Words and Images from Ed Felker

Archive for December, 2011

Rose River Farm

Some photographic highlights from a fun day at Rose River Farm

I tried to take a picture of Kevin from under the surface of the water. When the (waterproof) camera was completely submerged, the photos didn’t turn out. But this one from just at surface level I thought had a neat effect.

This is one of the prettiest trout I’ve ever caught. The colors are amazing, and the pattern at first made me think it could have been a tiger trout (brown/brook hybrid), but I’m now thinking it’s just a really freakin’ cool brown trout.

Love my Sage 4-weight!

Cook a few slices of bacon, crumble it up and put it back into the grease, add an egg, some Worcestershire sauce, Montreal steak seasoning and a pound of ground venison, divide it into two colossal patties, add a slice of smoked Gouda and a toasted kaiser roll and you have one serious streamside lunch!

One of my favorite shots of the day.

Okay about a year and a half ago, I brought Winnie to the farm and planted three Chukar for her to find and point. I shot one, another escaped while I was trying to get it out of the cage, and I don’t remember what happened to the third. I was sure surprised to see this very large and healthy Chukar right next to the river not 50 yards from the field where we did that bird training! Now that is making the most out of a second chance!

The sun sets on a beautiful, fun day on the water at Rose River Farm.

Dear Photograph

When a friend told me about the web site Dear Photograph, it was one of those moments (I have more than I care to admit) where someone else’s idea is so great it kind of pisses me off. If it sounds like jealousy, that’s because it is. The concept works like this: people take old snapshots, return to the location where they were taken, hold it up in the same orientation as the original, take a photo of the photo, and then write something about it. A pure, simple, ingenius idea.

And it’s an idea that I really want to be a part of. I’m lucky enough to have some meaningful old photographs, and to know the locations where they were taken, so I decided to give it a try.

I selected two favorite snapshots and headed into Arlington, Virginia with my camera and a plan. I know my way around a camera, and am generally what you’d call a creative person. I anticipated things would go like this — find the spot, hold the picture up, walk around till everything lines up just right, take a picture, repeat for the second picture, call it a day.

Not so fast, mister.

The first photo is one of my very favorites of my Dad. He is standing in front of his first car, a 1941 Ford, in front of his childhood home. He is cool. Like, James Dean cool. I found the spot, parked, and within a minute had oriented myself within a foot or two of the spot where the photo was taken. I could fairly easily line it up with my eye. But once I stuck a camera between my eye and the photo, it became much, much more challenging. Camera lenses don’t see the same way the human eye sees, particularly longer lenses than came standard in an old Instamatic or whatever it was. While I could find the right position, I found it almost impossible to line up the scale of the features in the photo. I moved back and forth, holding the photo closer, then farther. On the occasions I felt like things were lined up, the camera was too close to the print to focus.

I wanted to shake the hand of the person who submitted this perfectly aligned example a few days earlier.

In the end, I did the best I could and am generally happy with it. But I was humbled.

Next came the shot from the front of the house that I called home from the day I was born until I graduated from college. In the photo, my Mother poses in late ’60s apparel and posture, looking less like the nurse she was, and more like a flight attendant. My sister and I flank her in our finest duds.

At the time each of the photos were taken, and for many years after, life was generally good for the subjects. But my family is no different than anyone else’s. Anything that ends probably doesn’t end ideally. My parents, both gone now, were dealt cruel hands along the way. My father died of cancer at 42. My mother lived a longer life but was stricken with, among other ailments, Alzheimer’s. These happy moments captured on film, taken of young people with their whole lives ahead of them, seem sad to me. The contrast of past and present sharpened the realization of how much they missed.

So now that I’ve taken the photos, I’m in no hurry to share them on the Dear Photograph site. I may eventually, but for now I feel like holding them a little close, and just sharing them with my friends. If I do submit them, I’ll update this post with links. But for now, thanks for reading my thoughts here. And if any of you decide to look through your old photo albums and try the same exercise, I’d love to hear from you about your experiences.

A Year in Photos

On the morning of January 2nd, I was sitting at my desk at home and this wonderful scene unfolded as a nondescript, grey sky opened up in two places. Behind me, the sun illuminated my favorite sycamore, and by the time I grabbed my camera a second spot was opening in the sky behind it. As I put camera to eye and finger to shutter, a lone dove crossed the frame and my first photograph of 2011 was captured. I watched quite a bit of this year pass by through a camera viewfinder. Below are some of my other favorites from this year.
On a hike along the 'Yough,' or Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania, I watched some crazy kayakers running the falls. I took a lot of photos but this was my favorite.

Taking a break from fly fishing at Rose River Farm to enjoy a river cooled Dale's Pale Ale.
Although I don't have the best lens for it, I enjoyed getting up close and personal with some smaller subjects this year.
I rarely take photos of people, and I'm seldom around kids. But on this day I was pleasantly surprised at the image I captured of our friends' boy August. One of my very favorite portraits I've taken.
Our weeping cherry tree, weeping.
One of 2011's major highlights was the addition of Huck and Poppy, miniature mediterranean donkeys. God I love these donkeys.
I had some great opportunities this year to photograph events with special access. The Fairfax Hunt invited me to one of their meets, and this is my favorite shot of the day. If this doesn't say "Virginia," I don't know what does!
Project Healing Waters founder Ed Nicholson being interviewed at the annual 2-Fly Tournament at Rose River Farm in Syria, VA.
For a dog who doesn't particularly like the cold (or to be outside, for that matter), Winnie loves the snow more than any dog I've ever known.
On a visit to the World War II Memorial in Washington, I was disappointed that the fountains and pools were emptied for winter. But I did end up with a few shots that I liked from the nearby Washington Monument.
This year I started experimenting with low light photography. I have MUCH to learn, but it really is pretty fun. This is my friend's home at Rose River Farm.
When people meet Winnie for the first time, they almost always remark about her eyes.
Well this snapshot is a technical disaster. But sometimes a failed photo ends up looking pretty damn cool.
This lightning storm across the Potomac from our house went on for over an hour. I was lucky enough to get a few neat shots, but this was my favorite.
From the pond view cabin at Rose River Farm, Madison County, VA.
I'll admit, with horses, dogs, donkeys and wildlife around, I rarely train the camera on the barn cats. But they are really cool, and I love this picture of Fishy.
I love the freedom the little waterproof camera gives me when I'm fishing or playing with the dogs at the river.
On this night I was trying to get a shot of a meteor. I saw a few but didn't get pictures of any. However, it was a good opportunity to experiment some more with the low light settings.
I love reflections, but don't often enough focus on them. I'll try more of this in 2012.
Hiking around the Rapidan in Madison County, VA I happened across this fly fisherman. The scene was so busy with bare tree branches all around, I couldn't capture the feel of the scene until I switched to black and white. I'll have to remember to try this more often, either at the time I'm taking the picture or later at the computer.

Legacy of Love

Jeanna Jones approached her house holding the saddest thing you can ever bring from a visit to the vet: an empty collar. Before the front door even opened she could hear the wails of the one-day-old litter inside. Eleven healthy Vizsla pups cried for their mother, Mabel, whose collar Jeanna still clutched in her hand. Jeanna cried too, but knew there was little time for grieving. There were mouths to feed. Lots of mouths.

The previous day was a long one, with puppies coming steadily at first, then with more time in between until, at last, there were eleven. Mabel was exhausted, of course, and so was Jeanna for that matter. But nothing about the day gave any indication how drastically, how tragically, events were to unfold in less than 24 hours.

All eleven Elves – as Jeanna now called them – made it through the first night, and Jeanna spent some time in the morning on facebook, catching friends, family and fans up on the puppies’ progress. But later that day something went horribly wrong, and Mabel was rushed to the vet, stricken with sudden, severe gastric torsion.

She was hurried into surgery, but was lost on the table. Jeanna, shocked and grieving, shared her burden with hundreds of friends on facebook, most of whom she had never met, many of whom were anxiously awaiting happy updates and puppy pictures.

Jeanna: It is with a broken heart that I have to say that Mabel left us at 7:30 this evening. Rest in Peace my darling girl – Ajandstar Tirpitz By Addaci 12/03/06-29/07/11.

On that lonely drive home, Jeanna’s heart ached and her mind raced. She would be immediately greeted with the daunting task of hand-feeding 11 puppies who have not eaten in hours. And as she reached home and approached that door, with that collar warm in her hand, she felt alone.

But already the supportive forces of friends unseen were at work. And before she even reached out, fellow breeders and friends near and far knew what she would need next.

Jeanna: Does anyone know of a lactating bitch who would accept a few pups to rear?

Minutes later she reported that all 11 had taken some milk from a bottle – a start. A very small start to a painstaking uphill journey, but a start nonetheless. For tonight, she thought, it would have to do.

As the Elves slept, comforted and warmed by Jeanna’s dog Tipli, sympathy poured onto Jeanna’s facebook wall from every time zone. Overwhelming, sad surprise mixed with frustration at the distance that could not be crossed. So many friends wishing they could help had to resort to those hollow words from an ocean away, “If there is anything I can do, anything at all…”

The next morning, Day 3, brought warm, clean, beautiful pups thanks to the overnight efforts of Tipli. She had no milk to give, but cleaned and looked after the Elves and let them suckle. Tipli went outside to quickly take care of business and then immediately returned to tend to her adopted brood.

The pups were weighed, and 6 of the 11 had either regained or slightly surpassed their birth weights. The 5 others had a ways to go, and one of those didn’t like sucking the bottle. But, Jeanna said, “he will suck all day on a dry nipple.”

In these early, immensely stressful days before she had even had time to fully grasp the loss of her beloved Mabel, Jeanna’s positive attitude sustained her and inspired those following her story.

Jeanna: Just had a fleeting thought that I am manically clutching at straws today but I don’t care. I am going to try everything in my power to make sure these pups get the best chance possible. Positive thinking will win every time!!!!

Many friends read Jeanna’s facebook plea, but Jim Cooper was in a unique position to help. His dog Bessy’s own litter of pups had recently been weaned, and she still had plenty of milk to offer. He called Jeanna and offered Bessy’s services as a surrogate. Bessy, however, was in Sussex, England, on the other side of the country.

So the call for help went out again, this time for transport.

Jeanna: I need to get a lactating bitch from East Sussex to Cardiff ASAP to help with the little ones. Is there anyone who could drive parts of the way to help get her here? Her own pups are just being weaned but she has loads of milk and loves anyone’s pups, not just her own.

“Network” is such an overused word in the digital age that it’s lost some of its meaning. But on the third night of the Elve’s saga, a network of supporters came together to collect a dog and transport her three hundred miles to her hungry charges. Susanne Pope, a woman Jeanna had never met, started Bessy’s westward odyssey. Then Rachel Edmonds volunteered for the next leg. Finally Ros and David Wakeling relayed her to Jeanna, arriving at 4:00 a.m. and not a moment too soon. It had been a rough night of slow feeding, taking Jeanna so long to feed them all, by the time she was done with the last it was time to start all over.

When Bessy arrived (and after the news was gently broken to Tipli that she would have to share her pups) they were divided into two groups, with the 4 most needy pups feeding first.

Day 4 brought newfound hope, excitement and energy, and the most optimistic update yet.

Jeanna: So all 11 pups, warm, dry, clean, content, sleeping and full! Looking good! Their two foster mums are working in tandem – Bessy feeding them with Tipli cleaning and stimulating.

Little did those foster mums know, people from across the globe shed tears of gratitude for them for doing what simply came naturally. One feeding blurred into another, more rotations, an occasional rest, another sunrise and another night is conquered. And so it continued, initially in fits and starts, then more smoothly as everyone settled into their odd new routine. And just like that, the first, critical week was behind them.

Jeanna: What an incredibly long week this has been! Happy One Week Birthday to all my 11 little Elves! To celebrate they have got proper collars and some little soft toys! Plus Bessy got a new soft bed so she is extra comfortable whilst she stays with us.

Every passing day saw the pups gaining weight and brought Jeanna more confidence. And on the tenth day, a major milestone was passed. The first of the pups – Mr. Yellow and Miss Lime, now identified by their new colored collars – doubled their birth weights. The next day, five more followed suit, with the remaining pups not far behind. Eyes began to squint open, wobbly legs found purchase beneath round, puppy bellies and they began to explore.

At the two week mark, it was hard to imagine they had come so far.

Jeanna: All now full, burped, pooped & flat out after having their nails trimmed too! Things are looking good, the future is bright, the future is lovely, chunky, ginger monkeys!

And the next day, the last of the Elves strained to open his eyes to that bright future.

Even as Bessy and Tipli and the Elves had uneventful days of eating and growing and learning and playing more each day, other hurdles were placed in the path. Jeanna struggled with health issues, and had to do some of her miracle work while on crutches between MRI’s and doctor’s appointments. And through it all, her positive outlook, bolstered by the challenges she had already tackled, gave her strength. And those who followed from afar watched with wonder and growing admiration.

It would be another week before Jeanna would celebrate their three week birthday by sleeping in her own bed for the first time since they were born.

When the day came for Bessy to pack up her new cozy bed and head east to Sussex, before she left she took her pups – Mabel’s pups, Tipli’s pups, Jeanna’s pups – outside for the very first time, and introduced them to the big wide world. And they did exactly what puppies do. They played and chased and wandered. They sniffed and ate and rolled in muck.

In a peaceful, empty house, Jeanna lovingly bathed each pup. They huddled together, warm and dry, and slept the sleep of puppies who have had a very big day. Meanwhile, Bessy arrived home safe and sound, bringing with her to Sussex a cozy new bed and the warm thanks of hundreds of people whose paths she will never cross, but whose lives she unknowingly changed, if just a little.

In the weeks that followed, one by one the Elves who touched the lives of so many strangers, joined their new families. They posed for pictures with grinning parents and laughing children. They went home to canine and feline brothers and sisters. And with them they each brought their Kennel Club registration, complete with names that befit their remarkable launch into the world: Addaci Answered Prayer, Addaci Ever the Optimist, Addaci Fighting Spirit, Addaci Gift of Love, Addaci Lasting Legacy, Addaci Positive Thinking, Addaci Amazing Grace, Addaci Grace of God, Addaci Hope Springs Eternal and Addaci Mountain of Miracles.

And if you only counted ten, you’re right. Miss Purple, the last to leave, is not leaving at all. She’ll grow up exploring the same earth she discovered with Bessy, hearing the same voice she heard the day she was born, and knowing the warm familiar comfort of Tipli by her side. In the yard where she plays, soon she will find and investigate two special new rose bushes Jeanna has ordered. One is named Elfin. The other, Mabel.

As for Miss Purple, around the house she is called Nyssa. In Danish, Nyssa means “Little Red Elf.” In Greek, just as fitting, the name means “Beginning.” But her registered Kennel Club name is as perfect a name as there ever was. She is and will forever be, Addaci Legacy of Love.