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Cy Whitling

Every morning I wake up and rejoice in my view and am reminded that I will never take a picture of it. I look out my window toward Moscow Mountain looming over the wheat fields and I am thankful that I will never capture it.

It’s a scenic view of one of my favorite places. Moscow lies sprawled below me, vibrant with fall leaves while the mountain broods, dark with conifers, shedding the last shreds of morning mist. It’s nearly perfect, the rising sun bathes the hills with its glow and the dark mountain clashes with the wheat fields all around. It is the kind of view that could go in a calendar, marred by only one imperfection. A power line runs past my window. My eyes are never caught upon it, I barely notice it as my pupils dance across the distant tree line. As soon as I lift my camera though it fills the frame, drawing all attention.

This is almost a comic reversal really. I spent so much of my time on that mountain, riding, walking, running, shooting, sometimes simply sitting. I’ve filled countless memory cards on it. I’ve slept there, sung there, cried there, laughed there. I have escaped to the mountain and at times I have sought refuge from it. I have cursed its icy roads and its fallen trees. Moscow Mountain is one of the most important geographical locations in my life but I have never really taken a picture of it in its entirety. 

I have never been able to snap a frame and say “this is it, this picture sums up the mountain.” I used to think I wanted that. I used to wish I could steal it, in all its glory and fling it as a wad of pixels across the internet. I used to search for a vantage point that would let me make it mine, bring it into my dominion with my camera. Now I have been nearly given that and I am not so sure.

I could climb onto my roof and snap that frame. With a little creativity and photoshop I could easily create an image of the whole mountain. I could just walk up the hill a little farther and find a perfect point to make it mine. I just don't know if I want to. I know that taking a picture of Moscow Mountain won’t really change it. I know that it will still be there after I immortalize it in ones and zeros. Maybe it’s more symbolic. Maybe I’m not ready to believe that I understand that mountain. I’m not ready to try to capture it and shrink it down to a screen. It has more to give me and I have more to learn.

Maybe I’m overthinking it and too much artsy photography talk has addled my brain. Somehow though, I know that I am not yet ready to take that picture. I know that I will just cheapen the mountain for myself.

My favorite picture is the one I have not yet taken and I am thankful for that.