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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Support (Dorothea Lange: Oaks, Berkeley)


Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, c. 1957

The antique oak sobre la veranda
has to lean on one elbow
simply to exist: but these days so does
almost everything

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, c. 1957

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, c. 1957

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, c. 1957

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, 5 December 1956

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, c. 1957

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, c. 1957

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, c. 1957

Untitled, Berkeley, c. 1957

Photos by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California




Wow, who knew? Oaks in Berkeley (moo) but this is hardly the Lange we thought we knew. . .


light coming into clouds above shadowed
plane of ridge, leaves moving on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

point of light to a certain
extent, in which this

in relation to this, glance,
note shows that there

silver line of sun reflected in channel,
cloudless blue sky to the left of point

TC said...


The oaks, the redwoods, and in fact every tree and bush in the precinct are at this moment being blown over, sideways, up and down by what feels like a wind from the end of the world.

I have spent the past hour or two in futile attempt to resurrect a large decimated impatiens for which, having planted it long ago, I have harboured a longstanding affection. But there is faint hope for it now, all twisted and torn.

The cats are going nuts. I was already nuts.

The person who wears the pants in the family is gamely attempting to remove the debris from the gutters, in prospect of the rainstorm promised to follow the windstorm.

Dorothea Lange and her second husband, Paul Taylor, a UC professor, lived up on Eunice.

In those days all was calm and bright.

Except when it was dark and stormy.

The fascination with all things twisted and tangled in nature shows in certain of Lange's late photo essays. Not to mention certain of the early ones.

We recall the difficulties of her childhood, the polio.

Nin Andrews said...

They look like fairy tale trees . . . Beautiful.

Ed Baker said...

Hey Tom
a news-flash:

nuts is
the new


"going nuts"
(you AND the cats)
is The Way to maintain


(I almost said "sanctity")

ACravan said...

As others have mentioned, these are surprising and, to my eyes at least, unique. Thank you for making me aware of an aspect of Berkeley I didn't know or ever think about. I'm forwarding this link to my Berkeley graduate friend in Bangalore, India now. The trees bent and have suffered here also because of our recent heavy rains and last weekend's unseasonably early snow. As for elbows, I think I nearly wrecked my left one by leaning on it too much, resulting in a continual shooting pain up my arm. As with most repetitive motion stresses and injuries, I was completely unaware of this until one weird moment when everything became clear. It's a lovely cool sunny day here in the Philadelphia area. Curtis

Robb said...



AfterTim said...

Truly enjoy how you connect your profound writings with equally profound pictures. Inspired and blessed.


TC said...

Many thanks Ed, Curtis, Robb and AfterTim.

I am put in mind of that interesting expression, "all assholes and elbows".

(Have always been able to identify with that concept, in fact.)

After the big windstorm it's a chilly pre-dark dawn here, with rain coming.

One of the things I appreciate about Lange's oak tree photos, taken in her garden, is the way they capture the infinitesimal nuances of morning light, with fog coming and going, in this part of the world.

aditya said...

Oh Tom what a poem. Truly beautiful. Thoroughly appreciated!

TC said...

Many thanks, my poet friend.