Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Missing My Camera

Eagle Island from the house

“I forgot my camera!” I exclaimed at the Shaw’s parking lot in Ellsworth, Maine.

“Are you sure?” my wife asked, while I bent over the steering wheel with hands over my face in grief. I could hardly believe it but I knew it was true. We were rushing around to leave for a week’s vacation at a rented house on the ocean in Addison, Maine.View from the bedroom of rental house

I had carefully loaded my wife’s car for the four-hour trip and we were almost there before I realized that I’d left my camera in my truck back in Lovell. I don’t go anywhere without it and I’d taken it with me for a trip to the dump. Don’t laugh. I’ve taken great pictures at the dump. You just never know when you’re going to see something. I got home and put the empty barrels back in the garage, but forgot to take the camera bag out and transfer it to my wife’s car. The thought of a whole week’s leisure with countless opportunities to creatively capture beauty being squandered was breaking my heart.Old House around Jonesboro

I called my daughter, Jessica, and explained my dilemma. “So you want me to ship it to you overnight,” she said, anticipating my request.

“Oh, would you please?” I begged.

“Of course,” she said, “but it’s Saturday afternoon and the Post Office is closed. I could use UPS or Fed-Ex. Let me check online how to do this and I’ll call you back. I assume you want insurance.”

“Yes. There’s about $1500 worth of equipment in that bag.”

She called back to tell me she would have to ship it out Fed-Ex on Monday morning and I’d get it Tuesday, so I’d be without it half my vacation. I thought, “Okay. I’ll read books and cook gourmet meals to distract me from the urge to take pictures and try not to think about it until Tuesday.”

After food shopping, we went by a WALMART and I bought a little Nikon Coolpix S3000 to use in the interim. I’d still miss my DSLR and 18-270 mm lens, but the Coolpix is a neat little camera capable of 12 megapixel images, and it’s small and thin enough to fit easily in my pocket. If a whale came up on the shore in front of the house, I could capture it. I’m justifying the expenditure thinking that I’ll keep the Coolpix in my pocket at all times while my camera bag is in my house or in my vehicle. I can’t frame a shot as well or zoom in as before, but it’ll have to do.

The house was fogged in when we arrived and it still is. It’s raining as I write and I’m glad of it being camera-crippled. I’m going to read books and take my mind off the pictures I can’t take. I’ve just finished “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.” It’s the third book in a series by Stieg Larsson and he’s dead, so there won’t be any more novels about Salander, the intriguing main character. Guess she’s dead now too.

I have another great book to last me into Tuesday. It’s Richard Grant’s “God’s Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre.” In Tombstone, Arizona three weeks ago, I met a guy who recommended it and I’m glad he did. I’d told him what I was doing down there in border country and it reminded him of Grant’s escapades. I’m not nearly as fearless or crazy as Grant, however. I was warned numerous times to stay away, but I went into the border areas of Nogales and Douglas, Arizona to explore and ask questions. I could sense the danger, but nobody robbed me or tried to kill me. Grant, however, went across the border and into the belly of the beast, alone and unarmed. He explored where the violence and lawlessness that’s transforming the southwestern United States originates and published his account two years ago. If a book can distract me from the dramatic beauty of Maine’s coast, it’s this one.

Monday the sun came out and we could see how beautiful it is facing west over Pleasant Bay from our rental house.
Tuesday we hired Maine Guide Rob Scribner to take us out into Machias Bay via sea kayak and see some petroglyphs - ancient carvings on bedrock visible between the tides.I used the little Nikon Coolpix. It’s just as well I didn’t have my DSLR for the trip. If it got wet in the kayak, I’d have been really sick. The little camera worked okay.After that we explored Jasper Beach in Machiasport. It’s not a sand beach. It’s terraced with stones piled up by wave action and there are beautiful pieces of jasper from an outcropping in the ledge nearby. Retreating waves tumble them down the terraces against each other with a unique clicking sound. It’s picked over regularly, but there are still some beautiful pieces of polished jasper to be found if you look hard enough. A woman there told us there was only one other beach like it in the world - in Ireland. By sheer coincidence, we were there two years ago. It’s on the Isle of Doagh, Donegal from where my Great Grandfather, James McLaughlin, disembarked back in 1900.

On the way back to the rental house I got a cell phone message from the Fedex carrier that something went wrong with the overnight shipment. My DSLR wouldn’t arrive until Wednesday (today) and would require an adult signature. Guess I’ll have to leave a note on the door for the Fedex guy because it’s raining again and we’re heading into Bar Harbor to check out the Abbe Museum. Our internet connection is via satellite dish and doesn’t work in the rain. I have to file this column - and to do that I’ll need to suck in a signal from somewhere on the road between here and Bar Harbor.

Hopefully the Fedex guy will find this place while we’re gone.


DAWN said...

Hope you both have a wonderful time on the ocean. I'd love to be there about now myself! Instead we're getting ready to head to the Gulf Coast to check on the tar balls after seeing the devastation on the news daily now for weeks.

I went to a three day conference a couple of weeks ago in Orlando and overheard a lady behind me speak about Cuba and Fidel Castro. Her family fled here in the early
1960's to get away from Fidel. Her now elderly parents are very upset now, as American citizens, when they listen to Obama speak because he is saying the same sort of things Fidel did in the early days. She said if the kids in our country were taught what socialism sounds like and what it represents Obama never would have made it to President.

Anyhow I jotted down the name of a book she was saying we all have to read. It's called "Wating for Snow in Havana." It's a must read she said. Have you read it or heard about it? I'm guessing you may have.

Diane Gurien Kearsarge NH said...

As I've noted on previous posts - Mr. McLaughlin and I could not be farther apart on things political.

I, nonetheless, find his writings on nature, on Maine history, on going to the dump (one of my pleasures, as well!), and on literature to be eminently readable and absolutely top-rate!

Thank you, Tom, for another highly enjoyable piece.

Rhonda said...

Great article, beautiful pictures and thanks for the book recommendations!

Tom McLaughlin said...

No. I haven't read that book, except an excerpt online just now.

Fidel is a major political and historic character in the 20th century, so any insight into him would be worth it.

Thank you for your kind words. I'll be returning to the political realm in my next several columns though, so brace yourself. There's so much happening out there, I must write about it.

I recommend you start with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" - the first in the series.

Diane Gurien Kearsarge NH said...


I'll look forward to your columns both political and otherwise. Again: though we may 'agree to disagree', it's still a pleasure to read your thoughts. Thank you (and have an enjoyable remainder of the summer!)

May I offer another book recommendation, while we're at it? Jose Saramago's "Blindness". A futuristic allegory which is powerful and disturbing.

DAWN said...

I'm writing all the book recommendations down for future readings. I went to the used bookstore today near me and they put me on a wait list for the one I mentioned. He said he had it but someone bought it. He'll call me when another shows up.

I'll have to check with him later for the other books mentioned here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tom again for a wonderful insight to your world and the beautiful countryside you have down there.

I'm intrigued by the books you mentioned also, might just do a speed read of them at our local bookstore. (To have me sit down long enough to read is a feat in itself).


Anonymous said...

Side question Tom, or anyone, how come the US flag is in reverse on soldiers and now on the press release of the new F35 fighter jet?

Meaning the stars are on the top right corner of the flag. Aren't they suppose to be top left?