Dave + Mary

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A little over a month ago I had the opportunity to get together with one of my best friends and his best friend to share an afternoon commemorating (if belatedly and unofficially) the fact that he had asked her to marry him — and she had said yes. The first time I met Mary, incidentally, was mere hours after Dave had proposed. “Hi, I’m Mary…” she beamed, and as I reached to shake her hand, she showed me the other one, one finger brightly ringed, adding, “…Dave’s fiancée.”

Time passed, and as the wedding plans fell together Dave asked if I wouldn’t mind breaking my de facto retirement and taking some pre-wedding pictures of the two of them. Weather threatened to upset us, as did my being under the weather, but our last chance finally came and wouldn’t you know, it was a pretty beautiful afternoon. Windy as all get-out, and cloudy at times (which played havoc with my rusty ISO-adjusting skills), but beautiful nonetheless. And so we set out down the abandoned train tracks behind the Lates home, my hands occupied with my camera bag, their hands occupied with each others’.

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We decided early on to avoid, as much as possible, being terribly cliché. There were some things which just wouldn’t work with these two, you know?

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…yeah.

I made it clear up front: I don’t really know what I’m doing. If I try to manufacture anything it’ll look forced. Just act like I’m not here. Easier said than done, of course. But so it went, and I’d like to think they’ll be happy with at least a few of ’em. We tried a variety of locations, and the common theme seemed to be trees:

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…trees standing over lakes…

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…trees on their sides…

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…trees turned to railroad ties.

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There was a little obligatory ring-gazing…

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…but only a little.

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Over the course of the “shoot,” if you can call it that, we put together a couple brief narratives through sequential shots.

The first was the closest I came to trying to make something metaphorical of our environment. Stumbling through life, most of us wish we had a helping hand, a little stability to help us when balancing everything becomes tricky. Support:

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Of course, like I said, we were out on abandoned train tracks. Somewhere along the tracks an impotent sign ordered us away, leaving its jurisdiction and enforceability to the imagination. And to think, had we listened, none of these pictures would exist. Dave & Mary showed the sign what they thought of being told No Trespassing:

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At some point I jokingly reminded them to act naturally. “I mean, honestly, if I weren’t here, would you really spend half the time just silently staring lovingly into one another’s eyes?”

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“Actually, yes.”

And that was the truth of it. Uninterrupted by my suggestions and occasional directions, they spent a lot of time just looking really happy to be together. And it was beautiful. Humbling. I know I’m sort of expected to say it was an honor to be invited to be part of this, to be asked to, but I say that — that it was an honor — not out of a sense of obligation but rather unbridled honesty. Dave, Mary: thank you. I’m truly honored to have been asked along to share in your afternoon.

(now go check out all the pictures here ^_^)

L’écureuil

Occasionally when our family is too lazy to properly remove trash bags from the kitchen to the garage, we’ll toss the bag out on the back deck where it remains until the next trip to the local transfer station. Usually these bags remain unmolested, but as winter draws nigh and food becomes scarce the animals have become a little more audacious. Particularly the squirrels.

A couple days ago I looked outside and noticed several squirrels doing their best to move a bag ten times their size. They neatly picked it apart, and began to retrieve old pieces of bread from it. That’s all they wanted: bread. In an effort to minimize cleanup I threw some old popcorn out to them, but it wasn’t long before they’d sniffed at the yellow clusters and unpopped kernels, shrugged (okay maybe not), and returned to tearing up the garbage.

Later that day the trash was cleaned up and removed, but I’d so enjoyed watching them out there that I went ahead and gathered all the old and unwanted cereal in our cabinets and poured them into a container, from which I have been distributing daily portions onto the deck in hopes of catching them on film. Today I succeeded. I only took a handful of shots (because frankly there are only so many ways to take a picture through a window), but I figured I’d share them.

Planning his next move…
Old Cap’n Crunch seems to be the favorite.
Their paws are rather extraordinary to look at.

Anyhow, I’d about given up on anything more interesting, when the squirrel made its way right up near the sliding glass door. I cautiously moved to the floor to get a close-up, but was dismayed to discover that (likely due to my dog) it wasn’t clean. The couple images I got were too blurred to be worth posting. I shifted over to another, clearer panel, but he’d already worked his way back toward the deck and his back was to me. So I tapped the glass, thinking maybe, just maybe, he’d come back. He didn’t run. He didn’t even stop eating. All he did was throw me a glance over his shoulder.

By far, one of my favorite photos.

Eventually, the squirrel left. A couple more came by, and every so often they’d take a peek inside the house. They’ve been doing this for awhile now, at the back window, the front storm door, and yesterday there were even a few clamoring on the skylight. I’ve yet to get the exact image I’m hoping for, but here’s an example of one of the little guys looking in:

And what with the snow, I’m tempted to open the door.

Anyhow, I’ll post any future photos to Facebook, but I thought perhaps someone out there would get a kick out of these guys. Most people give very little thought to squirrels because they’re ubiquitous, but I never cease to be fascinated by them.

I leave you with this parting image of my dog, who sits really weirdly:

No but really, those hind legs.