This site began as a photoblog on Shutterchance in late December 2007, and when I moved here in 2009, to relieve the tedium of re-posting old photos one by one, I began making up haiku for the title + description. Most of those haiku were fairly superficial exercises in imagism, but I believe I’ve gotten a bit better over the years. (At least I was never a syllable-counter!)
At the end of 2016 I expanded the scope to include many of the photos I was posting on Instagram with poetic one-liners of one sort or another: prose micropoems, basically. In 2021 I began incorporating the text of haiku into the images to make photo haiga (AKA shahai), and began including process notes on many posts. Those too get cross-posted to the ‘gram.
About the name
The Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) is a native of the abundant rock outcroppings and talus slopes on ridgetops in the Appalachians, where I live. A close relative of the better-known pack rat of the American West, it is renowned for its midden, a hoard of small treasures such as snail shells, shotgun shells, feathers, and bones, all collected within a short distance of its home.
Unfortunately, the species has suffered a drastic decline in many parts of its traditional range in recent decades, due to the fragmentation of forested mountaintop habitat by roads, rights-of-way, housing subdivisions, and other openings, which together have permitted the edge-dwelling raccoon to invade woodrat territory and transmit a deadly roundworm. The loss of the American chestnut as a dependable source of food might also be a contributing factor. According to Dr. Jeffrey Larkin (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), “The Allegheny woodrat is a poster child for everything that can and will go wrong in a human dominated landscape.” For me, it is a potent emblem of the homeyness and fragility of the Appalachians.
About the license
All the photos here are available for reuse or remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license. For web use, “attribution” should include both my full name (Dave Bonta) and a link back to the original photo page. “Noncommercial” includes any publication from a registered nonprofit. If you’re interested in commercial use, drop me a line. If you want to make prints of the photos for personal use, go right ahead.