Saturday, September 6, 2008

Isles of Shoals

Marty and I went to a digital photography workshop on the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine (half of the isles are in New Hampshire, and half in Maine). This is my last vacation for a while...with the coming of fall, I feel like a squirrel who has to gather my acorns for the long winter ahead--lots to do including, of course, the job search. But this past week was a glorious trip into late summer, with spectacular sunrises and sunsets every day we were there, and clear, unobstructed views of the constellations at night without the distraction of city lights.

I learned a lot in the course. Some of it was review, some was putting logic and reason to things that I was doing intuitively, and the rest was just great new information--like the loss of pixels that occurs every time you "save as" a jpg file, as well as some new tips with Adobe Photoshop Elements and some websites I hadn't heard about before. There was another learning about light that got me thinking on a whole new track beyond photography--more on that in another post.

We stayed at a century old hotel (pictured above) that was basic but lovely. Since water for the island comes from a small desalination plant and cisterns, showers were limited to twice a week. There were no electrical outlets in our room (though we had three overhead light bulbs), but fortunately we were next to the newsroom which had several. Food was decent but basic. You could get cell phone reception at the end of the porch facing the shore seven miles away, but no internet (in a way that was a relief--I realized that I spend altogether too much time on the computer lately....)

One day we went for a nature walk and I learned the fascinating history of Queen Anne's lace (right) which was brought to the island by colonists in the early 1600s. The lace was so named because the queen challenged her ladies in waiting to a crochet contest--who could create the most beautiful replica of the wild plant that grew all around them? The answer was obvious.....but what was news to me is that daucus carota, as it's known in Latin, is the forerunner of the cultivated carrot--the root of Queen Anne's lace being the wild version.

The hotel had a marvelous front porch and boardwalk to the adjacent cottages with a liberal number of cane rocking chairs. The chairs are maintained by volunteers from the shore (pictured left) who come in during the day to recane them--the salt air and wind is hard on them. One day early in our stay, I heard a woman sitting next to me proclaim with obvious satisfaction as she sat sipping a cup of tea and talking to her friend, "rocking chairs and porches are good for the soul." Amen.

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