As promised, Herrick folks, my niece and I paid a visit to Marilyn at Bernie’s Inn. It was so much fun to see the place and be reminded of childhood memories—working in the honey house, hanging out after games and high school weekends driving around stopping in for a pop. I hope you all enjoy the little trip down memory lane. Be sure to visit next time you are in the area. It’s well worth the effort.
July: I worked on my coursework for my positive psychology class. I created a handbag out of a friend’s damaged Audi seat. I was generously given a huge amount of fabric that was just beautiful to work with for the SEABA fashion show coming up. I read a lot about the psychology of geography—the study of how we behave in relation to our environment. I traveled to South Dakota to visit my family and was lucky enough to get to shoot some photographs at the Burke Stampede Rodeo. Oh, cowboys…
August: I sketched, sewed, painted and made handbags…a big blitz of work. Using the company SPOONFLOWER I got photographs printed onto fabric. My daughter, Lucy wore a skirt I made with an abandoned farmhouse photo I shot in South Dakota on it. I used rust prints Elizabeth Bunsen created with Nebraska license plates to create fabric as well. Burlington master goldsmith— Jane Frank designed jewelry worn in the show—the pieces were such a beautiful compliment to the clothes.
September was a blur: The fashion show was entirely consuming the first 10 days of the the month. I love to be in flow and entirely focused on one thing. Deadlines are my jam. However, this year I also needed to create my final project for my Positive Psychology course at the same time . I graduated and got to spend a week at Kripalu in Lenox, Mass with a remarkable bunch of people from all around the world. Later in the month my husband and I went to the Champlain Valley Classic Car show, taking photos and talking to classic car enthusiasts was just great after being so busy.
October: I turned 50 on the 12th. I was taken to Martha’s Vineyard by friends. My husband surprised me by getting my folks, my sister and my brother-in-law to Vermont for a long weekend to celebrate with me. That was remarkable AND he threw a party complete with my friends putting on a musical review, poetry, singing songs and making me feel so unbelievably grateful for my life. I took a few of my favorite images ever and layered more photos. Jeff and I dressed as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo for Halloween.
November: I traveled to Burke, South Dakota. I took photos of Herrick that made current and former Herrick residents very happy and remarkably nostalgic. I got to hang out with my great nephew, Liam (oh, and the rest of my clan). I created digital images of my own planet based on a conversation with my son. The planet New Vagus is based on the vagus nerve—the power center of our nervous system. I wrote. I cried when Leonard Cohen died.
December: I made leather pendants for gifts. I kept playing with the image of a South Dakota two-lane road, layering the photo and playing with the visuals of memory. I created a line of scarves with my images on them. I will post the link soon if you are interested in ordering one.
January 2017 is off to an interesting start. I’m cleaning out the basement—sorting through letters, photos, the kids clothes I’ve saved, toys, books and all of the things I can’t believe I now have to deal with. I’m learning a lot about myself and why things seemed so very important to me.
Turning 50 is an interesting age to take a look back, look ahead, try to stay in the moment and not get too stuck in any one place.
Above is my original painting. It was in a show at a restaurant that used to be downtown Burlington, Smokejacks. The light was low so I designed this series to show up in the soft light. This piece also was also in a show at the Herrick Elevator in South Dakota.
I thought I could stretch the life of this painting by playing with it and layering the moon. The farmhouse and flora in these images are photographs I shot around Burke, South Dakota. I guess as the snow falls in Vermont I’m dreaming of a quiet and spacious rural landscape.
Somehow folks, photographs of Herrick, South Dakota struck at the heart of many people…actually WAY more people than had ever read my blog before. So, at first it fed my ego. I was obsessively checking the number of viewers I had for those Herrick photographs. (Obsessively is almost too small of a word for my behavior.) I kept thinking about the comments of people who grew up in Herrick and moved away. A former babysitter of mine wrote and people were connecting about their love of Herrick and rural South Dakota. That was a blast for me. Thank you.
This morning in my NIA dance class we did a move that protected our hearts and then we gave them out to the world. Arms closed and wrapped in protection across our hearts then opened wide. It made me think about EGO vs. HEART—protecting the way the world sees me vs. vulnerability & social risk. I was thinking about the volume of traffic I had to my site and then it all went straight to my heart. Arms wide and then crossed. Try it, it’s kind of a cool way to get a sense of vulnerability and protection in your body. I’m not surprised that my pictures of Herrick, South Dakota sparked so much interest and dialogue.
I think the geography of our upbringing is in our bones.
“…voluntary settlement to a frontier area tends to produce individualism.” Geographical Psychology; Exploring the Interaction of Environment and Behavior edited by Peter J. Renfrow. Cool, huh? I often think about the freedom and spaciousness I was allowed growing up on the prairie. It was awesome AND I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Burke. To quote Joni Mitchell, “I got the urge for going”.
My settlement in Burke was involuntary at my birth, however, it did produce a sense of individualism in me. I suspect in many others too (judging by your response to my photos, shut up ego, let the heart take over). In the book I referenced it suggests that people in frontier areas are naturally more suspicious of outsiders because of the potential to spread disease. Fascinating lizard brain stuff, huh?
For many reasons “pioneer & frontier thinking” has been bouncing around in my head a lot lately. Last week a relative sent me this article about my Great Grandfather, Lowell Stanton Lillibridge, pioneer banker. These few paragraphs tell a great story about pioneer life in South Dakota at the turn of the century.
I’m grateful I have a different lens to view the landscape that informed who I am. I’m not wild about some other middle aged issues, but I do appreciate the wisdom.
I haven’t lived in South Dakota since 1989. I moved to Vermont on New Year’s Day 1990, and yet an image of a South Dakota two-lane highway is my constant muse. Funny how different things look with a quite few more years in the rear view mirror.
I encourage you to think about what specifically speaks to you about the geography you experienced growing up. What’s your “South Dakota two-lane”? That image got me through some rough dental work last week. You might want to consider a landscape as a sort of meditation…a “go to” place when you need to settle your brain down.
Thank you for reading. I’m truly grateful for your time.
The week before Thanksgiving I was in South Dakota visiting my family. I had an afternoon to drive around and shoot some photos. I headed to Herrick, just east of Burke, listening to korn country 92.1. I love Keith Urban’s song; Blue Ain’t Your Color. If you don’t know this song, it’s a damn shame. Here’s the video.
I spent a lot of time in Herrick growing up. I “worked bees” two summers. That was highly educational, messy and sometimes painful work. I got stung 17 times one day (my forearms looked like Popeye’s). I played softball in the field behind the truck. I think I might’ve even knocked back a few beers at parties in the outfield on occasion. I had a friend who lived on a farm in Herrick and since I was a “city kid” riding the bus to Anita’s farm was a grand adventure. We could drive at fourteen. We didn’t have to ride the bus too long. So, I had a blast driving around Herrick in beautiful, autumn, late afternoon light and thinking about my Herrick Days.
Next time, perhaps a whole series of photos devoted to Bernie’s Inn, the historic watering hole in Herrick. Would that be a possibility? Let me know.
The Hipp Theater in Gregory, South Dakota holds a lot of memories for me. We had to have our parents write notes saying that it was OK for us to see R-rated movies before we were seventeen. The World According to Garp, Quest for Fire, Scarface…these were a few that required permission. Oh, the joys of growing up in a small town when a note would suffice (whoever wrote it). My kids haven’t had it so easy trying to get into R-rated movies in Burlington, Vermont…I like hearing the stories of their efforts though. I hope you enjoy these shots.
Here’s to the power of our memories,