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Ranch House Near Carson City, Nevada, Winter

  • Ansel Adams, Ranch House Near Carson City, Nevada, Winter.

Selected by Derrick Goss
Undergraduate Student
College of Education & Human Sciences

You know when you get part of a song stuck in your head and, no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to think of anything else? After looking through the entirety of Sheldon’s collection of photographs, Adams’s picture of a run-down, average looking, pretty forgettable house remained foremost in my mind. At first, I couldn’t figure out why a photograph of a dumpy house stuck with me over the thousands of others, featuring bustling cityscapes, captivating portraits, and beautiful expressions of light and texture. It took me a few weeks of thinking, off and on, before I realized what was going on. 

As I look at this photograph, echoes of a poem run through my head. I’m currently studying to be an English teacher with a particular emphasis on teaching poetry. Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” is special to me because it’s one of the first poems I’ve had the opportunity to teach.* As soon as I saw this picture, the two works, subconsciously, became inseparable; memories of Hayden’s descriptions of “chronic angers” and “love’s austere and lonely offices” colored my reading of this house, which I realize now is nearly indistinguishable from any of a hundred such houses I’d seen while growing up in the hills of western Nebraska, a land pockmarked with sandstone bluffs and ancient knurled cedar trees. The poem and picture also danced together through memories of my childhood, mornings when a fresh snow fell and chilled the house to its bones, mornings when my whisker-faced father would light the wood stove and we’d sit together in the warmth, not saying anything. 

* The poem may be read online at the Poetry Foundation website (©2016)