PHOTO COLUMN: Stop to smell the roses

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, December 29, 2021

As a community newspaper reporter, most of my time is spent sniffing out stories I believe the community wants to read and deserves to know. As such, most of the photographs I take are done in service of the story, rather than my selfish and delusional desire to be a photographic artist with my unspectacular point-and-shoot digital camera.

However, in the three short months, I have been a part of the Leader Publications family, I have occasionally found time to stop and smell the roses – and maybe snap a photo or two.

The first opportunity came on a near-perfect October day in Cassopolis. After a meeting with Village Manager Emilie LaGrow for the first time, I felt compelled to explore the newly-constructed beachside at Stone Lake.

Six people enjoyed the facilities that afternoon. An elderly couple sat on the swinging bench, two young people chatted on the pier and another couple strolled past the bandshell. I was there to take in the scene and was able to capture all six basked in the reflection of my favorite photography subject – the sun.

After a brief photoshoot with the burning star in the sky, I studied the inspirational quotes from some of my favorite writers – J.R.R. Tolkien, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Dr. Seuss – as they reminded visitors to stop and take a breath.

“All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost,” reads the Tolkien quote, while Emerson commands “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.”

The next opportunity to stop and bask in the nature of Cass County came on an unseasonable warm December afternoon. I had some downtime in between interviewing some local men at their deer camp and a tense Dowagiac School Board meeting, so I meandered my way down to Dowagiac Woods for a wandering, wondering walk.

Scents of moss and pine cleared my sinuses as I stood on a bridge over a creek that had strayed from the Dowagiac River and stared my camera lens into the reflection of a soon-to-be setting sun.

While the constant bubbling of the water reminded me of the never-ending bustle of reporting community news – as well as the steady stream of dark days many people in the area and around the country have seen, the glimmer of the sun reminded me of another Tolkien quote:

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

May the new year be a light for all our readers, and may we all remember to stop and smell the roses and drink the wild air from time to time.