Perhaps it started the first time I read the story, "Peter Pan". In the book, the dog, Nana, captures Peter's shadow as if it were a real and separate object and of course, as I'm sure you recall, Wendy sews it back on for Peter. It was a charming concept and something I certainly had never considered. I honestly do not remember how old (or actually young) I was when I first read the story, but I don't recall a time when it wasn't part of my memory banks. The book was first published in 1911 so I know it was on the shelves at the library which means, I read it.
I probably noticed shadows before I read the book, but I am positive that I saw them differently afterwards. Not just as a passing acknowledgement but as a real and separate thing. I was a fanciful child anyway, the sort who could (and did) pass an afternoon laying in the grass seeing "pictures" in the clouds, or gazing into my mother's garden envisioning a secret world of elves and fairies living there. So creating an imaginary world surrounding shadows was a reasonable, to me, step from there. And I did. During a rather lonely childhood, books, music and imaginary worlds sustained and entertained me. Sometimes, I confess, the edges between reality and fantasy got a little blurry.
And then of course, I grew up. Dang. It happens to all of us. Life became pretty straight forward and those fantasy/realty edges became crystal clear. They had to. That's part of being a functional, responsible adult. And that's how I was until I had children of my own. And then, as I introduced them to the wonderful stories from my own childhood, and taught them to see pictures in the clouds and use their own imaginations, I began to notice shadows again.
But it wasn't until I had a camera in my hand that I started to really have fun with it. Shadows really do seem to be an alternate universe. An ordinary, very real concrete and steel staircase becomes a work of modern art at certain times of day when the shadows come to call. It goes from plain to fancy. How much prettier is this:
The drawbridge is adorable on it's own, in a very industrial sort of way, but the underside is even more interesting
A fence is practical, functional and useful. But a shadow fence is more. Perhaps you are thinking, positive/negative, dark/light. And I get why you would. But the shadow of a fence isn't the opposite. Nope. The opposite of a fence would be no fence at all. A shadow is more. A shadow reveals the other, secret side of the object
The shadow cleverly expands the object rather than diminish it. It works with everything, people, animals, fences, railings, grates and gardens.....
Of course in literature, a shadow is a very negative term. Fore-shadowing, or the subtle suggestion of things to come - nearly always bad things - for example. The old radio show, 'The Shadow Knows" which was so creepy that even the theme song music gave me goose bumps. The radio show was based on a novel that was equally creepy by the way. In horror movies the monsters tend to hide in the shadows and haunted houses always have plenty of dark spider webby corners. It all makes shadows sound very evil. Yikes!
But a shadow also brings to mind a cool lemonade on a hot sunny day, a place to rest and relax. A shade brings to mind glade, an umbrella, a pergola, the wide welcoming spreading branches of a very old oak tree. All very very good things.
There is an art form called Silhouettes that was very popular in the 17 and 18 hundreds, you know, before everyone and their Uncle Fred could whip out their cellphone to take a zillion photos of everything. The only way to capture an image was to have a picture painted (or drawn) which was costly or to have a silhouette cut. Silhouettes were cheaper. And Faster! I have a cherished silhouette done of my kiddos a long time ago.
So there you have it, my obsession with shadows. And whether you find that creepy or fanciful, they are everywhere on a sunny day.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.