Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sad and Glad

"Your garden is magical." That is what Lauren said when she came over last week. It was the first time she had been to our house. I wanted to weep. I'm leaving this garden that we worked so hard on. When we moved in there was one tree on the lot. A strangely-shaped hackberry tree. Not a premier tree by any means. I couldn't bring myself to cut it down. But in six years the lot is in shade. River Birch along one side, a 30 foot Mexican Sycamore, three crepe myrtle (that haven't been mutilated by chopping off their limbs every year), a vitek, and a weeping yupon. All of them were young trees when we planted them. Now the trees and the walks add structure to the gardens. Since we have been away a lot the garden has naturalized and the hardy plants that are happy have reseeded themselves spilling over their allotted spaces. Lauren is right, it is a magical garden. I will miss this garden. We put this garden together and if we weren't as old as we are I would say that if we come back to Houston I could do it again but at our age I'm not sure we could start from the dirt up least not without a lot of help.
So that is the sad part. The glad part surprises me.

My darkroom equipment is sold or given away and I'm glad.

It is strange. I can't believe I feel that way about my darkroom but after I printed my last couple of shows digitally, deep in my heart I knew that I wasn't going to go back into the darkroom even if seeing the print come up in a tray is always a moment of wonder or holding a finely crafted silver print in your hands makes you say, "WOW." I know that I would never take all the equipment to Mexico.....when it left here it filled the bed of a pickup.

For a couple of years I have thought that I should let the equipment go. I had thought about closing down the darkroom, taking out the sink and putting in a digital workstation in it's place. But as long as we had the house I know I would just let it sit. Each piece of equipment had been so carefully selected to meet my needs that I couldn't bring myself to make the move. The move to Mexico forced my hand. Surprise! Letting it go is very freeing. It opens new doors for me and takes away a nagging guilt about not using the darkroom.

I feel very good about where the equipment has moved. Most of it went to Bennie, a friend and fellow artist and photographer who lives here in my neighborhood. She has been working mostly digitally and wants to move back to the darkroom. She wants to teach her two beautiful daughters photography. I hope that the girls find our fascination with photography. I think that their lives will be enriched by learning to see the world through a camera lens. I feel sorry for those who don't see images everywhere, who don't see light and space, who aren't moved by images and can't speak with power and understanding through images. I wish those things for Bennie's daughters. I'll be thrilled if my equipment can play some small part in passing on the wonder of photography to another generation of artist.

I feel like this transfer of the darkroom and some other equipment was meant to be. While talking to Bennie, she told me about some of the projects that have been rumbling around in her mind so I know that the new equipment will open some new places for her to explore. And having it gone also opens doors for me too.

In a way it feels like a sacrilege to write this because I can't believe I'm glad to not have a darkroom. But I am, I'm glad to be moving on.


Claudine said...

I know what you mean about letting go adds a sense of freedom. I felt it too when we started packing for Mexico.

BillieS said...

Claudine, another thing I'm looking forward when we come back to Houston we spend all our time working on the garden and house so we can go back to Mexico. When we are "houseless" we can just "vacation." See friends, shop, play with the grandchildren, and go to the museums. A real vacation in my hometown Houston.