Out West: Desolation, Beautyhttps://i1.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Out-West-14.jpg?fit=1920%2C1255&ssl=119201255Christopher NielsenChristopher Nielsenhttps://barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Chris_Nielsen-author-photo-e1539636435782.jpg
Issue No.8 “Out West: Desolation, Beauty”
Out west, beauty and desolation collide. Old and new reside. Sometimes hidden in plain view, oft times a search is required. From stark reminders of our cowboy, miner and indigenous past, to current day graffiti of post-modern gypsy souls. Nature, ever present, grows, evolves and reclaims abandoned man-made constructs once imagined to be forever things — now faded, forgotten dreams.
Broken down wooden homes, shacks, stone and mortar structures, now ramshackle, yield to the relentless forces of rain, wind and gravity. The stories of the people who once spent their lives there yearn to be told. Yet no historical markers or plaques honor ghosted pasts of these dearly departed. Not even a petroglyph reminder to stir the mystery of their existence. Breezes whisper and rustle needles and leaves of ever-watching trees.
Sentient beings, wild and domestic, roam amid barbed wire borders. Wildflowers grow as they wish when grace filled rains relieve the parched terrain. Hillsides come alive covered with Georgia O’Keeffe brush strokes of brilliant colors. Millions of God’s flowers work in rhyme to create a wondrous display. A miracle of poppies clustered on a cliff inspires the beholder. Humble grasses lay low, ever encroaching.
Out west, land of myths, legends and almost endless wide open spaces. Mother Earth with her hues and tones, water in blessed places. Rugged is the ground, rocks and bluffs. In turn, rugged are the people and their determination. Deep are the skies and ravines. Deep is the spirit, the will and the dreams.
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About this collection —
It all started when my Dad would take our family on trips through the mountains, forests, coastlines and rural places of California and Oregon. Usually traveling (roaming) the less traveled winding, twisting roads to somewhere special, our wanderlust was inspired. My Grandpa would give us Twain like narratives as we made our way through Northern California Gold Rush Country. He told us stories of characters, fortunes made and lost, and devastating mining practices that washed mountains away.
Seventh grade in the Bay Area my California History teacher, Mr. Sowers, added fuel to my fire of history desire. He would recite real life tales so spellbinding of our legendary state history that the students would remain in their seats after the bell rang until the story was over. I had to know more.
My Dad gave me my first camera at the age of ten and making photos has been a way of life ever since. My favorite photography is of nature’s graces and of-out-of-the-way places. The photos in this diverse collection are inspired by the history and present day feeling of being out west.
Christopher is a writer and photographer residing in California. He is currently working on a book of PhotoPoetry. Since the death of his wife he has written a number of poems that deal with loss, grief, love and hope.