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In the remote mountainous terrain of the Spiti Valley of northwest India in the summer of 2018 a thirty-seven-year-old Spanish bicyclist, Javier, told me he had been riding the "asphalt river" all over Asia and Europe for twelve years. He remarked that from the bicycle seat he no longer saw or felt the difference between uphill or down, even in the extreme Himalayan landscape where we met. He said that curiosity drove him and informed him, that for him curiosity was the search for beauty. I've never traveled much by bicycle, but Javier's words have stayed with me ever since.

I have been making photographs for more than fifty years, yet I still feel a sense of anticipation, excitement, and exploration when I pick up a camera. It is the curiosity to discover the world around me that energizes me both while afar and at home. Admittedly, I am a tourist in my own backyard. The landscape of home in Vermont is intimate, rural, farmed, and wooded, set among unintimidating forested mountains. The change of seasons brings a cyclical regularity to life along with renewed surprises of spring's slow unveiling, outdoor life of summer, vibrant foliage color in fall, and austere monochrome elegance and hard-edge beauty of the white snow landscape of winter. Stepping into my backyard there are always discoveries.

At home in Vermont my place is the east-facing sunporch of our Vermont home. The sunporch is an open space, ten by twenty feet enclosed on three sides by single-pane glass. In summer the open windows let in the fresh air and bird and cricket sounds. Just outside the windows is a green world of thick leafy foliage with momentary specks of sunlight leaking through. In winter a small wood-burning stove takes the icy chill out of the sunporch. From the windows is a panorama of trees bare of their foliage, dark spindly silhouettes against the neighbor's snow-covered pasture and the distant gentle rolling horizon of the Green Mountains, colorless and beautiful like a finely etched print. Just fifty feet from us is the neighbor's corral with horses, Scottish highland cattle, and a few sheep and goats. Their bleats and vocalizations are welcome accents to the winter silence.

Forty-eight years earlier my place was a small lean-to space on the clay flat roof of Dul Bahadur Shahi's house in Karki Bada village in Nepal's far northwestern district of Mugu, an eight-days walk from the nearest motorable road. All my belongings lived in a backpack tucked among the large clay urns of grain from the fall harvest and bundles of fodder for the family's cow. My space was without furniture and tiny but large enough for my sleeping bag and backpack and maybe a visitor or two. The rooftop was connected to more than ten other rooftops in an earthen sort of condominium arrangement where all the houses were well dug into the steep mountain hillside. Notched pine tree trunks were the ladders and public way for getting from one long strip of connected houses and their rooftops to the neighbors' connected houses above.

When not at work on the drinking-water pipeline for the emerging town of Gumghadi a half hour walk away, I was on the roof in Karki Bada tutoring young students in English, answering the questions of village elders and playing with the youngsters. More than anything I listened to the elders' stories of dukkha (suffering) in this region of extreme food deficits and infant mortality. As we all lived within shouting distance of each other I knew the distinct sound of each neighbor's voice and the early morning sounds of chickens, cattle, and neighbors waking up. From the distant police check post next to the only drinking-water tap for the village wafted the electric crackle of devotional hymns, news, and folk songs on Radio Nepal. Evening brought the melodic sounds of the shepherds returning home in the descending darkness, calling to their cattle or herds of sheep. Sometimes at night the rooftops shook with the loud and earsplitting deep thump and snap of drums in the darkness, transforming neighbors into shamanic healers.

Behind my place in Nepal I looked above to the next rows of houses stacked upon each other, their horizontal roof and porch lines broken by the diagonals of more ladders made of notched pine tree trunks. Each family house had an individual front porch space. Like the deck of a ship all the porches were connected, and one could walk across several connected porches to get to the other side of the village. While the porch belonged to the family who owned the house, the porches were public as well. Morning hygiene, cleaning the baby, brushing teeth, and grooming hair before school time all took place on one's porch. In front of me to the east, beyond the terraced fields and apricot trees spreading down from Karki Bada to Srinagar village, was the deep Mugu Karnali Valley. From the village's rooftop life around me out to the snow-covered peaks several days walk up the Mugu Valley there was always a feast for my hungry eye.

Garry Winogrand said that he photographed "to find out what something will look like photographed." Along with my own similar yearning to see the resultant photographic image, I also have the collector's instinct of collecting and holding onto experiences and memories of people, objects, and places I've seen. It is a personal hunter/gather urge to go out to collect and bring back harvests of images. It is curiosity that drives my search for beauty, and photography is just my way of confirming the fruits of the search and sharing the found pieces of beauty as well.

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