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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

When Blossoms Fade


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Two Shots for Dawn


My friend Dawn loves to photograph barns, so when I saw this one (was it in Illinois or Indiana?), I had to stop and shoot it for her. I like asymmetry myself but tried another more conventional shot. Too bad my horizon line isn't straight on this second one. 

But now I have to try the first one again, in starker black and white. How's that, Dawn? What would you do?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Pictures for You, My Love

Historical Louisiana, Missouri

My dearest David, 


Do you remember that time we crossed the Mississippi river from the town of Louisiana, Missouri, over an old iron bridge to Illinois? I was driving (unusual in itself back then), and when that old bridge loomed ahead, so very frighteningly narrow it looked! that I could not glance right or left but could only think about getting over safely, as quickly as possible. You would have liked to explore the town but said we would do it another time. Time, however, ran out for us. And so on my first solo drive across the country, 2,000 miles from Arizona to Michigan with a lively, challenging puppy as my companion, I decided to see the town of Louisiana, Missouri, for both of us, for you and for me.


Oh, my goodness! There was much more than I had anticipated! Remember when we explored Hannibal? Louisiana has only maybe one-sixth the population of Hannibal and of course lacks the Mark Twain connection, but it was obviously once a very wealthy, important, and thriving community. The civic and commercial buildings, as well as the many elaborate houses, attest to that history. I thought several times of your love of symmetry, whenever I saw examples of it in beautiful buildings, especially the most simply elegant.


But it wasn’t only the grand that I took note of for the two of us, because we always had an eye, each of us, for small, simple, even hidden-away treasures in the places we explored. 

Wandering around, then, willy-nilly, growing giddier all the time, I stumbled on the old high school and the old hospital...

...and also found many modestly small houses that spoke to an early history. 


Now, looking back, I find an online slide show of the town’s history. It focuses mostly on downtown commercial buildings, rather than on homes (I have photographed both for you), but the musical background and the visual comparisons over the decades are poignant, are they not? “Reflections of time,” indeed! These days -- more than ever, now that you are gone -- I reflect continually on the passage of time and the passing of individuals and eras. You will also see the old iron bridge among the images in the slide show. The past, after all, persists in the present, in community as well as individual memories and in material culture.


Well, my darling, I kept turning corners and going around blocks and driving farther and farther from U.S. 54 as scenes beckoned me onward, because once I had the idea of seeing the town for you, as well as for myself, I couldn’t stop looking and trying to record what I saw. “I’m a very visual person,” you would often remind me, and so there I was, caught up in an impossible quest, trying to be the “visual person” for the two of us. But what can I say? You are in my heart every minute and every mile….

I did have one brief, strange encounter. Standing back to get an entire downtown building in my camera’s viewfinder, I stopped to express amazement at what I was seeing to a young man getting out of his car. “You live here?” I asked. He responded, “Louisiana? Yeah. And I’d trade all this” – he waved his hand to encompass everything in sight – “for one McDonald’s.”


Can you believe it? My immediate thought was that there was no need whatsoever for him to wish for that impossible “trade,” when all he had to do was move to some other town, anywhere in the country! What kept him there, if he despised the town so? And could he have been serious? He would “trade” the unique and irreplaceable for the utterly mundane and ubiquitous? And then I thought, of course, of the conversation you and I would have had as we drove on from that encounter and how we would have remembered our time in France and the way Europeans treasure their history rather than wishing it away or actually tearing it down. We would also have hatched various schemes for bringing livelier times back to Louisiana, filling the beautiful buildings with attractions to invite visitors to come, explore, and hang around a while, because that was a frequent theme in our cross-country conversations – the potential in neglected and overlooked corners of America.

So much potential!

I’m not sure how long I wandered excitedly around Louisiana, but eventually it was time to move on, time to cross the Mississippi to Illinois again -- and there I was in for a shock. The old bridge was gone! In its place was a new, sleek, easy concrete span, not frightening in any way -- not frightening, but it made me burst into tears. I wanted the old, scary bridge! I wanted it to be the way it was! And I realized that what I wanted was -- of course! -- I wanted back that day with you! How many times in the course of my drive from Arizona to Illinois (Illinois to Michigan yet ahead) have I remembered the way you complimented my driving on our way from your cousin Jim’s place back to Dos Cabezas after that surgery in Phoenix? And I think now that if you could see me on the road, you would be confident of my ability to handle the trip, and you would also be glad that I have that little obstreperous puppy, Sunny Juliet, to make me smile and even laugh once in a while. 

We are doing our best, sweetheart. I am doing as well as I can, missing you so much. The puppy, never having met you, doesn’t know what she’s missing, so it’s easier for her. But we are doing our best. And I will keep looking at the beautiful world for both of us as long as I live. 


Monday, April 25, 2022

A Mountain Day to Remember


It was my friend's birthday. To make the day special, she wanted us to hike in the Chiricahuas with Sunny. I was apprehensive. If we hiked a trail where Sunny would need to be on a leash (the first option under consideration), I foresaw misery for all three of us. So under a revised plan, we went to a remote area where the puppy could run free.

The first big excitement was a sighting of a coatimundi! You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it and then zoom in, but the coati is pretty much in the middle of the shot. My friend said this is a good viewing distance for coati, because they have very big claws, and we would not want the puppy to tangle with one.

Little One didn't usually get this far ahead of us, and she was good about coming back when called. She was also pretty good -- except for one time -- about staying away from the edges when warned, and the time she wasn't careful she managed to scramble back up again.

It was glorious to be among giant trees, walking in their shade. It was heavenly to hear the wind soughing in the soft-needled branches of Ponderosa pines. From the road end forward, the old roadbed, abandoned and eroded by rains, was as boulder-strewn and rocky as a creek bed. And there by its side was an apple tree in bloom, perhaps planted years ago when there was a Methodist church camp on the site.

Other plants were blossoming, also. Chokecherry I recognized, but the flowering shrub (one I'd also seen the day I crossed the mountains alone over Onion Saddle) is one whose name I don't know.

Trees, trees, trees! As a long-time Midwesterner (albeit one born on the Great Plains), I find my heart swelling whenever I encounter large trees in the desert. The mountains, of course, are the place to find trees. Besides the pines, there were alligator juniper and Arizona sycamores galore.

And then, oh then! Running water! This, not the old roadbed, was the creek, and there was a flowing trickle through the rocks. Sunny loved it! Wish I had a video clip of her running back and forth, splashing like a little kid in a rain puddle!

But what were those strange, blobby, dark green bits of -- plant life? A question to pursue....

Besides trees and water, of course, there were mountain views.

And all manner of fascinating rocks close at hand to examine at our leisure. Would I really be a geologist in another life? Could I be a cowgirl and a geologist?

And what treasure did Sunny Juliet find? Yes, it was! A deer leg! She trotted proudly back to show it to us but wisely decided (yes, on her own) to leave it for some other lucky animal to discover.

We were almost back to the car when Sunny threatened to go on strike. No, we told her, no one is going to carry you. You can sleep in the car!

Oh, all right! (She must have sensed that the hike was near its end.)

The important thing is that my puppy did not ruin the day. Far from it. Her joy increased ours in that heavenly setting, and we will take her again to hike other forgotten mountain roads, because we saw a couple that looked very inviting. Although those hikes may have to wait until next winter.