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Seen

Parker River Wildlife Refuge
​Newburyport, Massachusetts


Paths are a consistent subject of my photographs over the years. Sometimes a roadway will catch my eye, the illusion of parallel lines converging recalls construct­ing two point perspectives in drafting class. I’m also drawn to less rigorous byways where the shortest distance between two points is no longer a straight line.

On a nature trail at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge, rough wood stairs descend an ancient dune to black oak and maple woodlands sheltered from the Atlantic’s salt spray and wind. The crooked line of each flight staggering down the dune slope seems haphazard, but this is bespoke trail making. Each uneven trapezoidal landing is an answer to the angle of the stair flight above. At the base of the stairs an elevated boardwalk hovers above the thin topsoil on a few scattered piers, curving around tree boles and knotted roots. Here the journey is the thing, not the speed of travel.

For me, pathways are a simple, well-worn metaphor. We are all from somewhere and going someplace. How fast we get there, and what we see along the way, is different for each of us. Looking at the photo now I don’t recall if the image was taken after ascending the stairs or before going down.