Susan Simon Photography: Blog en-us (C) Susan Simon Photography (Susan Simon Photography) Sun, 26 May 2013 22:06:00 GMT Sun, 26 May 2013 22:06:00 GMT Susan Simon Photography: Blog 98 120 Scudder's Lane  

Scudder's Lane, Barnstable from July 2010


I have no idea why they changed the name from Scudder Lane to Scudder's Lane when the new blue street signs were installed in Barnstable Village. Probably someone whose home on the winding street had been in their family for generations had complained that the sign didn't match the old documents in the Sturgis Library, where some records go back to the 1600's. Certainly the Scudder family has been around a long time. I have no idea if they still own property there on this little northside lane; the properties there are appropriately sized for the setting (no McMansions here) though surely pricey  this close to the water.
I do know that Scudder's Lane dead-ends at a town landing, open to all residents, where there's a boat ramp and access to a bayside beach known for its glorious views of the barrier beach, Sandy Neck, on the horizon. The town harbor's boats bob off to the right across acres of marsh, while the rocky beach and more marsh wend their way to the west as well. Aquaculturists and kayakers alike delight in this little landing, and everyone talks to visitors who find their way here.
I go to photograph, mostly, and enjoy the sun setting over the water. Once in a while I get a spectacular shot; mostly I just keep practicing. On my last visit, the tide was slowly inching its way in and my tripod kept sinking into the wet sand and muck. This time I walked a bit west and noticed the size of the rocks scattered around. Good chance they were erratics from a long ago glacier, the same one which carved out the kettle ponds of the cape before receding into history. One or two of the boulders were larger than anything I've seen on the shore. They caught the golden light just right. Some were piled together in what might have been an old jetty—not to interrupt waves, on this quiet shallow spot, but perhaps to mark a boundary line.
Soft ripples of shallow water lapped around the marsh grasses and I was reminded just how precious this ecosystem is to the health of our shore and the bay itself. Here the marshes go on for miles. Tall sharp-leaved grasses point to the sky while in some sunny areas, the sea lavender is getting ready to bloom, its frothy heads of tiny pink flowers, still closed into pinpoint buds.
Closer to the ramp a couple arrived with a cooler full of dinner, chairs and two fishing poles. An idyllic spot to spend time, but I wondered why they needed the boombox, though they thoughtfully kept the music low. To me the call of the various terns and seabirds, the rhythmic “blip-blip” lap of the water and far away clink of a boat's rigging was music enough for this evening.
And all this in the midst of peak tourist season—you just need to know where to look.
It's places like this one that make the Cape still special.
]]> (Susan Simon Photography) Sun, 26 May 2013 22:05:43 GMT
The Girl from 2011 Haiti trip  

Her face haunts me.

I met this girl at Paradise Cove in Labadee, Haiti and though she tried to tell me her name three times, her Creole accent and soft voice made it unintelligible to my American ears. I call her Atabei, for the Taino creator, the original mother in the ancient culture of the Caribbean. It seems fitting as the power of her gaze fills me every time I look at the one good picture I got of her.


Atabei spoke enough English to tell me that she was seven and her brother was 14. She was simply hanging around on the beach where we visited, accompanying her father, who sold sea shells to the visiting tourists. I asked, but couldn't get a clear answer from him where the shells came from, but I gathered he bought them from someone else to sell. Most likely a merchant who paid divers in other areas for the shells. I think Atabei's father and his family decorated many of the shells with the word “Haiti” themselves.

Of course I bought one without the man-made décor. This family seemed to include another young adult (uncle perhaps) who sold metal art a few feet up the hill from the shell merchant.


Neither man knew enough English, it seemed, for conversation beyond the practiced phrases to sell their wares to the tourists, which I assumed they did with the encouragement of the American owner of the cove, since it was private property. Perhaps mom was one of the women up in the simulated village, demonstrating how to roast coffee or make peanut butter from scratch (don't forget to add a tiny dash of hot pepper at the end). I didn't ask.

There were lots of questions I didn't ask of these people, especially of Atabei, who fascinated me. I didn't even take as many photos as I'd have liked—feeling unusually shy about imposing on their lives. I did ask for her permission to take her picture, but I kept feeling like the things I wondered about might be rude to ask. It was a weekday; didn't she go to school? Did she and her brother take off to help her father whenever there were ships in port (maybe one or two days a week) to help make the scene more picturesque, and sell more shells and metal? Was school simply unaffordable for them? Where was her mom? What did she want to be when she grew up? Did she even think of such choices? What did she like to do? If I'd known Creole or she'd known more English, if I'd have been braver about intruding, I'd have asked lots of questions.

Her face seemed so solumn in repose. I don't think I saw but a hint of a smile once, and then it was gone. Her brother too, didn't smile, though the father did a bit, as he encouraged me to buy something and gathered eveyone for a group picture. But they didn't smile in the pictures, I noticed later when I looked more closely. Bad teeth? Unfamiliar custom? Nerves?

There was a quiet stillness about this child that I found unnerving. She seemed able to remain quiet and unmoving, relaxed yet alert, in a way that belied her young age. The contrast to what an American 7 year old would be doing was astounding. Is sitting around and doing basically nothing the norm for her in her world?
There's so much I didn't know, and didn't ask. Where was their house...back in the village of Labadee? What was it made of, how many rooms? What was Atabei's favorite food?
I think her face has stuck with me for many reasons, but the primary one is the huge gap between our cultures which had me tongue-tied with a child—a totally new experience.

I'm usually the one who can talk to children, from toddlers to teens, from any background, who can always find the right question to ask to get them talking about themselves and their world.

Here, in this poverty and sun drenched cove, I didn't know where to begin.



]]> (Susan Simon Photography) Sun, 26 May 2013 21:51:06 GMT