I’ve always been an avid amateur photographer. I entered and won ribbons at the east Texas State Fair, lots of 4-H contests and have even had some pictures thrown into a magazine article or newspaper piece. My first blog, The Wicked Chicken, is full of photos from walks in nature, farm life and so on. When I first started fiddling with photography, you had to load the film into the camera, swipe the lever to the right after every click to load another slide, take the entire roll you rewound by hand to the Wal-Mart, drop it in an envelope with your name, address and phone number and wait 7-10 days to get your unedited, never-before-seen pictures back. And you better hope you remembered to check matte or glossy finish or you’d be sure to get the one you didn’t want.
The more I drank, the more I felt like a Gremlin, bright lights were not my friend and instant filters, edits and retakes were not just a convenience, they were a requirement. The more I drank, the more my whole life required an outer filter, a ‘happy-everything-is-fine’ exterior, when on the inside I was crumbling.
About 6 weeks after my final Day One, I was in my garden, pulling weeds and minding my own business, and I looked across the yard. It was just another sunny Texas spring day. And it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The grass was GREEN. The sky was BLUE. The clouds were WHITE. The cows were BLACK. The tomatoes were RED. It was all so clear and vivid that it almost hurt. Actually, it did hurt. Everything I had been chasing, beauty, clarity, peace, it was all right there in front of me the whole time. And I had known it. And that was the most tortuous thing, the knowing. But I couldn’t break away from the bottle. I still thought, and had for years, a drink made things better. A drink enhanced whatever it was I was experiencing. A walk in the yard was better with a G & T. A morning stroll in the woods was better with a coffee laced with whiskey. Checking cows was better with beer. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
At that moment, in the yard, it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I nearly cried. I had been robbing myself of the fullness of all these things for almost 20 years, especially the last 6 or 7 years. My sober eyes didn’t need a filter, they just needed a chance.
A few, unfiltered, shots from my phone. From the top left. Fresh okra, tomatoes, onion and squash from the garden. A sunflower getting ready to open. Peppers heading into some homemade hot sauce. A spring calf supervising my weeding efforts. My yard after getting a fresh cut last week.
I am my own wickedly sober lawn lady and I LOVE it.