As a kid I was given a Kodak Brownie box camera to amuse me on summer vacations-- those endless miles in the backseat of the car, across Canada and the United States with Beautiful Views or a National Treasure at every stop. I went to Switzerland with a Leica 35mm to capture the Alps, Munich, Rome and Florence in the late 1960s. To document my budding adulthood in Provincetown I had a Twin Lens Rolleiflex strapped around my neck. There I honed my photography skills as well as my identity. Back then, I was drawn to the history of the town and the people creating lives I never knew to imagine. Now archival, those photographs were made before the collapse of the fishing industry and the arrival of the AIDS pandemic.
Fast-forward thirty years. My creativity was suffused into my teaching, writing, gardening, and raising children. But then my dog, Izze, (in absolute cahoots with my partner), gave me a Canon EOS Rebel XS for Christmas, launching me into the digital age, and bringing me back to visual narratives. Vermont is where I live, work, and raise my family, but the Lower Cape constantly calls. I try to go there when most tourists won’t.
Worldwide Indigenous peoples, Buddhist monks, and others make holy sculptures out of sand; children make castles every summer. On the outermost tip of Cape Cod sand moves by grain or dune, the seas divvy up detritus. The composition in each of these photographs is entirely the work of Nature. I am drawn to these stories written in the moment just prior to my arrival and gone just as soon thereafter. I’ve come to call these images Tide Writing.
I make no adjustments, touch not a pebble or bit of reed. As a photographer, my job is to see the stories. The camera beseeches me, and gives me permission, to pay attention. That is how I found the scroll, the canvas of sand dotted with poems, short stories, love letters, Haiku, and songs. Seagulls lace the shore with their webbed designs, and the wind is always drawing. Seaweed, driftwood, and other debris scurry in the wind and land just long enough to craft an elusive signature. Watermarks printed by the surge, patterns born of the force and delicacy of sand, air and water.
The rhythm of the tides yields endless tales, and never the same story twice.