When I was a young boy I would visit, with my grandparents, my great-great uncle's farm in South Jersey. That part of New Jersey, in those days, was flat and rural. I haven't been there in many years but I imagine it's still flat and probably less rural. I've heard stories that Uncle Walt's farm is now a condominium complex, a thought that often saddens me. For, in those days, the farm was a place both exotic and foreign, a spot where nothing much happened and nothing at all ever changed.
Uncle's chicken coops were in a state of suspended collapse. The chickens, by the time of my youth, were long gone and the coops were now filled with old fish heads and various other oddities that a retired farmer in his late seventies would find collectible and worthy of storage. Some of the coops in the long row had given up the ghost and had settled into the earth. Others were halfway there. The ones still standing had the fish heads tacked to the wall boards. Every time I went to the farm, I asked to see them.
The farm's most famous attribute was a double-seated outhouse. "They visit it together in the morning," my grandmother would whisper about my uncle and aunt. “Ain't that sweet? Eh, eh!” My grandmother would cackle whenever she talked about some kind of forbidden topic, be it bathroom humor or the latest neighborhood gossip. For the record, I never found anything about the outhouse to be endearing, though the grapes that grew around it always looked very healthy.
Of all the exotic things about Uncle's farm, it was the view of the horizon that I found most satisfying and mystical. We didn't get horizons in North Jersey. The Appalachian foothills hid them. So, too, did the row houses of postwar suburbia in which we lived. But, the farm had this long, continuous horizon with a tiny farmhouse sitting right on it, far in the distance. I would sit and gaze at the scene for hours on-end.
The quiet of the farm slowed time down, and in that altered state of existence that long horizon would speak to me. It would tease me with its aloofness. I somehow realized that I could never get to it, that it would always be out of reach. Like a cat that knows how to stay exactly out of arm's length from you, it was out there staring at me, and I at it.
Somehow, a young mind is allowed to ponder the horizon. The adults never paid much attention to it. Their conversations bore the weight of politics and work and gossip. To me, it was just grown-up talk, boring and unfathomable. Why talk about work when there is a horizon to ponder? I have not, to this day, gotten a satisfactory answer to that question.
Today's image is of the horizon from the perspective of Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Whenever I see the horizon I am compelled to photograph it. Nothing has changed. I realize now that it is the very same as it was in my youth. And it still taunts me like an aloof cat.