Sunday, June 1, 2008

"No take pictures!"

Ok, not all knitting today; it's Sunday, and I have a story for you. If you want the knitting, skip to the end.
Several years ago, K and I drove through New Mexico on a rather informal winery tour. We meandered through the state, taking frequent detours to visit small local wineries. Near the end of our trip, our route took us off the interstate onto a narrow road that wound along a small stream. There were a few farms, then a small town. We drove past what looked like the oldest adobe building we had ever seen. I was so intrigued by the structure, we had to stop and go back.
There were bars on the windows (the windows are on the side), and at the time there was a poster tacked to the door. The poster announced a benefit for the local volunteer fire department. I thought perhaps the building had formerly been the local jail, figuring that a poster about a public event indicated that it was a public building. It made sense--I've seen abandoned jails in small towns before.

After reading the poster, and looking around a bit, I took a picture of K standing on the front step. As we were about to walk back to the car, the door suddenly opened and a small man stood there. He looked angry. "You take picture?" he asked. We stared at him. I'm sure our mouths were open. After all, the last thing I expected was that someone would come out of what I thought was an abandoned building.

"NO TAKE PICTURES!" he declared, waving his arms as though to shoo us away. At that, we turned and walked, rather rapidly, to the car, and left. Once underway, an exchanged glance was all it took to reduce us to giddy laughter. I felt bad about intruding on his privacy, but our intrusion was completely unintended. In fact, I felt a little triumphant that I had what I knew was a good photo, and one that would be a conversation piece for us. My camera was a good one, and that photo would be a winner.

I just didn't count on the karma.

We drove on to the winery, and then headed home. I hadn't finished the roll of film in the camera (Yes, film--I told you this was several years ago), so I put it aside, planning on getting it developed as soon as I took the rest of the photos. In a couple of days, when a friend asked to borrow the camera for a special event, I was happy to oblige, eager to use up the film so that I could get the photos developed.

My friend's event was a public one, with a wide variety of people present. She used up the roll of film, then put the camera in her backpack and put the backpack down. When she came back to get it, the camera was missing. My camera had been stolen. There's that karma thing. My good camera was gone, and I had lost my photo of K in front of the adobe house. It was as though the little man had reached across the states and snatched back the picture of his house. For years, we talked about going back there. We thought we knew where it was, but even though we drove through New Mexico a couple of times since, we never found it...

Until this last trip, when we drove to Pagosa Springs from Texas. As we left the interstate to head north, I began to feel as though I was watching a movie I'd seen before. I saw a sign advertising a winery ahead. K said he remembered the road, and thought we would see the house soon. Eagerly we peered around every turn, and at last we came to it. We drove back and forth in front of the house, afraid to stop. What if we disturbed the man again? That would be horrible. But we wanted a photo. On the third pass, we parked the car and took a little look around. No one was in sight. We cautiously approached and saw that there was a padlock on the front door. Either the little man was away, and the padlock was his way of locking the old door, or he hadn't been at home for some time. I took this photo, but that's all. I didn't dare take one of K on the doorstep again. I could still hear the angry "No take pictures!" from years before.
We left, continuing on our way to Pagosa. Around another bend in the road, K spotted this coyote. Somehow, this scene matched the desolation of the unoccupied adobe house.


Bron said...

Wow - great post! Love the new pictures & the story. :)

CUTE apron!

Patricia said...

Great story. My husbands parents moved to the Jemez in the late '7o's. On our few visits we spent quite a bit of time hiking through the mountains and stumbling upon waterfalls, old adobes, and all manner of oddities.
Your post made me want to revisit.

Marjorie said...

I think there might be some camera karma thing. Decades ago, I was a student-leader on a small tour to Europe, and it was my job to go to the Baths of Caracalla in Rome to buy tickets for Aida for the group (tough life, wasn't it). After doing that and taking some wonderful pictures of the Aida sets among the Roman ruins, some street boy started bothering me. (I was young and cute, and so a target for them.) I got up quickly to get away, and the group followed me shouting. I left my camera, and they were trying to give it back. I was so embarrassed at being snooty.

Sam said...

That's a great story. :)

I wonder if there is some photo etiquette guidelines somewhere (maybe I'll google that next). I love taking pictures of interesting people that I see on my travels -- sometimes they just make a picture. And I'd ask, except I don't want a fake pose. But it doesn't quite feel right though...

Jenny Girl said...

What an interesting and a bit spooky story! Beuatiful picture though, and I also would have driven back to get another picture.