As I was walking along the beach, I came across this scene at hurricane devastated Huguenot Memorial Park along the St. John’s River near Jacksonville, FL. I loved that the straight line angle of the posts met with one of the wading fishermen.
Being at the right place at the right time can make all the difference for a photographer. When these fishermen brought their boat close to the recently risen sun one morning in Lakeside, Ohio, I couldn’t resist this shot. The boat and fishermen blocked the harshness of the reflection. Capturing a shadow from the silhouette of one of the men was a bonus.
“The Silhouette’s Shadow” is my Photo of the Week.
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, sunsets are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. The evening sky was hazy like the previous night’s when red, gold, and orange blazed long past sunset. I hoped for similar results this time.
My Amish neighbors had given me permission to photograph at their pond so I could catch the reflection of the sunset. Though still lovely, the sunset proved much more subtle with mauves and grays instead of vibrant, warm colors. The sky’s wispy textures made up for the more muted tones. With one of their grandsons fishing, I was able to catch this captivating scene that reminded me of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
In photography, sometimes you get more than you realize when you snap the shutter. The afternoon sun playing on a charming farmstead caught my eye. When I exited the car to take the photo, I took that picture, and a few others. It wasn’t until I looked below me that I spied these Amish youngsters fishing. They were enjoying a rare, sunny and warm afternoon in Ohio’s Amish country. I marveled at the symmetry of the shot. The ruby-colored dresses of the girls mirrored that of the faded barn. Both girls were standing, fixing their poles. The two boys sat cross-legged, lines in the pond’s calm water, patiently waiting for a bite.
My late father was a loving, loveable guy. His impulsive actions, however, often masked those admirable traits.
Combined with his affability and innate friendliness, his good intentions sometimes wrote a recipe for embarrassment if not potential disaster. Even when in the wrong, Dad would turn a negative into a positive.
Dad was definitely gung-ho about everything he did in life. With his many interests, he did a lot in his 89 years of living. He went full force, no holds barred. Dad was simply passionate about life.
If he knew this about himself, Dad certainly never acknowledged this reckless abandon approach to life as a fault. The way he lived, he had to have seen this passion as an attribute.
Dad loved sports, especially outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. He also amassed an extensive Indian artifact collection. Dad was involved in many community activities, almost always in leadership positions. The end result was that he made many friends in his lifetime.
Dad’s enthusiasm sometimes got the best of him, and others, too. The story my nephew shared at Dad’s memorial service three and half years ago pretty well summed up my father’s impulsiveness. The story is true with no hyperbole interjected.
Mom and Dad had a cabin on Clendening Lake in southeast Ohio. They loved to host friends and family as frequently as possible. My younger brother and his family attended one such outing.
A favorite activity of Dad’s was to pile everyone onto his pontoon boat for a combination cruise and fishing trip around the 14-mile long lake. The scenery was always enjoyable. The fishing on the other hand often was more bait than catch.
On this particular voyage, Dad had found a spot right across the lake from the cabin. My nephew reported that the fishing was good until my father’s impetuosity intervened.
Dad cherished interacting with people, often to the point of being late for supper or forgetting an appointment altogether. I think he invented the word “relational.”
While my brother and his family were concentrating on catching croppies, Dad noticed another boat on the opposite shore. He thought it looked like the owner of the cabin next to his.
Dad suddenly announced to his surprised passengers, “Hey, that looks like Bennett over there,” and up came the boat anchors. Lines were reeled in, and across the lake they went at full throttle.
Since Clendening isn’t a very wide lake, it didn’t take too long to reach the spot where Mr. Bennett was fishing. My nephew recalled wondering why his grandfather wasn’t decreasing the pontoon’s speed as they got closer and closer to the south shore.
Seeing the inevitable, my brother motioned for Dad to slow the boat or change coarse. He did neither.
Dad instead responded by yelling a series of “Hellos” to Mr. Bennett, who at first waved back, then tried frantically to wave Dad off.
Dad greeted his neighbor by ramming the pontoon boat into the much smaller bass boat, tipping it and its owner into the murky lake. Fortunately the water was shallow there. But all of Mr. Bennett’s rods, reels, tackle boxes and stringer sank straight to the lake’s bottom.
Dad had finally stopped the pontoon by the time Mr. Bennett had popped up soaking wet. What was my father’s first comment to Mr. Bennett after the crash? An apology? Not exactly.
Dad matter-of-factly hollered, “Hey, Bennett, are you catching anything?”
As far as I’m concerned, everyday should be Earth Day.
I got that attitude from my late parents. They weren’t environmental activists to be sure. But they appreciated nature, each in their own way. They respected the environment and taught their five children to do the same.
Dad loved to hunt and fish. As we grew up, he had each of his three sons tag along while he hunted. I don’t know why he didn’t involve our two sisters. I remember Dad once being so keen-eyed that he caught a cottontail rabbit with his bare hands. No buckshot was every fired.
When we were old enough, we joined him hunting pheasants, squirrels, rabbits and grouse. Dad saw the benefits of hunting, being outdoors, bringing home game, teaching his children about wildlife and conservation.
Since I tended to be a fair-weather sportsman, I preferred fishing. Problem was, when you went fishing with Dad, it was an all day deal no matter whether the fish were biting or not.
Dad loved to take his grandchildren on lazy cruises on his pontoon boat on his favorite fishing lake, Clendening. He would motor up Coleman’s Run to one of the many giant, sandstone outcroppings, and tie up. It didn’t matter if we caught much or not. We lounged in the warmth of the afternoon sun and the fellowship.
There was just something about being out in the fresh air, taking in the natural beauty all around. One time we even heard a black bear scratching its claws on a tree trunk.
Our gentle mother gave us a more cultured look at caring for and appreciating the earth. She was an accomplished artist, and loved painting landscapes, usually in watercolor.
Using both vibrant and soft colors, Mom perfectly captured nature in her many seasonal moods. There is a sparkling stream cutting through a dormant, snowy pasture, a gently curving country road that leads your eye past a vernal woods on the left and a Victorian farmstead on the right, and a glowing array of blazing Holmes County, Ohio fall foliage, and a thousand more.
Mom even captured Dad on canvas. He is a mere silhouette, shotgun over shoulder, walking back to their cabin, empty handed as usual. Dad admired that painting in part because his lovely wife chose him as the subject. He also loved it for the scene, a lone hunter hiking through a shaded glen, the glassy lake shimmering in the background. It certainly reflected Dad’s child-like spirit of simply enjoying the invigorating experience of nature.
As a youngster, I remember helping Dad plant hundreds of tree seedlings on a steep, abandoned farm field overlooking Clendening. Thrusting those sprigs into the loamy earth was much more than a kind act of conservation. It was a true lesson in hope.
I say that because now I enjoy the view from the porch of the cottage that the folks built. My wife and I bought and remodeled it and use it in much the same way as Mom and Dad. We enjoy sharing the same woodsy lushness, the forest creatures, the starry nights, and the quiet calm as Mom and Dad.
Just like Dad did with his children and grandchildren, I can stand on the porch, point across the lake to the grove of tall pines and tell a story about when they once fit in the palm of a young boy’s hand.
Thanks to my savvy parents, Earth Day doesn’t just happen in April.
The day after my favorite resort town, Lakeside, Ohio, ended its gated season, which was Labor Day, I began to see the place in a different light.
Like Cinderella’s carriage, the town had transformed into its natural state overnight. Streets that had bustled for weeks with pedestrians, bicycles, golf carts and motorized vehicles suddenly became quiet. Lakeside’s population had dropped faster than the stock market.
Cottages that had housed happy families all summer were now boarded up for the winter. Businesses once crowded with customers were also shuttered for the season.
Maintenance crews made their rounds undoing what they had worked so hard to ready three short months ago. They picked up the traffic and parking signs needed to control the passage on the narrow streets with limited parking.
The workers seemed to be in no hurry whatsoever. Perhaps sensing the newfound quietness themselves, they soberly went about their business, the crackling of their portable radios occasionally breaking the hushed spell.
Their pace could have been from the day’s extraordinary heat as much as it was lack of ambition. The land wind wasn’t much help, blocked by the combination of the southerly rise of the peninsula itself, the town’s closely packed cottages and buildings and the giant hardwoods that overshadowed everything.
The only relief, if there was any to be had, could be on the dock, which protrudes a football field length into Lake Erie. Normally crowded with sun worshippers, fishermen, and people just wanting to soak in the scene, I nearly had the cement pier to myself.
The afternoon sun blazed away, and the wind was fierce, but cooler than in town thanks to the lake. I faced my folding chair east away from the wind. I was glad I had.
I had taken both camera and binoculars to while away the time. I enjoyed just scanning the broad horizon that stretched from the islands to Marblehead, where a huge freighter was moored at the stone quarry.
The strong westerly wind whipped the waves furiously. Anchored fishing boats bobbed like fishing line bobbers.
Ring-billed seagulls found security from the wind in the lee of the dock. One played King on the Hill. It had landed on a slightly submerged rock, and lorded it over all the other gulls that floated in the choppy water.
High above, another bird caught my eye. An osprey sailed with the wind, searching the shallow waters near the shore for unsuspecting fish. Its mate soon joined the hunt. They circled and hovered but always wind-driven east were soon out of view even with binoculars.
I put the glasses down and quickly noticed smaller, streamlined birds dive-bombing the water. They zigged-zagged and glided, then rose up and hurled themselves into the lake like rocks, but only for a few seconds. The small flock of migrating Common and Forster’s Terns put on quite a show in filling up for the long journey south.
Suddenly the stack of the freighter let loose sooty puffs of diesel smoke. It had taken on its load and was ready to sail. Even though I was upwind and a mile away, I could hear the huge, powerful props churn the water as the massive boat slipped away.
In less than 20 minutes, it had turned northeast for deeper water, destination unknown to me. I, however, knew mine. I returned to our hospitality house for dinner, glad I had taken the time to observe Lakeside in a slower, even more peaceful mode than usual.