Fullerton Arboretum, Fullerton, CA
I didn’t give myself a full four-hour window of time outdoors. I probably could have, but responsibilities kept pulling at me. Rather than wait until I felt I had enough time, I decided to spend the time I was ready to give without distraction.
I settled on a bench by the pond. I became aware of wanting to take still images with my eyes—to freeze and store moments like photographs in my mind instead of actually looking. Maybe I am conditioned through camera-habit to think that this is what it means to look closely. But when I’m snapping pictures, I’m not necessarily seeing. It’s more a collecting of approximations filtered through choice. This isn’t bad. It’s just not what I’m setting out to do with this project.
Once I let go of the need to collect stills, I began to notice movement standing out, as figure against the ground of stillness. Song birds. Butterflies. Coots paddling across the pond. The movement of air and turtles causing ripples in the water. The ripples caused bunches of pond grasses to multiply in inverted reflections—wriggling, splitting, crossing, weaving.
Behind the rim of trees surrounding the pond, I could see the top of a tree with broad, waxy leaves. In random-seeming clusters, groupings of three to five leaves tick-tocked back and forth as if they were on hinges, almost mechanically pivoting on their stems. The rest of the tree was motionless.
Closer, what at first appeared to be a light gray tree, a ghost tree—dormant, just sticks—became pale arteries reaching up and dispersing into capillaries, thrumming red-ochre toward the tips.