Week 52 – Aman Park

“Death and Life at Aman Park” seemed too long and bit too much, but it was the recurring thought that I had on my hike. The look you see in these images is what I had in mind as I took the images–black and white, faded at the dark and bright ends of the light spectrum, contrasty in the mid-range to show details, a bit of a brown hue, and a touch of graininess.

What I wanted to show, and what I was looking for, was signs of life amid the seeming death of late fall detritus and fallen trees. Some of the fallen were a matter of aged trees dying in their time; many were (or were also) a result of erosion on the banks of Sand Creek. So, first the fallen. Then later a sign or two of life.

The main theme of the images in these posts is fallen trees and shrubs. In some of the images they look like fallen soldiers on a battlefield. The first one of the two below struck me as “fallen giant,” as in a fairy tale. The second is what I mean by death on a battlefield.

The next two images are a bit random. Tree branches piled on the bank of the creek, with a small island in the middle of the creek. And coniferous shrubs, presumably piled up by Kent County parks staff or volunteers (and not large beavers). I like the two images for the visual details and for the mix of order and chaos.

Aman Park is not beautiful in a conventional sense this time of year. The plants are settling into winter hibernation. There is almost no color, except for muted orange-brown on dead leaves and some dark blue-green on the few coniferous trees and shrubs. The creek bed has some yellow, brown, and bluish-green hues. But it’s mostly grays. So the fallen trees and leaves stand out. Come spring, however, the place is carpeted in a glory of wildflowers.

As I walked the trail that follows the creek in Aman Park, I kept finding more little battlefields. In one or two cases, I think I would have had a more interesting angle from the other side of the creek. But you go with what you can get.

Finally, a few bits of life. The first image below is what I mean by “life.” The leaves are dead of course. But in black and white they nonetheless are luminous and hold out the promise of next springs new life. I paired the second with it (the post’s cover image) because of the bright leaves on the small tree on the life. I made that image, however, because of the path leading down the ravine and the sharp bend in the creek that you see. Context for what characterizes Aman Park.

Finally, one last image. This one feels a bit unloved. By itself. I like the way the tree trunk, shorn of its branches, leads you into the scene, snake-like. You can see more, off to the right. There are some brighter leaves on a small tree on the right as well. But the image feels a bit “meh.”

Still, I thought I’d include it, sort of like family vacation photos where you realize that one child is missing from most of the other photos. Then, “Oh look, there is one of Bobby. All by himself as usual.”

This is my last weekly image for 2020. It’s been a nasty decade of a year, so I’m glad to see it done. But it has been a good year for photography for me. I explored some new ideas. And I think I got a good number of images that I’m still happy with look back many months later.

In Michigan, the governor’s social distancing policies and wise personal behavior by individual citizens has tamped down the COVID-19 resurgence for the moment, even in the wake of Thanksgiving. So let’s all continue to be smart and stay safe. And, as snow falls, stay warm.

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