29 NOVEMBER 1947

Yesterday, while culling through photographs from our son’s recent wedding, I suddenly realized that November 29 is my parents’ wedding anniversary.  That thought has not really been all that significant to me in the past, but I guess it now had context, given what I had just been part of.  That set me to thinking about what that day in 1947 was all about.  So, I called my 89-year-old mother to ask about the details.  She was, of course, happy to oblige.  After all, how often is an 89-year-old widow specifically asked to reminisce about anything, let alone a wedding day 68 years ago?

We have a few photographs from that day – smiling faces frozen in time.  I know that my mom and dad were married in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, at St. John Catholic Church.  Those photos were taken after the ceremony and in front of the church’s big red doors.  My dad wore a 3-piece suit, a red tie and a fedora; my mom wore a dark suit and wide-brim straw bowler and carried a big bouquet of flowers.  Both looked radiant.  But that’s about all I knew.

This was the most exciting day of my mom’s life.  On the day of the wedding, my dad and his widowed mother drove to my maternal grandparents’ home in Fort Lee, New Jersey.  Then the five of them – mom, dad and my three grand-parents – all drove to Old Saybrook in George’s big sedan, where they met up with siblings from both sides of the family and a few friends.  Mom recalled that they had to stop on the way to pick up her corsage – a seemingly insignificant detail that has stayed with her for almost seven decades.

My uncle Gene was my dad’s best man, and my mom’s best friend Mary McConnell was her matron-of-honor.  Afterwards, they all went to Casa Mana Restaurant in Teaneck, New Jersey, to celebrate.  I looked that up on Google – it was apparently a very popular place in the 1940s and 1950s.

Mom and Dad set up housekeeping in an apartment in Hackensack.  Rent was $50/month.  Dad was working as a security guard for a trucking company at $50/week, a job that my grandfather secured for him.  Her parents gave the newly-weds a bed, a table-and-chairs and a television to get started – along with a set of good china, which was their “official” wedding present.  I picked up an identical set of that china in an antique store in Roswell, Georgia, in 1995 and I believe with all my heart that it is the same exact set, chips and all.  Anyway, my mom took a job at Oppenheimer Collins department store.  They didn’t own a car, so she had to walk to work – rain, shine or snow.   But she assured me that they were deliriously happy.   They didn’t have much, but they went dancing on Saturday nights, enjoyed 10-cent beers, and planned their lives together.  Simpler times, eh?




I love my son, Tim, dearly.  I love my daughter, too, but she’s not the subject of this post (sorry, Molly – another post for you).  Tim was married Saturday evening, in an amazingly beautiful and meaningful Captiva Island ceremony, and I was the “mother of the groom”.  I truly didn’t see that coming and was unprepared.

As it turns out, the mother-of-the-groom role, though short-lived, is pretty significant to the woman experiencing it – more significant than I had thought.  In hindsight, here’s the way I see it.  You are a boy’s mother, and he’s your son, from the first moment and for a lifetime.  That’s a wonderful role, and a straightforward one that involves only mother and son.  But the mother-of-the-groom role is completely contingent on the appearance of another woman on the stage.  There’s a yin and a yang to it; the term “mother-of-the-groom” can only take shape when the stage is shared.  Think about it – the term itself connotes two different relationships at once – mother and son, son and bride.  More importantly, it suggests an important transition in the son’s life.

As I said, I love my son and I still feel that same emotional tug when I watch him, or say good-bye to him, just like I did when he was a vulnerable-seeming little boy.  But more importantly, now, I am sweetly happy for him as he stands beside his beautiful and intelligent bride, Tracey, and looks out at a future full of shared possibilities.

My heart is full.



I really didn’t want to leave my warm bed to drive down the mountain in the frosty early November air but was determined to capture the magic of “civil” twilight – that few minutes before sunrise that photographers are obsessed with – at Lake Petit on my last morning in the North Georgia mountains.  I wanted classic pink-gold light coupled with dramatic cloud formations for my own iconic fall image of lake, mountains and sky.  Alas, a cloudless sky and a short twilight cheated me of that shot.  Heading back to the car, I noticed a small maple tree, its newly-turned leaves glowing warmly against the soft blue-green of the lake below me, and realized all the magic I needed was right here in front of me.  [Intentional camera movement, double exposure].



There is a small pond in the woods near our house.  The pond is an attraction to me, though small.  It changes regularly, with the seasons, the weather and the time of day, and I enjoy making pictures there.  A turtle of considerable size lives in the pond – we spotted each other once, before he slipped into the blackness.

I’ve never seen anyone else at the pond.  I suspect that folks from the hills higher up drive by this spot regularly, intent on making their way off the mountain, unaware of the pond and its turtle.  And truthfully, most would have little interest anyway.  And that is their loss.

As Thoreau said of Walden Pond, “it is a mirror which no stone can crack, whose quicksilver will never wear off, whose gilding Nature continually repairs; no storms, no dust, can dim its surface ever fresh; a mirror in which all impurity presented to it sinks, swept and dusted by the sun’s hazy brush–this the light-dust cloth–which retains no breath that is breathed on it, but sends its own to float as clouds high above its surface, and be reflected in its bosom still.”



In the past six weeks, I have visited five national parks, one national monument and at least six national forests.  Last Sunday Peter and I purposely spent nine hours driving from our home base in North Georgia to Highlands, NC – a drive that normally requires less than three hours.  It was an awesome day and I feel privileged to have such ready access to these beautiful and protected areas.   And it was refreshing to see so many young families in those places.  This image was made at Duke’s Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest, near Helen, GA.  The falls are well worth the two-mile round trip hike from the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway.



So many acorns.  They’ve been raining on us for three weeks now.  Machine gun spatter announcing the wind.  And when it’s calm, a sudden sharp crack…cartwheeling down the roof…short pause to catapult to the deck and gone.    And repeat.  I decided to do a formal portrait of the acorn, to celebrate this year’s crop, which I understand will make the deer very happy.



Driving east from Ketchum back to Idaho Falls for flight home from the Rockies trip, we experienced one final treat – we stopped right at sunset at Craters of the Moon National Monument.  There were few tourists, other than the handful of campers parked and buttoned up for the night.  A three-day weather system was moving off, and bone-chilling cold was right behind it.  From the park, many miles across the lava fields, you could see Big Southern Butte with its own cloud/fog cap.  Glad I had a telephoto and tripod for this one.



This week was about Montana and my first-timer impressions.  Montana is about tawny folded hills, soaring rough-hewn mountains, remote gravel roads, pastured horses, log cabins and clear energetic streams hurrying out of the hills onto honey-grass flats.  It is also about Glacier National Park and the Going to the Sun Road – the harrowing narrow rock-cut path that traverses the park, crossing the Continental Divide in the process.  I did the driving on the way up, uncomfortably hugging the inside, knuckles white.   The road down from the Divide to the other side of the park was closed for the season, so we came back down the way we had gone up, and right at sunset.  I made this image as we paused at the top, delaying the return trek as long as possible.