Editor’s Desk

Can we enjoy spring without winter?

April 4, 2014 

Spring has sprung in Johnston County, and I am surely not alone in applauding its tardy arrival. Winter overstayed its welcome here, bringing a cold rain as recently as last weekend, so Johnston County residents deserved the change in weather that arrived midweek.

On Wednesday, when the sun shone brightly and the temperature climbed into the 70s, one coworker said she found it hard to return to the office after a meeting in Raleigh. On the way home from the office that day, I rolled down the windows in the car and rolled back the sunroof.

Still, I’m mostly glad I live in a four-season state, because I think I need the cold of winter to appreciate the warmth of spring and the hot of summer to welcome the cool of autumn. I can say with some certainty that the people of Chicago welcome the arrival of spring after their harsh winters. One year, my wife and I happened to be in Chicago on the first real day of spring, and it’s little exaggeration to say that everyone in the city came outdoors to soak up the sun.

At the risk of waxing philosophical, I suspect human beings need the opposite of something to fully appreciate that something. I don’t know, for example, that we would relish life as much as we do without death. I don’t know that we would appreciate youth without old age, good without evil, good health without illness, day without night.

So I’m going to relish this spring because I know it will soon enough give way to the sometimes-unbearable heat and humidity of summer. Summer, in turn, allows me to look forward to the arrival of fall, perhaps my favorite season of the year because of its clear blue skies and crisp nights and mornings.

I’m not saying I’d say no to a house in Hawaii overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I like living in North Carolina because it just might snow on Christmas, and I’m pretty sure I’ll need a sweater in fall.

Variety, I suppose, is the spice of life.

Photo project completed

I am a prolific taker of photographs, returning from the rare vacation with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of snapshots. But I am not a prodigious exhibitor of photographs, leaving most of my handiwork to gather digital dust on my laptop’s hard drive.

But this past weekend, I completed a project, printing, framing and hanging a number photos for display at home. Here’s what I learned:

Printing is quick and cheap. I came of age when newspaper photographers developed their own film and made their own prints, all by hand in a darkroom. The process was time consuming and messy because of the chemicals required. These days, the hardest part is choosing what photos to print. After that, just carry the flash drive or CD to Walmart or the corner drugstore, where 8x10 prints cost as little as $3 each.

Frames matter. Because I paid about $3 each for the prints, I was reluctant to spend a lot of money on the frames. So I ended up at the dollar store, where I paid $8 for eight 8x10 frames. Hindsight being perfect, I wish I had sprung for better frames, and I still might. The ones I purchased are fragile, and based how they hang on the wall, the frames might be warped, and the hooks might not be uniform in their placement.

Nobody’s perfect. In all, my wife and I hung eight photos – four vertically on opposing columns. I consider myself fairly handy with a tape measure and tools; I have been building Neuse Little Theatre sets since 1990. But the photos we hung are not centered on the columns, and the spaces between them vertically are uneven. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Wall space that was barren is now home to photos from trips to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

My house is now more like a home, and that’s a good thing.

What’s a film camera?

Speaking of photos, recently, a friend carried her young daughter to an indoor water park in Charlotte. While there, she snapped some underwater photos of her daughter using a film camera encased in plastic.

Her daughter, being a child of the digital age, wanted to see the photos right away, as though the film camera were a phone camera or digital camera with display.

“That’s not how this camera works,” my friend told her daughter.

“Well, can’t you just plug it into the computer?” the little girl asked.

“No,” her mom said.

Digital photography is, of course, the only photography young people today know about, and I’m OK with that. Digital photography, with the right equipment, is high quality, and it’s quick and easy, with none of the mess of film photography.

But it occurs to me that when the Johnston County Heritage Center opens an exhibit on the ancient art of film photography, I’ll be qualified to lead tours. And I’m not sure I’m OK with that.

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