Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


Verticality and Other Internal Constants

The Andes are a compendium of life in the vertical with the occasional interspersion of horizontal or almost horizontal space; but it is at the mercy of the vertical slopes that climb into the sky and down to the rivers hemmed in by everlasting mountains. The sun is at the mercy of the vertical land, its hours modified by the bulk of stone and earth that here challenges the heavens. The land stands in both challenge and symbiosis with its human inhabitants; the Andean people have over the centuries of life up against the vertical landscape forged a way of living within it. The little villages rise as on scaffolds along the ridges; narrow aqueducts (a particularly greenery embraced one is pictured below) and dizzy trails thread the mountains and mock the distance and height, that is, for the Andean peasants. A gringo from sea level, even one used to walking, finds scurrying around the rocks rather more difficult. Climbing stairs is temporary bursts of anguish and pain and then short euphoria. And the villages are all stairs, stairs and short ramps and then more stairs.

All along the slopes are little fields- maize, potatoes, cabbages, alfalfa (as in the photo above, the field of Geronimo who also owns a little store- with Coca Cola and Inca Kola- tends cows and burros and makes excellent cheese and herbal tea), hay, beans, more potatoes (potatoes are life here and the variety is staggering). They cling to the upturned bones of the earth mountain in the distance looking painted on and inaccessible. Yet people toil on these upanddown places and turn out food.

And then there are the flowers that climb over the slopes and narrow vertical streets of the villages. The mountains are gardens turn on their side and set wild. Color and shape woven into the land like poetry turned loose but rhyme still intact. The whole vertical land is poetry, precipitous and alarming and difficult but incredibly beautiful and rewarding.


Peru was magnificent; beautiful country, beautiful people. Rather than try to describe things in great detail I have opted to construct a handful of photo essays of sorts arranged around certain themes, which I will try to extend beyond the obvious elements one usually associates with Peru- mountains, deserts, rainforests, all that, the grand landscape size things. Which are nice, but I've always felt that the true beauty and wonder of a place lay in the small less noticed things.

This one is of doorways I came across while wandering around the streets of the town of Casmas on the Pacific Coast north of Lima. We stopped at Casmas while traveling north of the Pan-American Highway; it was a wonderful respite from the everlasting barren tear-your-heart-out lonely beautiful emptiness of the desert. Our stop consisted of a clean crisp little restaurant that specialized in seafood- Casmas is a coastal city- where I ate some excellent fried squid on a bed of slightly less fried yucca, which was also delicious. After eating I strolled around, past a little park with its whitewashed trees radiobellowing warhero monuments and a few older men sitting on benches eyeing the gringo. The nearby market was rather low on vendors; a few rather moldy pieces of fruit some turkeys and chickens, and lots of cheap shoes and plasticish odds and ends. But for some reason I mainly noticed the doors while walking the sidewalks crowded by vendors basketsellers sleeping dogs and the occasional triwheeler taxi (mototaxi in Peru, sanlanshi in China, autorickshaw in India).

Doors are heavy with metaphysical, poetical signifiance, besides being imminently useful in regulating the flow of things into a structure. They cross from one precint to another; and in many parts of the world the passage from external to internal in a residence is a very dramatic one, from austerity perhaps to grandeur. Or it may stand that the door itself is the decoration and beauty of a place. There were many doors in Casmas that drew the eye much more strongly than the structure they were ensconsed in. I know nothing further about the significance invested in these portals; where they lead, who has passed through them (and perhaps never passed back through), how many currents have met and mingled through them and how long they will serve as means of passage within the cosmos of Casmas.


Hasta Luego

I am about to depart for a brief- couple of weeks- trip to Peru, where I will be wandering around the mountains somewhere outside of Lima and then later down to Cuzco and the very nifty ruins of Machu Piccu. Photos and commentary will of course be available here upon my return (assuming I return; there seems to be a nasty tendency for vehicles in the Andes to run off the road which is of course a bad thing when one is driving in the Andes).


Black Creek

Black Creek is a pretty significant tributary of the Pascagoula River, the principle stream of South Mississippi. A portion of Black Creek flows through one of Mississippi's two wilderness areas, in DeSoto National Forest. Saturday my friend Barry Bigham and I hacked our way into the wilderness area, setting out to follow the Black Creek Trail which traversed- or did traverse- the area. Hurricane Katrina however rearranged the furniture of the woods however, and the trail was discernable only a short distance into the woods. From there out it ceased to exist, beneath the rubble of periodic stretches of completely leveled forest. We persevered for a decent stretch, coming out on a grand gravel bar on the stream, which proved worth the effort.

Innovative stream crossing.

Catalpa trees blooming along the stream.

Catalpa flower floating downstream.

Some pitcher plants that were growing, rather improbably, down in the deep shady woods.