The Treasure Chest Nest

Local photographer Maris Ehlers gets a lesson in photography joy from her eight year old son.

Last night my husband and son were outside enjoying some evening air, exploring around like they often do. I was in the house doing some laundry and cleaning the kitchen. Not necessarily enjoying the usual Sunday night routine, but feeling the need to get things done before the hectic week began. 

My son, who is 8, came in the house and with much excitement told me that he found a pheasant nest in the field behind our house. Well, the dog ctually found the pheasant nest, he admitted, but he was excited just the same. "That's awesome!", I told him. He asked if I would take a picture of it, and I said I would grab my camera after dinner and we could head out there. With a distracted ruffle to his hair and a quick kiss on his dirty cheek, I told him to wash his hands and face and come to the table for dinner.  As we started to eat and talk about the week ahead, the conversation about the pheasant nest was largely forgotten. 

Fast forward to this morning. Monday morning. You know the drill. Everyone was moving a little slow, we were behind schedule, and no one was really doing what they were supposed to be doing to get out the door, including me.  

Suddenly, we were in the midst of a flurry of backpacks, lunches, briefcases and bags, and in a panic he yelled out "Mom! Get your camera! We have to go take pictures of the pheasant nest!" In the long pause before I answered, we could hear the bus rumbling towards our stop in the background. "Oh, H Man.  We can't do it now - we'll miss the bus. I'm sorry, Bud."

It would have been easier if he would have cried, stomped his feet or said "You promised! Instead, he just glumly picked up his backpack, said "OK, Mom.", gave me a brief hug and headed for the bus. Ugh. 

As I drove home from the city this afternoon, the pheasant nest was on my mind. I didn't have the "right" lens on me for such an assignment. I really should have my macro, but my production manager had it. I briefly wondered if I should try to get it on my way home. Luckily, I quickly realized that he wouldn't care if I had a macro L series lens, a kit lens, a 5d or a disposable camera.  He just wanted me to share his joy observing something he loves through the lens of something that I love, and that means that whatever gear I had on me would be the "right" gear for this assignment. 

I pulled in the driveway and could see him out by the garden. I hopped out of the car and started to walk towards him, camera in hand. When he saw me and realized what I was doing, that cute little smile started to spread across his face as he waited for me to get to him.

He grabbed my hand, and silently we started to trek towards the tall grass. He knew exactly where it was, and knelt down with great care. He gently moved the grass aside to reveal the beautiful eggs inside. He whispered "Mom, it's like finding a treasure chest, isn't it? Aren't they beautiful? We have to hurry though, because the mama will be back soon." Without me telling him, he moved the stray grass out of the way so that I could get a clear shot and held it there while I got in place. He waited while I took a few, and then sensing when I was done, he carefully replaced the grasses exactly as we had found them. 

Hand in hand we walked back to the house in silence, each of us thinking about the moment we had just shared.

Too often I get caught up in thinking the hidden treasure of photography is nailing a shot, combining my skill to capture something special using the right technique and the right gear at the right moment.

This was a great reminder that sometimes the treasure is simply the moment.





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Bex May 01, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Maris, this post is a treasure. Thank you.
Maris Ehlers May 01, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Someone read a post! :) Thank you for your kind words.
Kari Hagman May 01, 2012 at 01:55 PM
H has such a kind heart!
Mark A. Schaffer May 14, 2012 at 01:18 AM
My kids are adults now...but I remember well these days of wonderment....when so many things are treasures to them. How cool that your son seemingly, instinctively knows the moments when to tell mom to grab her camera!! And as they always say....the best camera is the one you have with you. :-)


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