Looking at the Donut AND the Hole

Black Sun

My car drove itself to Volunteer Park late this afternoon after dropping Gillian off at volleyball. I didn’t plan on going there. I swear it just started going that direction because I had my camera with me and hadn’t shot anything yet today. I slowed down as I passed the conservatory, thinking maybe I was supposed to go in and shoot tropical flowers. It was closed. That wasn’t it, but I didn’t know why I was there. The road only goes one direction, so I had to drive between SAAM and the “Black Sun”. As I pulled away from the conservatory my eyes automatically found the light on the horizon. Sunlight split the gap between sea and clouds outlining houses and trees with office buildings in the distance. I pulled into a parking place and got out, remembering to lock the car, even though I had all of my belongings with me.  As I walked toward the “Black Sun”, I thought, “How cliche! Am I really going to shoot the Space Needle through the ‘Black Sun’?” So I did. Just to get it out of the way. I shot it every way I could think of. I made pictures of kids leaning on it and sitting in it. I tried to capture the reflection of the setting sun in its gleaming black marble. I zoomed in close and used that same marble to outline the view of downtown beyond. I even shot photos of tourists with their own cameras, faces peeking through the center hole, a memory of their trip to Seattle.  Then I walked away to find the “real shot”. I climbed up in the water tower, forgetting the grid of heavy wire that obscures the view. Was that always there? I thought it was open when we played hide and seek in Volunteer Park, just old enough to be “up there” by ourselves. Was it there in junior high? Or high school, when we did other things in the park that required clandestine meeting places? The water tower was never a very good place to hang out though. There ‘s only one way down. It has quite the lookout, but at every age its not the place to stay long. Today, that grid of steel wire makes it impossible to shoot the view of the waterfront without heavy black lines inconveniently cutting the image into pieces. I walked back to my car, the colors on the horizon becoming a little more intense. I made a few more “Black Sun” pictures and drove home to make dinner.

My family is all home now. They came home while I was typing last night’s entry. They burst in the door yelling “Hi Mom!” The dogs went crazy, like they always do, Sherlock barking, whining, jumping, yipping, then running mad circles in the living room chasing his tail, as if he had just noticed it for the first time. I set aside my writing for a few hours and finished up after they all went to bed. Everything back to normal. No more lingering at the table drinking coffee and writing, notebooks and photography books spread out for days. I quickly gathered them and brought them back to the safety of my bedroom. There are still ski boots on the floor in the front hall, and I’d be willing to bet that Gillian’s ski bag doesn’t move from its current location until she repacks it on Thursday evening. I found her wet, dirty ski clothes in the laundry room, she figures that its more efficient just to leave the rest of her gear where it will have less distance to travel the car next time. I used to be bothered by the fact that my kids think the front hall is a storage locker. Maybe I thought that I would be negligent in my responsibility to teach them orderliness and tidiness. They should have consequences that forced them to learn if they wouldn’t listen to my requests… At some point I came to the conclusion that teaching my children how to maintain a tidy home and enforcing consequences was about the most boring thing I could ever spend my time doing. So I let it go and learned to love the mess (most of the time) because the alternative was so unappealing. Charlotte’s swim bag lived on the floor in the front hall for at least five years, usually accompanied by a wet towel or two. Sometimes she’d find her goggles or one flip-flop in “the lair”, an ottoman in the living room under which Sherlock hides all of his treasures.  This usually provoked a crisis. He would only choose to run off with things when they were likely to be needed in a hurry. I remember thinking that maybe this was the kind of consequence that would make an impact. Right. Sherlock is also expert at finding plastic baggies of snacks in pockets. I’d come home and find the baggies shredded and crumbs decorating the damp towels. Long ago, I decided that it was more important to me to get the damp towels off the floor than it was to wait for Charlotte to get home and make a big deal over getting her to do it. The food, on the other hand; that’s where I’ve always drawn the line. Now Sherlock digs baggies of snacks out of Gillian’s ski bag and I have to fight that battle all over again! Maybe Sherlock doesn’t get the baggies out of Robby’s gear because they’re gone, not just the food, but the baggies. Maybe he ate them too…


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