Despite my lack of posts here over the last few months, there hasn’t been a lack of photographs being made. Most of the work I’ve done has been in continuation of the Through Tommy’s Eyes project. Tommy’s really been giving us a run for our money lately, so it’s been harder to sneak away to photograph. We’ve tried to get out in the hills as much as possible, and I’ve photographed our little dude playing and tossing rocks every chance I’ve got. I’ve just loved watching him grow and learn, and even if nothing grand comes out of this project, I know I’ve got some great photographs documenting his childhood.
Sometimes some of those memories seem more dream than a remembered reality. But I know they happened because I have at least three cohorts that share the same memory, and the occasional journal entry. It is now one of my favorite things to sit and reminisce with all my siblings about all of our experiences in that backyard.
Wandering through the backyard of my childhood during the Thanksgiving holiday brought to mind Shel Silverstein’s book, The Giving Tree, and how the tree invited the boy to climb it on each subsequent visit the boy made as he grew older. But each time the boy declined because he was too big, or too busy, or too old. Finally, all that remains of the tree is a stump, after having given its wood to the boy to build a boat.
The final sentence of the book, as the boy, now an old man, sits on the stump, keeps ringing in my ear: “And the tree was happy.”
Maybe I’ll give in to my inner child a bit more and climb those old branches. It might just make the tree happy.
The trees I used to climb are aging. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, one willow is dead. The other is not what it once was. The harsh Idaho winds and winters have taken their toll. Not to mention the toll that we took, though we never drove nails in that one. Some of my favorite branches have succumbed to the elements, and are no longer there, making my mind and faded memory attempt to fill in the gaps that exist when I look up.
There was one branch I regarded as the “Holy Grail.” I never was brave enough to venture up to that branch, but at least one of my brothers was: Jesse. I was always a little jealous of him for being braver than I.
Us four older siblings (I’m the oldest of eight) are now in our thirties. I myself am nearing 40. We haven’t played back there as children play for many years, but we, along with the younger four siblings, still gather back there in the summer, and it is now our children that play there. Many of them are still too little to be climbing trees, but in a few years they’ll be purposing those old willows and apple trees to fit their own wild imaginations.
We went to my parents for Thanksgiving in Idaho Falls this year. During the drive up, my thoughts were occupied by memories of the countless hours spent in the backyard while growing up. Here, my younger brothers and I re-enacted movies, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Jurassic Park. We dug holes, most, or maybe all, of which we filled with water to play in the mud. We had hundreds of campfires. We did our schoolwork in the treehouse we built out of old pallets and scrap lumber we scrounged from construction sites. And we climbed every tree. We spent just as much time scrambling through their limbs as we spent on the ground. Those trees weren’t just trees to us. They were houses, office buildings, spaceships—anything our imaginations required them to be.
Over the course of our stay, I spent some time photographing those trees, one of which has died. Most likely from all the nails we drove into it building our tree house. These are just a few of the photographs I made.