Posted tagged ‘Friendship’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

July 4, 2013

I hesitate greatly to reveal my secrets, but this weekly photo challenge calls for it … so here you have it – my favorite companionable friend is… my shadow! By stating this I might upset some of my dear “flesh and blood” friends, but yes – I truly like my shadow and enjoy its companionship a lot! We walk and hike together; we sit together and think about thousands of issues and wonders of the world.

My shadow is very patient and flexible – never complains or argues. It follows me everywhere, disappears tactfully when I go to sleep, and is ready to go at weird hours in the morning. What a great companion in the very late hours of the night since it is never tired! Youthful, reliable, and very loyal. This is truly one of my best “for better, for worse… till death do us part” relationships!

My shadow on the patio

Shadow on the patio

My shadow on the deck

Shadow on the deck

And here is another secret of mine. I learned to pay attention to my shadow many years ago and I learned it from my 4 year-old (at that time) son Leo (not his real name but an astrological one for my writings). I do remember that day so well, as if time had not passed at all since then!

It was the quiet morning of a sunny spring day on Cape Cod. My toddler Leo was playing outside all by himself; his older brother was in school already, and no other friends of Leo were around. Being a bit concerned, I walked outside and asked, “You don’t have any friends to play with today, Leo – aren’t you feeling lonely?” “Oh no, Mommy,” he responded, “I am playing with my shadow!”

What a terrific concept! I was stunned and deeply touched, my eyes became misty.

From that day my shadow and I started a good friendship as well. That relationship became even more significant when I began my photographic endeavors. In fact, after several years, I honored my shadow by making it the trademark of my photography. Some of you who have read my blog for a while might have noticed that already, especially since my shadow is placed in the header of this blog.

 My shadow - my trademark

My shadow – my trademark

I love to travel in summer, and so does my shadow. Every year in June Tucson is under a strong and very uncomfortable spell of heat. What a pity! June is a lovely month elsewhere. So I followed the call of the ocean as indicated in the previous post:

This time an attempt to escape the heat took us, for a short time, to the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, California. Del Mar was the destination, but Solana Beach became my favorite spot.

 Entry to Solana Beach - long and steep wooden stairs

Entry to Solana Beach

 View of Solana Beach

Solana Beach

Author of the post walking on the line where ocean meets the sand

On that line

What a treat it was – I wish everybody who needs a small break could have it!

My shadow and I took late afternoon walks on the beach (usually empty at that time) following that line where the hard wet sand and the water touch each other in the rhythm of the ocean waves.

I love dancing, and I never had a better dance partner than my shadow. The day before returning home, we made a perfectly synchronized dance in honor of the monsoon which was supposed to arrive in Tucson any day.

Dancing on the beach - step one

Dancing on the beach - step two

Dancing on the beach - step three

Dancing on the beach - step four

The dance was effective – there was some rain in Tucson upon our return, but it did not last long. Perhaps the dance was too short. Perhaps we will have to repeat it over here in the desert. Perhaps more people should dance to bring down the rain – just like Native Americans do. I wrote about that in my post:

Have a nice Independence Day holiday!

Please do some dancing for rain or for sunshine… or for whatever you wish the dance will bring.


* * *

If you enjoy this blog, please subscribe to it. Thank you!

* * *

Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

A Friendship Tale of Love and Work

October 5, 2010

On the shelf above the desk in my Tucson studio stands a little pale blue framed square picture of Pooh and Piglet walking side by side. The writing on the frame reads:

“We’ll be Friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet. “Even longer,” Pooh answered.

I received this little picture from my friend Nancy Benoit quite a few years ago while I still lived in Massachusetts.

‘Forever’ means in perpetuity, an eternity. In a relationship of two persons it is a promise to stay in that relationship as long as one lives. When one person dies, the relationship in the real world ends for that person. The forever and “even longer” has to be carried by the one who is still alive.

On Sunday, September 26, just two days after my return from Cape Cod to Tucson, a phone call from Ray, Nancy’s husband, had the sound of tolling bells. And indeed Nancy Louise Benoit died at her Auburn (Massachusetts) home that morning. Knowing about Nancy’s tragic health issues and her struggles with them for quite a long time, I was not surprised by such sad news. I should have been ready for it, but I was not! I guess one never is….

Nancy Louise Benoit

Nancy and I met on Cape Cod as two young mothers – one baby each – about a year after my arrival in this country. We met when I responded to her ad in a local paper. She was giving away a bicycle and I needed one. That day I became the owner of a terrific, fat-tired, one-speed bike. Later I learned that the bike was of importance to her and that is why she did not want to sell it, but “to give it to the right person.”

We “clicked” that day as some people do when they feel some form of kinship.  We lived nearby, were ecstatic about our babies while at the same time a bit overwhelmed by having them. Since neither of us worked professionally at that time, we could arrange our “tea times” relatively easily. On such days we would have a good talk, exchange recipes, and share our notes about children while they played together in the back yard. The seed of our friendship germinated and became a little seedling that year.

Very dynamic times arrived for both families. The Benoits moved out of the Cape to Auburn (about 90 miles away). I went back to work in science.  Later both of us became mothers again. We were busy with building our homes. Still, we kept in touch, but saw each other rarely. So the seedling of our friendship was growing very slowly. The difficult time of my divorce and single motherhood enlivened its growth greatly. Nancy stood strongly behind me and we visited each other more often again.  The seedling became a larger and stronger plant.

Most relationships have some stormy times and so did ours. Actually, we almost killed that plant of friendship, but the plant was smart and went dormant for a long eight years. When it was awakened again, I was an established writer on the Cape and getting ready to enter the world of books. Nancy was writing for and editing a local paper in her corner of Massachusetts. When I decided to publish the book Son of Mashpee, I needed an editor and an excellent one. So I proposed that assignment to Nancy. She accepted and from that time our friendship plant grew like crazy – in height, in width, and in depth. It grew through our hard work together and through long, intimate, middle-of-the-night conversations.  We found great allies in telephones and computers. The distance between Falmouth and Auburn suddenly shrank. We met often – for working in person, for the celebrations of our finished projects, and just for fun. Those were the best and the happiest times of our friendship!

Ray and Nancy Benoit Nancy and Ray Benoit at the door of Alicja’s studio guarded well by Mr. Einstein

My moving to Tucson did not change the dynamics of our work relationship or the personal one. We learned to deal with the huge distance between Massachusetts and Arizona. I was also spending my summers on the Cape and we could see each other once in a while.  But the clouds of Nancy’s unkind fate were coming our way. Still, we threw ourselves into a project of putting together my book of essays. It took longer than we expected with major interruptions by my emergency travels to Poland. As a result we ran that final stage of the project depleted of energy – I by my mother’s death and Nancy by her own health issues. In spite of it all, and thanks to our stubbornness (both of us being Taurus), we finished that race on time and with kudos for the book. Looking at the World Twice would never have seen daylight without Nancy’s perseverance and dedication.

You can see why my most vivid memories of Nancy will be always connected to our work on editing and polishing the words endlessly. And there is some humor in that as well. The process of book editing was long and complex. It went as follows. The file for Nancy’s editing was labeled by me as READY.  Then after her work on it I would receive it back as FINAL, but it was not. A discussion of various details was ahead for us. After that the file would be labeled as ALMOST DONE and I knew that more discussions, especially about placing commas, would follow. Then, after receiving the file marked as DONE, you might think that it would be ready for publishing. Wrong! There was always something more Nancy found in need of correction. Only a file marked by her as DONE DONE could face the world! I truly loved that attention to detail in her work. Now, after Nancy’s departure, I have to carry the flag of DONE DONE excellence – all by myself.

Nancy Benoit and Alicja Mann in Word Studio Nancy and Alicja at work

“We’ll be Friends forever, won’t we?

“Yes, even longer.”

* * *

Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

%d bloggers like this: