On Monday mornings in the spring and the fall, a group of us prepare and serve a breakfast for seniors in an old lightkeeper’s house, overlooking the harbor. All season long, as I've driven from home and turned the corner to where the waterfront unfolds before me, I’ve sighed at the image of a lone cat boat floating in the quiet harbor. On a several occasions, I tried to capture the simplicity of its clean lines while it drifted, a Siamese twin to its own reflection. Whenever I had my camera though, the wind rippled the water, or low tide made for an unappealing backdrop. The pictures I took didn’t do the thing justice.
But at 8:00 this past Monday morning, the air was damp, the leaves on the trees motionless, and when I turned the corner, a gloss of still water mirrored the boat. This was the picture I’d been waiting for. I turned to the seat next to me where I keep the camera, only to realize it sat on the desk at home, where I’d left it. When I moaned about forgetting my camera to my fellow volunteers, two of them offered me the use of their I-phones to take the photo, but it wouldn’t be the same. Expletive deleted.
Ever hopeful, I drove to the harbor before seven on Tuesday. The tide was lower than the day before, and though not motionless, the water was calm. Perhaps I’d get a few good shots off. I framed the boat, realized I needed a different lens, took a wide angle shot, then returned to the car to get the telephoto.
Timing can be everything, or timing can be nothing. By the time I got back, lobstermen where shuttling themselves out to their boats. While I waited for the water to calm after they killed their motors, the wind kicked up.
In photography, preparation and planning matter, of course, but then there is just plain luck. As it pertains the the lovely cat boat, I’m still waiting for mine.