Saturday, October 20, 2007

Noticing Beauty in Our Typical Lives

How many of us take lots of photos when we are on vacation?

Most 'regular people' will take photos of major holidays, very special events and while on vacations. Some of those people rarely take photos of their normal days at home or right around the area they live in.

I don't recall when it was that I first realized that people actually take trips to visit this place I live in. I always thought that the people here were trying to leave here to go on a vacation and I never thought that anyone would come HERE. I think it was about the beauty of fall foliage, something I took for granted and used to only associate with the hassle of hand-raking dead leaves off the lawn (as demanded by my father) which made me realize that indeed tourists do come here for vacations.

Yes, people come to my area on vacations for which they pay money to just come and drive around, to view this foliage, here in New England.

Then I began noticing some changes in development of some towns and with my hometown. I don't always like the changes and wax nostalgic for 'the way it used to be'. I then realize, I have no photo of that former building or old business that I used to frequent. When I was a teen I spent a lot of time and money at an arcade. I have no photo of that place. When it turned into a Saturn car dealership, well, there was no point in taking the photo to document that!

I have been taking more and more photos of things all around me in this area and in my hometown, when I go there to visit my relatives. I am starting to see all kinds of things that are photo-worthy.

Additionally I felt a bit sad and angry at a change on Cape Cod when we took our first visit there this last summer. The first thing we used to see after we crossed the bridge over the Cape Cod Canal was a business which was a family owned restaurant and pie shop. In the parking lot right next to the road that we all had to drive by was a tugboat, which loomed large over us (who knew they were that big?). The tugboat had lots of buoys on it and I believe it said something like "Welcome to Cape Cod" on it, but I can't be sure. I took that for granted, that sight. It was something that was always there.

Yet this year when we rounded the corner there was a


brand new, just like all the others, CVS drugstore with a newly paved parking lot and it was lit up with brand new orange lights from the tall parking lot lights.


My in-laws told me that Grandma's Pies sold the land to CVS and they moved somewhere else in town.

Well I'm sorry but it is just not the same.

Franchises and national chains are creeping in all over the Cape. Small family-owned businesses are disappearing while the franchises take over. Some towns fight chains such as trying to prevent a Dunkin' Donuts from coming in to one town who had two yummy family owned doughnut shops already. There are numerous individual businesses who sell homemade ice cream yet one town now has a Ben and Jerry's. I'm sorry but it is not the same.

So when I'm at the Cape I have been trying to document the little businesses with their imperfect, fading signs and while at home I'm photographing the little things that I see which catch my eye. For I never know when the things which I appreciate but usually take for granted will disappear.

I do take more photos here at home, but it is true I take a lot while away. Why? The reason is that when I am away I have extra time on my hands and it is very easy to just take the time to go out and take photographs. I also have a bit of pressure, thinking, "I'll only get to this beach once this year, so I'd better go take some photos today". When I'm at home and busy with 'real life' I don't always take the time to go out and take photos. And then sometimes it is too late.

For example it rained for over 24 hours here yesterday. We awoke to sunny skies. As I drove down the road in the early morning, I noticed the fall foliage looked different, better somehow. I realized that all the bark on the trees was very dark brown, almost black, as it was so soaked with rain. The hard frost we had killed off a lot of the lush green plants on the forest floor. So what I saw was bright leaves covering a forest floor with black tree trunks with bright leaves on the trees with sunlight filtering through. It was breathtaking actually. But I was driving to meet my brother and I was under a deadline so I kept driving and didn't snap a photo. On the way home the sun had already dried the bark and the sun was high in the sky and the light was just different. It was not the same thing anymore, it was different. I now wish I'd taken 30 seconds to stop the car and snap a few quick photos. Sigh.

Although I am only 40 years old I am already feeling like an 'old geezer' in some respects as I've started to say, "I remember when that place was a..." and "Things are changing around here and it is just getting so overcrowded" and other stuff like that.

I should mention and make clear though that although negative feelings was the impetus to help me open my eyes, what is happening now is I am seeing more and more beauty in everyday things all around me. Noticing things and finding joy in just seeing something lovely actually lifts my spirits throughout the day. And that is 'a good thing' as Martha Stewart says.

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