Category Archives: equine

In my mind …

I’ve gone to Carolina.  Yes, it is true that James Taylor may have said it in a song … and yes, it is true that I spend much of my dream time there … and yes, it is true that there is no place on earth I would rather be than on the pristine, protected beaches of the Outer banks.  All true.  All real.  I have been toying with the idea for the past couple of years to take a trip there and maybe, if the chance arose, to spend another night, unnoticed of course, in an alcove in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  That is a story for another day, though.

Tonight, as I was designing custom greeting cards for requests, which I rarely do, but just felt in the mood, I came across some old photos of the Outer Banks.  There are many places I have been in my life and have enjoyed each and every one of them, but none of them have had such a hold on me as the Outer Banks of  North Carolina.  I can’t really pinpoint what it is about that little slice of land that calls to me as a siren … beckoning me to come and stay, to live and frolick in the white sand and play in the lighthouses.  It even makes me want to ride a horse on the beach and I can think of nothing I would like less than to ride a horse.  They terrify me on a level that is second only to spiders, but in that place, at that time, I would do it; and do it willingly.

There is something about the Outer Banks that seems to belong to me.  It’s not mine, not really, but in my heart, I feel that I belong there.  I feel that there is a place reserved just for me.  That sounds a bit conceited, but what, in the life of a dreamer, doesn’t.  When someone dreams about something they want so desperately, are they not at the center of the dream?  I have never been accused of having an ego and would agree with that non-accusation.  But I do have a very vivid imagination and there is nothing that I can’t conjure in my mind.  In my dreams, things always go my way, always end up as I wish they would and there is always a  very handsome, very tall, five-o-clock shadow man just waiting for me to arrive.

While dreams are fine and dandy, plans are another thing altogether.  I’m not much of a planner, but more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person.  I find great pleasure in getting in my convertible, putting the top down and simply ending up somewhere, wherever it may be.  Plans were made to be broken, deadlines were made to be missed and life was made to be lived.  It I didn’t have to work to put my daughter through college, I would have been gone already.

It always seems to perplex folks that I want to experience New Orleans in the middle of summer with the stench that comes from the heat rising from the Mississippi, but how else can I experience it in the purest sense than then.  Or to sit on a frozen lake in North Dakota in the middle of January.   Who in their right mind, unless they live there would want to do such a thing?  Me.  I want to.  Again, how else can I experience the reality?  I don’t want to be a tourist just passing through these places I dream of.  I want to be part of what makes it what it is even when it is not pleasant.  I want to experience a Minnesota Winter, a San Diego Spring, a Washington State rainy season, the miles of sunflowers in Kansas (and a tornado, if I’m lucky) and to see the whole of Texas.

Then there is Austria, Ireland, Germany, Italy and India just to name a few.  There are so many places I want to see that it is depressing to me to know that I will never be able to see them all before I die.  I care not for the big cities.  Those are a dime a dozen.  I’m for the homely places with grandmothers cooking dinner, vineyards in the moonlight, mountains beneath a veil of fog.  I am about life as it happens.  We are, none of us, all that different.  We live, we love, we dream, we hope, we aspire for something more.  I just want to see it for myself.  God willing, it will happen.  Otherwise, I will remain, for all of my life, a dreamer, with dreams that are so much bigger than my reality.  I can think of worse things than being a dreamer, however, being one with great faith in an awesome God, I look forward to seeing my dreams fulfilled.  I can wait.  I have waited.  And in the end, the reward will far outweigh the waiting.  Of that, I am certain.


A dance with shadow and light

On this past Fourth of July weekend, while many folks were out and about boating, traveling, vacationing and watching fireworks, I was walking a beat in the middle of the countryside, immersing myself in a life that I knew absolutely nothing about.  Although color and vibrancy is expected to surface on a holiday such as Independence Day, with the flag flying and fireworks blasting, there was more to what I was seeing than just color.   A wise man once told me that no photograph that is about color should be developed in black and white.  I’ve held onto that advice and have learned along the way that sometimes an image is about color…  And sometimes it’s not.  The ones I was looking for were about light and shadow and I was not disappointed.  So while the rest of the country was caught up in the celebration of freedom, I found myself caught up in the lives that live under the beauty of that freedom.  I spent the Holiday weekend with a bunch of rough, cigarette smoking, tobacco chewing men, tough, driven women, brave kids of varying ages and a myriad of horses, mules and dogs.  A small group they were, but nonetheless, an interesting bunch of people who held a common interest.  On this particular weekend, they brought their campers, horse trailers, wagons, bridles, saddles, grills, tables and vittles and set up camp.  In a flat piece of bottom land in Scott County, VA, what was just a bare place became a starting point for the week ahead.  Each day, beginning on Independence Day, the riders planned to mount their horses or mules and the wagon masters to hook their equines to their wagons and take off for the day.  There was friendship alongside friendly rivalry, but at the root, there was a love of something that bonded like glue.  Photographs can only take me so far and without the intimate knowledge of how a group of people thrive together, the story stops at the image.  When I first showed up with my camera in hand, there were, as expected, some curious glances and several “who is that” questions mouthed amongst themselves.  A close knit group who didn’t have the time or inclination to entertain outsiders, especially ones who knew little to nothing about horses or riding, they were leery of a strange woman with a camera.  I was fortunate enough to have an invitation to this event and was, after a few hours, accepted as part of the gang.  My main goal, secondary to photographing the happenings in and around the camp, was staying out of the way.  I asked questions when there was something I didn’t know, and kept my eyes open for anything that could be used to document what these people were about.  Though there was plenty of coming and going, I was drawn, not inexplicably, to the lined faces of the older men, the laughing smiles of the children and the character of the animals.  Shadows, shades, contrasts and light have always fascinated me and here, with these people, there was no shortage of real life happening right before my eyes.  No one posed for photographs or changed their habits in the event that they might find themselves caught on film.  They did what they had come to do and paid little mind to the gal with the camera around her neck.  After three days trolling the bottom field in the hot sun, I had a “tog tat” around my neck in the outline of my camera strap and a collage of photographs that reminded me, as I developed the RAW files in Lightroom, why it is that I so love being a photographer.  In each face, line, smile, grimace, frown and laugh, there was evidence of a Creator who is able to take the same features and make them different millions of times over.  I am thankful for the opportunity to, for just a little while in a span of time, be a part of something that previously had been foreign to me.  These people work hard, live hard and play hard.  They have lives outside of the wagon train, but for this stretch of days, they come together to share what they love.  And this time, I was allowed to be a part of it.  So to those who made these images possible by doing what they do and being what they are, I am grateful, for without a subject, be it human, animal or nature, a photographer is just a person with a gadget hanging around their neck. I don’t want to sit by as life happens around me and let lessons that I could have learned pass me by.  I don’t want to regret not learning what makes people tick, what makes them laugh or cry and what makes them want to work so hard to accomplish something.  I don’t want to let the colors in the world blind me to the brilliance of shadow and light.  I want to be more than just a gadget rack.