Sunday, May 10, 2009
I think many writers experience a rich relevance of certain place settings encountered on local excursions, or in distant travels. Such encounters may set in motion a sort of subconscious connection to the scene, even though one had little or no direct memory of a physical connection with the place. We're not speaking of the common 'déjà vu ', or, 'I've been here before' feeling; rather, one more specifically targeted to the writer: 'this place expresses something that I may need to deal with in my fiction.'
These ideas were in mind recently when I sorted through some of my photographs taken at an old, largely empty, dairy ranch property, circa 1880-1940, located here on the west coast. The first shots were of a Victorian-style tree house, ensconced in the twisted heart of a gigantic, ancient cypress tree. The mysterious doorway conveys something of a magical portal into fictional space. Inside are carved figures representing the Garden of Eden: Adam, Eve, the animals. Intriguing, especially after reading the recent novel, "Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand," by Gioconda Belli, a story about the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The other photos were taken going away from the tree house, on a walk through lush, overgrown vegetation to the now abandoned, original ranch house, slowly subsiding over the years into the black earth beneath. Such a sense of loneliness and mortality, perhaps somehow linked to the tree house diorama.
I assembled a few minutes of a movie clip using the photos, with a piano sonata playing in the background. The music haunts me whenever I revisit the old house.