Once the weather starts turning cooler in the fall, I have an overwhelming need to dig in closets and drawers and try to start nesting for the winter. As much as I love summer and the water, and outdoor activities, I enjoy fall for the colors and the crisp cool air and I enjoy the quiet peacefulness and coziness of a weekend in a warm house in the winter.
My need to dig through closets and spend time cleaning house and getting rid of stuff that I do not need probably starts because the hustle and bustle of summer leaves this wake of stuff laying around that we didn’t take the time to put away, rushing from one activity to another before summer passes us by. We fit a lot into one season. It is probably good we do not live in California with the fine weather all year round. We would never have a winter to recover. Don’t get me wrong, we do plenty in winter, but it is no comparison to the summer and the back-to-back fun-ness in which we engage. When the weather starts turning, I clean coolers and put them away, hang the lifejackets and the bikes, and put away the adventure pants. I dig in my drawers and closets and donate all things taking up space that are no longer used. The cleaning and organizing process is easier now that we are empty nesters. It is just less space and people to pick up after.
In cleaning drawers this week I ran across a large box and folder with black and white photos of my family. When the kids were younger and we lived in the woods of Blaine, we had a really nice 35mm camera. I decide to try black and white photography. I love the look of old black and white photos and this was before everybody carried a phone with a camera that has black and white options. It does not seem that long ago that I decided to get artsy and try black and white photography, but the pictures are telling of how long ago it was. My kids are all now in their twenties, so looking at the photos was really fun and brought back a lot of good memories. My kids were really good sports about it. I brought out the costume box and they were willing to participate with multiple costume changes and my direction for an attempt to capture different settings and emotions through my new found artsy photography interest.
Our costume box was amazing. We had every kind of costume you could imagine, from beautiful dresses and dance costumes, to Harry Potter, goulash masks and pretend bloody hands for zombie costumes and of course the gorilla and banana. We had boxes of hats and we had wings, and we had props like fake crows and swords and a staff. Even neighbors borrowed costumes from us when they had an occasion for such things. I loved our costume box and the kids and their friends had a lot of fun with them, even when it was not Halloween. We were known in the neighborhood for our selection of costumes. I think part of the fun for the kids with the “photo” sessions was that they did get to pretend and wear a lot of different costumes. I had to always wait for a sunny day to have the right lighting, but I used our woods as a backdrop and took most photos outside.
I had a lot of fun doing that with the kids and after a weekend of shooting photos, I would take my film to Wal-Mart, who by the way did a great job developing black and whites and actually used real black and white paper for the processing. I could not wait to get the final product back
and the kids and I had a lot of fun looking through them afterwards. Some seemed great by accident and others were definitely not keepers. The fun part in looking through them this fall is that I had kept them all, good and bad. Surprisingly, some of the ones I would not have considered keepers turned out to be some of the best ones with hindsight.
I had a perfect picture of the kids in black and white that I had considered so good that I used it as our Christmas card that year, but the photos leading up to that photo were some of the best ones that captured their sense of humor and their sheer joy of goofing off together. I can ask my kids to smile on a picture and they did well, but when I accidentally captured them laughing with each other in between pictures or them trying, unsuccessfully to put on a serious face, for a more dramatic picture, I actually captured them in their most honest and true sense. It is unrehearsed and pure. I see their personalities when I look back at those pictures and I see a family of kids that will always be friends. I see sheer joy in the moment and a camaraderie that they will always share.
As different as they are in many ways, they are close siblings with many fun and loving memories together. My stint of trying my hand at the art of black and white photography actually captured our family in a moment of time when we all lived together and enjoyed every aspect of life, including those slow Sundays in costume together, trying to capture art and emotion, in the
woods of our backyard. I thought I was being artsy, and by accident I created a box of memories that may have faded with time. I look at the photos and I am there in time enjoying the moment.
Time passes so quickly and even though it seems like yesterday to me, these kids are now gone and forging their lives and making new memories. We still have a lot of great times together, but they will never again be those giggly, young kids who were willing to go along with Mom’s idea to try something new and play dress up, while she tried to get just the right shot. I actually entered a couple of the photos into an art contest in Blaine and even though I did not win, they were displayed in the City Hall for a few months. I felt proud that they had been accepted into the contest and I felt accomplished that I had tried something new and actually enjoyed it more than I thought. We went as a family to look at all of the art and it was special that they could see themselves in an art display.
I did not know it at the time, but I had actually captured our life through art in a moment of time that we will never have again. Make your memories each day, because in the blink of an eye, today is gone and tomorrow is a memory. Days turn into weeks and weeks into years. Don’t let those days fly by without taking time to enjoy each moment and to create beautiful memories for those around you.