For this Monochrome Monday, I felt this old, antique horse trailer was an opportunity to discuss the relationship between our appreciation of antiques and the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi.
Most of us have an appreciation for antique objects. The rarity, classic construction, weathered surfaces and perhaps, the remembrance or our own distant past. Ironically, there is also intrinsic beauty found amidst rusty relics, patina surfaces and weathered structures. These sensibilities can be associated with the traditional Japanese aesthetic Wabi-sabi.
“Wabi” is the paradoxical beauty perceived from natural imperfection and asymmetry found in hand made objects. This is in contrast with unnatural “perfection” derived from machine manufacturing. Wabi originates from the notion of minimalism, peaceful existence and harmony with nature.
“Sabi” is the aesthetic qualities of well used, and well cared for objects, achieved only over a long period of time. Think of a well-worn pair of blue jeans, green oxidized copper tools or sculpture, and upcycled, distressed barn wood home furnishings. Sabi originates from Buddhist teachings around the temporariness aspects of life, and appreciation of the wisdom, dignity and grace that comes with old age.
Brought together, in Wabi-Sabi there is a humility and simplicity, appreciation of the marks of time, acceptance of our transience in the natural cycle of life, and an enlightened communion with nature. There is also an acceptance of the world, and ourselves, as genuine—without artificial adornment or embellishment.
When I observe antique objects, or abandoned structures, I appreciate the craftsman’s labor of love and my mind envisions the souls who once used the objects or inhabited the spaces. They were once part of, and contributed to, the life experiences of the original owner. Made of wood, metal, stone or woven fabric, they are like us, subject to Mother Nature’s slow and persistent process of reclamation.
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I found this cool, old abandoned house on Oak Grove Rd., between the communities of Woodlawn and Sulphur Springs, Virginia. Ideally, I would have pulled off and spent some time exploring this grand old home. Unfortunately, the narrow road and steady rain presented quite an obstacle. Perhaps I will, the next time I’m travelling through the back-roads of the New River Valley of southern Virginia.
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Visitors to Foster Falls, Virginia Campgrounds or the New River State Park will be familiar with this large livestock operation on the left, just before the park entrance.
As many times as I passed this farm on the way to a Boy Scout camping trip at Foster Falls, this was the first time I actually “saw” the compositional opportunities at this location. Proprietor/farmer Tommy Stone was kind enough to provide some local history while standing in the pouring rain.
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This farm is located on Shottower Rd, which leads to the Shot Tower State Park, just off I-77 near Austinville and Ft. Chiswell, Viriginia. A local farmer told me this abandoned farm once belonged to a relative of the famous Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. It was foreclosed on and now stands mostly abandoned. The property is currently used to store rolls of hay, as seen in the previous post in this series.
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This roll of hay store is located on Shottower Rd, near Foster Falls on the New River. The abandoned farm buildings and long rows of hay made for interesting elements in these compositions.
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For this Monochrome Monday, I’m introducing a series of posts from a recent rainy day visit to the New River Valley area of southwestern Virginia. My Scout Troop participated in a day long cycling trip along the New River Trail. As one of the drop-off and pick-up drivers, I was afforded a wonderful opportunity to capture the local countryside, albeit in the rain.
This must have been one of the first times I deliberately shot for hours in the rain. My rain gear kept me dry, and my Nikon only required an occasional wipe from a dish towel. Because of the low light and need to capture the rain, I shot between 500 & 2000 ISO. A shutter speed of 1/500 or faster was needed to capture the rain, though as expected, I found the density and rate of rain to vary widely.
After this experience and bounty of compositions captured, I’m more likely and confident to head-out with my camera on a rainy day. Earlier in the year, I had success capturing falling snow landscapes and cityscapes. Next on the list is to study rainy day cityscapes and street photography. Oh, my Scouts made it 17 miles in the rain!
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Backpacking through the Grayson Highlands of southwest Virginia, you can’t help but notice the vast display of lichens growing just about everywhere. As lichens are sensitive to atmospheric pollutants, they only thrive in the most pristine environmental conditions. You won’t find many growing in the city.
The fascinating, yet often overlooked, noteworthy feature is lichens are actual a composite of two unique species of organisms, living together in a mutualistic symbiotic relationship. The first organism is fungi, which provides structure, shelter and moisture gathering for the second organism(s), algae and/or cyanobacteria. In turn, the algae and cyanobacteria, through photosynthesis, provide food for the fungi.
This post features Crustose, Foliose and Squamulose lichens. Crustose lichens, seen in the center of the image below, have a encrusting form which spreads over the surface. Foliose lichens, seen above, have leafy lobes which attach by root-like threads to the surface they inhabit. Squamulose lichens have the characteristics of Crustose and Foliose lichens. They can be seen in all three compositions. If you do have lichens in your yard, then please welcome them. They pose no threat to plants and grow very slowly.
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Christmas Tree, oh Christmas Tree! Fraser firs throughout the Appalachian Mountains have been decimated by the balsam woolly adelgid, an aphid like insect. I captured these images on a backpacking trip to Grayson Highlands Virginia with my Boy Scout Troop last September.
This Fraser fir stands as a monument in a large open area between two balds on Wilburn Ridge along the Appalachian Trail. Despite the disparaging loss of so many of these beautiful trees, there is a haunting beauty found in these lingering ghosts.
Ironically, there is a thriving Fraser Fir Christmas tree industry in the surrounding highlands. While short-term chemical treatments protect specimen trees sold to consumers, there are several research efforts underway to develop long-term strategies to protect the Fraser fir. These include development of disease resistant variants which one day could be reintroduced to eastern highland forests.
For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution version from my portfolio site. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday observances!