This photo is both the calm after, and the calm before, the storm. I was recently in New York City for a long weekend. (Contrary to what you may have heard, it was not the End Times as far as I saw. Things were more expensive, yes. But otherwise it was the NYC I recall from my last visit.) This photo is from late at night, shortly after some thunderstorms had passed over. And it was the night before I did a bunch of volunteering to help with an event on a rooftop on the lower east side.
Sometimes I take photographs, but usually not many.
I flipped over the way I think about taking photographs: I only take a photograph if I have a plan for doing something with it. When I took these, I was thinking that they would be good to share as a blog post—if you’re far away from Watkins Glen, you’d enjoy a bit of a virtual visit. I’ll also capture a photograph if I know someone would appreciate receiving it; at someone’s 90th birthday party, I corralled 50 people into a group photo—and then had it large-format printed, framed and delivered as a gift. …and I printed smaller copies for others, and one is framed and hanging in our house. I’ve set up multiple digital photo-frames, to which images are added by my emailing them to special addresses. The one in my sight has 500+ images that span my photography as well as selections from my father’s vast slide-film collection. There’s an enormous collection on my blog in the Photos category posts, and the best-of-the-best are on my featured photography page.
I have vast processes for everything related to my images. Custom software for managing them in archives, including automagic duplication and checksumming to protect against data degradation. (Hint: A backup of a corrupted image is also corrupted.) I have backups to the “cloud.” I have a recurring “maintenance” todo item that prompts me to go through the photos I’ve taken and move them through all my processes.
And I’m fully aware, that shortly after I die, this small eddy of organization where I’m pushing away entropy will be swept away. That’s precisely why I work so hard (although not actually that often) at doing something with the images.
Wherever you go, there you are. But I think Marcus Aurelius’s two-millenia-old version is better. The tranquility is to be found within.
What I like—if you ask me, which I know you didn’t—about going to the beach is the very fact that precious few of my normal behaviors are even possible. The photo above was taken just after sunrise, (that’s the Atlantic Ocean,) during a micro-getaway to a beach campsite. It was hot; cool enough to sleep though. It was vault toilets and cold showers in semi-enclosed stalls with no electricity, (I mean no lighting for the “bathrooms” and “showers”,) and there were plenty of biting bugs in the campsite and on the beach. Everything takes longer when camping; “bathing” and changing and preparing meals and even trying to do a little bit of morning mediation and reading. There’s nothing to do either. You can sit at the camp site or sit at the beach or go for a walk.
And all of that is exactly the point. Is exactly the thing I like about going to the beach. When I go there, there I am and there is nothing else.
About a month ago, I was lamenting the loss of some of my Movement mojo. After some soul-searching, we started with a simple change: Rather than waiting for movement to happen as a part of our day, we began asking a simple question, every day:
“What are we doing tomorrow?”
For fun, we set this chalkboard-wall up to encourage activity and to let us savor the decreasing number of days to American Rendezvous, a Parkour event held in Somerville, just across the Charles River from Boston.
These small “Skipper” butterflies aren’t particularly rare, but I don’t believe I’ve ever noticed them before this season. On the other hand, I do spend a lot of time working at the table—the end of which is in the photo. And this year, in the bed adjacent, Tracy planted two plants about which all pollinators are passionate. It’s an unending air show of Lepidoptera and Apoidea.
Sitting on the patio one morning, in the cool humidity and calm air of what was going to be a blazing-hot summer day, this single down feather drifted down. It skimmed along the tabletop and disappeared off the edge taunting me to chase it.