Beauty in Black and White
The beauty that moved Charles Darwin and Aldo Leopold is often subtle and seen more clearly in black and white. These photographs were taken on or near the Pitchfork Ranch and speak to why Darwin valued beauty as fundamental to the origin of the planet’s diverse species and how come Leopold maintained it was an essential element of his land ethic.
Soldier’s Farewell Hill is a well-known 6,135 feet high landscape feature that is said to be several feet shy to be classified as a mountain. What was once known as the “Great American Desert” was settled by Europeans and their progeny, some of whose wagon trains were accompanied by soldiers from El Paso to this point who then bid them “farewell.” Visible from Silver City, it’s the tallest “mountain” in the area and also said to be named when a soldier received a Dear John letter and died by suicide. Another tale says a group of calvary were trapped atop the hill, Apaches below waiting for them to run out of water, they finally signaled “farewell,” descended to fight their final battle.
Also, “legend has it that in 1856 a U.S. dragoon camped there with Major Enoch Steen on the way to take over Tucson, suddenly went mad, dashed from his tent, cried, Farewell, everybody!’ and before he could be restrained, shot himself though the head.” An 1858 account by J. M. Farewell (I’m not making this up) of the Alta California of San Francisco wrote its “romantic and musical name arose from the circumstances that one became weary of a ‘soldier’s couch, and a soldier’s fare,’ bade farewell to ‘the plumed troop and the big wars,’ etc., and shortened his life by suicide.”
Not the quote, photo credit: Dennis O’Keefe, April 2013.