force versus power

I’m coming down from two—okay, four—well, to be honest, six—weeks of low-grade but constant stress. I held it together pretty well, if I say so myself. Canada Post, however, did what Canada Post does. Armed with tracking numbers I watched as my camera slowly made its way near me—but it only ever came near, even though the tracking number, properly applied to the proper field on the proper website, made the website say “Successfully Delivered.” 

Lies. I stared at those words for days while I called every possible source of information. Finally, a break in the clouds—a gentleman named Paul, who actually listened when I spoke, tracked down my package (misdelivered to the wrong address; that could have gone very badly) and before I knew it, the camera was in my hot little hands. Did I care that the SD cards we had at home didn’t fit it? Well, yes, I did, but not enough to let it ruin my night. I charged the battery, and the next day I took off for my friend Tammy’s vegetable market in Ottawa’s Greenbelt, with the right memory card.

The next week is going to be loaded with gray and rainy days, but Saturday was glorious, crisp and clear. I knew if I wanted to start learning what this camera could do, I wanted to be where the colors were. The market was full of pumpkins, earth-covered potatoes, brilliant apples, and onions swathed in purple and copper skins. Shot after shot, I tested. I have so much to learn, more than I even know I need to learn. I had put the camera away when a young family with two small boys came by. Tammy told the parents that I had my camera with me and then brought me over to a pallet of pumpkins, where the parents valiantly tried to get both youngsters to look at me at the same time. I was just a stranger trying to get their attention, and it didn’t work. I took a bunch of shots, enough that a few of them would turn out kinda-lucky. Nothing great, but a memento of the day. 

I gave up and walked to the rear of the market, tucking away the camera for the day. People streamed through, packing bushels full of potatoes and butternut squash to put aside for winter. I noticed the smaller of the two boys still sitting amid the pumpkins, and I pulled my camera back out. Those other photos were staged, fake. This time, I caught a moment.

spot the sweetheart! Where else do you wear a pumpkin hat?This is what happens when you stop trying so hard. I know this rule. I don’t often remember to live by it, because I worry that I’m going to leave something out, that someone will be hurt, that I can’t get everything done that someone else might be able to do. I wonder if it’s even possible to really live this way, or if moments like this are bound to be rare no matter how open to them I am. I’ve been visited by so much beauty and good fortune that it seems impossible that I missed any on my way here. Either way, it felt good to come home, to see this image on my monitor, and to put it here for you. It feels like the start of something good.