I Look. I Focus. I See.

Slowly..I raise my camera. I look. I focus. I see.

Vermont’s green mountains rendered in winter’s greys and whites. A hint of a village and its church steeple tucked into the distant valley below. With one click - this vision..this moment is captured and preserved by my camera’s lens. Forever.

And – I think about my father. And – I wonder what he would see today if he were here with me. I hear his voice. I feel his presence. This was his landscape..his world that he embraced and loved.

It was in these mountains that I learned to ski. My father the teacher. Me the ever-willing student by his side. It was his lead that I followed. One turn after another. One bump. One mogul. One impossibly freezing cold day..followed by a warm spring one. In snow..in wind..in fog so dense we could hardly see our hands when held in front of us..in sunshine so bright and penetrating it almost hurt our eyes. We skied.

I grew up in these mountains. I grew from being one of a pack of boys..to wanting desperately to be a girl. I experienced my first love..and my first heartbreak. And it was here that I suffered my life’s greatest loss – my father.

It was in these mountains that he learned to see. It was here that he practiced his craft of photography…capturing this vast and beautiful landscape with his camera lens. Always in search of perfection - that perfect light..that perfect composition…that perfect vantage point from which to paint his picture. Rising before dawn..he’d be out seeking that first hint of magical light…that instant when the world is sleepily awaiting for the sun’s rise to start the day. He had a vision. And like any man on a mission..he pursued that vision passionately.

Slowly..I raise my camera. I look. I focus. I see.

So much alike..and yet so different. Without any particular vision in mind..I practice my craft daily. I see what I see. I capture the moment for what it is and what it offers..and not necessarily what I would like or hope  it to be. No pre-planning. No orchestration. No particular thought to the composition or vantage point from where I might be shooting..or even what that subject matter might be. Rising often before dawn..I too am out seeking that same magical light. Without any particular goal in mind…I’m  simply cultivating awareness and appreciation for whatever it is. A mindful meditation. The perfectly crafted image is not my intention. It’s in the unexpected and the spaces in between that I find myself and my vision.

I look like him. I share his familiar bouncing gait. Some have told me that I even remind them of him. And – I wear all of these badges proudly. He was my father.

As I return and return again to this landscape..to these mountains that he loved..I’m often caught off guard by their power and their grace. They remain forever present..immovable..solid and strong. The snow that blankets them in winter white melts into spring. The frozen rivers and streams begin again to freely flow. Grass grows. Flowers bloom. Trees sprout tiny buds that blossom into green leaves. The seasons go round and round endlessly repeating. Nature’s  power to renew and restore is everlasting. Life’s cycle is forever re-born.

And – I think about my father. And – I wonder what he would say today if he were here with me.