Being separated from your sons is always rough -- which can happen even when you're living in the same house. It happened to me and my dad -- happened with me and each of my boys and step-sons. I love them all, and I'm pretty sure they love me as well, but men often have distance between them when apart, or just sitting in the same room with each other. Deciphering the quiet is as essential as finding words that bond. With dad, it was always about getting him out in nature, away from daily routines, in a tent on a windy Texas night laughing stupid silly about what a cow says walking upside down and backwards (oow, oow). Or flying (in his plane) enroute to Alaska, pitching a tent under the wing at an isolated abandoned airstrip just south of the Canadian border and sharing a quiet rain in the morning with a view of buffalo roaming free just a few yards outside the tent flap.
It's easier to relate when your kids are still little, having not yet shaped their own identity separate from you, and if you're lucky there are always things you share even as they become adults, allowing you to connect. Lately, it's harder, due to my living most of the year over a thousand miles away, and with each of them now seeking their own lives, developing separately away from me as young men on a journey of self-discovery.
William, my youngest, is a unique personality, easy to get along with, full of bad puns, but often keeping comfortably to himself, exploring life on his own, frequently without a parental guide, seeking his own answers and grasping a world view quite different from that of his parents and brothers. This presents a challenge in finding common ground for us to share, but I'm happy to say he has fostered a genuine interest in photography, and in art in general, with a visual perspective far different from my own. We often compare images we shoot, find our perspectives unique from one another, though I find joy and meaning in the different direction he takes. I marvel at times on the details I learn from him looking at his work. Before I left Nevada, we had the chance to travel about to places I like to shoot on nearby farms around Vinton, California, just west of the Nevada border. On his visits to Estes Park, we got to drive over Trail Ridge Road during the turning of the Aspen, as well as visit some of the arts districts in and around Denver.
The shot at top is his, taken of me, walking down some old abandoned railroad tracks in California -- I love this shot and Will's approach to lighting, subject and perspective. The other photos show how he got the shot, slipping through a drainage underpass between the ties. I'm looking forward to his being here again this summer to go exploring once again. I look forward to when I can see any and all my sons. For me, Sandy and Harry Chapin's song has never been more apropos: "Cats in the cradle and the silver spoon; Little boy blue and the man in the moon; When you coming home, dad? I don't know when, but we'll get together then......"