Grown Together

It is not winds of fate
Nor planted seeds
From which our love has grown.
And as years have passed
Trust has wrapped
To cradle bark or bone.
Twisting as two trees,
For fear of falling blown.
Though others might have been,
We are as two trees grown together,
True love’s best end.

– Benjamin Woolley

My travels had taken me to Buenos Aires. Each night we visited a different tango dancing venue, and I would bring my camera. Although I had known of tango and even had a few lessons back home, this was a way of life and a culture that I had no idea existed. What I witnessed was filled with passion, elegance, and a true art form that flows between the two dancers. The expressions on their faces were filled with deep mood, emotion, and affection for one another. They seemed to be playing out all the joy and suffering of life right on the dance floor.

As a young man in the 1970’s I made several summer trips to Yosemite National Park to study photography. It was there on my forest hikes that I noticed trees that were growing side by side and over time had become intertwined with their trunks fusing and unifying them into one tree.

Decades after those summers in Yosemite I went back for a stay in the valley. A drive up to Sentinel Dome to see the famous Jeffrey Pine was on the agenda. To my shock Jeffery Pine had become a bleached skeleton, looking like a broken, fragmented scaffold. In its prime it was a marvel of a tree that had developed into its magnificent form right out of the solid granite rock. It was always intriguing for me to see a massive tree growing out of granite, imagining the will and might of a tiny seed to sprout in those conditions. Walking down and around the sight one could see others who had also met the same fate as Jeffrey Pine. I came upon these two lifeless trees that had grown together. There was a kind sad but steadfast beauty in their sight, so I stopped and made a portrait of them. They had become a frozen monument to their past still standing in the place they grew up together and died together.

Working in my studio and pondering that portrait made on Sentinel Dome, there came to mind those merged trees having human faces embracing cheek to cheek. I remembered one of the Buenos Aires tango photos. It was of a mature couple who moved with grace, style, and in perfect form. Every step was spontaneous and flowing with synchronicity, their faces perfectly molded. No doubt they had perfected their routine over many years. Just as the embracing trees had shared roots, water and soil over the span of their life, these dancers had merged the many facets of their lives evolving together and becoming one. So, it is that couple from Buenos Aires whose profiles are placed into this lifeless shrine of two trees joined on top of Sentinel Dome.

E. McD – July 18th, 2022