Yesterday, while reconfiguring a temporary (and mostly imaginary) dam, my oldest boy discovered a snapping turtle under a rock. Normally this would call for some panicked maternal shrieking – PUT THAT THING DOWN! – but the snapper was a baby, no bigger than my hand, and apparently too stunned to move. Nonetheless, my son, demonstrating an uncharacteristic streak of self-preservation, quickly threw the thing back in the water. “Wait!” I called out, too late, “I wanted a picture!” My son looked at me, then at the water, still rippling from the snapper’s entrance, then back at me. He didn’t have to say, “Are you crazy? Those things bite!” His incredulous, clearly-I’m-smarter-than-you-mom teenage expression rendered such words self-evident. Still, I felt in my pocket, grabbing for my phone, as I scuttled down the bank toward the river. But there was no phone. No camera. Opportunity missed. Damn. I suffered the same frustration a few minutes later, when my boots left lovely prints in the carpet of bright green celandine leaves on the island, and again, only a few minutes after that, when I found the remnants of the nastiest picnic I’ve yet encountered: an empty 2-liter bottle of Strawberry Fanta accompanied by an also empty 2-pack of fruit punch flavored cigarellos. I could only imagine the hyped-up, nerveless state that such a combination of caffeine, sugar, nicotine, and artificial color and flavor would knock into a person.
In fact, I haven’t had this constant access to a camera for very long. I got my first smart phone only a few months ago, after I lost my old flip phone somewhere at JFK airport on the way home from visiting my sister (whom I subsequently freaked out because the last thing I texted her before misplacing the phone was something like, “I think this taxi is taking me the wrong way.”) I am what you might call a late-adopter of technology. I resisted the smart phone partly for financial reasons but also because I was afraid that it would distract me. What I didn’t anticipate is how much I would come to depend on it. It’s wonderful because it has made this blog possible in a way that it never really was before, but it is also one more thing in this loud, artificially-flavored-and-colored modern life that serves as a barrier between me and the world of dirt and skin and breath. So, just for today, no picture.
But I’ll probably make up for it tomorrow.