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The people in Ansel Adams' landscapes.

Aspen Grove, North Rim

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, ARIZONA, 1947

It's dark back in that shade, but someone's in there. Clank of metal helmets or scabbards, de Soto? Cortez? Who's in there? Come on out. There are archipelagos, shortcuts to the spice trails, Cities of Gold and Fountains of Youth, there's a whole New World, ripe, namable. We'll make maps.

Mount Moran, Autumn

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING, 1948

In that aspen grove, Henry Clay and Mickey Mantle are playing mumblety-peg with a bowie knife.

Old Faithful Geyser

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING, 1942

Behind the blast of mist, Cotton Mather, Brigham Young, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham are tuning banjos for a tent-meeting hootenanny.

Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake

DENALI NATIONAL PARK, ALASKA, 1948

In the deep shadows on the other side of Wonder Lake, William McKinley and Ava Gardner are roasting wieners over a campfire. Their lithe green sticks keep them from getting burned.

Stream, Sea, Clouds, Rodeo Lagoon

GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, CALIFORNIA, 1962

Robinson Jeffers, way out, way way out, is swimming naked, basking now in a back float, his white belly honoring the sun and he's humming. Could a man be happier, slick as a seal?

Tenaya Creek, Dogwood, Rain

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA, 1948

On the right bank, just behind that spray of dogwood blossoms, that's me, soaking wet, thinking of my grandmother's doilies, how she'd wash and iron them and then let them bloom again in the old homeplace's living room.

Mount LeConte, Autumn

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, TENNESSEE, 1948

There's a pine in the foreground. At its base, his back against the trunk, his moccasined feet propped on a rock, Daniel Boone is thinking of settling down, maybe getting a town named after him, maybe becoming a legend and taking it easy.

Grounded Iceberg

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK, ALASKA, 1948

In a johnboat, behind the iceberg, there's a priest, a minister and a rabbi.

Tree, Stump, Mist

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK, WASHINGTON, 1958

Behind the stump, whimpering, writing to his mother, Henry David Thoreau complains about the food on the trip, his wet feet, his scratches and chafes, the chiggers, ticks and biting flies. He wishes he were home by the lamps in the evening, his mother singing, his vellum laid out before him.

Stream and Tree Trunks, Autumn

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, TENNESSEE, 1948

Just down the left bank in back of that.., is it a sycamore ... A.P. Carter and Charles Wright are playing checkers on a blanket. It's a picnic. There's potato salad, ham and scratch biscuits. Nothing like biscuits and a picnic for enjoying the shade.

The Tetons and the Snake River

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING, 1942

Across the river, in that stand of trees, Henry Ford and Ernest Hemingway have set up camp. They've got chairs, ovens, wine racks and a portable billiard table that Thomas Edison invented. One car is completely dedicated to guns. They have a crank Victrola and Henry has put on a recording of Appalachian Spring. Its simple tune haunts the bend in the river.

Forest, Beartrack Cove

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK, ALASKA, 1949

In back of that central tree, the one that for the viewer is the apex of the classical triangle of composition, Ansel is taking a leak. He set up the shot, had to go and a companion tripped the shutter. Nearby he wrote in his journal, "Imaginatively inclined, I felt Alaska might be close to the wilderness perfection I continuously sought."
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Author:Chitwood, Michael
Publication:The Carolina Quarterly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2008
Words:585
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