Posted by: JDM..... | April 22, 2014

The Picture not Taken.….

The adage advises that a picture is worth a thousand words, or some variation thereof, but what of those poignant moments that occur so unexpectedly and briefly that they can only be recorded in one’s mind? Who has not pleaded to nobody in particular that if they only had a camera…..?

And then, there are those moments when, though an event or circumstance may be so arresting as to demand preservation, the distant whisper of a dying ethic reminds that this one, for whatever reason, may not warrant brazenness. These vary in nature. Perhaps it is a private moment, and should be respected as such. Perhaps simply snapping a photo because one can would be especially crass or inappropriate. Unless one is a paparazzi and the only warning to be heeded is when one is about to be shot, there is always an element of judgment involved when one chooses to step outside of the realm of stiff family “snap-shots”, birthday parties, and Uncle Pete having a few too many at the family picnic.

I thought of that this morning as I left my driveway and aimed the Buick towards the road to town on an errand. Many years have passed since my tenure as a small town editor and wanna-be AP/UPI “stringer” (though I did manage to sell a few), but the rules of the road remain embedded in my memory, springing to life whenever I head out the door on a mission with my camera. These days, my subject matter is rather benign. Seeking that Nobel view from a rooftop or tree being generally off limits at my age, I tend to specialize in redundant sunsets and pet shenanigans. My eye doesn’t know retirement, however, and from time to time I encounter one of those moments.

As I drove down our quiet street, my neighbor was doing what we all do when the snow pulls back enough to reveal the annual moraine to be dealt with. She was raking her yard and clearing her flower beds in preparation for more detailed attention.

The story gains weight if one knows a bit more about this lady, so I will digress for a moment to provide some caricature. I’ll call her “Jane”. “Jane” appears to be my age, give or take, and she epitomizes the image of the country woman who doesn’t know the meaning of “can’t”. Every spring she turns the better part of her back yard into a prolific garden which she labors in daily for the next five or six months until, once it has all been harvested and the leavings converted to compost, she turns her attention to stacking the several cords of wood that will warm her home through the coming winter. She does not stop, in spite of appearing to suffer some of the unfortunate restrictions of advancing age.

So it wasn’t really unusual to see Jane out there bulling through it.

Except, she was doing it from a wheelchair.

I would not have taken that picture, at least not without her permission. It was poignant, it was moving, it was inspiring, and it was a thousand words that no picture could rival.

Some day, maybe I’ll thank her.

 

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