Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A. August, 2010. This black walnut tree is the embodiment of family. One of my first memories of the tree is when my sisters and I, some of us still crawling, played with our pet rabbits under the shade of its umbrella branches. At the tender age of eight I rode my first harrowing training-wheel-free bicycle sojourn straight for the walnut tree as if it was a siren drawing me near. A few years later, when I was a bit more skilled on a bike, I set up an obstacle course, Evel Knievel-style, of jumps, wooden planks and barrels. I would bounce through rough paths on our property and around the walnut tree’s elephantine trunk.
At one point during my childhood, my sisters and I were pushing each other under-dog (pushing so fast and so hard that we went under the tire swing) when we were attacked by barn swallows. The tire must have gotten too close to the nest because the next thing we knew the swallows were dive-bombing us and out for blood. We would dart away from the trunk toward the house but as soon as we left the protective cover of branches the swallows would send another wave of bombers. The tree has continued to be a symbol of what home is for me and acts as an anchor for my life.
My family was preparing to drop me off at the airport early one morning a few weeks ago. As I walked out the front door and the black walnut tree looked beautiful with a thick haze surrounding it. I underexposed the shot two stops to give it a more somber feel and to make sure the highlights weren’t blown out. You can barely make out the barn on the far right side of the photo.