Saturday, December 19, 2015

No More Stumpscapes

My typical dog-walking route passes by the site of a rotting tree stump.  It had been one of a long row of street trees--perhaps a red maple--cut years ago.  The stump was not very large or in any other way special.  But a year ago, after passing it many times, I was suddenly struck by the way the patches of moss that grew on it made a kind of miniature landscape.  I knelt and took a few photos.  

That was a year ago.  Since then I have photographed the same square foot of moss, grass, bark, and the odd mushroom at different times of year and in different weather and light.  I came to call these photos "stumpscapes."  I probably worried the occasional neighbor who saw me.  But probably not many, since most already knew I was a little odd.

I am not a photographer, and my camera is a fairly idiot-proof, small point-and-shoot that I carry in my pocket.  I am a little proud of my efforts, though.  I never altered the landscape, other than removing an inconvenient leaf a few times.  I tried to shoot at angles that would not show the surrounding neighborhood and spoil the effect, though the power lines across the street were hard to avoid.  I did not alter the digital files (as near as I can recall) beyond cropping out tell-tale background once or twice.  

The results seem to me to be mostly to be mountain landscapes and lush alpine meadows.  Some are chilly and severe.  A few scenes with mushrooms look like something from a 50s science fiction movie.  

On today's walk I felt a little disoriented: a patch of fresh earth marked the place the stump had been.  Of course, it was a city tree, and it would have been unreasonable to assume it would simply be allowed to quietly rot away indefinitely.  Probably a nearby property owner complained of the appearance.   I'm a bit sad, but also glad I took the photos when I had the chance.

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