Park Tree in Winter | Mark Lindsay

Suddenly my day gets jumbled with facts. I stare at my computer screen and the screen talks back. Wanting the last word, I start a conversation. This is a bad idea. The computer code that is my fledgling web site starts swimming around the room. It's time for fresh air. I go to the park and see my tree.

I haven't photographed the tree for a month or so. It's been even longer since I've written about it. As I walk down the street, on my way to the park, I see the guy who never smiles as he parks his car. He gets out and rushes up his driveway—disappears into the fog. I look at my reflection as I turn the corner. I realize that I'm starting to look like him. Could there now be two guys who never smile, both living on the same block? The thought depresses me.

The fog is brisk. It wipes the computer code out of my brain. And clouds the lens of my camera. I realize this when I reach the park and then the eucalyptus tree. I wipe the lens with an expensive microfiber cloth. It has a logo of the camera store where I bought it, something that annoys me. I figure if the camera store wants it logo on the damn thing I should get it for free. And again I'm not smiling.

The smooth glass of the lens takes away my angst. I've always adored lenses, could look into them for hours. I like cameras a lot, but truly love lenses. They are a purer manifestation of the photographic experience. Round and round, I clean the lens until it sparkles and look up at the tree and breathe. I realize that the tree is beautiful in the fog. I click the shutter a dozen times before the lens starts to fog up again.

Every time I see this tree it is different. I am different. The air is different. As I think this I realize that I'm grinning. First I grin at the tree. Then I grin as I suddenly realize that there is still, thankfully, only one guy on our block who never smiles.