Book Review by Geoff Welch
The Gift of Nature
Recently released by Carol Monderer Publishing, Tuxedo Park The Gift of Nature is a beautiful new book by Chiu Yim Hempel with over 200 splendid color photographs by Greg Miller, a master at capturing various and wondrous light qualities in his landscapes.
During a recent interview, author and Tuxedo Park resident, Chiu Yin Hempel explained:
“I designed this book to be a photo journey into Tuxedo Park. The photos are displayed in different sizes, mimicking the experience of a traveler whose eyes will at times be transfixed by a panorama, for example, the breathtaking expanse of Tuxedo Lake, and at other times, focus on the intimate details of a flower or a dragonfly. The text is woven into the fabric of images, introducing a topic or calling out the significance of a subject matter. The more intimate images are all “held” on the page by plenty of white space, like a treasure being held in the palm of the hand.”
Greg Miller has published two other photography books: The Hudson River A GREAT AMERICAN TREASURE and Panorama of the Hudson River. He visited Tuxedo over the course of a year, sometimes guided by residents to likely wildlife areas and scenic vistas. Luck was certainly on his side when he captured the aurora borealis reflected in Wee-Wah Lake, shown below.
Publisher and Tuxedo Park resident Carol Monderer told me how she got the project started:
“Chiu Yin’s first two books are extraordinary and I wanted to collaborate with her to create a third about the magical quality of Tuxedo’s nature. She and I spoke about how nature makes Tuxedo Park unique … how how its land, water, flora, and fauna have been carefully conserved for generations, and how we should cherish and protect these gifts for future generations.”
Author and Tuxedo Park resident Chiu Yin Hempel added:
“It is a rare find – communities may have started out as beautiful, but subsequent development destroys that beauty. Tuxedo Park’s nature appears almost untouched by man, but over 100 years of community conservation-minded development, in reality, has been responsible for the village’s continued ecological health and unspoiled beauty.”
The homes of Tuxedo Park are spaced gracefully around the beautiful natural Tuxedo Lake; to the north, they are spaced around Wee Wah Lake, both surrounded by Ramapo Mountains rising up to 900 feet above sea level. The book notes that the community’s public water supply is Tuxedo Lake but that some recent development, clear-cutting for better views and road runoff, is increasingly impacting both lakes. Environmental sustainability, maintained for over a century in Tuxedo Park, must be renewed. As the book states: “Stewardship responsibility comes with living in such a historically important and ecologically rich Shangri-La…”
This is a enjoyable publication. The text is nicely written and achieves a narrative balance with the sensitive photography. Naturally, the book would be of particular interest to Tuxedo Park residents; but anyone should enjoy a peek into the natural beauty, enchanting gardens and picturesque houses in this fabled National Register of Historic Places community.
There are also two other attractive books previously published in this illustrated trilogy. Tuxedo Park: Lives, Legacies, Legends and Tuxedo Park: The Historic Houses. Tuxedo Park: The Gift of Nature and the others in the trilogy are available for purchase on Amazon.com.