For many summers my wife Carolyn and I have visited Michael and Carol Simon at their farm in midcoast Maine. The Simons bought the 88 acre farm in 1990 and over the next several years built a beautiful frame house, where they have now retired after careers in academia. Mostly forested, the property is dominated by a one-acre pond, complete with its own island, just below the house.
Everywhere I look I find evidence of a Simon sense of order and artfulness, from the landscaping of the property to the fine woodwork to the arrangement of canned goods and dishes in kitchen cabinets. There is also much that can't quite so easily be photographed, from fine cooking to memorable conversations with much laughter.
I especially enjoy just sitting and watching the pond, either from a chair on the porch or from beneath a massive old pine tree a few feet away. It changes constantly at the whim of atmosphere and light, and I can see how Eduard Steichen became so taken with photographing over and over, and in every season, a small shad-blow tree outside a window on his Connecticut farm.
In January 2011 Carolyn and I visited the farm for several days, our first time there in Winter. I took many photographs, mostly interior views of the house or landscapes framed by windows. There was one beautiful day of snow. This trip I took many shots of Michael, Carol, and their dog, Duffy; sadly, their wonderful cat, Abigail, was no longer there.
The farm in winter is very different. The pond, ever-changing in the summer landscape, is a flat field of white for most of the winter months. There are occasional animal tracks. The only visitors to the feeder outside the kitchen window are chickadees, juncos, and finches, with squirrels and occasional wild turkeys foraging beneath. Michael says he has no favorite season: the farm has much to offer - and many things to do - the whole year round.
Early Spring is the most visually challenging season on the farm; in Maine they call it Mud Season. We came because it was the only time of year I hadn't yet photographed; maybe we should have waited until late in May. As it happened we came the day after the Boston Marathon bombing. Our visit with Michael and Carol in their inviting house on the pond was just the antidote we needed to all the horror, including the climactic shootout, which happened in Watertown, less than half a mile from our Belmont home while we were away.
Now that I've photographed the farm in all four seasons, is the project finished? Somehow I don't think so.
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