The UnPhoto Challenge
A writing challenge for all of you sharing my UNvacation: The UNphoto... DESCRIBE a photo you didn't take, or a photo you imagine taking, or a photo you wish you have. Tell a story behind the description. Consider this the "thousand words" challenge because, we know, words ARE more powerful than pictures. Given this is a typical fly-by-night YWP challenge, our initial offerings for the best one is...a GIANT BAG of M&Ms (peanut, dark or plain). Choose 'DESCRIPTION' genre, 'unphoto' as keyword and add 'podcast' keyword if you upload a mp3 of yourself reading the piece
Here's a sample to give you some ideas:
It is summer of 1972. I am walking along a dirt road in Littleton, N.H. I am looking out in a field, a bowl of hay, really, and in the middle of the field are Wilts, 92, and his nephew Melvin, 67. They are haying. I'll let you picture that for the moment. ...
I am walking down from Wilts' house. His house is set back from the road, surrounded by trees, a white, rather a dirty white, colonial with a porch across the entire front. Wilits is 92. He lives in that house with his sister, Ruth, 87, and his brother, Orion, 89. Wilits is a freak of nature. He is 5 feet 8 inches tall and if he weighs 150 pounds I'll be amazed. He is wiry, strong and only slightly hunched over. He moves and talks quickly. He is a sci-fi nut. He still farms with three cows, two work horses, unknown number of chickens, a few sheep (for lamb) and an outrageous vegetable garden. He claims he got NASA to give him some moon dust for fertilizer.
I am looking out at the field at Wiltz and Melvin. Just the two of them. And the horse team and the wagon. The wagon is stopped. Wilts is standing, in the front step of the wagon holding the reins. He's looking at me. Wilits waves to you if he wants to talk. He just looks if he wants to be left alone. He doesn't like cameras. "Take pictures in your mind," he says. Melvin is behind him to the left. He is, with slow, steady, strong motions, tossing hay into the wagon with his long three-tined pitch fork. Melvin has been doing this all his life so his motions are measured, practiced, exact. He knows how to take just the right amount of hay so as not to strain and so as to be able to lay it nicely on the growing pile on the wagon. They usually make two piles, then fill the gap between and then Melvin climbs up and they go back up through the woods to the hay barn beside the house and load it in the loft via a conveyor operated by a small Briggs & Stratton engine.
I am looking out at a field in northern New Hampshire late on an August day. It is warm and dry with a gentle wind that keeps the bugs away. It's about 5:30, long, clear shadows. Wilts Stevens, 92, stands on his wagon, holding the reins of his horse team. He and the horses are looking towards me, and I have one foot now on the wall. They are about 150 yards away. Melvin Stevens, 67, puts his pitchfork into the hay on the ground, gives it a little hitch, and lays it on the top of the mound on the wagon. He repeats the motion. Over my shoulder is a Nikkormat with a 70-210 zoom lens. My camera has a near full roll of 400asa color film. I think about how Wilts does not like to have his picture taken. I do not take the picture. I wave. Wilts nods. I turn and continue my walk down the road.