Road Trip Memory
Long ago, my mom and her best friend took us kids to a small rural town in North Alabama to shop for antiques. That’s not what they called them back then, “antiques,” but that’s what they bought. Driving into town, pulling up to the corner store of their choice we kids tumbled out of the car and stared. The roads were made of dirt and there were mule wagons coming and going loaded with cotton and whatnot. The railroad ran right through the middle of town. Entering the shop we feasted on the smell of dust and fabrics, wood and metal and a gazillion things stacked in tall shelving that required a ladder to reach. The place was bigger than life to a kid and busy with humanity. A train rumbled through and dust rained down from the ceiling. It was a kids fantasy, this hot, dusty place filled with unknown objects that not one person minded you touching.
One day I drove back to this town to revisit the memory. The roads are paved now but not much else has changed. The store, now painted bright red with a new For Sale sign in the window, is empty. All of the stores fronting the railroad track are empty except for one barber shop. Nature is reclaiming the old road fronting the stores as weeds and saplings grow through cracks. The railroad track is still in use but the train no longer stops there. Disoriented a bit, I pull over and stop. Getting out of my car I’m taken by the silence. It’s the middle of the day, middle of the week, and the place is like a ghost town. I notice an antique fire truck parked in a weedy field next to the railroad track. It is beautiful, but obviously has been there a long time. As I take photographs of it one of the fireman comes out to talk to me. “It’s a beauty, isn’t it?” he says of the antique fire truck. “Yes, she is,” I remark. “Wanna buy ‘er?” Um, no. I’ve no need for an antique fire truck but thank you anyway. We share stories of the town, our memories similar, and I take my leave.
The photo, above, is just my playing around with the antique fire truck photograph in Photoshop. That’s all. I’m just playing and reminiscing. Do you have a childhood memory that colorful, that vivid, that you can see the golden colors and smell the dust?
Hurricane Rita Sunrise
Bright orange glowed beneath my closed eyes like those of a jack o’ lantern at Halloween. The sky was glowing well before the sun rose from the hillside. I grabbed the camera and hustled to the dock below. Standing above water glowing like molten lava I shot waves of tangerine, orange and gold both above and below, in the lake. The show lasted about 5 minutes before the clouds ran together, blocking the sunrise. Eventually, these outer bands of Hurricane Rita turned Wheeler Lake into the Red Sea as torrential rains drained the south’s red clay into the river. Winds here in North Alabama reached 80 mph. I could not imagine being any closer to the eye of such a beast. It was an experience like no other.