‘Ma,’ she said, 'it’s a strange woman coming.’
Ma sighed. She was ashamed of the untidy house, and so was Laura. But Ma was too weak and Laura was too tired and they were too sad to care very much.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, starting things off on a depressing note in By the Shores of Silver Lake
As a kid, this was my least favorite of the books, and I think this was partially why. The previous books have their share of heartache, but there’s always the sense that the pioneer family will stick together and triumph. Because of that, the first chapter of By the Shores of Silver Lake felt like a blow to the chest. We expect to join up with a familiar family, but suddenly it’s years later, everyone’s ill and depressed and barely alive, Mary’s blind, there’s a new baby out of nowhere and Pa can barely keep things together. And then Jack dies, cutting off Laura from the last protections of her childhood. The safe setting is yanked out from under us as we follow Laura into an uncertain future, making for a disorienting read.
These books are dark in a way that children’s literature seldom is. Plenty of kid’s books have heartbreak and death, but few of them showcase this level of weak and desperate scrabbling at the strands of a wearying existence, pulling yourself up so you can survive until the next disaster. It’s dark and raw and gritty and real, and I think I’m going to appreciate this book much more as an adult than I did as a kid.
You talk about your work being little pieces of your life. Tell us an interesting story about one of your works.
During a week when I felt particularly suffocated by the idea of spending another day at a desk and with the impending Fall weather upon me, the desire was too strong to hold off until the weekend. I notified my team that I would not be able to make it to work that day and headed into the mountains by myself with my camera gear. During that hike to Lake Ingalls, I got to witness the breathtaking beauty of larch trees in the Fall for the first time. And my camera is what allowed me to freeze that experience in time. There are so many incredible things to see (especially here in the Pacific Northwest) and being able to capture them and evoke the memories and emotions associated with them in a photograph is an incredible blessing.
How do you think being an IT consultant helps you in your photography?
As a consultant, I have found myself working from different buildings in different cities. My current position is with a company in Bellevue, Washington and from my desk I have the most incredible view of Mount Rainier, Washington’s iconic mountain. That view, coupled with the feeling of being stuck inside an office building for most of my life, stirs up an undeniable desire to escape to a photographer’s greatest playground, the mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest.