Attack of the Giant Kudzu Dogs: Part One
Those of you who followed Ace and me in our year of traveling across America know that there came a time last summer that I developed a curious obsession — one that led me to risk life and limb, fritter away numerous hours and question what had become of my life.
Somewhere in Mississippi, I spotted a patch of kudzu, growing in the shape of a dog — and shared it with you, of course, in the hopes that you would see the dog, too.
After that, I began looking for more, casually at first, then with the kind of intensity that might be viewed as going overboard. I started driving too slowly, focusing more on the side of road than the road itself, backtracking and pulling onto the shoulder of highways that didn’t have shoulders. As semis shot by, rattling my car and body like fllimsy aluminum signage, I took pictures, trying to capture the dogs within the kudzu.
Yes, I was pursuing that all-important “whimsy” I wrote about yesterday, but at what cost? Was I merely filling time? Was I compensating for some lack in my life? Was I over-using my imagination? Was I avoiding life’s harsh realities? It might surprise you to learn that photographing kudzu dogs pays no salary and carries no health insurance, which, possibly, are the things I should have been pursuing, as opposed to kudzu shaped liked dogs.
Eventually, I got over it, with help from nature. As fall arrived, the kudzu leaves turned brown and dropped to the ground, leaving only skeletal vines lurking in the woods.
By then, the exercise had renewed my fantasy of opening up “The Kud-Zoo,” a roadside attraction I envisioned years earlier while traveling the south. The dream was to open it up in a huge, kudzu-filled lot somewhere near an Interstate. I, along with my staff, would groom the kudzu — assisting nature, not controlling it — training and trimming the fast-growing weed to grow into the shape of animals.
There, too, we would offer kudzu crafts for sale, and hold workshops on kudzu — both at The Kud-Zoo itself and through outreach programs, taking our Kudzu bus to make public presentations aimed at improving the image of the hated alien weed. Basically, we would embrace kudzu, which I think is what it is trying to do with us. We’d be all about peace and harmony, with a lemonade-out-of-lemons philosophy: If you can’t beat it, make things out of it and sell it. We’d be sort of like hippies, but obsessed with a different kind of weed.
Fortunately, that dreamed faded, as did my summer-long obsession with kudzu growing in the shape of dogs. But with this summer’s arrival, kudzu has renewed its quest for world dominance, and I have had a relapse.
Seeing animals in kudzu, like seeing forms in the clouds, is an entertaining pursuit. Maybe it is God’s way of amusing us. Kudzu animals are like God’s Chia pets, though God hasn’t capitalized as much as He could on merchandising them.
I found lots of them, or so I think. At times, I think seeing dogs in the kudzu is a psychiatric disorder; at other times, I think it may be a superpower — that only I can see them.
I’ll let you be the judge. For the next six days — yes, six days — I’ll be showing you kudzu dogs. We’ll feature an unadulterated photo of a kudzu dog, along with a highly and obviously adulterated one, to better allow you to see the dog I’m seeing.
We shall call these adulterated pictures “art,” so you won’t question whether the combination of taking the photos in the first place, then spending hours tweaking them, is actually a form of insanity.
I like to think that someday — when the world realizes that I, rather than being a wackjob, have a unique vision — my kudzu dog photographs will be worth a lot of money.
Unitil then I’ll be that weird guy on side of the highway, lurking in the park, taking pictures of big green clumps — because how can I not?
We’ll be showing you a pooping kudzu dog, a playfully jumping up kudzu dog, and several kudzu dogs in repose. Because repose is a good place to be.
While you are enjoying kudzu dogs, Ace and I will be enjoying the beach — the same one we visited last year.
We are not planning on blogging — similarly, at its core, an obsession — during our time at the beach, unless of course we stumble across something too amazing to pass up.
So without further ado, we kick off our weeklong series: “Attack of the Giant Kudzu Dogs,” starting with this one we spotted along Silas Creek Trail in Winston-Salem.
The photo at the top of this post — go ahead, scroll back up for another look, I’ll wait — is unretouched.
Below is the same photo, doctored, or dog-tored as the case may be, through a very basic computer program called “Paint.”
As I see it, it’s comparable to the sculptor who sees an object in wood, marble, Play-Doh, or whatever, and then removes those parts necessary for you to see it, too. I, much like Rodin, or a first grader, am simply bringing out the form that was already there.
It was already there, wasn’t it?
(Tomorrow: Resting kudzu dog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogs in kudzu, dogscountry, form, imagination, kudzu, kudzu dogs, landscape, pets, photography, shapes, south, travel, travels with ace, vines, weeds