A Silver Linings Photographic Update

A Silver Linings Photographic Update

Dear Friends:

Some weeks ago I posted an essay on the well-worn subject of silver linings. My thesis was far from original. At 60 years old, I’m finding that daily detours, interruptions and adjustments lead me to unexpected blessings. Part of the dynamic I described was all of the physical detours I have to take to make it, for example, from the house to my writing hut.

What follows is a photographic update of what blocks my path during this hot, humid August–which, by the way, makes all of wife Kathy’s plants grow as if on steroids. I’ll include a few bonus photographs just because and close with a short, lesson-learned coda.

Love, John

The path Micah has to take to reach his car. If the wildflowers don’t knock him over, the hose might trip him up.
The first thing I see coming out the backdoor: pigeons. They’re waiting for me to fill the bird feeders so that they can clean up the leavings.
Or sometimes the clean up crew favors the Rockettes formation.
First leg of journey to the hut–a gauntlet of beach towels and rugs.
When the towels dry, I can count on a chair or something else to stand in my way. In this case, wife Kathy sat there to blow bubbles.
This is why I don’t run to the hut. (Nice shirt, huh?)
The hut is in sight, but the path is not clear.
Why are a chair and a bench in my way? Beats me.
Should I stumble en route to the hut, a hawk is ready to snack on my carcass.
Inside the hut, the Muse awaits–a lovely sculpture by John Edwards.
Foxhound Sherlock Holmes keeps vigil by Martha Washington, who is slated for refinishing soon.
When the weather is cool, I pray/meditate with the door and my eyes open. I look at Kathy’s flowers and let ideas float downstream.
In the spring I befriended a robin splashed in white. Here is Whitey, about to take a worm from my hand. (Ignore the dirty floor.)
The grandsons’ fort, accompanied by . . . wait for it . . . sunflowers! This never gets in my way.
One reason for the fort: Gavin, shown here the morning after a sleepover. Those curls were mashed up against my face all night long.
After a day in the hut, I climb these few stairs to the backdoor and recall a Robin Williams movie: “Jumanji!”
While Kathy put new dishes in the cupboard, Baby Crash got in her way.
Here is the real Muse–Kathy, who is responsible for much of the beauty that sustains me.


Kathy and I live in Erie, Pennsylvania, a few blocks from Lake Erie in a middle class neighborhood. These amateur photographs taken on a smartphone show what seems to me an embarrassment of blessings. I have shelter, clothing, more than enough food and drink–trust me, blossoms and birds to please my eyes, and most of all love. I look out from the hut, which itself would not exist but for the COVID pandemic, and think to myself, “John, you’re in paradise.”

As I try to settle into what I hope will continue to be a charmed stretch of years, I realize that paradise has as much to do with what all I carry into it than what pictures can show. Gladness is work, regardless of how many people I love and the riot of color out my window. Like anybody else, I might at one moment be stunned by the brilliance of a red-headed woodpecker or a delicacy of a cosmos, but then remember an injury or disappointment sleeping in my chest, awakening unpredictably by its own volition.

So, I guess what I’m driving at is this: Silver linings, breathtaking as they are, don’t drive away the iron gray clouds. They abide together. At least they do for me.

Love (again), John


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