A year or so ago, I found myself making photograph after photograph of apple trees, without really knowing why. Not bearers of SnapDragon, Envy or RubyFrost, either, or of exquisite Fujis grown to lofty Japanese standards. Just plain old gnarly backyard apple trees, bearing sometimes blemished and twisted fruit and often deep in the underbrush. What made this stranger is that I’m a big fan of Joichi Hoshi, who spent the last decade of his life making nothing but woodblock prints of trees. I’d never been able to get over, though, how odd it seemed to focus completely on one narrow subject area. Yet here I was.

For a while, I thought I might be making self-portraits. But any artist reveals something of himself in what he makes.

In the end, I realized I like the blackish color of apple tree bark and the overall mushroom shape apple trees have. I like the changes in them as the year transitions through the seasons. Also, in the dairy farming areas I’ve been photographing them most recently, farmers no longer store apples to keep themselves and their livestock alive through the winter. In most cases, no one tends to the trees anymore. Nevertheless, they continue to flower and bear fruit, in silent rebuke of those who have left them behind. I’m torn between thinking they rage against the dying of the light and that they think they still serve by standing and waiting. Another symbol of the state of the industrialized world.

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