We live in paradise.
It’s not a tropical oasis, and the summers are brutally humid (other places claim to be humid, but the upper Gulf Coast region is The Real Thing). The winters are hit and miss. It’s rarely cold here – “cold” defined by me as anything below 40 degrees – but often that Gulf Coast humidity produces rainy weekends, clouds, and wind. Yuck.
But spring here is gorgeous, and it starts in February.
Lots of sunshine, 70-ish degree days, and pleasant breezes make me want to throw open every window in the house and welcome the fresh air in like a long-awaited guest. But I don’t – not on most days, anyway – because of the Epic Gulf Coast Pollen, covering everything like a yellow blanket and sending local residents to the Walgreen’s to stock up on Claritin.
But it’s worth it to live in paradise.
This year, in addition to the yellow pollen blanket and the gulf breezes and the sunshine, spring has given me a strong desire to view the world through my lens. Even though i’s becoming more and more difficult to photograph my kids these days – Sarah Kate is growing weary of the 366 project and Nathan is moving too fast – I keep at it, hoping for that single photo that captures the essence of their childhood in 2012.
Inspired by Sarah Halstead, the Naptime Momtog, I’ve collected my five favorite photos so far this year and am posting them today. Most, if not all, of them you have seen before, but today you’ll see them through my eyes, and you’ll look behind the image to the story you can’t see.
Just Woke Up was taken through the bars of Nathan’s crib right after he awoke from his nap. His look is solemn – or still sleepy – and I love it because his face is both relaxed and intently focused on me. This image of him post-nap was an anomaly; he typically wakes up rarin’ to go and full of smiles and energy.
One part of Base Hit belies the fact that Sarah Kate isn’t a star 8U softball player. Her swing is solid, her grip is firm, and the sinews visible in her arms speak volumes about her upper body strength. But her shoes – standard New Balance running shoes, rather than cleats – give her away.
This photo is also special because it was taken at the game where she got her first – and so far only – run, and on Nathan and Mr. Andi’s birthday.
Ten Free Minutes is one of my favorite images so far this year, but it’s also the one I consider to be the most deceiving. The story it tells is of two typical children enjoying a leisurely afternoon on the beach, when it was only about ten minutes (for one of the children, anyway). Sarah Kate’s walk calls to mind a young girl daintly floating across the sand on her tippy-toes, when in reality she has a hard time walking with her heels flat on the ground. And of course, because Nathan’s face can’t be seen, there’s no way to spot the telltale features of Down syndrome.
Daddy’s Home tells the story of how Momma came to be “less than” in 2012. Each day when Mr. Andi arrives home, Nathan drops whatever he’s doing in anticipation of Daddy. The smile begins as soon as the door is opened or Daddy is spotted on the driveway through the fence – he doesn’t wait for Daddy to see him. Every son should love his father this much.
There’s nothing particularly special about Game Two. It’s just a young girl in a softball uniform, gazing out across her backyard. What I love about it is thinking about how seemingly improbable it was that this day would ever come. When she was three years old and couldn’t walk – or, for that matter, even stand still – without assistance, I never imagined sports was in her future. It was even less likely when you consider that I was never the sporty type. Yet here we are.
Over the past (almost) two centuries, photographers have created images to represent a moment in time. Some of them described the moment accurately; others distorted reality – sometimes by choice, sometimes by accident. My children’s reality is what I want to capture, but I can’t do that without telling the story that goes along with the photo.