Through the night they fall from high oak trees, clang onto our roof, then bounce onto one of the decks, or onto the driveway that leads to the house. In the morning Jerry will sweep them up . . .again. The winds have increased, the temperature has dropped. Autumn, beautiful autumn, has arrived. The scent of ripening pears from our tree in the back floats through the air. The pears are perfection. Sometimes we eat one out of hand, or again on a small plate beside a slice of cheddar or a scoop of goat cheese.
The last two days of this great visit I encouraged the youngsters to be sure they had all their things gathered, so that they would leave nothing behind. I believe I have mentioned before that these grandchildren like to discuss what we will be having for meals. I had told them sometime before that on the 16th day, which would be Tuesday, we would have fried chicken. And so we did . . .along with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans (which they spurned !) and a green salad.
As she had for every meal we ate in the dining room while the youngsters were here, Ella set the table. She always does a fine job, setting the silverware properly and choosing cloth napkins to blend with the dishes we have chosen to use.
Andrew and Shawnna’s plane arrives in the late evening, so arrangements had been made that they would not come to our place until Wednesday morning, which was actually the 17th day.
On Wednesday morning, I did final laundry for them, spruced up the house, urged them to get their bags packed, and helped them remake the beds after I washed the sheets. Jerry had decided to smoke ribs for the big afternoon meal, and Rebecca and Nathaniel would join all of us. The day was warm; we set up tables on the back deck.
. . .and then they were here.
I became distracted and got few photographs after that.
We spent several hours together before they had to leave, hearing a few of their adventures and seeing pictures of magnificent Hawaii on their computer. Andrew and Shawnna both have quite an artistic flair, and each of them produces beautiful photography. She uses a cell phone. Andrew has a Nikon. The youngsters told of their adventures, and Cole even snookered his dad into a game of checkers.
On the north shore of Oahu, actually within the sea, Andrew had the good fortune of finding a large piece of coral. He and Shawnna gifted his dad and me with this magnificent piece. . .and with this very touching card.
And then they were gone.
It is quiet now. Too quiet.
A text message alerted me to call Rebecca. I called.
She asked. “We’re putting Buddy down tomorrow. Can we come up and have you take pictures?”
Buddy is one boy’s dog. Has been since Buddy was rescued from an animal shelter and presented to Nathaniel when he was in the 4th grade. Nathaniel who is now a man. Nathaniel who graduated from high school last year, Nathaniel who takes college courses now, and who works as a roofer. Buddy is a black dog, nine years old (they think). Buddy is sweet. Has kidney failure. He’s big, and can be scary.
Buddy is one family’s dog. Truthfully, since Nathaniel has reached his manhood and taken on such responsibility, much of the care of Buddy has fallen to Rebecca, my daughter, Nathaniel’s mother. We’re all lovers of animals, and both Jerry and I were attached to Buddy.
“Sure, all of you come on up,” I told Rebecca.
I did not take a picture of Buddy wearing a diaper, for it seemed demeaning to that beautiful animal. Blood and urine and pain. Nathaniel would dig a grave . . .in their back yard.We talked. All of us spoke of grief and love and attachment.
“It’s worth it though, Granny,” Nathaniel said once. “The fun, the love, the good times I’ve had with Buddy makes this time of sorrow worth it.”
Rebecca sent me pictures of the grave and of Buddy’s body. Jerry said, “I don’t want to see them.”
I cried . . .as have we all.
You see this camera. For a couple of years now, it has belonged to me. It’s a great camera that takes wonderful pictures . . .
…………………..unless the operator (think me) neglects to insert the card into the little designated slot. If that dreaded situation happens, when the holder of the camera (think me) lifts the beloved to take a wonderful picture such as that below, a little signal shows in the viewer that indicates a missing card. Alas. Alas.
This morning I stood on the banks of Lake Gregory, where a few days ago, I had snapped this shot, also of Lake Gregory, but on the opposite side. I have a new lens–85mm 1.8–that had given me this exceptional photograph.The light was gorgeous. I was excited thinking I would get another spectacular shot . . .Again, alas, alas, for my beloved Nikon had no card. Helpless.
I finished out the walk with Winston, urged him into the car, with the resolve that I would drive the very short distance to our home, find the card, insert it, then return to the lake quickly before the light changed drastically.
The card was nowhere to be found. I had warned myself of this happening many times, for too often after taking the card from the camera, inserting it into my Mac to transfer the images, then removing it from the Mac, I lay it down on the arm of the couch, as I eagerly check out the photos I’ve loaded into Lightroom. Sickening. I just could not find it.
Off came the cushions of the couch and the cushions of two chairs. Nothing. Well, nothing that thrilled me too much. Only bobby pins of varying styles, ballpoint pens, dust balls, a large paper clip and small portions of doggie treats. (Winston has a propensity for saving his treats from time to time. Never know when a famine might arise, must be his thinking.) Did Winston find it and snag it as a chew toy? I ran my fingers under the edge of the couch, Jerry tipped it up so I could see behind it (too heavy for us to move.) Finally I gave up. “We’ll have to run by Best Buy on our way to the graduation tonight,” I told Jerry.
My mind would not shut down, though. I had a faint memory of taking the card out yesterday in an unusual place. What did I wear then? Grey skirt, red sweater . . .with pockets. Surely I would not stick that card in a pocket. Would I? I rushed to the closet, pushed my hand down in the pocket of the cardigan sweater, felt something thin . . .Voila. There it was!
Herein lies a couple of important messages. To you photographers who use cameras such as mine, no matter how beloved is your little treasure, it will not work without the card. Believe me, it is disconcerting to stand with a vision in front of you, with magnificent light falling on the scene, to lift the camera to your eye, and see a symbol of a camera card with a black slash drawn through it. The second lesson applies to all of you (and especially to me): Store things where they belong. Now. Always. Without fail.