Black White & Brown » Where we stop and smell the roses for you

Sunman home 2

Sunman Field

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Sunman abandoned barn

Sunman other house

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cow

What a trip this was. I have traveled throughout New England, across Europe, to the west coast, to the south coast, but this was completely different. It began with a quick flight from TF Green in Providence to Chicago and then Indianapolis. We met a friend for lunch and then were picked up by my beau’s parents. Did I mention this was my first time meeting them? If they didn’t like me they probably could have fed me to the coyotes (and if I hadn’t found a way to get coffee by day two I probably would have let them).

The first day it was a bit chilly, it being April and the weather remarkably similar to what it is in New England. Our first stop was his great grandfather’s farm that they used to store hay and sort cattle (the cows looked wary as we approached). After the sorting, we set off on the four wheeler and I got my first glimpse of some of the other farms. It was a quick bumpy ride from one fence to the next but somehow I managed to make a mental note of all the places I wanted to go back and photograph.

The next day we planned a trip to Evansville, home to his alma mater and a few miles shy of Kentucky. There, we visited his old campus, met up with some of his friends and had a chance to sample some of the local brews. The next morning we thanked them and headed back to Sunman.

The fourth day, a Monday, was a welcome calm after the hustle and bustle of traveling and meeting new people. His parents and brother were at work so we woke to an empty house and I had a chance to make some coffee and watch the news. After breakfast, we took the four wheeler over to his grandmother’s house where she was ready with a(nother!) fresh cup of coffee for me and hugs and kisses for her grandson. She asked me all about what I did, if I was having a nice time and did I want another cup of coffee? Spaghetti? Garlic bread? She was wonderful.

After a quick bite, we set out again except this time I drove, zipping us down the treeline toward another pasture across the train tracks. There, we got to see a new baby calf and got as close as we dared to take pictures without starting a stampede.

A short while later, we made our way back to the house and I used the moment to check my phone. It was then that I saw the text: “Where are you?? Are you okay?????” It was from my best friend, and although we hadn’t talked in a few days, something about this struck me as odd. So after I wrote back, I checked Facebook and that’s when I saw the updates. It was ten after three on April, 15th 2013.

So far, it was just a few about smoke, explosions, a loud noise, police activity. No one knew what was going on. So I googled “Boston news” and it was all over, coming in in snippets: two explosions had gone off, two bombs?, injuries and fatalities were unknown but certain, was it terrorists?, no, yes—it was too early to say.

Then I opened my blackberry and the emails started to pour in. There were already at least five from the COO sharing the same news and asking for headcounts and roll call. Meanwhile I was already on my feet running down the stairs toward the TV. Did they get Boston news in Indiana? Probably not but I turned it on and there it was. It was now going national.

Most of you reading this post know what happened in Boston that day. Two brothers from a local college set off bombs during the Boston Marathon and no one saw it coming. People died, over a hundred were injured. Never was my mom so happy that I was not at work.

Eventually I learned that all of my colleagues were safe. Since our office is located at the heart of downtown Boston, it was tradition for all of us to stand by and watch the runners go by. We all knew someone in the race, either friend or family. Luckily, everyone I knew that day was okay.

The rest of the trip went by in a blur as I took pictures, prayed for the best and used the time to get to know his family better. We ate dinner, they tried to teach me how to play Euchre (a first of many times), his brother got the dog to stop barking at me, I drove a tractor, and in the end, no one fed me to the coyotes. Despite the bombings, or maybe even more so because of them, it was a great trip, and one that I look forward to repeating this spring (minus any attacks). See you soon, and Boston, we will never forget.

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  • Bill - Great images! Your narrative brings it all together very well. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

Have you ever been to a beach in the winter? It’s an odd thing. Eerie even. For a place that’s usually filled with people and families, to see it empty and abandoned can be a shock, even if you are expecting it.

It was that shock and emptiness that reminded me of what it’s like the moment you realize you’re going to lose someone you love. Some moments, diseases, things, you can do something about, others; not so much. This past fall, I was facing everything but told to do nothing. “It’s better this way,” they said. Better medically, perhaps, but she was still here, she had not given up, how could we?

In the end, we were outnumbered, and I was overruled; chances were small, quality of life would be low, and doing it now would be better than later. And so I turned to her and said the right things, over and over again, hoping that they were heard and understood. My greatest fear wasn’t losing her, it was that in that last moment, she would feel confused, scared and think I had given up on her. All of which brings me back to the beach.

Towards the end of my trip, I noticed a couple walking their dog. He did not seem to mind the snow as he dashed through it to get his ball, and it flew out in small chunks from beneath his paws. A few minutes later, a truck pulled up and another couple got out, bundled up and looking like they were just out for a walk. In that moment, I realized: some things you just have to be okay with, because they aren’t changing and not doing anything is the only thing you can do.

It might be freezing out, the place covered in snow, and not a warm breeze for miles, but a beach is still a beach, and you can still find ways to enjoy it, if you try. So that’s what I did, I turned it into a post and a memoriam to you, because it was something, the only thing, I could do.

In memory, 

Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 4th, 2014.

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  • james - Caitlin,

    Your writing conjures the very image your camera captures, in number far fewer than 1,000. Value,contrast,balance,purpose. Clarity,quality,intensity,simplicity.

    Revelation. Comprehension. Acceptence. Grace. Peace.

    Serenity.ReplyCancel

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Because what would this month’s post be without photos of snow? Although to be honest, I briefly considered posting images from last year’s trip to California. I don’t even remember what warmth feels like…

For those who live nearby or happened to see it on the news, you won’t be surprised to learn that half of these photos are from the recent Winter Storm Juno; a blizzard that dropped 19″ of snow onto the capital city and even more in regions of northern Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The other half of these photos are from another one of Rhode Island’s record-breaking storms, Nemo. Nemo fell just an inch behind Juno in its total Providence accumulation and happened two years ago exactly to the day.

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Juno’s photos presented a particularly interesting challenge for me; how fast could I take the photos I needed, and do so without the help of my co-pilot? Juno’s snow fell during the work-week so while I was home, he was not. I’m also currently operating with only one camera-body for multiple camera-lenses. This means whenever I’d like to change a shot, I need to pop one lens out and change it for the other, often-times when I’m standing in the middle of a field or dirt-path, which isn’t so bad, and I usually have someone to hand things off to and talk things over with. This time, I had less than thirty minutes to my name and walked out alone wearing the wrong lens in the middle of a snowstorm. Brilliant. Fortunately, as you can see, the trip was still a success, but not without a slap to the forehead first.

IMG_2466-copyFOR-WEBNemo. Nemo was a different story. Nemo was a joyride compared to Juno. In fact, Nemo was the first time my co-pilot and I ever took pictures together. It also fell on the weekend, giving me time to meander, try different things on the camera, and find out what the world looks like from the middle of the road.

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I guess you could consider it a test-run too, and clearly that worked out. Since Nemo, my co-pilot and I have taken multiple albums together, some of which have yet to be published and others that still need to be fleshed out. Here’s to hoping the next one involves white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and a whole lot of palm trees, but I digress…

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Winter is a beast, a force to be reckoned with, but at times, quite beautiful. Sometimes it will keep us locked in our houses, stuck in our cars or drowning in an abominable number of layers shoveling until we can’t remember where or when we started but, it’s also the one thing that can quiet a city, decorate its branches without a single bud, and give many a rightly-deserved day to work from home, or even be completely off. Me, I was lucky. I got the photos I needed, the day I wanted, and the pilot who fit both. Now, on to the warmer weather, hopefully!

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Coggeshall-Farm-donkey-for-webWhen it’s so cold that you need to wear socks inside your boots, a sweater under your coat, and fur-lined gloves even though your hands are already stuffed inside your pockets, it can take a lot to justify going outside. Work pays, garbage smells and sometimes it’s good to check the mail. That’s about it.

During my recent visit to Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island, on a day just as cold as the one described above, I quickly realized a few things: more layers probably would have been good, touch-screen gloves are not worth it if you can’t feel your fingers anyway, and I had no shame running back to my car to sit down and warm up for a few minutes.

However, I also realized since most people had better sense than I and stayed in that day, that I had much of the grounds completely to myself. This allowed me to take as much time as I needed and get as close as I dared to some of the animals (which for some was still relatively far away). It also granted me an unbridled view of the fields, farm and small buildings overlooking Mill Gut lake.

CoggeshallPOST-LAYOUT-2To be clear, for those who might not be aware, Coggeshall is actually much more than just a great place for photos. All year long, the entire staff is devoted to depicting farming and harvesting in eighteenth century Rhode Island. They house livestock, maintain historically-designed buildings, and perform chores and other duties in full costume, making it an excellent place to visit for families, schools, camps and other visitors like myself.

Coggeshall is also a nonprofit organization that relies heavily on membership and donations, so the more visitors they can get, the better.

IMG_4307FOR-WEB IMG_4302FOR-WEBIn short, although this was one of the coldest outings I’ve ever done, it turned into one of my favorite collections to-date, and I had a hard time narrowing it down to my few favorite photos seen above. To plan your own visit, or learn more about Coggeshall Farm Museum, please check out their website at www.coggeshallfarm.org.

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The peace and quiet of this trip began long before we reached the wildlife refuge. For some, driving the long way across Massachusetts after the hustle and bustle of a workweek might not sound fun or relaxing at all, but for us it was a way to take back the weekend, our schedules, and get away from the demands of everyday life. By taking interstate 495, we literally drove miles out of our way just because we could, because it was different, because it was new.

During our first trip to Great Meadows, we made it a joyride, visiting friends and stopping in New Hampshire along the way. Of course, this meant we didn’t reach the park until almost dusk when it was about to close. Some might see this as poor planning on our part, but others would agree that dusk is one of the best times for picture-taking, given the give and take of light and dark during that time. One key photo for reference, is the last one. It shows an empty tree against the sky, which would be nice enough on its own, but when you factor in the setting sun, either illuminating or shading the branches depending on where you look, it creates a feeling of depth.

Then taking into the account the fading blue sky against the yellowy-orange reeds against the river, the picture starts to feel more romantic, which is probably one of my favorite things about it. Our carefree, spontaneous day was rewarded by a perfectly timed photo bursting with romanticism.

The following weekend, we made our way back and arrived much earlier in the day. We hiked the full Red Maple Leaf trail, winding up through the trees and even passing a sinkhole that was carved out by the glaciers. Following that, we crossed the road to check out some of the Round Hill trails owned by the Sudbury Valley trustees. There, instead of maple leaves, we tread upon pine needles and a near perfect silence forged out of fresh air, light and the soft shutter and click of the camera.

At this point, it is hard to say what I am most grateful for about this trip. Getting out of the city? Turning my phone off? Seeing someplace new? The beauty of this collection is that it forced us out of our routine and taught us how to enjoy it. So perhaps it’s a little bit of all of the above.

To learn more about Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge, please visit their website at: www.fws.gov/refuge/great_meadows.

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