When I was at Nassau Community College, I had to read My Antonia for an English 101 class, but we never got around to it and it has been doing nothing but sitting on my bookshelf. I finally decided to read it and I totally understand why it’s considered one of the greats. If you’ve never read it, go out of your way and read it, especially if you’re into nature.
What I’m trying to do is set a scene. I want the reader to know exactly where they are, beyond imagination. I want the reader to actually experience the scene, the same way I did while reading My Antonia.
As I sit outside in the warm, summer air, I look at my father from across the yard, resting underneath the dogwood tree. I wish his eyes were open so he can see the golden light breaking through the leaves of the tree, dancing on the ground as the breeze blows, giving life to the source that provides our own.
The sprinkler that he forgot to turn off throws water in all directions. The mist slowly falling to the ground, catches the light shining down and the sun’s rays become visible. The rays land gently on the flower bed in the middle of the yard, between the blooming tulip tree and the dogwood my father is resting under.
I wonder what my father is dreaming about, so I quietly approach him. I don’t get too close, but I can tell from where I’m standing that there’s a faint smile on his face. The wide-brimmed hat he brought home from our house in the country covers his resting eyes, and I realize the scene is deserving of a picture.
I run downstairs and I grab my father’s old Pentax, but I can’t decide what’s more moving: the scene as a whole, or the sense of peace my father finally managed to reach. A portrait would be a gift, or a reminder, of how special life can be, but the source of that happiness should be present as well.
I finally decide on the wide angle and run upstairs. As I open the door, I greet my father, who’s now awake. I look outside and the sun set behind the trees that outline backyard. I missed the opportunity and my father saw I was upset. When he asked me what was wrong, I told him, “Nothing.” He looked down at my camera and correctly assumed I wanted to take a picture, but he didn’t understand why, so all he said was, “You’re a little late. The sun’s too low to get the shot you want.”
I tell him I know and that I’ll have the camera ready ahead of time. He smiles and walks back inside. I look out the window and see that the summer sunset is in its beginning stage, where the orange-yellow sky contrasts against the almost scarce, small bluish-gray clouds.
I then realize he did know why I was upset, and that he had probably felt the same way at some point in his own life. That must have been why he was able to close his eyes and still manage to enjoy those last few minutes of sunlight. Missing that shot turns out to be not as bad as I thought, and there are scenes that do not require a picture. They leave such a lasting memory, and permanently capturing it, would take something away–or make it less special–from what we apparently experienced together.