Some moments in life are better viewed from a distance.

This wasn’t one of them.

I’d spent a full day taking photos on the National Road. It hadn’t unfolded as I’d planned. I’d thought to shoot a few crops, barns, birds, some autumn color, a monument near the county line.

I’d hardly started when a stranger stopped to talk about the vultures–where they congregate, how they shed the morning dew. I was packing up when she invited me to shoot photos on her farm. I’m not much for slipping into the lives of people I don’t know. Most days, I would have passed. Today I didn’t.


There were dogs and horses and raspberry red grasses. Blue skies and saddles and fencerow. A johnboat sunning belly-up by the pond. And seedpods that broke and feathered and drifted, white as winter snow.

In the course of conversation, we found that she knew of me, and I of her, through a common acquaintance. We talked of lives lived in other places. How it was quiet here. Comfortable. How there was much to be thankful for.

That night as I culled and sorted shots, echoes of the day resonated softly inside. Impressions wanting for words.

Some moments are better examined as ash, cold and still, when they’re no longer alive, and you’re no longer the person who lived them.

Others need to burn.

You gather them as embers, press them to words, touch it all to paper and pray it’ll catch.

Today was an ember.

I went looking for words.


Come an April day, I found the page from October.

I held it to the window light. After a moment, the words became lost. In their place were horses and dogs and raspberry red grasses, and seedpods feathered white as winter snow. The cool and sweet of an autumn day. Light silvering on a sleeping boat.

In place of words were memories.

In truth, more than that.

In place of words were moments.

Each one warm as emberglow.


A/Z Blog O’ the Day

From the Inkwell, From the Vein
Dribbling from the Quill—
I found E.A.S. Demers’ blog last year, and she was on my Must Read list for 2012. If Edgar Poe kept a notebook, it might look like this. Demers’ posts offer a glimpse into the delightfully morbid world of arcane poisons and people who use them, touching on history, culture, and art. The images she culls from hither and yon beautifully illustrate her words. And the best bit–she ends her posts with a poem, charming and chill, on the topic of the day.

Enjoy. I always do.



I photographed the birds a stone’s throw from the National Road, near Pocahontas, Ill., very near the farm mentioned in today’s post.

Nature’s undertakers. They’re terribly useful, if not the most elegant of birds. In my part of country, vultures are quite common–and fairly bold. Once mealside, they’ll stand their ground until the last…possible…moment, when a car or camera coaxes them into the air. My only issue with our local population–on those rare occasions when I hit the road for a run, they tend to congregate overhead. I’m wondering if I look that bad on the blacktop (probably), or if they’ve a pact of sorts: Right. When we reach 50 in number…we take him down.


  1. Wow! That is a great photo of “nature’s undertakers.”

  2. Scary thoughts at the end of your post! I’m thinking of “The Birds.” Great shot, though, and lovely images of your day, creating photos and moments.

  3. In my opinion this is definitely my favorite photo of your A to Z posts so far.

    xoxo Lloralye @ Adorning Schemes A to Z

  4. I like your writing and thoughts.  Thank you for sharing them.

  5. Great post, Joe!  Loved the story and the picture!  You are so gifted.  :)

  6. I worked on that movie!

    Your instincts always seem to lead you the right way – and that next great picture or story only waits for you to take the road you seem less inclined to normally take. I wonder if you could apply that to other things in life?

  7. Beautiful – the words, the story, the photos. Liked ’em all!

  8. And, if Edgar Allan Poe kept my blog as his notebook, he would most-assuredly use the above picture of vultures-in-flight as the cover of said notebook!! Thank you, my friend, for the kind words and the glorious picture!! 


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