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Young Fletch with Tree 3

“All things on earth point home in old October:

sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences,

hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds,

the lover to the love he has forsaken.”

– Thomas Wolf

Art in the common places.

Checkers

1956-dad-and-papaw-owens-playing-checkers

This is a photo of my father, William Burke Fletcher, and my maternal grandfather, Craig Owens, two years before I was born. My mother, Shirley Fletcher, sent my family some photos of them playing checkers through the years tonight along with this note.
 
“Your Dad always told people he won me in a checker game with my Daddy. When he came to see me they always seemed to get into a checker game. It continued for many years even after we married if they were together very long the checker board came out. I was looking through pictures tonight and wanted to share these picture with you. Love You Mom, Maw.”

Witness.

A scene of violence

As I walked I came upon a scene of violence. The limb of a tree fell from a great height and crashed into the railing of a bridge over the river. A beam shattered. Nails pulled from wood with a great screeching sound. The limb in the water. All quiet now. But the violence remains. Hanging in the air.

Worlds Collide: ChillStep

Music has always spoken to me since that day in the fourth grade when a band director put a trumpet in my hands and asked me if I wanted to be in the band.

I am ecumenical when it comes to music. I owe my allegiance to no artist or style but rather find myself drawn to the beauty, power and mystery in all musical forms and styles. I listen to music often when I write or when I’m editing photographs. I listen when I drive, when I take long walks and in the little dead places in life where nothing else is happening (standing in lines, walking between the parking lot and the office, getting dressed, waiting for airplanes to take off.)

I used to listen to a lot of Chill. It was like having a soundtrack to my life played through the speakers of the humongous SUV I drove at the time. In recent years, I fell under the thrall of Dub Step, the London underground mashup of electronic dance music, power chord rock and roll, heavy bass and anything else you want to throw in the blender of Fruity Loops (a computer program for editing music). I especially love “the drop”, a moment in most Dub Step songs when after a soulful or intricate opening there is a dramatic pause and then a blast of sonic energy in the form of a wall of music that makes one imagine a warehouse full of people jumping up and down in unison and joy.

Imagine my wonder, in recent days, when I stumbled onto ChillStep, the bastard child of two genres of music I had, until then, loved equally but separately. I had used a voice command to tell my handy electronic assistant to play a Dub Step playlist and somehow, not once but twice, the assistant responded, “Playing ChillStep playlist.”

The calm moody laid back world of Chill jammed up with the frenetic power of Dub Step. ChillStep appeared as a revelation. Calming and energizing in turn.

I commend it to you.

 

 

 

Time Travel

About 20 years ago, I crept into my children’s bedrooms at about 3 a.m. and rousted them from their sleep.

“Come with me. Let’s go outside and watch the meteor showers.”

Tonight, I went out to watch the Perseid meteor shower again. I saw a lot of meteors but it was the memories that came thick and fast.

As a boy, my best friend and I built telescopes from parts we ordered from the Edmund Scientific Catalog. I studied the stars. Traveled to them in my mind. Developed a love for the mysteries of the night sky and the universe. When the city came and installed a street lamp, I shot it out because it cut down dramatically on what I could see in the night sky. It made perfect sense to me but neither my father nor the public works department were amused. Another night my friend’s mother locked up the house and went to bed without knowing that we were on the roof stargazing.

As a young man, I remember walking to the barn to milk before day break and seeing the Milky Way in sharp relief against and deep black sky, unpolluted by street lamps. I could barely make it out tonight from my suburban neighborhood with the bright lights of Nashville castings its glow from the east.

And then that night I woke up William and Marshall and explained to them what was happening as streaks of light coursed across the sky. They still remember that night fondly. They were sleepy and groggy but they turned their faces to the sky and were delighted when they saw the shooting stars. I suspect they will always remember that and, perhaps some future night, they will wake their own children and make new memories. With their faces turned, once again, to the night sky they will begin a story by saying, “Your grandpaw did this one night with us a long time ago.”

Memories, like the stars themselves. Steady.Sometimes harder to see than others. Always there.

One last shot

2016-04-24 18.51.06

It’s late in the day. Tired. Hungry. The equipment is all loaded and the crew is ready to go eat and rest.

Then the light changes. No, you say to yourself. No, it’s just another sunset. You don’t have time.

Then the paint horse begins to walk up the pasture.

Without actually making a decision you begin to walk toward the fence. Quietly. You reach into your pocket for a camera and then for a few glorious moments you are simply lost. You aren’t hungry or tired. There’s just the light and the horse.  The little yellow flowers seems to glow. The horse turns the wrong way and you get some fantastic sunset photos featuring the wrong end of the horse.

Then he turns and begins to graze toward you and the sound of his eating and chewing seems like a sound from another world. A deep crunching noise as he breaks off the sweet grass and chews.

Then something happens. The cosmic tumblers fall into place and you get just a moment where the sun, the sky, the horse and the little yellow flowers feels like they are in just the right place. One frame out of a few hundred. The last shot. One last shot.

It’s a gift. You could have been down the road a few miles but, instead, you happen to be standing there with a camera in your hands when something sweet and memorable happens. It’s a gift you give to yourself. One last shot.

A lot happened today. Hundreds of photos and hours of video. But as I lay dying years and years from now this is the image I am most likely to remember from this day. The last shot. One last shot.