Our Point of View|
Fourteen Years at a
Thomas Mark Szelog and Lee Ann Szelog
Photographs by Thomas Mark Szelog
Down East Books, 112 pp, $24.95
Are you near the end of your tether because of the weather? Here's a pretty little pick-me-up. Our Point of View is a lot about the weather...not just about the weather, but mostly. The Szelogs (authors and photographer) lived in the keeper's cottage at Marshal Point Light from 1989 to 2002. While there, they both kept journals and Tom, a professional freelance photographer kept a remarkable visual record in still pictures of this beautiful but extremely exposed chunk of Maine coast .
The feel good part is, in part, that the book covers the march of the seasons--over and over. Selections from the couple's journals refer to the wet and the miserable followed by the blue and the balmy, the fierce biting cold followed by sweet signs of spring. It's an encouraging thing to contemplate this time of year and the photos are lush.
The other part of the feel good aspect of this lovely book is that while the Szelogs were stuck out on the tip of the St. George peninsula, it's a good bet that the weather they document is worse than yours. I haven't counted them up but my impression is that there are more pictures of implacable winter than of the sweeter seasons, probably because there is more of it...oops, shouldn't have mentioned that.
Regardless, the winter photos do tend to be more chillingly dramatic: ice encased doors, mammoth bergs piled up on one another, snow drifts to the windowsill. The journal entries also tend to mention the weather more than other aspects of life during the winter.
Clement weather brings scores of daily visitors out to the lighthouse. The Szelogs write with affection about weddings, baptisms and the spreading of ashes, visiting musicians and the countless lighthouse aficionados. (The Light house is owned by the town of Port Clyde and the keeper's cottage houses a museum and an upstairs apartment.) As isolated as the winter is, summer is as full of people. The photographs are rich blue scenes of the summery ocean and lots of boats. At times it must have been very wearing to live in such a fish bowl but the Szelogs seem to have relished it all.
One of Tom Szelog's many special talents is wild life photography and he also keeps track of the seasons by documenting the life cycles of the birds, marine and land mammal around him. A seagull hatchling breaking out of his shell, a fox kit asleep in the early spring sun, humpbacks feeding are among the most remarkable photographs in the book.
Other shots tell more human stories. A time exposure of the search pattern of lights of a rescue helicopter says more than can be spoken about the tragedy of a capsized vessel and its crew. A night scene of the Boston skyline from Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor with the light keeper's cottage in the foreground shows more than any history book about how far it is between then and now. So treat yourself to a pleasant respite from shoveling and know more than just rationally that spring is just around the corner.