How long will it take before we can burn images stored in
our brain onto a computer? Do you think it will ever come to pass? I hope so, because
even though I used to dabble in art in college, I never inherited the landscape
gene. I could do portraits, from live models or pictures, but I didn’t have the
knack to capture a glowing sunset or wavy grasses, or a frothy seascape.
Perhaps, with the proper training, I could make a decent stab at it, but for
now the only way I can immortalize scenes of nature is through the lens or with
my pen. Figuratively speaking, that is, since I haven’t written books with a pen and paper
in many years.
Lately, I’ve been lamenting potentially award-winning photos
that I’ve missed. Lost shots. Those showstoppers, the gorgeous scenes I
couldn’t acquire because of unsafe driving conditions or a timetable that
didn’t allow lollygagging. I still see them, clear as cold lake water,
simmering and shimmering in my mind’s eye.
The first lost shot occurred one fall, many years ago. We’d been scurrying
around all morning, getting ready to deliver chairs to our customers. One of my
side jobs, besides engineering, writing, and photography, is chair caning. My
wife does the hand caning, and I do the rush, splint, flat reed, and pressed
cane. Every Saturday morning, we load up the van with chairs and head for
Honeoye Falls and East Bloomfield, where we deliver them to the shops that hire
us. My wife and daughter were with me that morning, since we were going to
squeeze in a little breakfast at George’s, our favorite small town diner. We were
hungry. We were late. And I forgot my camera. Of course, this was before iPhones with their handy dandy cameras.
It happened only five minutes from the house, and I’ll never
stop kicking myself for not turning around to go back. The night had
been cold, and the morning dawned sunny. Frost crackled under our shoes as
we tromped across the lawn, and there was a freshness to the air, heightened by
the icy morning. We traveled north on Lakeville-Groveland Road, and when we
passed Booher Hill, I glanced eastward. This is one of my favorite stretches of
land, where multiple layers of trees, fields, and hills delineate the ridges
that cradle Conesus Lake. When the sun rises over the eastern shore, it kisses
the lake valley with rose, orange, lavender, and hot yellow.
This morning, however, the sun had risen hours earlier. But
what greeted my eager eyes was not the sun, but a cloud.
I’m talking about a fully-fleshed, cotton ball cloud. It sat
directly on top of the lake, lying like a thick eiderdown on the water. This
cloud was not filmy, like mist or fog. It wasn’t transparent. It was rock solid
puffy white, and it rose at least 1000 feet over the lake, stretching
north-south along fourteen miles of the narrow trench carved many years ago by
a glaciers. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and fear I’ll never see it
The memory is sharp, but I really wish I could show it to
The next two scenes that haunt me happened in winter. The
frustrating part was that I had the camera with me both times, but just couldn’t
stop because it wasn’t safe to pull over on the snowy roads.
The first was a scene I pass every day on the way to work.
Normally, I admire the textures and contrasts of this spot with an almost
casual, see-it-every-day insouciance. I do take pleasure in the old barns,
dilapidated farmhouse, antique cars in the open sided shelter, and the young
Thoroughbred who paces in a small paddock. And each time I pass the old milk
shed, I admire the faded white paint and the attractive timeworn look it has
from years of exposure to sun and wind. My fingers itch for the camera here
most mornings, but it’s private property, 6:30 in the morning, and its
positioned near a country intersection, which makes it a bit awkward to stop
and snap pictures of this venerable old building.
This particular morning, however, snow blasted sideways
across the road in such ferocity and beauty, it quickened my heartbeat. It was
a fierce burst of white, constant and rippling, blinding whoever crossed its
path. The contrast electrified me. Deep turquoise metal-sided barn, cement
block barn nearby, white post and board fence swaying in the storm…they were
simultaneously shadowed and revealed by the spraying snow.
But I didn’t stop. I worried about arriving late to work,
and the sides of the road looked very slippery. So… another lost shot.
Later that week, they closed the whole county for whiteouts.
I had to get home, I was determined to get home, and I sure as heck didn’t want
to spend the night in my office. So, I spent an hour and a half dodging
blinding whiteouts, and finally made my perilous way down Groveland Road,
almost home. Another half mile, and I’d be safe in the driveway.
And then I saw them.
Snow devils. Cyclones of white. Billowing and flowing over
the hills to the west, up the sides of the valley, rolling across the fields
like massive sheet-white tornadoes.
My jaw dropped. My insides thrilled. And I gripped the
steering wheel tighter to stay in the snowy lane. I didn’t get the shot. Once
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not really complaining. I’ve
captured dozens of deeply satisfying photos and have been blessed
with pastoral scenes of breath-taking beauty year-round. I’ve snapped hundreds
and hundreds of photos. But those lost shots… they keep haunting me. Which, I
guess, is why I’ve written about them today. When visions haunt me, they spill
out of my fingertips.
There is one consolation. The images still reside in my
brain. And someday, maybe soon, I’ll download them and be able to show you. ;o)
Books by multi-award winning author,
THE LIARS’ GALLERY (print, eBook, audio
UNDER THE ICE (print, eBook)
MURDER ON THE BREWSTER FLATS
Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning,
bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, thrillers, love
stories, and writing guides, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in
upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and
grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at