Well the summer of '22 keeps racing by and I'm still struggling to keep up- evidenced by my failure to meet that weekly goal with this blog series, and now punctuated by my reference of "Last Week" to scenes from nearly half a month ago. But on a personal note this was one of the highlights of my summer and a post I've been trying to find the time to write and share. As any parent knows, our children need to be our priorities, and I've tried to make it a point when my son Caden is with me to put writing, photo editing- all of those tasks that consume so much of my attention- aside, and do my best to be present with him. And in those times when I'm scrambling to get an order together, or when I have just returned from a trip, I've tried to engage him. I'll call him over to my computer to show him my latest images, ask him to pick out his favorites, and tell him about the places I've seen. More and more he seems to be growing genuinely interested, so one Saturday night in late July I asked if he'd like to go for a drive out in the mountains so we could take some pictures together.
Cade's response was an enthusiastic yes, which honestly came as a relief. Outdoor activities with him can be pretty hit or miss right now- he goes through phases where he is just terrified of bugs- but it's something we're trying to work through and he seems to be handling it better lately.
We gathered our photo gear, me my camera bag and him his tablet to take pictures with, and headed out for Tony Grove- an area with a pretty lake and a mellow hiking trail, about 45 minutes from Logan. Believe it or not (tongue in cheek) by the time we filled water bottles, packed some snacks and got everything together, we left town a little later than anticipated. With that, Caden's first lesson of the night was that Dad tends to have a heightened sense of urgency when he notices the light beginning to change. I may have taken some of those curves driving the winding road up Logan Canyon a bit fast... and so my first lesson of the night was that my son now gets car sick. After pulling over to get some fresh air though, Caden insisted that he wanted to keep going and we made our way to the lake in good shape.
Being a popular area on a summer weekend there were a lot of people there. I told Cade as we got out of the car that he could take as many pictures as he wanted, and to just look for things that were interesting to him. So for probably the first half mile of our hike he had his lens fixed on every dog that walked by, and at one point wandered into a family party of some sort happening just off trail (there were presents on a picnic table.) But he was watching me too as I studied the surrounding vegetation, and listened as I pointed out how the clouds and mountains reflected off the water. With that it wasn't long before he shifted his attention, and started to focus more on the natural setting.
We walked along, drifting through the wildflowers and conversation. His defiance came out at times- he argued with me that pine trees aren’t a real thing (while standing in front of a pine tree) and insisted that dragonflies aren’t cool- they’re creepy (which I say is total bullshit.)
But there were redeeming moments too. He impressed me with his five year old mind, asking things like “Dad, how did the world get started?” and made me proud several times when he’d stop, look around, and say “I love nature.”
One of my favorites came toward the end of our hike though...
“Dad, what’s that thing that they call you?”
Kind of a loaded question- it depends on who you ask, I suppose- but I thought I knew what he was getting at.
“Yeah. Maybe I’ll be a photographer when I get big…”
“Sure honey,” I told him.
As far as I know, this was the first he’d ever considered it. For most of the summer he’s talked about wanting to become a police officer.
“You can do anything you want. And we can go out and take pictures together anytime…”
I paused, remembering a conversation with my friend Lindsey back in Tipton while she was doing his newborn session.
“He’ll probably tag along on some of your photo adventures, huh?” she asked, contemplating the next pose.
“Hopefully someday,” I replied.
Lindsey smiled and pulled out some old cameras to use as props.
Cade and I walked a bit farther, each still thinking about what he’d said.
“Well what do you want me to be when I grow up Dad?...”
“I want you to be kind, and I want you to be caring… and I want you to be happy.”
*Newborn photo above compliments of Lindsey Sears, Iowa Photo Company