I think I was about 6 when I discovered the power of a photograph to explain something about my life.  In my mind it started one day with my older brothers.  We had gone down to the park, wandering and exploring as we often did.  We walked through the woods following the creek, wandering through the suburbs that we lived in.  We would skip stones and try to catch crawfish, turtles, and any other critters we were curious about.  Getting muddy and wet, it was a kid’s dream come true.  We often explored the living world for entire days, fascinated by what we could find. On this particular day we were wandering by a creek that I still visit today.  We had been catching crawfish all day and tossing them into a coffee can.  My brothers and I were getting tired and the sun would set soon, marking our deadline to be home.  The sunlight was streaming through the trees, speckling the creek with a dreamy light.  I was wandering a bit away from my brothers when I noticed a salamander sunning himself on a rock.  I was awe-struck by this little creature.  I had never seen a salamander before and had no name for it.  I thought it was a little dragon like the ones that I had heard of in stories. He had just shrunk himself down to fit into this world.  I was fascinated, so I approached slowly to get a better look.  Walking carefully on the creek rocks as I approached.  I didn’t let my eyes move from my fascination, not wanting the creature to disappear into the creek.  With a child’s wonder pounding in my chest, I reached out and picked up the salamander.  He didn’t resist, or try to run, but instead curled in the palm of my hand.  I studied him, being careful not to harm this little dragon.  I quietly called to my brothers down the creek to come see my little treasure.  They wanted to know right away what I had found. They came running up the creek splashing and yelling to me not to loose it.  As they got to within a couple of feet, the sudden motion startled my new friend.  It jumped from my open hand into the water and vanished.  I was frustrated that my brothers had chased him away with their carelessness.  I started crying and pitching a fit, yelling at them for their disrespect.  This was all my brothers could stand and they quickly decided that it was time to go home, if nothing else, to be rid of the whimpering little brother.  I was silent on the walk home, following a couple of paces behind them.  Once at home we got hosed off in the back yard and went in.  When we got inside my dad was sitting at the dinning room table reading, and he stopped to ask about our adventure of the day.  My brothers couldn’t get a word out before I was quickly explaining my discovery in that excited little kid way; all at once without the words to actually explain.  My dad just pulled me onto his lap and tried to understand what was going on.  Smiling at me, with an arm around my back, he kissed me on the forehead and asked me to try to slow down so he could understand.  As I tried it became clear that the words just weren’t there to communicate what I thought was a touch of magic in the world.  I tried and tried, becoming frustrated that I just wasn’t able to communicate.  My dad just kept smiling at me.  With a sigh and a little laugh he reassured me that everything was fine.  I started to cry and he held me close rocking gently.  He sighed again and said “Well maybe next time you can take a picture”.  I wondered at this possibility as he slipped me off his lap and walked into the kitchen.  He came back to the table and, taking a seat next to me, showed me what he had retrieved.  It was a Kodak 110, and he carefully explained how to load it and take a picture.  “They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it might be easier to understand than the three thousand you just gave me” he said with a smile.  He handed me the camera and I was off.  My mom swears that, over the next few months,  I never put the thing down. I took pictures of everything that caught my eye.  Now I hunt for pieces of that magic in my life.  I still take pictures, always looking for the magic of the little dragon to shine.  I try to capture the magic that I see everyday.  I hope to show what I can of the magic in the world and the delight of wonder that I feel for this most magical of realities.

C.V.