Friday, July 27, 2012

Moments of Repose

Our niece and her husband and their two young children were here from Montana visiting us recently and I’m afraid that I burned more than my fair share of the planet’s digital pixels, taking photographs of the sweet munchkins.

Leah and I were also reminded of the wisdom of Mother Nature’s grand plan for perpetuation of our species (IE: that the baby-delivering Stork drops bundles of joy on the front porches of couples in their 20’s and 30’s, not in their late 50’s.)

The humbling truth is that no matter how fit I like to think I am (and I am a runner, and a cyclist, and a sometimes-mountain-climber,) the fact of the matter is that I would be hard-pressed to keep up with a kiddo, once he/she learns to walk. Leah and I watched in chagrined amazement as, first thing in the morning, our kid visitors hit the ground running...and the young-uns kept moving, and chattering, and go-go-going till story/bath/bed time in the evening.

Endurance athletes that we’ll see performing at the highest levels of sport during the upcoming Olympic Games have nothing on a two or five-year-old.

It could be said that I bailed on even trying to make action pictures of our young visitors, opting instead to look for photographic moments -- rare moments, I might say -- when the kiddos paused, in sweet repose. I would record the lull in the visual action, but soon -- like THAT! -- the whirling-dervish munchkins would be off again, on the move.

I suppose it'll sound like the runner/cyclist in me is being kind of defensive, but I would like to add this: It pumped up my deflated athletic ego to see that, by the end of the day, even the young parents were tuckered out.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seeing Humanity

I woke this morning after a quiet, peaceful night’s sleep in a comfy bed. Leah had already gotten up, and I guessed that she was out doing morning barn chores. Birds were singing outside our bedroom window, and, other than that, there was...silence.

All this was so very different than the weekend Leah and I just returned from in Oregon, where we attended the frenetic, crazy, teeming-with-humanity happening known as Oregon Country Fair. We spent three nights in a tent at Fair, camped in a field with hundreds, perhaps thousands of other Fair-goers. And though folks we met were friendly and kind, one does not go to an event like Oregon Country Fair looking for solitude or a wilderness-like camping experience, which is my norm when I sleep in a tent. Rather, one goes to Fair to be part of a community: To mingle, meet, and hang out with others.

It’s taken me several years to finally “get” Oregon Country Fair. This is the third year I have attended -- Fair has been held now for 43 years, and the photographer in me was initially drawn there by the knock-you-over visual appeal of the event -- but this year, finally, I think I learned to embrace Fair as more than just a cool place to go to take photographs.

Fair is held in a beautiful, wooded area, with numerous performance stages and food and craft booths nestled in the trees. There is live music and performance art going on all day and into the night, and there is a 60’s kind of vibe that, to me at least, feels sweet and genuine.

And, yes, Oregon Country Fair is certainly a visual happening. I shot so many pictures I like, it’s hard for me to edit my selects down to create a post that won’t clog the Internet.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Simple Gifts

The folks whose small farm is behind ours called the other night to invite Leah and me over to see a hummingbird nest they’ve discovered in a tree on their property. I like it when things like this happen. The neighbors might have called and invited us over for a special dinner, or to watch a movie with them on TV, and that would have been nice. But that they called to share something simple like birds nesting in their tree...well, to my way of thinking, that is about as good as neighborliness gets.

Several days later, Leah and I had house guests and they asked me to take them on a hike. I called my friend, Tim, who lives here in town and, like me, is an outdoor guy. I invited Tim to come along on the hike, and Tim brought two of his friends, a human and a dog. We all piled into Tim’s truck and headed to the Olympic Mountains where we did a cool hike on a perfect day in the most amazingly beautiful setting, you’d think we were walking through some computer-generated movie landscape that couldn’t actually be real.

Simple gifts, these: Good neighbors; a fine hike on a picture-postcard summer day.

Thanks for coming along.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Better Than You

You can think all the good thoughts you want about the Fourth of July parade in the town where you happen to live, but the actual truth of the matter is this: My town has the BEST Fourth of July parade in ALL OF AMERICA!!!

If you don’t believe me, I offer the photographic evidence you see here on this not-so-humble post.

The parade in my town is the sweetest, the most patriotic, the most colorful, and the most American.

I might add that the beauty queens riding in convertible cars in my town’s parade are also FAR prettier than those in your town.

No offense or anything, but the parade where I live just beats your parade, hands-down...

and I hate to brag, but the Fourth of July picnic at my place is probably better than yours too.

Monday, July 2, 2012


For some reason I’ve been thinking lately about the character Lenny in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” It was way back in high school that I first read the book (you too?) but my recollection is that Lenny was a simple fellow, a bit of slow of mind, but he had a good, kind heart.

I guess Lenny has been in my head because his dream was to find a place where he and his buddy, George, could settle down and “live off the fat of the land,” something Leah and I seem to be doing quite naturally. Our garden is going gangbusters, producing strawberries and salad greens and amazing fresh herbs, and what we don’t grow ourselves we can often get in trade from our neighbors.

I think Lenny would like it here.

We trade for fresh, raw milk, and Leah has been making cheeses that were SO amazing I just had to photograph them (the cheeses in the picture are smoked, dill, and pepper.) The smoking set-up Leah fashioned using a metal garbage can, wood chips, and a soldering iron as a source of heat, was the epitome of functional simplicity.

A couple of the other personal diary pictures I shot this week also seem to chronicle -- and perhaps even honor -- this Lenny-esque ideal of living off the land: The image I did of a small fence that Leah made from windfall sticks she wove together, the fence protecting one of her flower gardens. And then there was a picture I made of the neighbor horse, Rusty, face-deep in the yellow wildflowers he was munching. Our horse friend too was finding sustenance from the fat of the land.