Last Wednesday after work, I left the classroom, grabbed my camera, and drove up Power Plant Road into the mountains. Power Plant Road is a common picnic location for town residents. Giant evergreens flank the road, making it feel as if one has entered a fairy tale; rough, oversized picnic tables sprawl over lush grass, shaded by woodland. Squirrels, conspicuously nonexistent in town, scamper from tree to tree, chattering and squealing. Giant crested jays scissor through the pine trees; woodpeckers flit from branch to branch conducting their evolutionary carpentry. Water rushes from the small, red brick power house that gives the road its name, filling the air with pleasant white noise, and a stream fed by last winter’s snow trickles just beyond the safety fence, winding through a grove of aspens.
For two or three fleeting autumn weeks, this place explodes with color. Aspen leaves flutter in syrupy gold; maples blush shocking crimson. What once was green glitters like gems on nature’s shapely limbs. Acorns and snail shells litter the trails that lead into the mountains, where new snow has already fallen. Cool air sweeps down the slopes. A person has only to look around to realize that beauty exists in everything, from the smallest hat on an acorn’s head to the sweeping valley swathed in low clouds.
I went to Power Plant Road to photograph this beauty. I needed to remind myself that it is sometimes very pleasant to be alone; to drive the car in fits and starts, wheeling off the road with the blinkers flashing, stalking from one point of view to another trying to capture that perfect picture. Usually, I’m apologizing and begging to take just one more shot: perpetually the first person to enter the room and the last to leave, camera bag askew on my shoulder as I hastily put my camera away. My tiny digital SLR accompanies me everywhere.
My brother is the true photographer in the family. I’m just an amateur enthusiast, but I find that photography helps me recollect the details I want to include in my writing. It’s a hobby that costs practically nothing, but records the moments of my life in full, vivid detail, so that I can later accurately record them in my work.
Last Wednesday, the wind and the trees beckoned me. I went gladly. I stopped often.