In the Presence of Ghosts (a story about remembering)

A quick trip home to Louisiana to work a concert found me with a little free time on my hands, so I decided to indulge in one of my favorite past times - a trip to the swamps. Or, more accurately, the bayou. Black Bayou Lake, a body of water that I've always had a nodding familiarity with, although it was my Uncle Denver and my cousins who hunted and fished in and around that lake and the surrounding woods to the point they knew it probably better than anyone. 

 The bayou meanders in generally a northwest to southeast direction, stretching from the town of Rodessa in the northwest part of Caddo Parish to the town of Hosston some 10 miles or so. Not a large lake by any means, and often filled with vegetation, it culminates in a spillway on the southernmost tip that, in the dry part of the year, acts more as a retaining wall. But after the February rains, the lake was way up. 

The bayou meanders in generally a northwest to southeast direction, stretching from the town of Rodessa in the northwest part of Caddo Parish to the town of Hosston some 10 miles or so. Not a large lake by any means, and often filled with vegetation, it culminates in a spillway on the southernmost tip that, in the dry part of the year, acts more as a retaining wall. But after the February rains, the lake was way up. 

 To the north, between the tiny towns of Mira on U.S. 71 and Myrtis on La. Hwy 1, is a narrow, paved road that runs between the two, named aptly enough, Myra-Myrtis Road. Black Bayou runs underneath the road at a spot named Noah Tyson Park. I have no idea who Noah Tyson was or why he has a park named after him, but it's a peaceful place, consisting mainly of a house where someone, a park ranger I suppose, lives and watches after the park, a boat launch, a pavilion, a swing and a slide, and a wide spot to turn around in populated by a few grills. This place is planted pretty much in the middle of the north part of a circuit that I used to run through Caddo Parish from Shreveport to Hosston to Ida, across to Rodessa, then down through Vivian and Oil City to Shreveport, and then do it again. 

To the north, between the tiny towns of Mira on U.S. 71 and Myrtis on La. Hwy 1, is a narrow, paved road that runs between the two, named aptly enough, Myra-Myrtis Road. Black Bayou runs underneath the road at a spot named Noah Tyson Park. I have no idea who Noah Tyson was or why he has a park named after him, but it's a peaceful place, consisting mainly of a house where someone, a park ranger I suppose, lives and watches after the park, a boat launch, a pavilion, a swing and a slide, and a wide spot to turn around in populated by a few grills. This place is planted pretty much in the middle of the north part of a circuit that I used to run through Caddo Parish from Shreveport to Hosston to Ida, across to Rodessa, then down through Vivian and Oil City to Shreveport, and then do it again. 

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Those were the...

days when I was young and gas was cheap and weekends would find me just driving, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone, but always moving. 
 

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I don't know why...

I'm drawn to this place but I have been for several years now. When I go there, I bask in the quiet, and soon, so long as no one interrupts, I begin to feel the presence of my Mom and her sisters, not in any tangible way, but softly moving about in the mist. In my mind, the years peel back like the layers of an onion and I can practically hear them all laughing and talking; Mary, Mavis, Molly (my Mom), Linda, Nancy, and my Grandmother, their Mom. 

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The only one...

I don't hear is Charles, but then, he is still living, raising cattle in Wisconsin. Maybe one day he'll join them. I don't know. Maybe one day I'll join them. I just have to wait and see. Why there, of all places, I have no idea, because as far as I know, the only one who ever spent any time in that particular spot is me. And Mom and her sisters were all alive the first time I stood in Noah Tyson Park and listened to the wind make voices as it rustled through the Cypress trees.
 

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I miss them all...

terribly. Thus, I guess this is the place I go from time to time to imagine that I don't miss them for those few minutes when I can imagine that I hear them just beyond the trees, just out of sight. 

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And sometimes...

 if I listen real hard, I can hear that old Mercury Comet that carried me and a carload of hoodlums on endless loops through Caddo Parish. 

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But then...

as it always does, the time comes when I get into my own car, start the engine, and drive away. And only the ghosts remain....

 

 

 

© 2018 d.Ellis photos

 

Shift - A Choreographer's Showcase and a Theater Lover's Dream

Over the weekend of January 4-5,, the Studio Theatre in Little Rock hosted "Shift," a choreographer's showcase, featuring dance numbers from Kinky Boots, La La Land, Hamilton, The Greatest Showman, West Side Story, Moulin Rouge, Drowsy Chaperone, and White Christmas. Dance arrangements were choreographed by Jeremy Williams, Junia Massey, Michael Goodbar, Katherine Greer, Moriah Patterson, Bailey Greenwood, Olivia Stephens, and Bailey Lamb.

I was able to see it on Friday and I had a ball.

Some of the choreographers and members of the dance company came to the theater early on Saturday in response to a request by me to take photographs before the audience came in. This allowed me to set up four off-camera strobes with umbrellas to provide sufficient lighting for me to get the shots I needed.

And below this blog post are the results. Many thanks to Michael Goodbar for coordinating the necessary arrangements and to Olivia Stephens, Bailey Greenwood, Bailey Lamb, Jessica Mylonas, Moriah Patterson, and Courtney Speyer, for coming in early to perform for my camera (there is an eighth dancer, whose name I do not know, but I'll correct the list as soon as I find out). You rocked the house empty so I know you rocked the house again with the audience in attendance.

This is the first such choreographer's showcase the Studio Theatre has hosted. I do hope it won't be the last. That was some great music and some solid entertainment.   ---   de

All photos ©2018 d.Ellis photos
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An Easy Laugh Away From Fame and Fortune

I've always wondered what it would be like to have an easy laugh. An engaging, effervescent personality that draws people in. Since I was a child I've wanted to be less serious, not so introspective, more of a free spirit. 

Instead, I'm brooding, contemplative, and I have layers that conceal a deep down, real person, mysterious to me and invisible to everyone else. It's funny in a way that people think I'm outgoing. I don't see myself that way. I see myself peering through the darkness of a subway tunnel, far underground, yearning for the light but afraid of too much exposure. 

As a photographer, I find my personality fits me well, or at least my profession. Through the lens I observe life. I don't participate. In the confines of the viewfinder my world becomes manageable, pliable, survivable. I find myself drawn to this world, yet repulsed at the same time, craving human contact even as I avoid mingling with the world. 

I wish I had an easy laugh. I wish I had a personality that makes people want to draw near. Sometimes I wish I could be someone who isn't me just for an hour, just to see what that feels like. To see if I can learn to be more open, more engaging, more inviting. 

But i can't. So I'll keep on being me. And see what happens next. 

de 

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