Pine Tree Ballads
Project info

Pine Tree Ballads is a poetic vision of land, family, and time. In the early 1900s, my great-grandfather settled on an island off the coast of Maine because it resembled his homeland of Sweden. As result of his attachment to this landscape, my family has returned to Gray's Point each summer for over a century. His entire life he shared exquisitely detailed accounts of the early settlers of the New England apple orchard farm that included such characters as a one-legged ship cook, a widowed schoolteacher, and an ingenious Native American blacksmith. The tales were an intricate mix of history and lore that fueled my imagination and often had the power to transform floorboard creaks and shadows into enduring ancestral spirits. This deeply personal photographic sequence presents a unique memoir weaving the magical aura of a shared, historical record together with the mysterious dreams met on dark moonless nights when one does not know if their eyes are open or closed.

In essence, folklore is an oral tradition that shares popular myth and beliefs relating to a particular place, activity, tribe, or in this case, a family farm. The history and identity of my family thrives on creating and performing anecdotes, legends, and rumors that contribute to an evolving mythology interweaving past and present. At Gray’s Point, stories have arisen from the mouths of both the young and old that over time have become an ever present narration of the landscape that establishes one’s sense of place. The tales transform the shore, ladders, pine trees, boots, granite, woods stoves, stars and gusting winds from merely natural and physical elements of the environment into the symbolic essence of my family. This is my folktale; it is a story infused with both imagination and reality which, in most instances, are the true ingredients of history.