Sometimes junk in the woods is just that. Junk in the woods. A relic from a bygone era. Back when there were no hidden cameras mounted in trees and it was common to push old cars somewhere up behind the garden and simply leave them. Out of sight, out of mind.
Over time, they’d rust and settle and melt into the ground. Paint fades, saplings grow in and around and through the floor. Eventually sheet metal becomes soft like cardboard and the underbrush takes over. Only the most adventurous — or those with long memories — know where they are.
There’s something peaceful and melancholy about the sight of an old car resting in the woods. Finding mechanical remains on a beach is different. There’s implied violence when two tonnes of car are reduced to an engine block and a few scattered bits of frame. It takes a keen eye and encyclopedic knowledge to identify make and model.
There’s mystery in the woods, too. But it’s a quiet mystery, tempered by a mood that inspires poetry, if you’re so inclined.
Jason Clarke doesn’t consider himself as a poet, but he has the eye of one. He can’t say why, but when he was about seventeen years old he started wandering down woods roads and back trails looking for wrecks so he could take their pictures.
He’s 25 now, and figures he’s checked out just about every trail on the Avalon Peninsula and lots more around Clarenville and Terra Nova.
He’s especially fond of junked cars and trucks from the 1950s and 60s, vehicles from another era, machines that last travelled the roads 20 or 30 years before he was born.
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Sometimes there’s the challenge of identifying what kind of automobile that pile of rusted metal used to be. He always enjoys the mystery. Who owned it? What kind of people were they? How did that vehicle end up here?
Jason keeps it simple, shoots low-resolution with his iPhone. Likes the way a dusting of snow softens hard edges and creates atmosphere. And it works.
Because the rotting metal may not feel cold and alone. But when I look at his photos, I sure do.