My son had an "aha" moment yesterday. He got his first pair of glasses. In his first minutes with them he kept flipping them on and off…" I can see, now I cant... I can see, now I can't". The optical technician sat chuckling as she watched him do this. Finally he looked up at me like he was seeing me for the fist time. With a look of surprise, he exclaimed, "My mom looks like Medusa!" Hmmmm….Maybe I should have let him stay blind.
I dropped off my husband and his parents at the starting line. The sky wasn't looking very promising and I knew they had a long day ahead of them. Together they would combine their efforts and cover 60 miles on the roads of Martha's Vineyard. My task was much easier. The next 4 hours belonged to me and only me. I had a car, a camera, music on the radio, and the excitement of a solitary adventure ahead. I usually live for the people I am surrounded by, but this would be a welcome walk alone. Knowing nothing of this island, I drove down the first road that caught my eye. The rain came early on, then sleet. Despite this, I wouldn't let it stop my camera from playing in a new playground surrounded by sands. Leroy Brown came on the radio and the volume immediately went up. When the first notes of the song were played on the radio, it's as if the car suddenly charted it own course. I headed down one single lane road after another, each bringing it's own little treasure at it end. The rain came down steadily now and I was happily lost in my thoughts. There were lighthouses, barns, textures and vistas at every turn, everything a photographer or at least this human needs. It was four hours to renew myself as my husband did the same on his own terms. It was the perfect date knowing that both of us were in our happiest of elements simultaneously. I missed the quintessential jewel of the island, the gingerbread homes of Oak Bluffs, as time and the weather ended my get-a-way. Good thing, it gives me a reason to return.
I had a date with my camera this morning. After all, it was Valentines Day. Venturing to my usual rural hangouts, I decided that my photos could use a prop. After a quick stop, my friend Kim set me up with a few red hearts and off I went looking for some rural love. It's always fun to revisit places I have been a hundred times with a whole new purpose. Changing up the focal point of scenes permanently ensconced in my head is always a welcome change. Kim, I did my best to clean the cow kisses off the hearts before I returned them. Happy Valentines Day from Durham and Middelfield, two towns easy to love.
It’s my last official year of doing my kid’s Valentine photos. Next year, Pete won’t be handing them out to his friends at school. No longer will he make a Valentine mailbox out of construction paper and doilies and come home thrilled to see how many Fun Dip’s he received. Despite this, I‘ll still beg him to let me make them and hopefully he'll oblidge. I think he already knows that creating memorable images of he and Kate is one of my life's most simple joys (even if getting the shot isn’t always so simple). I am fortunate because everyday there is love. I have two great kids. I have a teenager who I still love and who seems to still loves me and a son who loves everything about his existence (except for math perhaps) …and things are pretty good with the husband too, who opened the Visa bill today and is still talking to me. Now that’s love if I've ever heard it. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!.
Beyond the obligatory photos of my kids playing in the snow, the first place I usually head to with my camera after a snowfall is a farm. Yesterday, with this intention, I put my winter gear on and out I went. But yesterday was different. A phone call from Michael, Patch's editor, would have me heading to a farm for a different reason all together. A barn full of animals had partially collapsed. I headed up Jackson Hill Road with a sinking feeling. Having photographed this farm many times before today, I new it well.
Looming up the hill, flashing lights sent the message that something wasn’t right. A day that should have been defined by spectacular winter views was tarnished by misfortune. I ventured towards the barn with a heavy heart.
I could hear the boisterous murmur of a backhoe as it moved sheets of twisted roofing metal from the ground. A full-scale rescue effort was in full swing. Men and women from Middlefield Fire and Rescue were moving pieces of splintered lumber and debris. Strangely, the right side of the barn was fully in tact as the animals routinely went about their day. On the opposite side of the barn, a tragic story was unfolding. I could see four animals in the debris. Rescue workers dug with shovels and their hands trying to get to the trapped animals. Too make it ever more heart breaking; one of the trapped cows would periodically let out a large bellow as she let them know her pain.
I didn’t see any tears from anyone, which helped keep my emotions in check. They worked with purpose. They were trying to save lives. I knew my purpose. It wasn’t to record a rescue, but to capture the emotions of the rescue. I could see the animals that had already been brought out of harms way. Cows covered in lacerations were brought to the milking room in an effort to relieve their discomfort. The delicate operation of moving rubble and snow continued around the animals.
Soon members of DART (The Durham Animal Rescue Team) came in with large boxes full of blankets and medical supplies. They got right to work. Painstakingly the rescuers would get straps underneath the animals to try to lift them from their entrapments. They would support the animals’ heads throughout the ordeal. It hardly seemed any different from the way they would work with human rescue victims. As each animal emerged, it was clear by their inability to stand, that some cows wouldn’t make it.
Throughout their efforts I closely watched the faces of the rescue workers. Resolved and determined, they worked in unison. Some seemed to lead, while others provided the essential hands needed to get the job done. It was cold; despite this, a woman from DART pulled off her gloves to get the dexterity she needed to administer meds. The scenery had familiar faces. In firefighter gear, I recognized local farmers that I often see at rural sites. This could have been their farm and you could see the purpose in their eyes. Throughout the whole ordeal the rescuers' compassion was apparent in simple gestures of touch and quiet words of encouragement.
From the hill I could now see the Durham Rescue team descend into the scene. Momentum had shifted and things were moving more quickly now. The rescue would continue into the evening.
I returned home to kids playfully jumping off of snow banks, a stark difference to where I had just been. I knew the rescue efforts would be ongoing and realized that the first responders would be missing dinners with their families and playtime in the snow. We owe a great debt to the people who do jobs like theirs.
Early this morning, I received a text from Margret, the manager of the farm. A calf had been born that she aptly named Faith. Somehow along with death, new life emerged. It’s my hope that the rescuers and farmers who witnessed yesterday’s losses can have some hope and solace in the early morning delivery. Maybe it’s inherent in the job, but a rescuer knows life’s value because they have seen it stolen away too often. The next time you see a first responder be sure to thank them for what they do.
The newborn get's a kiss from mom.
I haven’t seen a day like this since I was a little kid in 1978. Today can only be defined as surreal. Surreal days seem somewhat difficult to find the words to describe. Sometimes a picture tells a better story. (Sharon, these pics are for you)
People collect lots of things. I was never a big collector, at least not one who collected anything of great value. Until recently I had nothing that would constitute a collection except for my set of Smurfs that I faithfully collected with my grandmother throughout my entire childhood. They still sit up in the attic in my Snoopy suitcase waiting for a human to appreciate them as I did. If my Smurf collection still sits up in my attic, can you imagine the treasures that lay in the shadows of the eves of so many of our homes? Priceless treasures abound! About a year ago, I was in a dollar store and a little plastic solar flower caught my eye. Its cute little white flower rocked back and forth on a hidden pendulum. In an instant, I was in love. Excitedly, I purchased one and brought it home to my husband. For a guy that endures many days seeing no daylight in the hospital, he was immediately enamored by it. Who says that everything made in China has no value? The plastic flower would happily rock back and forth even during the lackluster winter days transforming a day from blah to voila! Now, whenever I found myself trapped in a dollar store (usually with my kids buying candy), my eye scouts the place for more solar wobblers. In my recent travels, I have come across a hula girl and a snowman. They say opposites attract and I put them together for the perfect juxtaposition that they are. Each morning as the sun reaches a certain angle, my collection starts dancing and waving like their saying, “Hey everyone life is really great, lets party!" Just yesterday, I found a solar monkey that waves a banana; soon to be my husband’s Valentine gift. One can never say a collection is complete, but these little oddities make life feel like it is.