Just arrived from PD:
…of chantrelles. I know this has been happening across the NW, but it’s alarming to wander a favorite mushroom haunt and find only two (that’s right, TWO) chantrelles where a few years back we could be assured of finding several baskets worth. Commercial pickers have taken all.
A lovely spot, though, dense with second growth.
Young Alyce, ever hopeful, helped us search with her parents, my cousin Kristin Sherrard and husband Ed Munro, both biologists. Alas, the forest floor was scoured of edible fungi.
(For those who missed my reading of it, here’s Bill Burden’s eloquent and wise contribution)
For Paul, at the Biblical three-score-ten —
Kind of in the manner of a eulogy for someone who has claimed the infirmities of age for at least the 40 years I’ve known him, but still seems to be hanging on.
In any discussion of “what’s next for Paul,” I think we have to get a handle on what Paul is going to “do” in his next incarnation.
First and foremost, Paul Dorpat is the least idle person I know. I sincerely doubt that he is looking to put his harness down and kick back in some senior paradise. He’s too busy.
As I observed during the years we shared a house in the ‘70s (including the time of the famous 40thbirthday bash) everything Paul did — everything — was purposeful. Not useful, as activities that add to our Gross National Product perhaps, but always with some specific end in mind.
How else could we have had the Helix, the Northwest Film Collective, the famous Sky-River-Rock-Fire movie and the ever-green and ever-satisfying Then and Now oeuvre?
And how else would we have the massive Wallingford Photo Walk project (I don’t think I’ve heard Paul attach a formal name or even description of what he is doing, but that term is how I think of it)?
As some of you probably know, Paul has been documenting, in digital photos, an area of Wallingford. He walks (an excellent exercise for our budding septuagenarian) and takes his photos, about 600 per day. Every day.
I have no idea how he catalogues all these photos (and if you know Paul’s movie-recording history you’ll know why I am mystified) but I pretty regularly get shots that have some story to share from his walk that day.
His goal cannot be just to capture the topography and the structures. 600 shots a day for more than a year-and-a-half would be way beyond overkill, or even compulsiveness (I think). I think he has in mind a specific, if daunting objective: to capture, in exaggerated hand-held, time-lapse photography how fleeting and insubstantial the “solid world” really is.
I think the goal is to get deeper into that physical presence, down to what’s really going on in there, out there, in this burning house.
So a picture of a tree isn’t enough. You have to see the tree with leaves, snow covered, dripping rain, spring-budded — not as an image in itself, but as critical piece of a composite yet to be completed.
So I think of Paul as one of the visionary mapmakers who can’t really describe the coastline until he sees all the tides, all the waves. Does it matter how many maps like that ever get made? And that the ones that do are pretty much the same scale as the world?
Key to his walks are the chance encounters with people on the street. Some know him from his walks and pick up in the middle of continuing conversations. Others may become the subject of a photo, a way to add variety to one of his “set” shots.” (In this setting I also think of Paul as “the king of Wallingford, on his progress around the shire, checking with the citizens).
He also takes shots of people, strangers, who interest him. Some of these have stories connected to them, but in others we are compelled to build a narrative, an explanation, based only on the cues inside the frame — a subatomic particle caught in the shutter flash between two entirely unknowable states.
Like this one, that Paul labeled “Out from wonderland, or To the Hole,” which I think proves that sometimes one picture can be “enough”:
Tonight’s theme may be “Paul in Wonderland,” but at least until he finishes his project, Paul seems to be in his wonderland right here.
Of course, the project that Paul was so committed to more that 30 years ago (Sky-River…), and worked purposefully on for many years, is yet to reach its final form. Actually that’s his NEXT project — he’s planning a video edit in the new year … but he will “need some help.”
Ultimately, perhaps Paul’s real job, from which he has never wavered, is to remain busy enough that old man Death can find no idle entrance.
Don’t stop now!
Two days before the actual event, we threw Paul a party.
Planning began only two weeks ago, initially with the thought that this might bring together a couple dozen of Paul’s nearest and dearest. Of course, that was naive thinking on my part. There are so many that Paul considers his nearest and dearest that the list of invitees kept growing until the day itself. We had well over a hundred for cake and bubbly, and for those that missed it, blame it on Jean. I didn’t have access to all of Paul’s lists and time was too too short.
Here, however, are a few images from the event itself. If I missed folks, my bad; I was juggling. Jef Jaisun was also snapping; perhaps we’ll see a few of his to fill in the gaps.
Thanks to all for making this such a marvelous event. Paul was, as is his wont and most appropriately, happy as a clam!
(click once to enlarge thumbnails, then again for full size)
Chris and Mary Troth’s “plantation manse” in Wallingford (at the southeast corner of 44th and Meridian) has a pompon or citrouille or potiron coloring (all French terms that have something to do with Pumpkins and used in celebration of this blog’s recent turn to bi-linguil – or more often bi-focul – with the contributions of Parisian Berangere Lomont) and has been recently and wonderfully appointed with the attached row of pumpkins for Obama. As far as I can determine there are only Democrat signs in Walllingford, and if America follows this neighborhood in the upcoming election it will surly be an Obama Landslide followed by an Obama landfill of signs and such, but not of these pumpkins. The Troths are also avid gardners and almost surely have their own compost for this endearing political marker. Mary explains that the colors of their Wallingford landmark are a golden-orange named “jubilation” (and may we so hope) by its manufacturer, white, and a dark read, which she explains acts like the home’s “eye-liner.”
(In celebration of the season I’ll add other pumpkins to this contribution – perhaps later in the day. A suggestion: why not keep your Obama sign – not the pumpkins – as both a reminder and a part of Sustainable Wallingford?)
Hillside Student Community, the lovely small school where Karen and I teach, is a pretty remarkable place. Student teacher ratio of about 4/1; super academics; amazing group of kids from grades 5-12.
For the first time in its history, we’re seriously concentrating on development and PR. Here’s a photo I took on Friday of our kids at the end of the school day. I’m thinking of making it into a banner for school promo events.