Monday, September 21, 2009
Reframing life at 8 cents a day. Or catching fireflies on camera!
I've picked up a new habit this past summer. I keep my camera handy and try to find or make one "picture worthy moment" each day.
The idea came on several fronts.
I happened upon an aspiring photographer last year on Craigslist who would come to my house for $20 and photograph my gardens and teach me some basic points on garden photography. When she came, we sat down with my albums of yard pictures (these may even outnumber the albums of kids' pictures, but the gardens were here five years before the first kid, and I will be the first to admit to having "garden issues").
She said in almost every photo, the problem was I didn't have a "focal point". And it was a problem with my gardens too. I have plants, plants, plants, plants, plants, plants.....and need one item in each garden to stand out.
My summer days were likewise seeming a bit amorphous. There was the chocolate milk spilled then wiped up by eager helpers with my snow white hand embroidered gift towel. There were two giggling boys wrapped up in a quilt, tossed over Dad's shoulder, and delivered upstairs as "that big order of potatoes just off the truck!". There's the pee stain on the cream carpets because someone forgot to let the dog out. And when asked, so what'd you do today, I often got that deer in the headlights feeling...so what DID we do?
I have a lovely German friend who is always willing to "work" to have a memorable event. She likes to eat outdoors, even if it's a nuisance to be far from the fridge. She likes to make homemade Christmas cookies and homemade soups, and willingly puts in the time and effort to have fresh flowers and farmer's market produce on her breakfast table. I really admire this as I tend to lean a bit more toward the frozen cake and instant oatmeal at the breakfast counter for purposes of ease and time. When we're together, I see how she MAKES the magical little moments happen. And I also see how that extra bit of effort she expends is rewarded.
And as I try to make more of those moments in my own life, I find I need the photo, or too quickly forget that moment. The gift of the photo is amazing. It lets me relive the moment at the zoo or the quiet kayak ride on the lake. And sometimes the absolute beauty of Wisconsin's summer is missed by my naked eye, yet caught by the camera's lens.
There's something about knowing you're going to capture a moment for your kids to enjoy looking back to, possibly in five decades, and you want to make it a bit more special. Not special as in stressing out over perfection, but special in that you created that moment. I read in a book about Tasha Tudor that she used to build tiny wooden toy ships, light them with candles, and sail them with her kids on a pond - I'm SO not there yet, but find the thought both moving and inspirational. And yes, in the moment, maybe some of the kids were fidgety or tired, but I would guess when they look back at such a photo, a little bit of the magic must revisit them.
So at the end of each week, I go back through the week's highlights and see the good times and smiles and feel the abundance of love and beauty and joy that I sometimes don't completely experience in the moment.
Some might call this a revisionist history, after all, where are the teary fights over who gets to hold the ONE stuffed dolphin, the backseat whining as McDonald's whizzes by, the angry outbursts at the candy aisle, or the sheer boredom of a February Sunday.
On the plus side, should my kids grow up and try to blame all their idiosyncrasies on Mom, I'm fully prepared, armed with 365 photos a year.....Mr. Psychologist, "Please allow me present exhibit number one.;-)