28 April 2019

Adams The Tetons and the Snake River.jpg 

The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. 
Photograph by Ansel Adams. National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the National Park Service. (79-AAG-1)

This image has been living with us for 30+ years in various sizes, as a poster, a calendar, a postcard, currently as a framed print. On the wall in paradise, facing you just as you came inside from the lush green tropical day, in our kitchen above the table where we eat, on a bathroom mirror, in the hall where appointments are recorded on a blackboard, above the piano in the sitting room and now on the wall in my study.
I went through a serious Ansel Adams phase with many more reproductions gracing our walls but this is the one that endured. 
I rarely look at it these days. It's of course stunning as ever. 

We like to think that it stays here on the wall because of the Golden Record. And the Golden Record is out there aboard the Voyager spacecrafts since 1977, now travelling in interstellar space, 18 billion kilometers from earth. You can track both spacecrafts online. 
One day it may arrive somewhere and who knows, the record will be watched and listened to, laughed or shouted at, understood or misunderstood.  Carl Sagan and his team, who assembled the contents, included lots of (to us) beautiful stuff: the sounds of wind, volcanoes, waves, thunder, birds, frogs and wild dogs. They gathered 115 images, including a woman breastfeeding, an x-ray of a hand, photos of seashore, sand dunes, fallen leaves, a tree with daffodils, a flying insect with flowers. Music by Mozart and Bach, Chuck Berry and Peruvian pipers, Georgian chants and Indonesian gamelan, Beethoven and Louis Armstrong.
And this photograph by Ansel Adams. 

Nothing about genocide, wars, nuclear weapons, plastic inside dead whales, melting polar ice caps, noxious pesticides, bleached coral reefs, gun violence and suicide bombers.

In any case, folks, we are ready. When the first arrivals from outer space walk into our home, they'll recognise this picture and we'll be off the hook. Hopefully. And once we are done with the greetings, there will be a lot to explain.

Meanwhile, I am still struggling with a congested chest and packed sinuses without any proper sign of actual infection/inflammation but exhausted like an old dog and extremely grumpy, increasingly nervous about autoimmune relapse and shit. After breakfast, I shouted at R - only once, I swear - and his endless reassurances about how this will pass and like a stubborn toddler, I shall go to work tomorrow, no matter what. I have long lost any concept of what being fit and healthy should feel like.


  1. "In any case, folks, we are ready. When the first arrivals from outer space walk into our home, they'll recognise this picture and we'll be off the hook. Hopefully."

    Well now I think we shall have to frame and hang that photograph too! It is one I have always loved, but I had no idea it was traveling through interstellar space. You have educated me with this post, thank you. As for stubborness, sometimes it is the only thing that gets us through. Act as if. May the exhaustion lift, the congestion abate, the air flow free.

  2. What a great post! And what a stunning photo of a tiny bit of our incredible planet.
    May it be allowed to continue to be incredible. May we do what must be done to achieve that. If it's even possible.
    I hope you feel better soon. What a trite thing for me to say but I do mean it, dear Sabine.

  3. When you mix your sense of humor and your sense of gravity, it never fails to move me. Sending love to you, Sabine, with this song from the Golden Record:


  4. I'm adding my tiny, inexhaustible voice to the others, wishing you well and better. I will also order a print of that amazing photograph and await the aliens.

  5. Aha. You say 18 bn kilometers whereas its launchers - sticking strangely to old-fashioned Imperial units - would talk of miles. Thereby missing a boast-worthy point since there are more ks than ms. Please don't correct me if I'm wrong, it's more romantic this way.

    By the time I moved to the USA I'd long ago dissipated my youthful enthusiasm for rock-climbing. But then I discovered the Tetons (from a distance) and experienced faint atavistic stirrings. Had I remained in the USA I would have made the trip if only to position myself somewhere near Ansel Adams's viewpoint when he took that very famous photo. In those days climbers used to babble about Yosemite and El Cap but the Tetons were different. Yosemite was accessible, the Tetons were and are remote. You had to pass through cowboy-land to get there.

    Nice to know that - musically - we'll be represented by three German speakers. Me, I'd have surreptitiously added a photo of Helmut Schmidt wearing his Rhine barge captain's cap. I have one of those and have been known to wear it when practising Schubert's Abschied - more romanticism. And my Germanification continues. I've just started on Nun wandre, Maria, having finally overcome my inexplicable prejudice against Hugo Wolf.

    You cannot possibly imagine how much I detest Brexit. It's as if poltroons in this country were forcing me to cut off my right hand.

  6. I'm sorry you're not feeling well. I get terribly grumpy when I don't feel well. I have been fortunate so far in having good health and wonder what kind of person I will become when I am forced to deal with ill health. We will all end up in the same boat, unless I am hit by a bus:)

    I've worked with people with chronic illness pretty much my entire adult life and I am always in awe of how people keep going. I suppose it's not much different than me and Katie, neither one of us has a choice. You just keep going. Sending hugs.

  7. sorry to hear you aren't feeling well and I hope it's ass gets kicked. nothing worse than having to go to work when you don't feel well.

    I imagine by the time anyone or thing finds the Voyagers we will be dust by our own hands. but perhaps that view of the Tetons will still be here.

  8. I am going to have to hang a copy of that photo in our house as well. It is a sign to the fellow universe travelers that we are one. What a grand idea. Did you see the article in the Washington Post about UFOs? I'll attach a link for you. It's a grand read. I hope they get here soon. I'm waiting. I also hope you start to feel better, Sabine. Sending you good wishes from the California north coast.

  9. Such lovely comments here! You are certainly treasured by all of us readers, as your observations and revelations strike a chord with us. Your struggles are so @!*#ing compelling. So what hit me immediately about this post was the photo. It is very like imagery found in some cards within the Tarot deck. At the risk of revealing myself to be a total crackpot (or at best an old hippie), let me say (as I was taught, anyway) the mountains represent the "Great Work" of living one's life and becoming more human, the evolution of the species even. The flowing river could only be the creative imagination, flowing from high in the mountain source down to the open sea. Who wouldn't be moved by the drama of life, the coming and going, the struggle to balance the duality of life and achieve our humanity? Why am I not surprised you would value this photo so highly, and keep it close to you your entire adult life? Okay, before I start talking in tongues, I'm gonna stop and leave this with you. Thank you for sharing this photo today. Seeing it was like going to church. Not that I do that.

  10. What a beautiful photo. I think about John Muir with his mule, trekking and finding gorgeous creation, which we've all but eliminated. Makes my hikes in the woods that much more poignant.

    Today I celebrate the bees and dragonflies and humming birds in my wee garden.

    And like the rest of these comments, I'll be ordering a print you posted.

    May your health improve.

    XX Beth

  11. Ansel Adam's work is so gorgeous.