A Wilson Bridge Too Far

27 05 2009

Last Thursday I accompanied my friend Jeff to an office complex in Fairfax where five of his floral images are on display as part of the office decor. The woman in the top left photo with Jeff (below) is Sylvia Zuniga, who purchased the prints for the Fairfax Intelligent Office location.

The poppies were photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia, and the lotus blossom was photographed at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C.

A few weeks ago Jeff shared an essay with me that he had written to accompany his photos for his entry in the Nature’s Best magazine photography contest last year. The essay was about one of our field trips to photograph the lotus blossoms at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. I’m sharing his essay here, along with a photo I shot of him in the garden.

A Wilson Bridge Too Far by Jeff Evans

The Plan: A Sunday morning trip to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. to photograph the sacred lotus, which is found in large numbers in the ponds of the gardens, not to mention dragonflies, butterflies, and other insects drawn by the water and plants such as milkweed which surround the ponds. Maybe even photograph a water lily or two. An early start would allow us to beat the crowd and have good light.

The co-conspirator: Cindy Dyer, good friend, head of the neighborhood garden club (fondly dubbed Head Weed), and excellent photographer.

The Route: Easy enough—the Beltway from Springfield across the Wilson Bridge to 295 to Douglas to Anacostia Avenue to the park. Easy-peasy. And early on a Sunday there would no reason to expect much traffic.

Jeff@KenilworthBut this day…this day fate would not be a kind mistress. This day she would reveal the capricious nature of her temperament, the kind of day where she seems to channel the spirit of Ghengis Khan…and Conan, and acts as if the greatest joy in life is to crush her enemies, to see them fall at her feet—to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. And this day we were the enemy. Woe unto us.

Because you see, the Wilson Bridge was scheduled for an opening that morning. And not just any opening, but an opening for a ship no doubt named “Slow As Molasses On a Cold Day.” We sat on that bridge, on the bridge mind you because of how close we had been to making it across, for at least 45 minutes, as the sun moved higher in the sky, and the light grew harsher. Woe onto us.

And then, safely parked in the parking lot at the park, I hear myself saying, “you know, the breeze feels really nice.” Doh. Double Doh. You appreciate the power of even a light breeze on photography when faced with flowers and leaves big enough to seem to want to act as living kites and float away into the sky, that seem to want to dance like teenage girls at a Ricky Martin concert. Oh, the gnashing of the teeth and the cursing of the Powers That Be. Woe unto us.

But hey, you play the cards dealt you right? And I had brought a secret weapon, an artifact so powerful that it might transcend the fickle will of Fate. A light, white, plastic artifact that puzzled some and earned startled exclamations of appreciations from others. A step stool, about three feet tall, to maybe help me get a little better perspective on both lotus and lily. Tall folks looked at me like puzzled dogs hearing a high-pitched noise. But short people knew. They understood. And thus armed, the battle was joined.

I don’t know if I won the war, but I at least won a skirmish or two. Got a punch in here or there. They’re there, on the enclosed CDs, in high-def and low-def. Take a look and know–-I fought the good fight. Thanks for your time and consideration.

Jeff “Blood and Guts” Evans

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.