Archive for December, 2009

Time Passes

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

It happens slowly.  So you don’t often notice it.  But every now and again you look in the mirror and there’s a moment of quiet dissonance.  Inside, you’re still that same young guy you’ve always been.  Same belief in your ability to do things.  Same yearning to go on this trip or head out on that adventure.  Same everything.

So who the hell is that fifty-something guy staring back at you?

Charis Wilson died a few weeks ago.  She was the young woman who once took up with Edward Weston, the renowned 20th-century photographer, back in the thirties.  She was 28 years his junior.  She was sexually adventurous.  And he immortalized her in a bunch of his images.

When I watched Eloquent Nude, the documentary of their relationship, I had a hard time seeing the young woman I’ve so long thought was so sensual… inside the face of that 93-year-old woman in front of the camera.

But she was in there, I’m sure.  Wondering what the hell happened.

She was a smart young woman.  And she wrote with a polished intimacy that is a pleasure, these many years later, to read.  It was her words, not Edward’s, that got him the Guggenheim grant in 1937.  And it was her descriptive passages that graced the pages of California and the West, the book chronicling their 2-year road trip to get the images allowed by that grant, and which lead to that book.

Published in 1940, it’s been out of print forever.  I found an old copy, a bit the worse for wear.

It was a very different world back then.  And, yet, you read her words and you look at his pictures and suddenly you realize… it really wasn’t that different after all.

california and the west

california and the west

page one

page one

Aftermath

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Yes, a few inches of snow is a pretty sight.  You get to appreciate all the loveliness of the snow coming down.  You get to enjoy that nice feeling of being inside with a good book, a pot of soup or chili slowly cooking in the kitchen, and the warmth of a fire in the woodstove.  And for those photographers amongst us, it provides a beautiful backdrop for some oftentimes really cool images.

And then it melts off in a few days, like any good snow should.

Two feet of snow is something else.  It, simply, is an awful lot of work.

Saturday, while it was all still coming down, Ginny and I spent several hours outside trying to keep our quarter-mile-long driveway clear.  Normally you can just run the truck up and down a few times.  But beyond about a foot, that begins to not work so well.

So out came the shovel and snowblower.

Did I mention that a quarter of a mile is an awful lot of snow to move?

Sunday dawned crystal clear, cold, and with still way too much snow on the ground.  More hours of work with shovel and snowblower.  That was the very last thing I needed, what with Christmas stuff still to do and a short-fuse deadline on a story for Sport Rider.  Oh well.  You can only script life so much.

the morning after

the morning after

clearing the driveway... more

clearing the driveway... more

I did take one little break, driving down to old-town Warrenton for a lunch of bangers and mash at Molly’s, our local Irish watering hole.

molly's

molly's

Snowstorm of the Decade

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Well, pretty close.  It was one of the top ten storms on record.  And the largest one ever to hit in December.  Somewhere between 20 and 24 inches.

That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the winter.  It’ll be frickin’ forever before I get to ride again.

But at least it happened on a Saturday.  We avoided the commute from hell.  It gives us the weekend to dig out.  And it was rather pretty.  Nice for a picture or two.

rumor of a storm

rumor of a storm

ginny snowblowing

ginny snowblowing

clearing the driveway

clearing the driveway

Loss

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

It’s not hard to imagine that somewhere there’s a broken-hearted little girl, anguished at having lost one of her special pink gloves.  Her mother or father probably tried to console her.  Probably not with a lot of success.

Alas.  So do the lessons of life proceed.  The little losses grow into larger ones.  And slowly do we learn of the impermanence of most things.

But, still, you feel sorry for that little girl, wherever she is.

Lost Glove

Lost Glove

First Snow

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

I hate winter.  I dislike the cold.  I hate having to wear a bunch of clothes.  And I find the short days – leaving in the dark and coming home in the dark during the work week – to be rather disheartening.  Mostly, I hate it because of the limits it imposes on my motorcycle riding.

Not everything is bad about it.  I like the cool, crisp days of fall.  Motorcycle riding is rarely better than when the air is clear, the leaves are turning, and you know the season is dwindling.  It’s a tad ironic that some of the best rides of the year happen even as the season is coming to a close.

Best of all, the arrival of cold weather means that hunting season is upon us – something I ever look forward to.  But that’s it.  Once hunt camp is over I’m very much ready for spring.

Alas, that’s a few months away.

There is one last thing I like about winter… snow.  As long as it’s on a weekend so it doesn’t make my already-horrendous commute even worse, there’s something very satisfying about sitting inside with the wood stove crackling away while the snow quietly piles up outside.

And so it was yesterday.  We had our first snowfall of the year.  I took a couple pictures during the day while it was coming down.  And then later at night I drove down to Warrenton and walked around old town for awhile, capturing a few images of the town in its new drapery.

It was lovely.

And now that we’ve had it, may spring hurry on!

first snow of the season

first snow of the season

house at night

house at night

warrenton courthouse

warrenton courthouse

The Wages of War

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I won’t turn this into a political statement, other than to observe that wars are rarely the righteous things that people first think they are. And wars that are prosecuted without vigor, those that are wrought with but a modicum of effort, are the worst of all. They bleed away the spirit of a society even as they consume the young men and women who are called to their cause.

And at the end of it all, what is left is the supreme sacrifice of a few, weighed against the not-to-be-bothered normalcy of the many.

There are some things we ought not have to learn again.

eternally looking

eternally looking

names on a wall

names on a wall