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HuddlestonVermont's woods are my home. I walk with the camera every day along the logging roads and deer runs in this second-growth forest. Our core sense of beauty arises from our deep connection to this world. We humans are of these forests, and our urbanity rests upon them. Trees produce oxygen, paper, building materials, and fuel. They retain rainfall, reducing floods and droughts. They provide clean watersheds, prevent erosion, moderate the climate, recycle nutrients, store carbon, and are home to insects and animals. But this forested landscape is provisional, for it is a managed, working timberland.

Although the so-called "natural world" is no more real or true than is the human-made environment, it may give us more space to consider our own human nature. The human world is so intentional and manipulated that we easily become reactive and discursive; being in nature some distance from society may allow us to see and contemplate with more clarity. The forest, in particular, offers an interconnected complexity and vastness that give us perspective and balance. Our psyche needs the forest: in the immediate sense of connecting with the sights and sounds and smells of an unfolding walk and in the abstract ways we imagine into the deeply mythical space of the forest. The former sensations can be paradoxically relaxing and exciting, resulting in a calm but precise hunter's awareness that I share as an artist. The latter archetypes may be spiritually ascendant or physically terrifying, but all reveal ancient foundations of human experience. Trees, even on a city street, give a proportion to our human life. Like us, they are suspended vertically between Heaven and Earth, and they go through remarkable changes over the spans of their lives. The complexity of a forest encourages a broader realization of process: of ourselves in the larger process of life, and of the direct quality of our experience in the present. The forest is my kind of place.

Copyright © 2020 John Huddleston.


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