A questionable chickadee.

A questionable chickadee.

Over on the north side of the Cape, down a straight broad road lined with ever larger homes is a small inelegant beach. There’s a capable bayside parking lot, a park with playground, scenic boardwalk with stunning views of waves and water, and gaggle yearrounders possessing a noticeably disproportionate amount of crazy. Or charming local eccentricity depending on wether you have degree in psychology or creative writing.

For several years once a week, I would meet my friend Kelly over at Gray’s Beach for an early morning run. We followed a short 5K course on trail and road that gave us a nice workout. Brief enough to get us to our respective offices sweat free, and on time. The more we frequented the beach, the more we noticed the number of rainbow of characters it attracted. There was the strange guy in the Caddie walking the wolfdog. Seemingly always fussing with his fly or the leash. When not perambulating, he sat legs astride his vehicle displaying all that nature gifted him save for a pair of thin, khaki shorts. There was the gray-haired woman who would run the length of the wooden boardwalk in gale-force winds and hail. Always with the same steady gate, not really run, but more of a slow jog with a jazzy hop, a sort of a “jalk.” And once when I was alone,  I came upon a down-clad man belting out show tunes as he walked along the marsh trail bridge. I can get that for you wholesale. I bet you can.

I met Kelly at the beach a few weeks to take pictures of her beautiful baby boy. It was a perfect August day, unseasonable cool with a clear, yellow light foreshadowing the inevitable autumn. When we finished our session, Kelly packed up the baby and headed home for a well deserved nappy. I continued putting my own things away, and noticed a gray compact car to my right. It was more a closet than a car, teaming with greasy ticket stubs, coffee cups, receipts, bank pens, mateless gloves and socks, and, as I was about to find out, a vintage 1976 Vivitar pocket camera. Arthur Godfrey’s personal choice with convenient built-in flash. Say brie!

“I see you’re a photographer, well I’m a photographer, too. What kind of camera do you have?”

Oh, no, I’m trapped in discourse.

“You’re very good with the baby, I was watching you move around, catching the light. But you really should try some indoor shots. That’s what I would do.”

Great, thanks for the advice, I’ll call you next time to assist. Perhaps you’d like to set up the shot.

“Let me see your camera. I’ve got mine right here. It’s a Vivitar, I swear by Vivitar. Flash is built in.”

No kidding?

“You know, I’ve shown my work all over the Cape. Sure, sure, I’ve been in all the galleries. Just taking a break from it right now. You know, need to get those creative juices flowing again.”

And perhaps some gin.

“Here, I’ve got something for you. I took that picture right up the street. See the bird flying?”

What bird? The smudge?

“I think it’s a chickadee. I caught it right there above the trees. You can have that, my gift to you.”

No, I can’t. It must be the only one you have.

“No, no, take it. I want you to have it. See it’s a great camera. I shoot film.”

Just get to the  car…and start IT!

And take it I did. Because in this era of smartphones and elphs, everyone really is a photographer. Besides, what does that mean anyway? A person who takes photographs. Oh, Ms. Cheeze is offended. She would like me to add the word “cat” as she is known in feline circles for her edgy selfies. I stand corrected.

“I’ll see you next time. I’ve got boxes of pictures in here. I’ll remember your car. What’s your name?”