The Space Between: Meditations on a Plum Thicket

I am currently (2016) finishing a full year project photographing an old plum thicket.

The thicket is near my home in far northern Wisconsin and originally grew on a farm homestead. Over the years, the farm was abandoned and woods grew up around the thicket.

I started photographing it in December, 2014. Within a week I decided I was going to go through an entire seasonal year with the thicket. I loved the grace and gestures of the branches, the rhythms and connections between the trees. I loved the tenacious presence of these small trees within the woods that now envelop them.

The thicket unfolded as I made more and more visits with my camera. Gradually my attention shifted from how the thicket fit into its environment to what was happening within it. Inside the thicket there is a fine netting of small branches and tiny twigs that are interwoven and spread themselves throughout the space between the branches. This network creates a visual energy field.

In studying the netting between the branches and trees, I came to see that the graceful and evocative relationships of the thicket, which I love, are created by space, a space that is shaped by the forms of the trees and branches. That space is where the poetry is.

As in all relationships, it’s the space between that creates the magic. This space has now become the underlying subject of my study.

This summer there was a change for the thicket. Logging began near-by and the logging road cut right at the edge of the thicket. Fortunately for the thicket, its direction then moved away from the thicket so the trees themselves were not destroyed.

The saving grace of this logging is the light that now penetrates the thicket. Leaves only grow on the very top of the trees and only on the younger trees on the outside edges. The center trees died off years ago. But now with increased light, the whole thicket has a greater chance of surviving.