Missed It By That Much

Now that my thought-life revolves around the question, “Can I blog about that?” I have gotten in the habit of carrying my camera with me everywhere I go. A lot of people in this day and age have their camera with them in the form of their cell phones. I am not one of those people. I have no cell coverage at home, so I have only a small flip phone without a camera, but that’s fine with me – I prefer a more serious camera, anyway. An intimidating camera that I don’t understand. But it takes way better photos than a cell phone…even if I don’t fully understand how to use it.

A couple of weeks ago, I learned this “have-my-camera-with-me-at-all-times” lesson the hard way. There was some sort of ice-fishing contest out on Lake Okabena in the middle of Worthington, MN, and a gazillion ice houses – along with their owner’s pick-up trucks – were out on the lake. More than I’d seen in the 14.5 years I’ve lived here. It was a better ice house village than in the Grumpy Old Men movies. It was begging for a blogger to photograph it for all my non-Minnesota readers.

But, alas…I was cameraless.

This made me think of other shots I have missed over the years. I have missed eagles (I adore eagles). I have missed old barns (I love old barns), I have missed events with my kids, surprise parties, and beautiful sunsets. I missed an amazing moon the other day.

But there are two shots in my life which still make me weep for the missing. Ironically, for both I actually had my camera with me but was unable to act quickly enough to snap the photo.

First, when I was in France with my mother when I was in high school, she and I took a bus ride to Chartres Cathedral. Yes, the cathedral was amazing…gorgeous blue stained glass, all the cool stuff in ancient cathedrals, etc., etc. But that’s not what I missed.

What I missed was through the window of the bus as we drove away. The bus paused – but not for long enough – on a bridge over the river which flows through the town where Chartres is located. Off in the background was the cathedral – like a magnificent castle on the horizon – and, a little way down the river from where we were stopped was another bridge – an old, stone bridge – and there, floating on the river in front of the bridge, was a swan. The cathedral, the stone bridge, the swan: forever in my memory, but never on film. It was truly a fairy tale moment.

The second fabulous (but missed) photo in my life happened as I traveled from college at the University of Oregon, to visit my sisters in Washington State. I took the train – something I only did the one time – and we were approaching the city of Kelso, WA. There, out the window for everyone to see, was a dilapidated old house (almost buried in blackberry brambles) in an overgrown field. More blackberry bushes surrounded the field, and a horse was eating grass off to the side of the house. But there was another horse there, too. And he was walking in the door of the ramshackle house. Walking in the door…as sure as if he lived there (which perhaps he did). The horse. The old house. The blackberry bushes. Fabulous.

I almost killed myself, reaching for my camera. But the train flew by and the opportunity was gone.

There is one last missed shot, though this one was not my own. My dad, who for many years was a semi-professional photographer on Orcas Island, missed this one. He and Mom were heading into town from our home on the north shore of the island. They turned the corner toward town, and there, running down the center of the country road was the entire high school football team, completely suited up with uniforms, pads, and helmets, chasing a herd of cows off of their practice football field. Sounds like a National Geographic picture about a story of small-town America, doesn’t it? But, sadly…no camera.

I am including no photos in this post. I mean, really…how could I do otherwise?

4 Responses

  1. Yeah, Gretchen. Glad to hear you will now be wearing your camera on your hip like me. But, alas, you will still miss shots. Not as many, though. I look forward to seeing more of your photography. Always, always carry your camera. When your kids start protesting, then you’ll know you’re carrying your camera when you should be. Oh, that’s right, you don’t have teenagers yet. Right? My family especially dislikes when I photography good. Oh, well…

      1. 🙂 I’ve only photographed our food once or twice. I think people do it more now that they have call phones – they photograph their dinners out! But I’ve never done that. Sometimes the Thanksgiving table…or a birthday cake!

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