On some evenings, if I’ve not got a plan for capturing a particular scene or one I think may present, I’ll drive from spot to spot, always at the ready if I see something inspiring. On a recent Saturday I was doing just that when I noticed what was going on in the sky above our pier. I quickly found a spot to park and proceeded to compose and shoot, compose and shoot, continuing till the light no longer cooperated. The accompanying photo is my favorite of the bunch and I hope you enjoy. But, this shot is really not what this post is about. And, no, it’s not about ‘The Boss’ either!
No, it’s about summer nights and memories. Eric Church’s song, ‘Springsteen’, was playing when I got back into the car and the lyric “July Saturday night” is what caught my attention. So, when I was processing this photo, that song and that lyric popped into the forefront of my mind and without realizing it, I was suddenly revisiting times past, summers from here in Alabama to Texas and California and back again to our little Fairhope burg. And the memories were vivid, full of detail, as they popped into my mind, one to be replaced by another, as if I was having one of those dreams where I keep suddenly appearing in different locations with no idea of how I got there.
I was wading in the lagoon at Gulf Shores, with my little girlfriend and some other couples, the dark evening and still water lit by a flounder light as we searched for soft-shell crabs. The outing was more about being together at that place in time than catching crabs – us guys acting like high-school guys trying to outdo one another and the girls just enjoying the humor of it all.
I was with friends walking into Stubb’s barbecue joint in Lubbock, Tx where a 14-piece Jazz/Swing band was set up and playing in a venue that had inspired much of Joe Ely’s early music. The building was old and worn, no a/c to speak of and held a solitary pool table in a room that doubled as a kitchen pantry. A story made the rounds of Joe playing a high-stakes game of pool, using an onion as the Eight-Ball. We enjoyed some ribs, a bit of pool with regulation balls and outstanding music with not an amplifier in sight!
In my mind, as I stepped out into the night, I found myself rounding the bases on an Ocean Beach softball field in San Diego. My then-wife worked at a Mexican restaurant and had cajoled her co-workers into challenging the staff of the steak house I managed to a game of softball on the Fourth of July. In reality, it was an all day affair with multiple games being played with beach breaks in between and grilling all day long. We had reserved the field through the city for the full day, into the evening – it was a prime spot for viewing the fireworks. We had tons of folks come to play and eat - families with their kids, couples and individuals - and many stayed through to the evening. It was a grand day, one of those you try to recreate but never can.
Then, my mind fast-forwarded to times in the summer when I would have my kids, Trey and Kelly, staying with me at my apartment in Mobile. They were little tykes and after making, and them eating, homemade pancakes it was always off to the pool. I would always tote along a bag full of change as they were constantly demanding cold drinks and snacks. And, they had to come out of the vending machines – they were that age, nothing I could bring would suffice. All okay, though, they were little perpetual motion machines, seemingly never stopping to rest until late at night. My thought was that they burned all that extra sugar to make room for what came the next day. My Kelly used to love standing on my shoulders in the pool and having me launch her into the air, coming down in a big splash. She’d catch her breath, wipe her face and swim around to my back and just say “again”! She’d do that for as long as I let her. But, I had to stop and attend to the boy. Trey would get a head start and dive through the air over the water, catching the ball I’d thrown, all to show off to anyone who cared to pay attention. Dang, I loved those crazy days.
And, more recently, I remember hot summer nights, sitting on the teeny tiny patio of the teeny tiny cottage I used to live in here in Fairhope, spending time with that special someone. I’d enjoy a nice cigar after a fine dinner and we’d just kick back and soak it all in, listening to music and enjoying each other’s company.
Suddenly, I was looking at this photo again, taken on a hot July night, and I marveled at how it could stir such wonderful memories for me. And, that’s why I post my photos and offer them on my websites. I’ve had tons of reactions from folks all around and most all of them relate to me memories stirred by a photo I shared. And that’s what photography is all about – for me!