I have been wanting to move outside the studio and photograph an aspect of the community I live in. I moved here, to this dreamy small town, four years ago and still find myself in awe as I drive down the road looking at the farms and greenness, mountains and rivers. I remember my mother asking me once if I had gotten tired of looking at mountains yet (she lives in a big city of strip malls, traffic and concrete). I am not sure if she was joking or not but I considered the question and answered honestly - NO! I can't ever imagine getting tired of the landscape. It has a personality that changes daily. I would never get bored of its moods.
Back to my photo project ideas: Because agriculture is central to Vermont, I thought I might do a project around that theme. I could photograph the neighbor's goat farm. I could do a series on my favorite organic CSA. I could take pictures of the contrast between the long standing family farm and the new McMansions which have been springing up like weeds.
At first I thought I would find the oldest women residents in town and document their experiences through all the changes and development of the area. I was pretty sold on this idea. Although it seemed a little disconnected from me - not having grown up here nor having been a witness to generations of local change. Maybe I was being a bit too persumptuous as an outsider to think I had a right to these stories. The idea also seemed like it had been done before. None the less, I thought it was an idea worthy of investigation.
One day I was walking Henry up the hill and was passed by a jeep convoy of military reserves heading up the hill to the National Guard training camp. My road dead ends at the entrance of the camp. I would like to say that this passing snake of camouflaged jeeps, personnel and rifles was an unusual event. Sadly, however, the activity on the "Range" has increased steadily over the four years I have been living here. There are some Saturdays when the military traffic heading up the hill, passing by my house, continues for most of the morning. When I speak to neighbors who have lived here longer than I, they talk about a dramatic increase in activity at the "Range" since the wars in the Middle East began. This increased activity is felt and heard by people living in all the towns surrounding the 11,000 acre firing range.
People in town have a variety of opinions on our military neighbors. Some residents say it is anti-American to criticize the happenings at the "Range". Other's say having the "Range" in our backyard keeps us honest about the cost of the war.
I don't know. But, that day, as I was walking up the hill, feeling very angry that I had to see these troops and how their presence was ruining my meditation, I realized that THIS was my photo project!