It was amid the waning days of Summer 2020 that I published “Quarantine”, which at the time I thought would be the first and only collection of images that represent this surreal period of our lives. It was September 2020 and I was filled with hope that better days were unfolding, a semblance of normalcy was creeping back into our daily reality and Autumn with the holidays would usher a surge in universal health, relief, muted joy and long awaited revelry. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Sleepy Hollow was spectacular and appropriately spooky, especially with strict limits on admittance which made the experience that much more engrossing. Although I enjoy aspects of each season, Autumn remains my favorite since I was a boy and 2020 did not disappoint. The swirl of crunchy colored leaves seemingly in every direction forming deep kaleidoscopic piles as the wind swirled and sun shined through the increasingly empty branches of trees. Cool nights illuminated and warmed by the voracious flames of a bonfire. Pumpkins, gourds and squirrels busily stocking their nests for the winter. Summer birds flying south and winter birds making their appearance, representing the annual changing of nature’s guard. Despite the visceral comfort that the Summer and Autumn provided, the pandemic proved resilient and more persistent than anyone had hoped or imagined as the cold and dark winter months approached. It was as if the pandemic would not be complete until it had at least dominated all four seasons and as fate would have it, Winter arrived without a vaccine as cases, deaths and anxiety continued to surge Worldwide. Winter also did not disappoint as short days, bitter cold and a blanket of snow which was at times 36 inches deep was the screenplay for January and February, months 11 and 12 of Quarantine. As if on cue with the arrival of Spring, melting of snow and nature’s much heralded awakening, science delivered vaccines and long awaited hope, both of which continue to be injected into our societal bloodstream, bolstering collective immunity, catharsis and much needed human contact. In March 2021, a full year since I had COVID-19, I was given the first Moderna shot and in April the second, both of which gave me fever and chills for several days afterward. However, what I did not anticipate this Spring, was that my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV Colorectal Cancer that had already metastasized to her liver and lungs. For the first time I had an intimately close-encounter with unabated advanced cancer and witnessed the extraordinary pain and suffering that it can deliver. At the time my mother was living in Lafayette, Louisiana and as such, the month of April was consumed with trips to coordinate visits to the oncologist, surgeon, hospital and administering the potent array of pain medications that were increasingly vital to her daily and in many cases hourly existence. On April 30 I was fortunate to have been able to bring my mother home to New York, which was quite a logistical miracle and on May 8 she passed away, surrounded by family. If the past year has taught me anything, it is to count the small blessings, even if revealed during times cloaked in extreme hardship, akin to a buoy for the soul. During my days in this relatively rural bayou landscape of Louisiana, a place I had never been and in which I didn’t have any friends or even acquaintances, each day was focused on coordinating logistics and appointments for my mother and spending time with her talking and sharing memories. At the end of each day when she would be exhausted and needed to sleep, I discovered nearby Lake Martin, which happened to be a thriving wildlife sanctuary, rookery and mangrove ecosystem. Lake Martin was peaceful without many human visitors, easy to access as there were no signs or park admissions and filled with the sights and sounds of nature, some I had never experienced and nor will ever forget. It was here that I quietly did my thinking, healing and decompressing each day, with my camera, capturing images that are included in this book; Lake Martin was a blessing. As if biblical and certainly an apropos conclusion to this tumultuous chapter of life, was the intrepid 17-Year cadence of the Brood X Cicadas. Not to be missed, I ventured to Princeton, New Jersey in May to behold this spectacle and as I opened the car door after the 45 minute drive south from New York, it was amazing to hear the roar of these insects in such a concentrated area, that only minutes in any direction was not at all present or even detectable. I hope, pray and fully intend that this will be the last collection of images entitled “Quarantine”, yet as I look back at all of the moments I’ve lived and captured since March 2020, I am grateful for having my eyes opened to aspects of life that were not found on adventures to remote corners of the world, but were in fact right here at home. There is natural beauty, mystery and majesty that surrounds, and is within, us each day. If only we exercise our ability to embrace the exploration of the present and remain patient, with ourselves and one another. It is here that deeper understanding, appreciation, empathy and love may flourish, all of which are far more powerful and contagious than any pandemic the world has ever endured.
Michael Patrick Davidson New York City May 31, 2021