Larry’s Vietnam, a moment

This morning I was in the Tusquittee River Valley near Hayesville, NC. I had come upon this scene, and I had a clear inspiration for how I wanted to capture it. I had left the house at about 7:00 so that I would have good light. I love the morning light. Its warmth and the depth in the shadows produced by the angle of the sun. It was about 8:30 by now, and I had spent around 20 minutes composing and exposing this scene. This was the last shutter click, and I was confident that this one made it, or it was not going to be obtained.

As I was breaking down the tripod, I see a four-wheel mini-cart headed my way. I knew from experience that it was someone who had been before or behind my camera, observing me as I made the shot. In this part of the country, you think you are all alone—no one to be seen anywhere. You quickly find out that the natives are always aware of every movement from not here. It is best to start off with a warm greeting and an explanation of what you are doing, and a compliment of their world. On this morning, I met Larry M. (name withheld)

Once acquainted, and approved, Larry began to tell me the history of the land before my camera. From our high roadside perch, he pointed out his family’s pre-Civil War homesteads, standing and gone, and the associated property lines all across the valley of his ancestors still here today. He told me their stories, what they were known for, who begot whom, and what became of each.  Eventually, we got to his life, and he began to unpack that for me too. Larry told me of his grandfather’s WWI service, his father’s WWII service, and then of his own Vietnam service. I confessed that I had my draft card and my lottery number, but that they ended the draft the month I turned 18. I won’t repeat his tales here, as I believe they were told in confidence.

It is incredible to me when these moments come out of the ethers. They feel as destined as two different trains coming full speed directly towards one another on the same track, from two different sides of the country; at the start worlds apart and unbeknownst to the other, yet guaranteed to meet.

Something unknown and unsee-able transpires at these intersections. Some invisible necessary box is checked. Both move on. The same, but not the same.

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