Like clockwork, Memorial Day comes in every year steamy and hot! An early morning run would be my calm before the sticky and humid day ahead. I would gather my sure-footed Go Far troops in the morning as all they all donned their colorful shirts. It would be Go Far’s first march in the parade. Meanwhile, my husband and son would watch the mercury rise as they waited to do the Washington Trail 10k. As the parade kicked off I quickly shot some photos of the activity going on all around me. I glanced one way and saw a team of ball players. The other direction I saw a marching band getting tuned up. Over my shoulder an esteemed group of veterans waited for their well-deserved spotlight. The scene couldn’t have been painted as idyllic small town perfection any better. As the momentum of the parade swept my group up, I couldn’t have felt any more content. A program I love with all my heart and the kids that make it what it is marched with pride. Friends were in every direction so I clicked my camera shutter repetitiously. I walked down Main Street thinking that Durham was once just a town I passed through in a regular commute between Guilford to Glastonbury. In 8 short years it has become a home that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Here, we have everything we need…and may the faces in the crowd be the proof.
These photos are horribly graphic to prove a point. After reading the story and seeing the pictures, share and let's hope we don’t need a miracle to keep everyone safe on the roads.
6000 teens die in car crashes each year. It’s an avoidable number. There are a number of reasons teens die behind the wheel; alcohol, inexperience, speed and distraction probably being the biggest culprits. I am on a committee in town that's aimed at helping young people make good decisions. It’s not always easy to make the best decision. Lots of things get in the way. Good people do stupid things despite the many preventative warnings and actions. On prom weekend in a small community, it was decided that the best way to keep our kids from becoming a statistic was to create a mock car crash. Most can admit to driving down a highway at one point or another and coming upon the scene of a crash. Curiosity or voyeurism can bring some of us to slow down and have a look. Sometimes, anonymity has a way of keeping the ugliness from getting personal. But what happens when the person involved in the crash is the child of one of your close friends or the kid you grew up with, or your own kid? It’s a game changer. It struck me square in the head today as I photographed the kids and the responders who re-enacted the crash this morning. The girl in the mock crash was my neighbor’s daughter; some of the responders were friends. Although it wasn’t real, the horror of seeing people you know and care about experience such tragedy made my stomach sick. Hearing the sirens and seeing a lifeless body was enough for me to take it to heart. For the students watching, most had known the four re-enactors since preschool. Today, each and every one of the students standing on the hill thought, “that could be me”. The message was glaringly poignant. Be smart when driving. Don’t drink and drive. It’s not just a tired old phrase that you have heard a thousand times. There is clearly no excuse for it, kids and adults alike. Whether you’re driving in a prom dress or driving the minivan home from a holiday cocktail party, your actions matter. For everyone out on the road, it’s personal.
The actors, real first responders and the audience should be commended for their exemplary actions during the mock-crash.
My husband has his eyes glued to an episode of Phineas and Ferb. He begrudgingly lifts his head for a moment to see my photos of Old Sturbridge. He grabs his neck feigning a choke of torture. Face contorted, he ask why generations of New England children continue to be been dragged to the most boring place in the planet? I glare sharply at him as I begin to type this blog entry. Sometimes, even the ones we love just miss the point. A journey into Old Sturbridge brings you way back and lets you have your imagination take over. For kids, it’s a historic playground with enough distance between “living” exhibits to run amuck and be infused by the land’s simple beauty. Its characters are patient and well versed as they transform your mind without a time machine. What is most striking to me as I watched shoemakers, tinsmiths and soldiers, is that the technology back then was just as fascinating as the supercomputers of today. The intricate details of the task they set upon themselves were clearly admirable in difficulty. The human mind that brought us the Nike shoe first had to make its leather grandfather and learn all the nuances in-between. Sturbridge is an opportunity for all generations to bridge a gap between previous and modern minds so we can understand the toil, design and persistence of the people that came before us. It integral for us to understand their efforts so we can forge ahead. Every time we visit, something new is absorbed and something sticks in my mind. During today’s visit, a lesson from a school primer would be most memorable. The teacher would read “of cheerfulness” by Noah Webster, infusing into us, the benefits of a happy mind. “Is cheerfulness a virtue?” The answer follows, “It doubtless is, and a moral duty to practice it.” I look up cheerfully at my husband and suggest we soon have a family trip back to Sturbridge. He answers back, “Can I ride my bike there?" Maybe there is some hope for him after all.
Not long ago, I spoke with a photo client about what’s the best way to photograph a family. Frankly, there is no clear answer to the question, because there are so many possibilities. As a photographer, the most important thing to know is yourself. Although you are never seen in the photograph, some part of your world view shines through. Your own style is undeniable. As so many of my friends know, I may be the furthest thing for organized and uniform. I believe life is the same way. When you frame a subject, the world whirls around him or her and one sparkles within it. I like to chase that sparkle. I like the fact that the world seems to have no edges and your canvas is infinite. I do backdrop work, but I always feel a twinge of longing for what’s really beyond the curtain. Capturing a person in a unique situation captures the essence of life. I took all of these photos today in a short timeframe. As a family, we took a walk through the woods down to rocky water’s edge. Fallen trees where everywhere, there were sticks, rocks and mud to muck through. It was the furthest thing from glamorous. The group didn’t wear white shirts and matching jeans. Rather, kids were half dressed, or fully dressed in the water, No one cared a lick about their appearance. These are the photos I like to take; unassuming, unkempt, and real. When we see a photo on a wall, we like to see life’s quiddity, not a textbook version of oneself. I click the shutter as I sense the moment when the subject is realized or I feel a connection. In the candid portrait, life is better than ever.
With two boys in tow, I strolled down the sidewalk of the picturesque town of Essex, CT. Finding a good place to take a pause, I propped myself on the edge of the sidewalk. Looking to where the traditional double yellow line would be, one could see a red, white and blue line running down Main Street. We would soon see a parade of costumed fife and drummer groups slowly make their way down to the water. The thunderous clap of the drums could be felt deep within my belly. The eyes of the 10-year-old friends were glued on the costumes of the colorful soldiers. They were stepping back in time, unaware of the hints of modern life around them. It is rare these days when children can be fully transported from modern day reality. But for a moment, as they sat in front of the Old Griswold Inn, time was irrelevant. They went back to the house and picked up wooden muskets, fully willing to continue to leave the modern world behind. They would fall into the grass like wounded soldiers, get up and do it again and again. And while no mother truly enjoys war games, the boys’ instincts to defend are hard to deny. In a time when everything can be found on a screen, it's a relief to know history can still be three dimensional.With their imaginations deeply entrenched in American history, who can repudiate? We are only young for a short while. We need to let our imaginations run wild. An adult view upon the world is quite different from a child’s and they should bask in it for as long as possible. As I watched our Governor make his proclamation from the steps of the town hall, I knew they saw the figurehead differently than I may. As I left the Festival of the Burning Ships, I was glad for it’s pomp and circumstance. It took my adult mind away from its burdens, even if only for a few moments. Now, that’s one small everyday miracle I am grateful for.
Hallmark Holidays, you almost feel some sort of guilt for celebrating them. They are holiday’s that celebrate the obvious things that we love like mom or dad. Do we really need a holiday for this? Not in my experience. As I showed up at my mom’s house yesterday with a houseplant in hand, she laughed as I looked at the counter and saw flower bouquets from each of my four brothers. The only time someone gets that many flowers is when someone dies or its Mother’s Day. Here’s a secret that moms don’t tell anyone. We don’t need some special day to feel the love. We get a dose of it every day, some days more, some days less. The love a mother feels is based on how much she opens her heart to let it in. My mom taught me this. Enjoying the small experiences with your family add up to be just enough to make every day Mother’s day. Pictured are few of them. Happy Mother's Day. May today be as good as all the other ones.
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Tomorrow my son has a difficult test about bridges. Usually we sit at the kitchen table and hammer the facts into his head. The technique usually works, but thrilling it isn’t. Teaching a child to find strategies for studying can be a trying task. We’ll do everything from singing silly songs to burping letters for spelling test. After all, learning should be fun. In an era when children are accustomed to being mesmerized by screens, learning in any traditional sense of the word can be a challenge. Tonight my son grabbed the Ipad from the shelf and downloaded text+. My husband had left the Iphone on the kitchen counter after dinner. As I washed the dishes, I heard a loud ping. Checking the Iphone, I saw Peter’s message. “Hi mom”, it said as I wiped the soap off my hands. Picking it up I texted back, “Are you studying?” He told me to ask him a question. 30 minutes later, I had texted him all the questions on his study guide and he had typed in all the replies. If only Einstein had Skype or texting! I was amazed at how excited he was to study this way. It achieved the same goals as our mundane kitchen table studying routine, but in the same breath, it was wildly exciting and effective for him. Not only was he conjuring up the answers, but also in typing them, he was supporting his ability to remember the facts. For myself, this moment would be earmarked as a future solution for studying in a way that enhances his learning style. I learned that for a child that can barely sit still, the act of typing engaged him and focused him in on the subject while calming his inevitable wiggles. Afterwards, I would go upstairs and find my daughter Skype studying for her science test with a good friend. This face-to-face studying helps her nail down the facts and engages her socially (Which I know she loves). We have entered a new era. While old-fashioned “hitting-the-books” will never fall by the wayside, there is merit here to what technology is offering these days. Even Steve Job’s Apple was heading that way before he passed to soon. He was determined to bring Apple to the forefront of education. Despite his loss, the kids are picking up his vibes and running with it. Parents, if you haven’t embraced technology, you may be missing on an integral style of learning that seems to work for this generation. I dare you to let your kids embrace this new and tech-driven ordinary miracle.
Chris won his age-group in the marathon, I was happy to finish respectively.
Running is a peculiar thing, breeding euphoria and complete misery all in the time it takes to say the alphabet. The running gods have toyed with me for many years. When I’m lighter and better conditioned, a run can make me feel unencumbered and my mind runs free. I have also felt otherwise. The other side of the story likens to trying to move through quicksand or if you haven’t ever experienced that, than maybe we can compare it to Friday traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway. Maintaining my persona as an athlete has become more difficult as I age. If there is an injury, I’ve had it. If I were to tattoo a star on every body part that has had an injury, I would make a pretty cool constellation. I have learned the pitfalls of letting an injury get the better of you. When you have had an injury long enough to name it like one of your children, it’s easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Parking it on the couch with you buddies Ben and Jerry sounds like a nice option till they steal the remote. For two years I had planter fasciitis. At 40 I was going down a slide that was too steep to get back up. I decided if I were to fit into my jeans or be a true mentor to my Go Far kids, I would have to get creative and exercise with new purpose. I would have to work around the injuries and make no excuses. I would find myself at the gym trying it on like an old familiar pair of shoes. I now prioritize exercise because I love the calm I get from it. I do more than just run. I bike, swim, do tapes like Insanity and P90x, jump rope, hike the dog, lift weights; geez I’ll even vacuum if it burns a few calories. It all gets you to a better place. The struggles that come with exercise are justified by the positivity you reap. I just got home from running the Providence half-marathon. I ran injured blaming my 110-pound goliath dog for tearing my calf muscle 2 weeks ago. If felt good to race despite the fact that I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew getting to thirteen miles painless would be a stretch. At 10 miles the twang in my calf was playing like a good country song. Even as I finished with a hobble, I knew I would need to get creative again to maintain my fitness as I otherwise heal. Tomorrow is a new day and exercise will have to take on a new persona. Who knows what the fitness god’s will dictate for tomorrow? To Go Far in life, we need to explore every avenue. I am determined to do just that.
I sat waiting for the super moon for more than an hour in Providence. This is all I got, The photo power's that be had missed the boat this evening.