The Eyes of a Child

It’s funny how when we’re young, our minds are so often preoccupied
with growing up and getting to do the things that “grownups” get to
do, but the older we get, the more we yearn for those younger years
when there was so much still ahead of us, and when we were innocent
enough to dream.

My years in photography benefited from my childhood far more than it
did from my adulthood when I learned the Xs and Os of cameras, film,
digital imagery and so forth. It was the “wide eyes” of the child that
saw the world around me as a never ending supply of wonder and joy,
and that allowed the adult photographer to search in amazement at all
of nature’s creatures as well as its patterns and colors and textures.

A simple walk across the street would take me (and sometimes Mike or
Ron) to the shores of Lake Michigan. The wonder we beheld when we
turned over a rock and found a crab. Maybe a fish on the shoreline
thrashing around. Not knowing it was that fishes time to die, we
would pick it up and toss it back into the water. We would climb the
hard part of the lake bank, thankfully not in the nesting season, and
explore the abandon nest holes along the bank. The nests were those of
the aptly named Bank Swallow. During the nesting season we would watch
them fly into the cavities with insects and come out empty handed (or
beaked).

A short two trip in the other direction over the railroad tracks,
would take us to the nearby onion and cabbage fields. Little girls
that we went to school with names like Marry Ann and Sally were a part
of the family of farmers who owned all that land, and all those
vegetables. None of us liked raw onions or cabbage of any sort, but we
would “relieve” those fields of a few bulbs or heads anyway to take a
bite on our journey. We would pretend we were explorers gathering food
along the way. We never really wanted the food, but we were indeed
genuine explorers.

A ways north of those farm fields was Hansche’s ponds. My first taste
of wetlands. My first turtles and frogs. My first close-up looks at
damselflies and dragonflies. It was like exploring a primitive
wilderness.

Back at home again, on a summer’s morning, I often could not wait
around in bed for my buddies to get up, have their breakfast, and then
come out and play. I would often get up before sunrise as to watch the
event of sunrise unfold before my eyes. My love of the sunrise over
Lake Michigan served me well in my photography years. Then I would
walk among the tall grasses in the field and discover all of those new
spider webs covered with dew. Or maybe just the grasses.  I was amazed. Then maybe my friend Rodney had gotten up and wandered down along the lake bank and
we would find and catch a Green Grass Snake or a Garter Snake.  That
became popular, but one day I found some of my friends being cruel to
a snake and that was the last time I took part in the ritual.

When I taught photography I tried to teach that the greatest attribute
you can have as a photographer was to be an explorer at heart, and
always see the world fresh and new each day as if through the eyes of
a child.

I thank God that I’ll never truly grow up. How about you?

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God Bless,

Wayne

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