She was a kind and generous soul. She went the extra mile for her friends and family. Her daughter and grandchildren were the loves of her life. She is gone now, quite unexpectedly, despite a long history of health issues. She was my sister. I was in NH visiting when it happened, so I was grateful to be able to be with my niece and her family as this new reality set in. I’m back home now and settling back into my routines isn’t coming easily. It seems I just needed to say a simple goodbye to a sweet soul who asked little and gave much. She is at peace now…
These cranes are the entire reason that I started writing this blog. These pictures are from nearly 4 years ago when my camera was new to me and they can’t be improved now, they are what they are. That was the February that two sandhill crane chicks hatched right on the island in my little pond in the back yard. I watched them hatch, I watched them leave with their parents every morning, and I watched them return to the pond in the late afternoon. I saw them as one lady-like chick who stayed close to her mother, and one adventurous chick who was off on his own just a bit. Several times I saw only one chick with it’s parents and I waited to see that second chick appear. Just as I would give up hope, thinking he had gotten a little too adventurous, he would appear out of the grasses, much to my relief. He was my favorite, even though it made me feel a little guilty to realize that I felt that way. Mothers aren’t supposed to play favorites.
Every story needs some drama, and theirs certainly had that. One afternoon I watched in horror as my favorite colt, as they are known as they grow, seemed to be dragging a wing. Again he was off by himself a little way from the family, and even more horrifying was that the parents seemed to be driving him away. I was heartbroken to see him leave the pond alone, trudging up the hill, dragging that wing. But a few minutes later the rest of the family followed, a little way behind but up the hill in the same direction that he had gone. I felt so helpless to be watching this and not able to do anything about it.
So you can imagine how I worried all day at work the next day, would they return the next evening, and would there be three or four in the family? When I saw them return as a family of three I was broken hearted, and mad too. I was upset enough that I told myself that I wouldn’t take pictures that day, not of just the three of them. But then they started to dance and I couldn’t help myself, I took pictures.
That isn’t the end of the story, I’m happy to say. Several days later I saw all four of them on a lawn in the neighborhood. The wounded colt was laying down, the rest of the family nearby. I called a rescue facility and was told that if they were with him then they were taking care of him, and that was best. I seldom saw them come back to the nest in the backyard after that, not to spend the night at least, but the last time I did see them out there I saw my wounded colt spread his wings and stretch. I choose to believe that he healed, and that he would be okay. It was about that time that I happened to take a photography class on how to start a blog, something I had given no thought to before, but we left the class with the bones of a blog in our computers, and I wanted to tell their story. I had no idea that four years later I’d still be writing, that I’d have made new friends through photography, or that I’d be so okay with the twists and turns my life has taken in the last six years. But I’m grateful.
Charley was raised by his mother and grandmother to be a dentist, in the footsteps of his grandfather and his great-grandfather. He was to be a dentist as they both were, there would be no discussion, so it was lucky that he had the personality and dexterity for the job. He was born on the same date as Prince Charles, 11-14-48, but that’s not who he was named after, even though I’m pretty sure that his mother identified fairly closely with the Queen. No, he was named for his grandfather, Charles Edward Wingo, and, when questioned, his mother insisted that she never realized that he would probably be called Charley Barley.
A pet peeve of his was that dentists were commonly portrayed as bumbling idiots on TV sit-coms, I heard more than a few tirades about that over the years. But he was quite gracious when patients came into the office for their appointment one day and they had a gift for him, an Avon book, the title of which was Today’s the Day! They couldn’t wait to tell him that the main character in the book was a little piece of barley named, you guessed it, Charley Barley. Yup, roly-poly little Charley Barley blew into the book on a puff of wind, and, spoiler alert, at the end of the book he rides another puff of wind on to win the race. He appreciated the thought, even if the character wasn’t exactly a big improvement over how he thought dentists were portrayed in general. Still, there was a definite resemblance between them.
This all occurred many years ago of course, and many, many changes have taken place in my life since then. If I had been presented with the dilemma of downsizing from the house we lived in for 30 years in one fell swoop I would have agonized over what to keep and what to get rid of much more than I did. But there were three moves which have led me here to my current little spot, and each move required downsizing my possessions yet again. And yet somehow this silly little book is still here with me, forgotten on a shelf for most of the time we had it. I’m not even sure I ever read the story before. So here I am, still sorting through ‘our’ stuff with an eye to paring down some more, but for now this little gem is going back on the shelf, I’ll decide it’s fate another day…
If you grew up in my hometown with me then you recognize this place. Fifty years ago I desperately wanted to get away from home, and when I met a nice guy who was in the Navy and would would ‘take me away,’ it was too much to resist. But in the back of my mind I thought that I would somehow live there again some day, but I never did. I had no idea how much I had blown up my life by leaving. The friends and relatives that might have been part of my daily life weren’t there. As I lived those days and years I didn’t think anything was missing, I was happy, it’s only now that I am looking back at it and wondering. Because now that I am alone, and for almost the first time in my adult life, I see what I missed. And I found I really needed to reconnect to those places and people from my past. I needed to go back to square one, so to speak, in order to figure out where to go from here.
They say you can never go home again. And in truth when I was out driving in my hometown with my old friend he would ask me if I recognized where I was, and I hardly ever did. Places change. But when it comes to DW Field’s Park it hasn’t changed a bit. And that’s comforting to me. And people? They change too. But some of them treasure their own memories of the past, and lucky for me I was part of their memories also. This is the place I call up in my memory at the mention of the word home. And I, for one, really can go home again.
It’s not like I have nothing to do. It’s more like I have too much to do. So I bounce between my computer, my sewing machine, the camera, the TV, and round and round. My camera club has been having almost daily photography classes, which have been great. It would be a tease to not be able to get out to take new photos if not for the 34,000 photos sitting in my Lightroom library that I can bring up and edit according to whatever new tidbits I have picked up in the latest class.
These photos are from the first time I went to the photo walk at the Clearwater library with the group two years ago. One of my first trips with the group. At first I went to every photo walk that I could manage, as if it was going to be the one and only time that opportunity would ever exist. And most of those photo ops involved a 100-mile round trip for me, so it was a relief to realize that the photo walks repeat every few weeks. After that I paced myself a little better. I’ve long appreciated how much joining this group brought to my life once I began to recover from losing my husband. But it has never been as beneficial as it’s been during this suspension of life as we knew it. The Florida Center for Creative Photography is the name of the group. It’s a wonderful group of people and a terrific resource for learning more about photography. If you also like photography you might like to check it out.
It’s not about the flowers either. It’s about the dogs. About how living alone, but with dogs, isn’t really living alone alone at all. You talk to them, or I did anyhow. And because of them you go out for a walk and find things like a cactus covered in gorgeous white flowers. And you wonder how it is that you only just noticed them now that you are interested in photography, because you also walked the same route with the dogs for years before that was true. Walking them also led to fun exchanges with people on the street, like the guy in the convertible who stopped to say, “I didn’t think you were allowed to have livestock in Spring Hill.” He was referring to the fact that these dogs weren’t the daintiest of God’s creatures, all 250 pounds of them. And then there’s the breathing. They were out of the house for a month after my husband died, my son having taken them over while Charley was in the hospital. I kept the house dark and quiet during that time. It wasn’t a choice, I needed the solitude. I don’t know how long that would have lasted if not for the dogs. When I did bring them home to my quiet house I found myself listening to them breathe. It was as if the house had come back to life, the house was breathing, and maybe I also took a breath.
I probably wasn’t trying to hold two leashes while I took these pictures with my iPhone 7+. I used to drop the leashes and step on them if I could, but if not I’d let them go because they waited patiently for me to finish. Nope, I wasn’t ever alone when they were part of my life. I miss them.