When you're alone in the forest - especially a new and unfamiliar forest - your senses become heightened. After traversing several tiers along the steep bank of the waterfall paradise that is Whale Creek of the Mt. Hood National Forest, I was tired and potentially lost. I could hear the roar of the falls below, but was it the third or second falls in the series of four? The route back down to the creek was not so clear and I hadn't taken careful note of where I came up; the narrow game trail I was initially following seemed to dissipate back into the hillside as well. It was mid-afternoon on a hot June day and as I turned to make my way down the steep ridge to the creekside, a glimmer of sunlight seized my attention. The startling shimmer of a mylar balloon caught in the reaches of a tree, high above a cascading creek, was the last thing I had expected to encounter in the forest. The sight was eerie and strange - the object was grossly out of place, where it didn't belong. A sense of fright set in as I contemplated its presence - how did it get there, did someone put it there and was this some sick joke? Concerned more with finding my way back to the road, I eagerly turned and continued my descent towards the creek. Still, the image remains burned in my mind as I continue to ponder its otherworldly existence in that peaceful forest. While I failed to photograph that particular phenomenon, it wasn't until the second or third occurrence where I happened upon such a scene, that I realized it was not such a rare sight and was, in fact, something I wanted to document.
The fear of loss is something that has haunted me since childhood; the separation from a parent in the labyrinth of a department store; a hat unexpectedly airborne atop the edge of a precipice facing the vast ocean; or the weightlessness of a balloon as its tether slips through my grasp. The helplessness I feel - the anxiety brought on by such situations - is enough to make me cling tightly to what I fear to lose. And so, it is strange to me how something intended to bring joy to the life of another could so easily be lost and forgotten.
'Found Farewell' is a reminder that what is lost is never truly lost - it simply exists somewhere else.
All balloons in this series are photographed as-found, without manipulation, and later removed once documented.
Happy Birthday, Image Creek
Great Grandma Dixie
You're So Special
I love you Mom!
© S.T. Johnson 2019