Summer Clouds Dancing Across the Sky

Hampton Beach NH at dusk

SixWordSaturday

Settled on a boardwalk bench after an anniversary dinner with my husband last night, I was witness to Mother Nature at work. The evening sky on display…only a short drive away from our home.

Behind me – and across the street – a bustling sidewalk of tourists balancing beach chairs, slices of pizza and fried dough moved along from T-shirt shops to ice-cream stands to the iconic arcade that has been blaring its bells & whistles from pinball machines for decades. A mashup of reggae, rock and country music poured out from restaurant decks and porches. A sea of humanity of all ages, shapes and sizes gravitated in and out of what my father used to call “Tourist Traps” but what I affectionately called “Souvenir Shops” back in the day. Last night it was: Get your name printed on a grain of rice! or a ring! Buy this shirt with a (totally tasteless) message printed on the front! Key chains! Sunglasses! And More! Racks of tie-dye…everything…lined the boulevard. Before dinner, we played a few Skee Ball games for old times sake – and collected enough tickets for a pair of dice.

Finally, the popular vacation destination of Hampton Beach was “back to normal” after 2 summers of pandemic restrictions. It was wonderful to see people out and about enjoying themselves.

After over a week of record setting heat and humidity, I was most grateful a more comfortable summer day had returned…with its gift of a beautiful evening sky.

Rocking out with Bonnie…Just Like That.

Hampton Beach, NH

Back in November 2021, I opened my email and spotted a notice from Ticketmaster that caught my eye…

Just Announced Bonnie Raitt: Just Like That…Tour 2022.

The venue was only 20 minutes away at Hampton Beach. Relatively small compared to the arenas and concert halls where she often performs. Mmmm…an April 2022 date. Close quarters with a crowd of people nonetheless. So what should I do? Five months away…the pandemic should be over by then…or over enough with help from vaccines and a booster shot…I thought. Right? RIGHT?

I hadn’t been to a concert since 2018.

At exactly 10am on the pre-sale date, I logged on to Ticketmaster and managed (after a few failed attempts) to snag 2 tickets in the back row. They don’t send paper tickets any more. Dinosaur that I am, I was faintly annoyed. After all, how do you add a virtual ticket to your ticket stub collection dating back to the 1980s?

So, this past Saturday night, while the Easter Bunny was making its rounds, my husband and I drove 20 minutes through the rain and made the leap back into “normal” – packed into a sold-out show with 2,000+ fans. It reminded me of the 2007 AARP convention we went to in Boston (Rod Stewart! Earth, Wind & Fire!). Most everyone was “of a certain age” and I must admit it was heartening to see all my fellow survivors of the past two years out in force. I even managed to sneak a few quick phone photos to mark the occasion before the event staff pounced. We were 2 out of maybe a dozen people wearing masks. Why did we wear masks? Because, contrary to (some) popular opinion, the pandemic is NOT over and we just made the best of it.

The concert was fantastic and upbeat and glorious. Bonnie, at 72, is an inspiration. Rocking and singing and playing slide guitar and piano. Her voice did not disappoint. I am no music critic, but she sounded just like she did when I first heard her music blasting out of my apartment mate Deb’s bedroom in 1975. Bonnie’s bluesy sound was new to me at the time, but before I knew it I was hooked.

Those lyrics! I can’t make you love me if you don’t…. Even decades later the tears came again just the same. And then there’s her rendition of the late John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” with one of my favorite lines of all time…how the hell can a person go to work in the morning, then come home in the evening and have nothing to say? Gets me every time and it did so again Saturday night.

We were afraid nobody would come! – her words at the close of the show, when thanking us all for being there. I imagine she had no idea what would be happening pandemic-wise in April either – when planning this tour for promoting her new album Just Like That… (scheduled for release Friday April 22nd). Judging from the several new songs (especially “Made Up Mind”) she played for us, it was worth the wait!

But there we were. Me, in my faded Nick of Time t-shirt from her 1989 concert, singing along through my mask. Best of all, she performed the title song from that Grammy winning album and made my night. Nick of Time was recently added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Her comment after wowing us with that performance was something along the lines of…Isn’t it amazing how writing a song about getting older would change my life…. Even more amazing – to me – is the fact that she wrote it while in her 30s. And I connected with it when I was also in my 30s and still do now. I found the ticket stub to her tour for that show too.

Full circle.

A real ticket stub – 1989 – “Nick of Time” release

Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste…

From Camp to Kites

A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away. 

Eudora Welty

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This post inspired by two challenges this week…

Lens-Artists Challenge #115: Inspiration

We look forward to seeing your thoughts and images on what inspires YOU.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #113: How It All Started

…think back to those moments that changed your life. No need to use the prompt; just demonstrate how “it” started.

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I was only 10 years old when I got my first camera. And fell in love with photography. I don’t remember the circumstances of who gave me the camera or why. I just thought it was cool (or as we used to say back then…”Keen!”…”Sharp!”) and I’ve never been without one since.

My first attempts at photography – with a Kodak Brownie camera and black & white film – manifested as square blurry images of trees, lean-tos, and other 10 year olds at Girl Scout camp. Hard to believe that a week of rustic living became a defining moment in my life as a photographer, but I guess it did. This despite my most vivid memory being the latrines (just plywood for seats, people – I mean seriously?) and how I dreaded making the trip to That Building (no pictures, sorry).

It was also where I discovered (after the film was developed) that when I held the camera on the lean-to railing the blurring disappeared…

Over time, I slowly improved at steadying the camera and moved on to capturing my younger siblings when they least expected it. As the years went by I became the family photo historian by default. Even more so when I advanced to color film! Very exciting.

My friends knew I would always show up with a camera as the unofficial keeper of the memories. Even at a young age I became acutely aware of how quickly life – and people – could change. It became very important – for me at least – to preserve what I could. I do remember feeling all of that. Which kind of astounds me now.

Oh…and it was fun.

I was 14 ½ when my 4th and youngest sibling was born and he became a willing subject for photography practice. Never mind that he was exceedingly cute and followed me around constantly. I was “in charge” of him most of the time so taking pictures was easy.

The photographs I took at college and summer jobs are best left off the internet, but they are definitely treasured keepsakes.

I graduated to a Canon SLR camera shortly after I got married and burst onto the taking-pictures-of-my-children-at-every-milestone-possible scene. They were my inspiration for decades and have appeared in many blog posts, so I will restrain myself from adding them in here. Same goes for my grandson, who is now 4 and very comfortable getting his picture taken as a child of the smartphone generation.

However, now (accompanied by a Canon DSLR camera) I am also inspired by the ordinary…what’s outside my window…down the path into the woods…winding around that chain link fence. The mesmerizing waves at the beach. I am constantly looking up and down and to the side…not in as much of a hurry as I used to be.

The best photo moment – for me – still springs from the unexpected…no matter what (or who) the subject happens to be.

Last week I was able to return – after several months of Covid restrictions – to walk along the water’s edge at Hampton Beach. The tourist season is over. Crowds are gone. The parking rules have been relaxed. I couldn’t resist the trip on such a beautiful…sunny…blue sky windy day. Even with a mask on, it was worth it.

As I made my way across the sand to walk back along the street, I spotted something bright in the sky.

Off came the lens cover.

It wasn’t the surf or the rocks or what usually fascinates me about the beach.

I had to get a closer shot.

I set the camera on what I call Grandson Mode or Freezing the Action Mode.

And I was off…

Hampton Beach, NH

And…by the way…it is still fun.

Lens-Artists Challenge #87: Reflections

Inspired by Lens-Artists Challenge #87: Reflections

…we invite you to be creative to find any reflective surfaces to show us your reflection photographs.

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My most recent favorite reflection happened in January during a walk on the beach. The tide was lower than I’d ever seen before. The afternoon light caught the clouds above while the beach transformed into a mirror.

Magical.

I had driven to this beach with an overwhelming need to clear my head. Walking along the ocean…listening to the waves hit the shore…the blue sky meeting the water in a far off horizon.

It never fails me.

january clouds
Hampton Beach 2020

A few years ago I caught this moment during a walk close to sunset.

beach sunset
Hampton Beach 2016

Last summer, reflections appeared on a pond at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

vermont pond
Shelburne, Vermont 2019

This past week has been quite difficult on a personal level…which drove me to the beach again yesterday. No reflections this time…but these photos brought it all back.

The peace. The calm. The comfort.

Gotta love the power of the images we capture – as they transport us back to a healing moment in time.

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(I resisted inserting the Supremes rendition of Reflections, as it kept going through my mind while writing this post…it’s funny how songs just pop up at the most unexpected times)

 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Change Your Perspective

Inspired by Lens-Artists Challenge #86: Change Your Perspective

…we invite you to break the habit of shooting photos at eye-level and change your perspective.  Instead, show us your photographs taken from a variety of perspectives–by getting down low, by looking up at the subject or looking down, or walking around the subject. 

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This past Sunday – sunny but cold – seemed a perfect opportunity for a walk on the beach. The bright afternoon sun enhanced the perspective potential for this challenge…and I am always chasing the light.

It didn’t disappoint.

Along the walkway bordering the beach is a shelter that covers several lines of benches. The sun lit it up with lines as well.

Catching my eye from one side…

roof 2
At first…one side

A bit less eye-catching from the other side…

roof 1
And then the other side…

Venturing underneath and looking up…

roof below
Taking a look up…

…revealed an entirely different display.

I continued walking down the boulevard…but before turning around to head back to my car, I glanced up.

Apparently two seagulls took it upon themselves to be on the lookout atop a light pole.

seagulls from below
On the lookout…

They sat at attention long enough for a photo.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Special Spot Shots

Inspired by Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #78: Special Spot Shots

Now we are looking forward to seeing Your very special spot shots – maybe a room in your home, a garden, a mountain, a city, an exhibition, a lovely café…a place that is special to you!

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While taking on this photo challenge, I came to the realization that my “Special Spot” had changed.

At first, I thought…Coronado Beach! I have such warm and wonderful – and yes, special, memories from the half dozen times I vacationed there.

I have posted about this slice of heaven on the US west coast several times.

Coronado Beach, California

However, I have not been back to Coronado since 2006 and it is unlikely I will be able to make a cross country trip again.

Time for a new special place…

I live on the US east coast…relatively close to a beautiful beach. I will admit, it’s not as beautiful as Coronado…but it still ranks up there.

From October through December of 2016 we lived in a rental across the street from the sands of Hampton Beach. A temporary stint of “living at the beach” while we waited to close on our new condo under construction a few towns away.

It was off season, so we practically had the beach to ourselves.

hamptonbeachNov2016
Hampton Beach, NH – 2016

Peaceful.
Perfect for afternoon walks.

reflection 2
Hampton Beach, NH – 2016

A seat on the sand for contemplation.

shadow
Hampton Beach, NH – 2016

Mesmerized by the waves while my imagination ran wild with plans for the future.

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Yesterday afternoon I decided to take a ride back to Hampton Beach…

Dressed in layers for a cold, windy, winter walk.

It happened to be low tide. The lowest tide I’d ever seen.

I was not disappointed.

hampton beach
Hampton Beach, NH – 2020

January beach
Hampton Beach, NH – 2020

It seems I still have a Special Spot.

Now…close to home.

Freezing mist

Inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo: Mist

Three years ago tomorrow my husband and I closed on the condo we are living in now. A long awaited moment…after years of planning, downsizing and exhausting work.

That morning the air temperature was 2° F – so brutally cold that I was afraid my car wouldn’t start, as it was parked outside. The gusty wind making it worse.

If my car didn’t start, how would I get to the closing?

At the time we were renting a condo across the street from the Atlantic Ocean in Hampton Beach, NH. I was up early enough that morning to catch this view out the window. I stepped out (briefly!) on the tiny deck to capture this shot…

Ocean mist (perhaps a “freezing mist”) like I had never seen before.

IMG_3341
8:23 am
December 16, 2016
Hampton Beach, NH

It never warmed up past 10° or 12° that day…but much to my relief, the car reluctantly started.