To understand my day, and maybe (for good or ill) a lot about how my life works, picture this scene: me, at the wheel of my trusty car, speeding into Columbus for a swift shearing, then dawdling my way back to Gambier, camera in hand, snapping haphazard images of rural quirks and decays that I wish I could frame better but can't, for lack of shoulders (and thus opportunities for stopping for a better look) anywhere on US-62. And yet all the while I'm rejoicing at the calves and the birds and the barns and the sun (so much sun!), things that one might think would encourage me toward quiet musing and reflection and austere serenity, I'm blaring the New Pornographers, my music find of the week. I'm not sure how I missed them all these years, but I'm missing them no longer. (If you want a starting point, I'd suggest Twin Cinema .)
I just can't imagine that it's a very good idea for me to continue trying to shoot and drive at the same time, but I'm not sure how else to get the pictures I want. I'm going to let the back of my head work on this problem over the next few weeks, as I finish out my semester. Meanwhile, when I got home today and moved all of my pictures over to the computer so that I could get a better look at them, I cracked myself up with my crooked horizons and my missed barns. The missed barns are the funniest: I have no idea, when I'm shooting over my left arm, whether I'm aiming at the right thing, whether I'll even get the purported object of my image into the image at all. And so my barns tend to be to one side or another of the frame, or motion-blurred. And sometimes they're crooked as well, to particularly good effect when the barns themselves are already in the process of falling down in some way or another.
By the time I was halfway home from Columbus, I'd decided that I wanted to revisit a part of Knox County where I (silly) had driven last weekend without my camera. I made a quick but fruitful stop in Mount Vernon, the next town over from where I live, where I discovered a staggeringly named organization's headquarters:
As the Beastie Boys might say, "Don't ask me 'cause I just don't know." The only appropriate response seemed to be to buy a David Malouf novel and head out into the hills northeast of Gambier, where aesthetic intent seemed to be more under my control, given that I was actually able to park my car at the side of the road and deliberately aim my camera at things I wanted to capture.
Things got even more interesting when I took a short but adventurous road trip with one of my excellent friends, out to a colleague's house in the countryside. Because I wasn't driving, I was able to shoot everything as we moved. By the time all was said and done today, I had about 200 pictures--and a far richer visual impression of my home landscape. One of the day's pleasures was seeing so many young animals--calves and lambs--doing their best childish impersonations of loping along, or feeding. And the great thing about cows is that they'll actually notice when you drive by, if they're at all close to the road. I suddenly have a plethora of cow stories to tell you--including the one about the time my fourth grade teacher brought a cow's eye to class (they're not so hard to come by in a farming area), or the time twenty-eight cows ambled over to a fence where I was standing and watching them from afar, and lined up side by side, three feet away from me, staring and snuffling and elbowing each other in the ribs and rolling their eyes and chewing. But I can't tell those stories now, in part because it's time for you to look at some pictures of cows. Note the ones staring at us as we drive by, in the second shot.
Overall, if you were to ask me what I learned today, I'd have to respond "Green, and hills, and feeding calves." Not to mention Dorothea's wisdom: "What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?"
Things were looking good in Gambier, as well.
Lightning is flashing every once in a long while now, thunder following the light only after I've lost count of the seconds: storms are still far away but are clearly drawing nearer, a sure sign--as if my eyelid-dropping fatigue weren't enough--that it's time to read myself down for the night with Dorothea's impetuously generous heroics. If only I could stay awake long enough to read Middlemarch's climactic thunderstorm tonight, during our own storm--the rain for which is picking up, now that the rumble comes only three seconds after the flash.