I went working in my garden today. Actually, I planted a few things for the first time this year. "Late" is not the word for it. "Ridiculously late" is the word for it. I'm about two months behind planting time, but seeing that bare patch of nothing out there where there used to be green growing produce finally drove me to distraction. And to buying some zucchini, squash, three varieties of tomatoes and some cucumber seeds.
My daughter's mind has become quite a garden too. Things have taken root there that I've planted, that my mother has planted, that her teachers at school and the parish priest and even the damned TV have planted there, and like any child's mind seedlings are growing there that have come from me without even knowing it. Photography, for instance. I don't leave the house without my camera, haven't gone anywhere without a camera in probably two decades or more. Me? I like my camera. I didn't realise my daugher was watching all this time. Makes me wonder about how often she's seen me pick my nose.
My little one has never evinced an interest in photography until two weeks ago, during a career-opportunities event at school. My child is a sneaky one, too. Out of the blue she wants to be a photographer, is looking into wildlife photography and underwater photography and all sorts of things of a photographic bent. Problem being, she's leaving for Oregon to spend the summer with her mother. In five days.
So, I did what any father would do. I went berzerk.
When I first started getting serious about photography I went to the local chain camera store in the mall where a friend of mine worked. I told her I wanted a good starter camera kit, an honest to gawd manual 35mm camera with interchangeable lens and everything. I plunked down my cash and spent the next bunch of years learning the ins and outs of a manual 35mm. I spent I don't know how much money getting roll after roll developed. Colour. Black and white. Shooting landscapes and animals and even in a very few instances trains. That camera went with me everywhere. It rode on the back of motorcycles. It rode in my vehicle the few times I owned an enclosed vehicle. It hung from my neck like a small black albatross.
When the time came many years later for me to step into a digital camera I put my old manual Ricoh in its battered nylon camera bag and set it on a bookshelf where it sat, untouched, for years.
When my little girl decided she wanted to start using a camera I knew I needed to help her. Problem being, my last two digital point-and-shoot cameras are defunct. One broke due to old age, the second broke in a certain motorcyle wreck a while back. Simple math--I didn't have a camera to give her and I certainly don't have the money to rush out and buy her one. So, I did what I had to do.
I dragged out the old Ricoh and passed it down, the only heirloom I have to give her. We spent a huge chunk of today going over it, watching the light meter go from negative to positive, learning how to adjust the gross focus, how to check where the sun was before shooting, how to load the film and how to hold the camera steady. In short, a high speed, low-drag crash course in photography.
This afternoon we headed to Wal-Mart and bought a four pack of Fujicolour film, washed the bugs off her new-to-her camera bag and got her set up with lens cloths, cleaning fluid and those weird little air-blower things with the little soft bristles. She's already started carrying the whole rig around, carefully packing and unpacking it, trying different arrangements, moving around the dividers, making it hers.
I don't know if she's going to stick with it or not. Honestly I don't know if she's going to accidentally drop it in the Pacific Ocean this summer or if she's got something in her that is going to respond to using a camera like a seedling takes to the sun. Either way I'll be happy. If, however, on the off chance she grows up and becomes The Next Big Thing, well, I won't feel too bad about it.
I won't tell you about how my dirt gardening went today.