A Closer Look

Photographs by Todd McCormack

It’s a familiar story: one spouse has a long family history with this Island, and the other marries in. As a recent empty nester, this soon-to-be Fishers-in-law was more excited to set out to “see the world” and had worries that a home here would tether me to one place.

I’ve always loved taking photos, documenting travels and family milestones; it is my hedge against my less reliable memory. But it wasn’t until I came to Fishers that the desire to capture nature’s perpetually unique moments emerged.

Race Views

Looking across Hay Harbor golf course, I’m fortunate to have a view of Race Rock from my home. Its allure never disappoints. Due to shifting winds, tides, and light, this one stationary subject symbolizes what I now like most about our decision to establish roots on Fishers. By staying in one place, I began to see the world and appreciate its reliable rhythms, the moon’s cycles, and the pathways of the sun’s light, forever casting unique vistas to increasingly familiar landscapes. New questions inevitably emerged: what happened to the sand on South Beach? What bird was that? Why was the golf course being burned? When will the sun set directly behind the Race?

And these new curiosities fueled my search for answers. I am grateful to the growing group of friends who provided them, introducing me to new parts of our Island captured here. I never knew the Madeline Avenue Pond existed until Ken Edwards took me there two years ago, and now I stop by there almost daily. My knowledge of ducks ended with mallards until Jim Baker introduced me to his family’s decoy collection. A snowy owl sighting one cold January afternoon connected me to Justine Kibbe, and I soon learned about her Sanctuary of Sands she worked so hard to protect.

Without question, my most significant realization during my immersion into Fishers’ ecosystems is that our Island’s natural resources do not endure well, “Naturally,” as the title of the Museum’s summer exhibition implies. Sadly, we humans still hold the title of the most invasive species. Teams of people, often across generations of families, remain committed to educating us and stewarding the habitats that provide refuge to the birds and wildlife who share our Island with us. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.

I hope my lens brings proximity to some of the wonders we enjoy due to their efforts–wonders available to all who are willing to stand still and take a closer look.

~ Todd McCormack

Our Southern Shore

The Night Sky

The footsteps of those who walked the pathways of Fishers are steeped with stories, ever enriching our Island’s heritage. It does not take a very active imagination to see soldiers on patrol walking up these stairs, casting their gaze across the sound to protect their country and cherished values. Today, amongst graffitied walls and shards of glass, the gun emplacements are now more a place for the next generation to escape parents’ watchful eyes and solidify new friendships, defining new principles to guide another generation.

But nature’s relentless omnipresence dwarfs our too often strident defenses of our respective narratives. These fortresses are losing the battle to nature’s grasses and vines; nature is reclaiming these spaces for herself. Beyond this ground offensive, the expanse and forces of the night sky are even more impressive. Unlike the flash from a bolt of lightning over the sound, which arrives just a moment before its thunder reverberates, the light we see from the Milky Way’s Galactic Core (pictured in the center of the photo on the right) began its journey to my camera’s sensor 27,000 light-years ago.

While the scale of it all is hard for me to fathom, connecting this ancient light to landmarks that have meant such different things to different generations of Islanders makes me less strident and sure.

Intersections

Our Ponds

Reflections

Rhapsody in Blue

Our Own Backyard

Once drawn into the natural world, there is no turning back. Better than any addictive app, nature shares her moments with a well-honed algorithm, rewarding those who stop, listen and look with another moment to capture.

We do not have to travel far off our daily routes to catch glimpses of wildlife. From the fairways we walk to the Museum’s gazebo to our own backyards, so many of our island birds visit us without invitation. Ospreys were my gateway drug, but one soon gets intoxicated with the variety of birds who reside on Fishers or refuel here on their migratory journeys.

Kingfishers’ speed and skills at extracting fish from ponds and coves are aptly named. The variety of warblers one can see during the migratory “shoulder seasons” is Exhibit A to our planet’s biodiversity. Songbird’s songs are the key to finding them because unless you hear them first, they are difficult to spot. Differences within each species add another layer of complexity to identifying birds that I still struggle to grasp. Plumage is impacted not just by gender but by seasons and age.

There is so much still to learn.

Todd has donated to the Museum all the prints that are on display in his exhibit; 100% of all proceeds from their sales will benefit the Museum and its programs. To order contact HLF Museum Director Pierce Rafferty by phone: 631-788-7239, or email: fimuseum@fishersisland.net Pieces will be sold on a first contact, first serve basis. Limited additional prints will be available.

To view more images that Todd has taken on Fishers Island, please visit his online portfolio:

Todd McCormack Portfolio