Tracing Roots in Kodaikanal

March 12, 2019 § Leave a comment

(Photograph courtesy of KIS)

I am deeply touched by KIS student Ishita Pandey’s reflections on my visit to Kodaikanal International School during my week-long stay in Kodaikanal last month (February 3-11, 2019). I was so impressed by the students, faculty, staff, and community members I met at KIS. What a blessing to have been so warmly embraced by that lovely community. My own reflections are taking more time to come to fruition, but please stay tuned for those. Meanwhile, I am delighted to share Ishita’s comments here. Thank you, Ishita – I remember well your own beautiful writing in our workshops.

The Flag Green

It is not uncommon for the KIS community to have visitors tracing their genealogy and family history to Kodaikanal. Being in existence for clost to 120 years, KIS has a wealth of historical archival that provides visitors with a treasure chest of stories. We recently had Martha Donovan, on one such quest to research about her mother, a Kodai School Alumnus, for her next memoir. Having Martha in the community provided our students and staff the opportunity to tap her writing expertise through multiple workshop forums. Ishita Pandey from the Class of 2020 was one of the participants in her workshop and had the following to share about her experience with Martha.

Being the historic institution it is, KIS is a place intertwined with the stories of many different personalities, various lives, the ups and downs of each and every person who has been a part of this school, which…

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Strange and Magical

July 28, 2018 § 2 Comments

Kodaikanal, India, c. 1936. (Unknown photographer)

Strange and Magical

This photograph of my mother Beatrice Florence Witter with her parents Ted Volney Witter and Mildred Nasmith Witter has followed me from home to home over the years, resting on my bedside table to remind me of my mother’s strange and magical childhood in rural South India (notice the topee in my mother’s hand).

As I prepare for my trip to India this winter, I am revisiting photographs, writing, and research from a sabbatical project in the fall of 2011. I will be posting material about my mother and her family these next few months before my travel begins.

The Maine I Love

June 23, 2018 § Leave a comment

Bass Harbor.April.2017.jpg

The Maine I Love

Click on the link above to see a slideshow gallery of my photographs of Maine that appears on the website of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors as part of their “The Maine I Love” series. This photograph of an early spring evening in a small fishing village on the far edge of Mount Desert Island appears in the July/August print issue of MBH&H.

My daily practice of photographing the beauty before me is one way I strive to be more attentive to what surrounds me. There is much ugliness in our world right now, so I also write letters and make calls and march and speak up. Art and action – we need both so dearly. These photographs are part of my humble offering.

Birch Trees

May 23, 2018 § 2 Comments

C0FC38BD-83AD-41FD-9708-10220AEE062ABirch Trees

Click on the link above (just below the photograph) to view a slideshow of photographs I took today of the birch trees along Jesup Path in Acadia National Park.

“There is an unexpected shift. The clouds are moving, the trees are moving, the sky is moving. Clouds shift across the sky, cast themselves onto the land below. What does this teach me? I am not a cloud. I am not a hill. I am not a tree. I am not the wind. I am not that bird that just flew past me…. I want to be paid in time. Give me time – not money, not possessions. Give me the invisible – the wind – written in the dancing of the land – the trees, the grasses, the fields, the marshes, the wild flowers. The shimmering leaves, the rustle of the earth, the swish of the wind through screens, this air that is moving, moving, on to someplace else.”

~ Martha Andrews Donovan, “Moving” (from “The Words on My Back / a memoir in fragments and photographs” in Off the Margins)

 

 

 

 

 

Windows, Doors, Thresholds

April 15, 2018 § 4 Comments

IMG_9769

Windows, doors, thresholds

Click on the link above (just below the photograph) to view a slideshow of photographs of windows, doors, and thresholds that I have taken on Mount Desert Island and across northern New England over the past year and a half.

With her foot on the threshold she waited a moment longer in a scene which was vanishing even as she looked…
~ Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

I want to be Mrs. Ramsay’s child, sitting on the floor at her feet, cutting out pictures from a catalogue, believing for a moment that life will unfold exactly as I imagine it might. Ah, such joy, such intense joy, to live fully in the present – and, should we think beyond today, to trust that it will be fine tomorrow.

This is what I strive for, even if I am rather like Mrs. Ramsay, recognizing that the moment before me is vanishing even as I look. But still – still – I stop each day to wonder at the beauty before me. I am drawn to marshes and mountains, windows and doors. I stand at the threshold of what was and what will be.

For now, I stand still, right here.

 

 

 

 

 

Clouds

March 19, 2018 § Leave a comment

Bass Harbor Marsh Dec. 2016Clouds

Click on the link above (the word “Clouds” just below the photograph) to view a slideshow of photographs I have taken on Mount Desert Island and across northern New England over the past year and a half. Since moving to the small fishing village of Bernard (on Bass Harbor) in September 2016, I have been drawn to the edges of land and sea, and also to the movement of clouds, the shifting of the sky.

There is an unexpected shift. The clouds are moving, the trees are moving, the sky is moving. Clouds shift across the sky, cast themselves onto the land below…. Give me the invisible – the wind – written in the dancing of the land – the trees, the grasses, the fields, the marshes, the wild flowers. The shimmering leaves, the rustle of the earth, the swish of the wind through screens, this air that is moving, moving, on to someplace else.                                                                              ~ From the section “Moving” in my essay “The Words on My Back”                             in Off the Margins (2017)

 

Light

February 17, 2018 § Leave a comment

IMG_8109Light

Click on the link above to view a slideshow of selected images from my recent travels across northern New England.

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
                   ~ Emily Dickinson, “There’s a certain Slant of light”

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