First things first: I am no longer sighing wistfully at photos of Venice (see last Friday's post for details). The teen returned safely on Tuesday night. He was happy. He had 1,000 pictures and a leather belt embossed with his initials from his trip to Italy.
How did Julia pass the time while her older brother was away? At Digital Photography camp. More of a course, really, offered through our public schools Summer Institutes for Talent Development. I've shared Julia's (a rising 8th grader) photos before. She loves taking close-up shots of flowers and bugs in our garden.
|Pre-camp photo by Julia|
|Photos by Julia for surrealism assignment|
On Tuesday, to keep myself from counting the minutes until my son's plane landed, I accompanied Julia's photography class on a field trip. No big whoop -- I just met them down in old Ellicott City. We live just mile or two from this pre-Revolutionary mill town. It still has a mill, antique shops, restaurants, and great architecture.
But the middle schoolers in Julia's class were most excited by this...
|Mysterious cairns in the Patapsco River. Photo by Julia.|
As the trip wound down and they waited for the bus in the shade, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman. He was out in the terrible heat, weeding a small public garden. Did he know anything about the cairns, I asked? (Sometimes, my time spent as a newspaper reporter comes in handy.)
Yes, he said. He showed me a little memorial garden for Teddy Betts, whom I had never heard of.
|Photo by Julia|
The local gardener I spoke with told me that Betts would leave cairns along the river, even in places where no one would see them. The stacks of stones that had so enthralled Julia's photography classmates were a tribute to Teddy by a group of friends and fellow volunteers. Here is an article about the project.
I went hunting for a poem that captures the stillness of the stones within the moving river. It was just luck that led me to "The River," by Peruvian poet Javier Heraud. A translation by Timothy Allen was featured at the Modern Poetry in Translation online journal.
by Javier Heraud
Translation by Timothy Allen3
I am a river.
But sometimes I am wild and strong.
Sometimes I have no respect for life or death.
Cascading in furious waterfalls,
I beat those stones again and again,
I smash them into interminable pieces.
The animals run. They run.
They run when I flood their fields,
when I sow their slopes with tiny pebbles,
when I flood their homes and their meadows,
when I flood their doors and their hearts,
their bodies and their hearts.