Is there something between epic and domestic?

Facebook memories are usually wonderful. I often surprise myself with how funny I was X years ago that one day, and I love looking back at trip photos that pop up. It’s also interesting to see the trends of life and how they change. For example, according to Facebook, I used to be a lot more obsessed with my camera.

4 years ago, I slipped on a rock on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, and dropped my camera into an ocean puddle. Along with my dignity, I broke the camera body, and waited with breath held for the new one to arrive. In those days, I had a serious thing for my Canon; being without it felt wrong.

These days, it’s rare that I pick it up, and I’ve been wondering why. Today I figured out part of it.

Each year, as a Christmas gift, I make a calendar of my favorite photos of the previous year. There are a few friends and family who have no choice but to receive it; some are even kind enough to put it up on display. Sometimes I forget what photo is next, like I did this month. But this month is a good one. One of my best, I think. Here it is:

As a side note, this photo proves that photos aren’t a reflection of reality. This looks peaceful, doesn’t it? It was anything but. This was taken on the Valley of the Five Lakes hike in Jasper National Park in Canada, August 2019. Shawn and I got a later start than we should have, and as a result, there were probably 3-4 other parties of people at this little dock/lake. Children were running about yelling, as they do, and grown ups were jostling for the selfie spot on a dock out of frame. But I saw this boat, and the marvelous light, and somehow folded myself into some tree roots to get this picture.

Isn’t it lovely? Look at the oars, at the 2nd boat hiding behind the main one, the crazy clear water, the shadows on the bow.

When I see this photo today, it feels like a lifetime ago. My camera did come out quite a few times since then: for my last elevation hikes, way back in October in Utah, for Christmas, for my nephew’s birthday. But never with that deep-seated need that I used to feel, that itch to have “my real camera” in my hands, in case I would turn a corner and see something that just needed to be photographed. Even though my iPhone often takes better pictures, there is something about the weight of the Canon that makes me feel close to being an artist.

Last week, for the first time in months, while out for a hike in the woods with my niece, I found I missed my camera. Perhaps it’s spring and the way it makes the trees glow neon, or perhaps it’s the joy I got watching my niece shed some of her timidity and gallop fearlessly along trails that I love.

So for this week’s family hike, I made sure I had my Canon with me. I fell back to my trusty 50mm prime lens because I can always trust it to deliver, especially when my skills are rusty. And I caught a couple of photos that made my heart swell in that old familiar way.

As I pulled them down from my camera, I found others, from my nephew’s February birthday, that also made me smile:

As I moved through these, editing and cropping, I realized what’s changed. In my photo-obsessed years, there were things I wanted to capture that weren’t an epic adventure, or a family gathering. There were local hikes, new corners of Boston or the beachfront to explore, a sense of marvel and wonder and looking forward that made heading out with my camera to photograph my favorite pond for the 20th time seem exciting. These were moments between epic and domestic.

These days, there’s not much going on in the between.

There are no epic adventures to be had, and there won’t be any time soon. Family gatherings are on hold, too. So, we exist in this place of sameness, where it seems like nothing changes, and where all forward motion has stopped.

Normally, at this point in a blog post, I’d turn to how I’m going to solve the problem or issue I’m arguing with myself about, but not today. See, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find ways to excite myself enough to take my camera along the next time I walk my dog through our complex, for what feels like the 1000th time this week. I’m not convinced there’s anything new to find in this little bubble of domesticity that we live in. But I do hope that the good, solid feel of my camera in my hands was the start of a new trend. Time will tell. And goodness knows we’ve got time on our hands these days.

Here are a few of the pictures I snapped on our family hike – a nice moment of the between. I am grateful to live where we can get outside in a responsible way and give these rugrats the chance to stretch their legs and play in the sand. And, it was nice to be able to capture some of it.

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