Take Your Camera for a Ride

150508 Hicks Sugarhouse

There was a time when I carried my camera with me everywhere I went.  You just never knew when a moment would arise.  These days I usually have my phone but the camera never seems to leave the table at home.  I’m fortunate to have a lot to photograph around where I live but there are invariably those moments as I’m driving that the light is so perfect, the situation begging and my camera is sitting on the table in the living room. Ugh.  The phone just doesn’t cut it.

Last night I was taking photographs for a dear friend.  The sun had just set over the mountain and it was the ultimate spring day.  The weather was perfect, just a slight breeze and the surroundings were defined by the noise – the decided lack of it.  Babbling brook, air flowing through surrounding pines, birds singing their evening song.  There was color everywhere.  The hundreds of shades of green mixed with some still bare earth or last fall’s leaves.  The fruit trees and forsythia showing off.  Bluets everywhere.

I don’t do photography like I used to.  Long gone are the days of proms, weddings and portraits but with that also went the urge to shoot – anything.  I try to make an effort to take photographs for this blog or Instagram but sometimes it just feels like too much effort.  It feels like I have to think too hard it seems.

When I was driving home this spot presented itself.  I heard “Stop! Just stop” in my head and I did.  I stood in the middle of the road and took a couple of frames (are they frames now?).  Got back in the car and drove home knowing that this would be a keeper.

I realized that I really need to just take my camera for a ride every so often – a little after sunset or before sunrise in the morning.  You see the most amazing things and they are quite often things that no one else sees or pays attention to.  So try it, you’ll be amazed at what happens.



Living in Two Places

130502 Back Forty Pond

I’ve lived in a few places. Work, family, friends, lovers have all taken me all over but I always have come back to Rowe.  A person I grew up with told me that this town was part of his soul, he hasn’t lived here since 1975.  I know that feeling, where you drive into a place over a familiar road not seen in a while and something happens, you feel it in your gut, that little flutter.  You know you are home.

I live in two worlds, fortunately they are close enough in distance so I can escape one for the other. Rowe

Just for my own comparison I snipped out the vital info about Rowe and Enfield.  Rowe with its 24 square miles and 393 people compared to Enfield with its 34 square miles and 44,654 people at last count. That means there is .49 acres per person in Enfield and 39.09 per person in Rowe.  No wonder I feel like I’m suffocating while I’m in CT.  That’s probably not a fair assessment but it does speak to the rural vs. urban/suburban situation I find myself in.

Enfield, CT

You will also notice the difference in temperature and dew point.  In the summer it’s a difference you notice, in the winter it’s night and day.  The growing season is at least 2 weeks ahead in Enfield.  The last frost is something we see at the end of April.  In Rowe there is nothing that goes into my garden earlier than Memorial Day – ever.

The one difference I truly notice is the quiet (and solitude).  In Enfield there is air traffic over our house close to 24 hours a day – we are on the landing path to Bradley in CT.  I think at night I can see the people sitting in their seats as they fly in for a landing.  The street we live on is very busy and we are within hearing distance of the railroad tracks where Amtrak runs during the day.  Yes, planes, trains and automobiles – the noise never ends.  Everyone is always in a hurry to get nowhere as well.  You have to be a fairly aggressive driver in this harried place.  In our spare time in Enfield we can work on the house (with our neighbors chatting us up over the fence), shop or eat at a chain restaurant.  I used to have very large perennial gardens around the house but it’s not the quiet, meditative project that it is in Rowe.  Now I look at what I can dig up and move, turning the yard back into something that can just be mowed.

When I get home to Rowe everything slows down.  The driving, the breathing, the thinking – once I arrive there is nowhere I need to be but there.  There is enough to keep me occupied for days on end without ever leaving the property.  I breathe the clean air, listen to the birds, contemplate life.  My bedroom window is open at least three seasons so I can hear the owls at night and the birds wake me up in the morning.  I can drink my cup of coffee watching the sun rise over the back forty and the mist dissipate in its heat.

I think everyone needs to find a place of peace if they are not living in it.  I think that’s why people appear to be so crazy right now or they have such health problems.  They are so far removed from the natural world that they are never grounded – at all.  The sad thing is so many never know what it’s like to be grounded in nature, they don’t understand how healing it can be.  I know people I see often that I just want to shake and say “Take an afternoon and go to a state forest and walk, breathe, listen!  Hug a tree, absorb the energy around you.”  And they would look at me with those eyes that say “You are nuts.”

Playing with Light and Structure


130906 (1)

There aren’t many times when I’m visiting a new place where I allow myself the time to see what’s around me.  I look at things but I need time to actually see them without distraction.  My visit to Fort Knox on the Penobscot river last Friday allowed me that time.  I had gone to the state park with the intention of going to the observatory at the top of the new bridge.  In order to do so you had to buy a ticket to the state park (a brilliant move on the part of the state of Maine I might add).  After making my expected trip to the top of the tower and looking at an exquisite view on a pristine, blue sky morning I began to photograph the shapes around me, not just the landscape.


The bridge is an amazing structure.  I have to admit it was shocking to see in some respects, it looks so out of place in its modern design as you come around the corner on Route 1 and it seems to appear out of nowhere.  From the river it is stunning.  The sun on the water reflecting sparkling circles on the concrete above.

I had a few hours at Fort Knox State Park and for nostalgic reasons I figured I’d take a look around the fort. Old forts anywhere were always in our vacationing itinerary when I was a kid and I remember this one being a pretty good one.  I was more than pleasantly surprised.

IMAG0936The fort is continually being restored and maintained but is a very large complex of earth, granite and brick.  And the light . . . oh, the light.  This was one of the first hallway/tunnels I walked into and it took my breath away.

IMAG0927I continued to walk through tunnels with slits for windows letting the morning sunlight in.  I thought about the thousands upon thousand of feet that had walked across these brick floors from the Revolution on.

IMAG0943It’s difficult to think of something constructed so beautifully as being fully armed in preparation for defense from attack.

130906 (2)I played with the light for a few hours and walked around really in awe.

IMAG0951This was really the highlight of my time away.  It was quiet, I saw four people while I was there. I was allowed a few hours of solitude where I could just soak in morning light on arches.  Where I could allow my mind to imagine living here in anticipation of a fight to protect what I felt was mine.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  I don’t believe a battle was ever fought here.

I can only speak for myself but photography like this is a very private, personal thing for me.  Of all the creative endeavors over the weekend this was really my favorite.  Most people around me don’t understand the need to be alone in order to be creative, to see what is in front of you.  I don’t know about you but there is just so much noise around all of the time – both visual and auditory.  Sometimes you just need to cloister yourself away in order to see, think and create.