Our neighbors recently had us over for an evening of card games. When the late evening sun poured through their west window, my attention turned from cards to capturing this beautiful still-life portrait.
When our daughter attempted to take a selfie with her daughter, the six-year-old wouldn’t cooperate. She kept bugging out her eyes. So her mother decided to do something about it. As you can see on the smartphone screen, Carrie pretended to bite Maren in the head. We all had a good laugh.
I remember our daughter causing similar photographic mischief about the same age. I was fortunate to capture this precious moment of family fun.
I thought this photograph of family fun most appropriate for Mother’s Day. “Mother and Daughter” is my Photo of the Week.
Of all the photos I shot this day, I thought this one was the finest. With the help of Ian and his sister, Lydia, I had been leading birding field trips to their grandfather’s bank barn. Birders from near and far wanted a glimpse at some baby Barn Owls and some recently hatched Kestrel chicks.
Amish are noted for being conservationists. This family was no different. Besides the boxes for the owls and kestrels, they had several bird feeders filled with seeds for backyard birds. In addition, Ian and Lydia pointed out a Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s nest and a nest just now being constructed by Cedar Waxwings. The nests were only feet apart in the same tree in their front yard.
Across the road Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Savannah Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown Thrashers and other birds of the field sang. They put on a great show for the folks on the birding tours. Some even posed for photos, which I took advantage of.
The Barn Owls and Kestrels were “lifer” birds for several of the folks on the tours. But for me, it was this shot of Ian and Lydia during a lull between groups that I cherished the most. Since they were youngsters, I was permitted to take their photo. The relaxed poses of Ian and Lydia, and the bright colors of the shirt and dress contrasting with the barn’s white-washed siding and the darkness of the barn’s opening made “Blue and pink” my Photo of the Week.
I was fortunate to tag along with Penny Diggs and her daughter, Sandy Strouse, both of Seaford, VA, recently as they toured Ohio’s Amish country. Penny had won the Lehman’s Sweepstakes earlier in the year and chose to visit over Thanksgiving. Her prize included tours of the five businesses of the Best of Ohio’s Amish Country marketing coop group. Company owners led most of the tours. I took this photo in Kidron, OH at the conclusion of the tour of Lehman’s, led by founder, Jay Lehman, and Glenda Lehman Ervin, Vice President of Marketing for Lehman’s.
Penny didn’t leave her southern hospitality at home either. She was so excited and appreciative about winning that she brought gifts for some of Lehman’s staff.
Penny was describing all that she had experienced to an interviewer when I captured this moment. The expression in her eyes, plus the joy sparkling from her adoring daughter, was an easy pick for my Photo of the Week. “The eyes have it” indeed.
We wouldn’t have missed this birthday bash for the world. As Maren’s grandparents, we were among the chosen few to attend her fifth birthday party.
Like we needed an excuse to visit. Nana and I would gladly traverse the 350 miles across eight mountain passes between our home and our daughter’s in Virginia’s always-lovely Shenandoah Valley to attend this special event.
Unfortunately, a dubious hitchhiker volunteered to accompany us on our trip. The nice Virginia weather changed to the stuff we had left in Ohio not long after our arrival in the valley.
We weren’t going to let a little discomforting inclemency spoil our celebrative spirits, however. The blue-eyed towhead Maren would turn five regardless of the climatological elements.
The party was just what Maren ordered. You would think a five-year-old girl who loves pink would go glitzy when given the chance to help plan her own party. But no, Maren only wanted family, plus a few close neighbors.
That is exactly what she got. She was the youngest in the cozy crowd.
Surrounded by her parents, her two ornery older brothers, and her MawMaw and Nana and Poppy, a festive evening of fun began with the opening of gifts and cards. What does a preschool girl get for her birthday? Why, jewelry of course, and books, and the one gift Maren hoped to receive, a Lego Dolphin Cruise liner.
The wet weather did postpone the only outside activity planned. The breaking of the piñata had to wait until the next morning.
While the kids went to a room to assemble the multitude of plastic pieces to create the boat, the table was set, and dinner prepared. Dessert was a delicious and preciously decorated cake done by a family friend. Of course, multicolored sprinkles, including pink, speckled the creamy white icing.
A candle in the shape of the number five topped the tiered, sparkly cake. A lone, perfect flame danced atop the crooked candle until one strong puff from the five-year-old snuffed it out.
Maren and her parents posed for a photo, and then it was back to the dry dock for the kids to complete the boat building. With three young engineers, the cruise ship was assembled in record time, encouraged on by teenage neighbors. The youngsters were all smiles when the last piece snapped into place.
However, there was one remaining meaningful gift for the birthday girl. The graduate school tenant who occupies the apartment in the basement of our daughter’s home brought a rather special surprise. It seems earlier in the year Miss Maren had secretly negotiated a contract with the tenant, who wanted to raise a garden, including watermelons.
Since Maren loves watermelon, she took it upon herself to wrangle a deal that had her receiving a portion of the ripe melons. Being a good sport, the tenant, majoring in peace studies, put her lessons into practice.
As the crops grew, however, nothing more was said about sharing the watermelons. Apparently, Maren was more satisfied with sealing the deal than cashing in on it.
Maren may have forgotten about the compact, but the tenant hadn’t. The last gift presented to Maren was a miniature watermelon saved just for her.
The watermelon gift was a cool idea that warmed the congenial birthday gathering all the more. Unless it was a stowaway, I don’t think the fruity cargo made the maiden voyage of the Dolphin, however.
I felt fortunate to capture this moment between our daughter-in-law and our granddaughter. They were reviewing “spy pictures,” as the four-year-old referred to them, of Uncle Nathan, our son. Apparently, Maren convinced her aunt to use her cell phone to photograph our son and her two brothers building a Lego toy. The focused concentration on the polka dotted iPhone, coupled with their relaxed poses, really made this photo pop. The backlit blond hair didn’t hurt either.