- thanksgiving -
For the last couple of weeks, most of my photographic energy has been spent making pictures of the new baby across the street. Herman and Hattie, who moved into the neighborhood last spring, have been the focus of much of my attention not only because I'm photographing their daughter, the pseudonymous Bean, but because they afford me the opportunity to recall those earliest days of my own fatherhood.
They've been parents for just over six weeks, and in that time I've had the chance to recall how much fun it is to just sit and watch what a tiny baby does. Lots of cooing, wide-eyed looking, and drooling -- and that's just me. Babies do it too. I'd forgotten how they kick their bootied feet or how soundly they sleep in a roomful of voices. I'd forgotten the little throaty comfort sounds that come when they dream their wordless dreams.
I'd also forgotten how, all at once, there's this other person in the house, in the schedule, in life. Suddenly the Big Picture has acquired a never-before-seen primary color laid on in great sweeping dripping swaths adding not only new hues but a new perspective as well, and lots of it.
Herman was telling me how Bean likes to listen to Sting, and it put me in mind of the music I used to hear as an infant. I'm told it was George Shearing that worked the soothing magic for me back in the 1950's. His music stirs something deep in me now, sending me back to a darkly lit room in a tiny house where I'm held in a grown-up's arms. I can't say for sure how much of that is actual memory and how much may be a construction from what I've been told, but whichever it is, Shearing's piano is enough to deliver me into my own wordless dream, and I go there from time to time to relax, and to swim in the belief that there was a time when life was simple.
I'm not sure what music Amy will associate with her infancy, but Sinatra is bound to be in there somewhere. Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Stan Kenton, and Antonio Carlos Jobim will be right in there too. These days, she's going through a serious Beatles phase and likes to hear the story of how my cousins and I would sing along to the 45 of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" every morning before school. Whenever Amy and I are walking together and she wants to hold my hand, she'll sing her request. Kinda cute.
Viv has the week off, so yesterday we had the rare opportunity to go grocery shopping together. We're stocked up with all the traditional comestibles, and if things go as planned, we'll be lounging lazy and bloated in front of the electric television machine on Thursday evening.
I'm groggy already just thinking about it.
The best way to snap out of this grogginess is to turn on CNN where I see the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board has just decided to stop hand-counting ballots.
A perfect Thanksgiving -- cornbread and circuses.
Here's another memory -- it was 37 years ago, exactly to the minute as I write this, that Mr. Losi, the principal of my elementary school when I was in first grade, turned on the school intercom, tapped the microphone three times, and said, "May I have your attention please? This is Mr. Losi speaking. We've just learned that, a few minutes ago, in Dallas, Texas, President Kennedy..."
You know the rest.
I'm happy to see that the national political history of my daughter's childhood is less violent than was my own. I much prefer the background noise of her youth to be talk of early precinct reports in a whining Texas drawl, as opposed to the fear and fury over three loud reports on an early Texas afternoon.
Who do I thank for that?
"Kinda Cute" -- George Shearing -- THE BEST OF GEORGE SHEARING (1955-1960)
"From how many years away does a baby come?"
- Bob Kaufman