A Black and White Journey Through Social Distancing

The last six weeks have been a journey through disunion. In a matter of days, we went from full, busy lives to social isolation and quiet. It is really quite a contrast. I’ve spent half of these days scratching my head with it all. If you’re like me, you’re surrounded by dichotomy on all sides.

There are the folks who think this is all a hoax. “It’s all blown out of proportion,” they say. Then, there are the people who say this pandemic is the apocalypse, and have stored up 6 months of food, purchased pallets of industrial sized toilet paper and bought up a few more guns.

At the grocery store, there are the mask wearers and the non wearers. I’ve seen everything from full plastic shields with masks to skeleton themed balaclavas to nothing.

There’s the political and the apolitical. Some think the shelter-in-place orders are a ploy to gain control and desensitize people to socialism. Others think the shelter-in-place orders were put into action too late for any real affect. Some are pulling for Bernie, some for Biden!

Disunity can be seen in the way the young and the old are responding to this virus crisis. There are the spring breakers, gathering in party hordes on Florida beaches. Then, there are the elderly who have their groceries delivered to their door step so that they don’t interact with any one in any way.

As a teacher, I’ve seen students on Zoom who are completely in for distance learning. On the other hand, I’ve seen students who cannot manage any of this and haven’t shown up or turned in a single assignment since everything locked down in mid March.

Its all too much!

Like my black and white photos, it is a study in contrasts. It is an exercise in managing shadow and light.

The overlap here is that black and white photography eliminates color so that the viewer focuses on shape and composition. That is what I’m attempting to do in the midst of this epic shift we are experiencing: to get away from the burning details and look more closely at the soft edges and silver linings of the times.

For What Ails Us

catching a fish at Longnose Creek Falls
reeling in the fish
Its a striper bass

Teeth grinding, heart palpitations, head aches, wheel gripping in traffic, sleeplessness, short tempers, and eczema. You name it! All manner of stress related symptoms have been experienced at our house this spring. Injuries, sickness, poor grades, major events, overfull schedules, mean people and fear have all contributed to the mental pressure.

What’s a mom to do in the midst of these busy and trying times?

Get finished with school and find a lake in a remote part of the state! Go there and stay until you’re bored, if you can. A healthy dose of sunshine, nature and unstructured days must be the cure.

Here, the only traffic I’ve seen is a family of Canada geese making their way to the grassy shoreline. The overfull schedules have given way to star-gazing and corn hole. Fishermen with tall cans of Bud and girthy tackle boxes have replaced the mean people.

This prescription seems to be working. My people are sleeping in, smiles have returned and the stress is melting away like an ice cream cone in the hand of a two year old on a hot May afternoon.

Up here, the lake, the fish, and the sun have been the cure for what ails us.

Slice of Life 2019: Day 6

Purple Rest

No one is here tonight;

The sky is eggplant and valentines.

Ripples of pink and black stretch toward the horizon.

Like popcorn, the waves pop the sides of the dock and

brushstrokes of salmon and grey tinge the sky like an artist’s canvas propped against the murky mountains, while a flock of geese stipple overhead in v-formation.

Soon it will be completely dark.

Wooden planks washed grey by sun and wave support my body as it lingers here.

I wish to see this picture everyday.

My son joins me in awe.

His chatter cracks the calm companionlessness of the moment,

but wanting to share, I’m glad he’s with me.

The sky smells of hope and fuel.

My pulse slows like a watch loosing its charge.

Bugs are biting now.

The purple rest has ended.

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Back When the Sun Used to Shine

December 26

I’ve been thinking about when the sun used to shine here.  Been thinking about that week of luscious weather we had a month ago. If I had known then that we’d be living in perpetual rain and clouds, I probably would’ve slept in my hammock.  Fog, warmth, light and golden leaves. Each day brought a new hue to the vegetation around us.  That last bout of sunshine, it seemed, was the last week before all the maples and oaks took their winter sleep.  Those hardwoods knew that frosty, wet days were coming and they wanted nothing to do with them.  But, we remain here… in busyness and darkness.

I’m holding onto these memories of fall…


That mellow afternoon incandescence… how magical!

Since November I’ve lost my sun glasses and rediscovered my raincoat. 

No more leaping and dancing in the golden rays.  Instead, its dashing madly from building to car to avoid bad hair and soggy shoes.

Brown and gold have given way to slate and pepper.  Sunshine has been enveloped by cloud.  Baggy eyes are the new squint.

Looking back over these photos reminds me that there’s a sun out there.  Somewhere.  Azure skies and warmth will return; thank God.  Green will replace grey and black.

The cycle will repeat and I know I will complain in August: “I’m so tired of all this dang sunshine!”

For now, though, I’m recollecting fondly those days when the sun used to shine. 

Slice of Life: Day 30

Like a pink petal which draws the honey bee to nectar, so the concrete pilings bring the captain to the center of the passage.  We approach simultaneously: train, water, boat and clouds.

Wind, current, double containers.  All come together at this intersection.

We shoot through the narrow way.

The clacking, metal on metal, is overpowered by waves and Evinrude.

On the other side,  spring, sunshine, freedom.