the nose

June 6, 2008

© 2008 Valley News — May not be used or reprinted without permission

This is a bit like telling a joke and forgetting the punch line because I can’t remember the details of the story I want to tell you, or exactly where I might have heard it. I’d love to say I made it up, but I doubt it. I know it wasn’t Gogol. Please don’t tell me it was Forrest Gump.

There was this famous photograph, maybe of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt in Malta, or Nixon and Khrushchev in their kitchen debate. There was another man there, too, but the excitement of the moment and the inattention of the photographer combined to leave him out of the picture. All of him, that is, except for his nose, a proud beak to put Joe DiMaggio to shame, that poked in from one edge, stubbornly asserting his rightful place in history. That man had a change of circumstances, I can’t remember the details, but he carried that photograph with him everywhere, and showed it to everyone he met. He wanted them to see that once he was a great man who had rubbed shoulders with giants. The nose was clearly his, who could mistake it? It was proof that he had been there, standing just to one side, watching as the world changed before his eyes.

This photo reminds me of that one. The Hanover girls lacrosse team won the New Hampshire State Championships on Wednesday. The caption for this photo names three girls that were there, cheering as the game-winning goal was scored. But we know there was a fourth, just off to the left, jumping and screaming as loud as the rest. Though I can’t tell you her name, I’d bet one day her kids will recognize her.

portrait

June 3, 2008


Hartford, Vt.

Quechee, Vt.


Sharon, Vt.

In the top two images the message is clear but you might need a little help with the last one. For months like a Zen koan it has been there, written in magic marker on the pump at the trading post where I get gas, its meaning a little puzzle I turn over in my mind as the tank fills. I didn’t think to photograph it until it was gone. If you look hard enough you can still see it: Free Tibet, Not Public Rest Rooms. I noticed this morning that someone had almost managed to scrub it clean. A sad day for freedoms, I guess, for Tibetans, bathrooms and public expression. But ignoring the slogans themselves, I find these little acts of subversion and countersubversion fascinating. I wonder at what compelled them, both the move and the countermove. A sense of conviction, a sense of humor, or lack thereof? And how strange that the stop signs and gas pumps of Vermont should be the battlegrounds for these ideas to meet.

flock

May 29, 2008

Out of Hibernation

May 28, 2008

For a while there, I wasn’t sure about this online journal thing. Maybe it’s a symptom of winter that makes you want to retreat into yourself. I just couldn’t summon the will. But a few days ago I looked back at this site and its previous blogger incarnation and missed the posts I didn’t make throughout the winter. Five posts since January, two of them from the same vantage point, isn’t much to look at. So, to those of you that still stop by now and then, thanks for your patience. I think I’ve shaken off the long winter spell and I’m ready to give this another go.

Today I spent the day with Ben Kilham, a bear behavior researcher from Lyme. I can’t begin to list all the things I learned, but here are two I can share. 1) Bears have their feet on backwards. No lie, the big toes are on the outside of their feet. The one in the picture is the right rear. 2) If you bury your nose deep into the warm coat of a female bear, it smells sweet like honey. (I’d recommend giving it a healthy dose of Telazol before you try to see if I’m right).

river III

April 19, 2008


Spring fills the Pompy.

New column

March 29, 2008

05032perkins.jpg

As you’ve noticed, I’m taking a short break from blogging. If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to lately, take a look at my new photo column for the Valley News, ZIP Codes.