day zero

Over the years, Penland has offered me safety, solitude and inspiration – along with its fair share of passion, drama and intensity – and though I know this to be true, it’s so strange to begin a two-month period feeling so sure about what will be coming. We can’t help but see the future as uncertain. We think, “Anything can happen,” and although there are certainly variables (from the makeup of the dinner menu to the possibility of Natural Disaster…) for the most part, we know what we can expect.

I expect many familiar faces. I expect a happy reception at the coffee shop. I expect students with difficult questions. I expect Big Ideas and small disasters. I expect to feel a barely containable passion arise when I get talking about Art. I expect bacon. I expect melancholy evenings with melancholy music. I expect to be stopped in my tracks by the sight of the mountain stars. I expect bonfires. I expect bourbon. I expect to feel at home. I expect to feel homesick.

I also expect a fair bit of daily chaos, and this time that began early. First, with a minor housing mix-up, and then this morning, waking up to a whole campus without water. No showers, no coffee, and a very difficult time making cyanotypes … What’s more, it’s raining, so it feels like our whole Human Control of Water thing has been inverted. But no matter – I just put out all the big photo trays and chemical mixers and have already collected 30 gallons of rain water (plus a bit for my coffee!)

This is a class about sun and water, and we seem to have neither today…. but, well, here we go!


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