Sunday, January 18, 2009
This is a picture of an old house on Gwynn’s Island I’ve been meaning to photograph for some time. Below is the story of how this picture came about.
Warning! This post is exceedingly long even though it can be summarized in one brief, succinct sentence.
For those of you in a hurry, here’s the bottom line: Chesapeake Bay Woman finally got caught trespassing, but things turned out OK. The End.
For those of you who are looking for a sedative or sleep aid, below is the version that stretches from here to Costa Rica. You will find yourself nodding off by about the third paragraph, but don’t worry. I’ll wake you up when it is over.
On Friday, the coldest day of the year, the day it was so cold you were wishing you were in Siberia because it would be warmer, I got caught trespassing. We all knew it was just a matter of time. But this happened when I least expected it.
I received an e-mail from a fellow Mathews blogger indicating that the ice over on Gwynn’s Island was photo-worthy and that I should head on over. Looking for any excuse to avoid laundry, dirty dishes, clutter or anything resembling household maintenance or domestic duties, I raced to the door, tripping over dirty laundry on the way out, and drove over there.
Although there was a bit of ice here and there, I wasn’t inspired enough to pull over and shoot. Or rather, those places that I would have shot required delicate planning and an overall strategy that I was not capable of concocting on such short notice. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, however, I decided to go further onto the island to take a picture of an old house I’ve admired ever since I was 4 years old and lived two doors down.
As I said, it was the coldest day we’ve had here, so I was all bundled up in an outfit just as fitting for the weather as it was a covert mission: gloves, ski cap, sunglasses, bulky coat and huge scarf. I was a little nervous, because this particular house is right on the main drag headed to the Gwynn Post Office, and there are lots of houses in close proximity. Also? There’s really no place to park. Normally I would have stopped in the middle of the road and shot the pictures, but there was someone behind me, so I confidently pulled right on up into the yard. Oh yes, I did.
I was feeling confident because if anyone was upset about me being there, they’d not bother dealing with it because of the frigid weather. Plus, I had my camera out and it was obvious what I was doing. Bottom line? No worries, and Chesapeake Bay Woman starts snapping away.
Then, I heard a car approach and slow down. I remained confident because surely they could see what I was doing, i.e. taking pictures to plaster all over the internet. I kept my back to the car and snapped away.
Oh no. Please. No. I turned around and saw a brown Buick pulling in on two wheels. This person meant business.
Trying to simultaneously keep from fainting and yet craft a polite explanation in my head, I walked over to the lady, who already had the window rolled down—on this, the coldest day of the year and all, when people are not supposed to be out in cars with their windows down checking on an * innocent * person trying to photograph a house on someone else’s property so that she can post it on the internet for the world to see. For instance.
The lady immediately went on the offensive. “May I ask what you’re doing?” she said with just the slightest hint of attitude, a quasi-scolding tone, one I am all too familiar with but have not heard since I was a teenager, when it was usually accompanied by a flyswatter-wielding Mother and some whining younger sister who had filed a grievance against me with said weapon-wielding Mother.
My instinct said to run, but the heart attack I was having would not allow my feet or legs to move. I have never fainted before, but I now know what it feels like because I was building up to a full-on faint very quickly.
I managed to move a few steps towards her car and smiled as I spent the last few seconds trying to concoct a response. One way or the other, I was going to win this one, because I would throw out, “This house is so beautiful,” and “I’ve loved this place ever since I was 4 years old and lived right over there,” and “I’m just an amateur photographer, but I know art when I see it.” My last resort would be, “Can you dial 911? I am in the midst of a cardiac event that requires immediate medical attention.” So, I had my game plan. I’d make her forget the fact that I was doing anything improper, and all would be fine.
She stared me down and waited for my response, with that window rolled down as the Arctic air whipped around us. I launched into my speech head first, feeling like a bungee jumper just free falling and praying that death was not imminent. Or rather, if it were in fact imminent that it would be swift and painless.
The first words out of my mouth were, “I’m a photographer and....” At this moment, I had come close enough to the car to be able to see the driver. I froze. I could not believe my eyes. With all that adrenaline rushing through my veins, I snatched my sunglasses off and said, “Hi, Pookie, it’s me, CBW!”
Yes, it was Mrs. Pookie of exploding hamburger fame, mother of commenter and blog contributor, Mathews Mountain Man. Lo and behold the place I was shooting was her grandfather’s old house. She told me its history and went on and on about the inside--where the staircase was; where the kitchen was (originally out back); and how the 3rd floor was where she used to sleep as a child.
We talked for about 10 minutes in spite of the excruciatingly cold Arctic blast encompassing us and my heart attack, which was already in progress but was starting to revert to more of a mild panic attack.
Yes, Mrs. Pookie scared the bajeebus out of me, but by golly if I’m going to get caught trespassing, I’m sure glad it was by her, someone I know. We had a nice, long visit while I mopped the sweat off my brow on this, the coldest day of the year.
Now, excuse me while I check myself into cardiac rehab.
CLAP-CLAP-CLAP! Time to wake up, now! Your Sunday nap is now over. Thank you for napping here, it's been a pleasure to serve you and meet your sleeping needs.
- Chesapeake Bay Trespasser