In the fall of 1956, I entered sixth grade. As part of the curriculum, my classmates and I were sent off on a week-long camp experience in the central California mountains. While at camp, I fell very ill and was brought home to receive medical attention. It was decided that I had contracted a mild case of polio which partially paralyzed my vocal chords and seriously affected my immune system. In response to my situation, the school system supplied me with a home tutor. Although I recovered from the paralysis in a matter of months, my abilities to handle stress and illness remained weak for several years and I continued to be home-schooled until I graduated from high school.

What began as misfortune turned out to be one of life's blessings. My education in the hands of both my tutors and parents went far beyond what I would have received in the regular classroom. There were few limits on how widely and deeply I could explore realms of meaning and the context for learning that was offered me was fundamentally interactive and experiential.

As a self-employed photographer, my father had a very flexible schedule and was generous with his time. By nature, he was a seeker with an insatiable curiosity about life and the universe, and he became a primary mentor in areas such as philosophy, theoretical science, psychology, and art. Whatever thoughts, readings, and experiences he was focusing on at any given time became shared subjects for exploration and discussion.

An important part of my individualized curriculum became the daily morning walks Dad and I took with our family dachshund Hapi. Some days we would walk in the pine and oak forests near our home, other times we would drive to the shore and walk along the beaches and over the dunes. It was a practice that provided good exercise and nurture for not only our bodies but our minds and spirits as well.

In 1957, the year Log and Horsetails was made, I turned twelve and the major topics for our morning walks and talks were space/time and opposites and how those concepts could enrich our capacities to perceive, understand, and inter-relate to the world within and around us; most specifically how they could promote growth in the process of creating meaning, whether it be in photography or any other form of symbolic expression.

Not surprisingly, a lot of what Dad had to say at the time was bewildering to me and I certainly couldn't have described what he talked about in the way I just have. I did have a nascent sense of it, however, and I loved engaging with him in my strivings to comprehend.

When I first saw Log and Horsetails, a deeper, wordless understanding began to take root and because of it, our discussions became more rewarding for both of us. In addition to being an eloquent and richly meaningful image in and of itself, for me Log and Horsetails will always be a treasured reminder of my relationship with Dad as teacher/mentor as well as a marker of my own growth as a human being.

~ Barbara Bullock-Wilson

Commentary Text © 2017 Barbara Bullock-Wilson. All rights reserved.