    I don’t know if I can pick a favorite of your images and stories. They all resonate in some way. But your capture of your son’s thumbs-up in the rain while witnessing a moment of levity speaks volumes. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. A positive attitude isn’t the easiest thing these days, is it? I appreciate your words which help me cleave to the positive side of things. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  10. I can just imagine your feeling the scarf fall off, looking to see where it landed, seeing it, and immediately grabbing your camera. Glad you did. That pear is so nestled in the clover and grass; what a happy landing. I find it difficult to photograph falling snow at all, let alone in an interesting way. Your #5 is a lovely example of that task done right. The beautiful photo of the dead goose with frost transcends the sadness of the death. I like the decreased saturation and creamy look of the wedding party. I’d say you captured the decisive moment. We get to enjoy not one but two pairs of your cute shoes! This post gives perfect context for your #13. I especially like that dark place in the back, where the fruit seem to be heading. The lines and shapes in #17 get me. All in all this is an appealing theme, masterfully explored.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You imagined right. πŸ˜‰ That museum/gallery frame of mind is what did it (I may have decided to take that photo in any setting but seeing art heightens your perceptions…something that I love and hunger for these days). Thank you for having a close look…as I mentioned somewhere above, it was just going to be fallen trees until I realized I have quite a collection of fallen odds and ends. I knew that would be more interesting. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I love the photos in this article! They all work with the message. I always remind myself..sometimes we must fall to rise again. *Insert-batman-dark-knight-theme*🀭

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Another great concept, Lynn. I love the leaf impressions in the concrete. You photograph a lot and we are grateful for your reflexes and vision. LOve those red shoes! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    I feel so bad for soldiers like your son who grieve for their friends and comrades, coming home feeling guilty for living. My uncle was in the Korean war and his buddy was shot in the head as they stood next to each other. He never got over that and carried it with him his entire life. War is indeed hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reflexes! Yes, that’s another way of thinking about photography. After a certain amount of time, one’s reflexes become attuned to picking up on beauty – whatever that is! πŸ˜‰
      That’s a horrible story about your uncle. I’m of the mindset that war is pure hell. It often consists of older, powerful men sending younger men who don’t know better off to kill each other. But people don’t see that and get caught up in some kind of madness. My son had lots of really good experiences while in the Marines – it helped him learn discipline, gave him confidence, and, while he was enlisted, gave him a wonderful feeling of family. But there’s a downside, inevitable. OK, enough! Thank you, Steve.

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  13. I like your reverse thinking, the praising of the graceful fall. I think we too often succumb to established thinking about what is good and bad, while the opposite might be just as valid. Great photos as always. I really love your shoes in the first photo. πŸ™‚ Hope your son is doing well after the loss of his friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • πŸ™‚ Thank you!! It started with the idea of collecting photos of fallen trees, which I see a lot of here, but then I realized that I’ve put the “fallen” tag on lots more than tree photos so I decided to expand the concept. This was much more fun.

      Like


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