Commentary by Barbara Bullock-Wilson

When I was about three years old, my parents and I moved from the travel trailer in which we had been living into a modest ranch-style house situated on a hillside with a distant view of Monterey Bay. Our home was among the first to be built in the newly opened Monte Vista neighborhood and, for several years, I had acres and acres of undeveloped fields and woodlands to explore.

As an Indian maiden, I would run through foggy pine forests and set up camp under the sheltering boughs of redwood trees. When I was a jungle princess, I would hold court among vine-covered rocks; and whenever I had to escape marauding bands of cutthroats, I would scramble down gullies and hide in scrub-covered hollows until danger had passed.

One of my favorite activities was creating cozy homes inside spacious bushes. Whether I was a pioneer woman feeding her family, a gentle doe nestling with her fawns, a bustling quail hen protecting her chicks, or simply myself sitting and listening, I loved being within the quiet embrace of overarching branches and leaves. Feeling the earth beneath me; watching the play of soft, dappled light; breathing the sweet, spicy air; I inhabited a realm of unity and joy.

My parents understood and gave me ample time to roam. They also took me to places like Point Lobos where I could curl into sun-warmed rock and taste the tang of sea spray; and down into the wilds of Big Sur where I could wade in clear mountain streams. Dad would always have his camera, Mom provided food and fun, and I was free to drift and discover.

Sometimes during these outings, Dad would invite me to work with him. When he wanted to photograph me among trees, on pebbly beaches, in deserted cabins returning to nature, I welcomed his requests. For me, they represented more opportunities to enter into; to be part of; to experience innerness, intimacy, and belonging.

When I look at Dad's photograph of Seed Pods, 1969, I experience anew the deep, elemental connections that helped form me. My senses are quickened. I see from inside out. I feel warm stirrings of light. Scents of chaparral mingle within me as I hear the whispery rustling of tiny branches and brittle pods preparing to split.

The image sets me to dreaming the pregnant mysteries of darkness and the life-giving, life-changing demands of light. I move with rhythms of creation and consummation, of the continuity of transitions, and I am comforted.

Photography was the way Dad chose to ask questions, to listen, to connect, and to express awe. Like so many of his pictures, Seed Pods is a simple, quiet image of wondrous processes and events.

Dad's curiosity, empathy, and love of nature were gifts he shared with me. The legacy of his images is a gift for us all.

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