Photographer Jonathan Levitt lives on an acreage near the village of Ducktrap, Maine and spends much of his time roaming the inlets and islands of Penobscot Bay. In his latest Filson Life, Jon explores the remnants of the “Ice Age” in a photo essay from an ice fishing trip for smelt with friends.
In the winter she made a hole in the dooryard. She dug down deeper than the frost goes, and to this hole she brought some old army blankets and a sleeping bag and a pillow and a canteen of water. She readied her hole, and when the cold came she got down in there, and she pulled an old door over top of herself, and she slept.
The porcupine eater pole houses. Shrines, erected on palisades, filled with masks, skulls, carved effigies of ancestors, porcupine fetishes carved from ivory, soapstone and birch wood – turquoise for eyes.
Jumping flea, jumping flea.
The smell of rose leaves in spices.
Now, the frozen bridge is a deep channel to cross by ferry-boat.
47 million years ago, early whales, able to live on land and in water, began their return to the sea.
And then motoring over the frozen roads, the freeze and the thaw, the heaving that will rattle you, and in the morning – darkness and the crows that you will wake to.
The snow is very deep.
Dark houses on the frozen water.
The floor that is wet from flapping fish.
All of us here, solitary and in packs, all of us old before our time, speaking in words, speaking in symbols, speaking in whale songs.
Dwelling of the Seguinland garbled talkers. Whale rib arches draped with sealskin and insulated with dried moss; windows of dried and sewn seal intestine.
Inside, the lady bugs, the cluster flies, the conifer beetles, the house plants parched from the evenings fire, growing towards the window, towards the light.
Fishing for Smelt with Bloodworms as bait.
If you have the time, girdle the tree, and let gravity bring it down. In the hole where the roots were, the skeleton of a bear.
The boiling of the sap, the boiling of meat in the sap. Fire sharpened sticks to spear the crabs.