I wanted to photograph Sonia although I had only heard about her but not seen her. Rather than bother her at the Cooperstown farmer's market I decided to go and find her at her farm, Nectar Hills Farm, a few miles south east of Cooperstown. Not only does she farm cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, Emus, and probably a hundred other two and four legged beasts, she makes wonderful teas and humus, and designs clothes made from sheep skin and wool.
I arrived at the farm where I was greeted by two friendly dogs but no humans. I knocked on the door of the handsome house that had not been taken care of in quite the same way as had the animals. The animals looked and behaved as though they were in paradise. On the other hand stone chips, fallen from the walls of the house, lay where they landed. Windows were veiled, either with material or grime. The beauty of the house, indeed, lay in its original architecture but beauty was added to it by its in-need-of-attention state.
Old boards with almost no paint left on them are one of the most attractive decorative features for the exterior of a house. And if the wood is good, as it is on Sonia's house, rot is far away into the future.
Animal sculls and other bones are fixed to the walls of the house around the front door.
Sonia came to the door after a few minutes and I explained who I was and what I wanted. She was wearing black tights with multiple large holes and tears in them. She said she had just woken up—from a nap, I presumed, as it was in the middle of the afternoon. She sat down on the crumbling top stone step leading up to the front door and proceeded to question my story.
"So you have just published a book.. Where is it? I want to see it before I agree to anything."
Of course, like an idiot, I had forgotten to bring a copy. I said I would send one and meanwhile would she like to see some of my work on Instagram. She went back into the house and returned with her iPhone. She was reassured by what she saw. Then I asked her what had broughtn her from Spain to the USA.
"And what brought you from Manhattan to the wilds of Central New York State."
I did not ask if it was the same one. She did, though, say that things got difficult in the city as a dancer and an artist.
We, she explained later, that is Sonia and Dave Dutton run the farm together and come from a background of world music, Indian dance, Qigong, martial arts and Kundalini yoga. I mailed the book, and after a muddle from my sending a message to the wrong phone number, hearing nothing from her, thought she did not like the book, whereas the opposite was the case.
We got together a couple of weeks later and did the picture in the fading sunlight of a lovely late summer evening.