Every week, photographer Andy Katz sends me a new image to post here for your viewing pleasure. I never know what I'm going to get, but I do know that it's going to be good. This week, when I opened his e-mail, something different happened. Everything got quiet, and I smelled freshly cut grass, bee pollen, and felt a warm breeze....
Amazingly, we are not lost, but I wouldn't care if we were. Just as I give up and decide we have no idea where we are, another road sign appears that tells us indeed, we are on our way to Montepulciano. It hardly matters, though, because it is one of the most beautiful days I've ever experienced in my life. I have a gorgeous woman sitting next to me in this little rattle-trap of a rental car, and moments ago, as we snapped our picture standing in a field of orange poppies that stretched out across a Tuscan field behind us, I realized that this was the woman I needed to spend the rest of my life with.
"Yes!" Ruth says, triumphantly, "we're going to get there!" And so we are, winding our way from the walled city of Siena to the picture perfect hill town of Montepulciano where we will wander the cobblestone streets, drunk first with love, and then later with Vino Nobile de Montepulciano.
Suddenly we round a bend and on our right, the hills roll up and away towards the horizon like the frozen surface of a turbulent green sea, undulating and chaotic except for a single oasis of calm. There, amidst the pitching waves of new wheat is a little gem -- a tiny island populated by perfect cypress trees that we recognize instantly as the quintessence of Tuscany.
Ruth and I both immediately have the same longing: to photograph. In the emotion of the moment we naively believe that by fixing this image onto film we will preserve this feeling that runs through both of our veins, and capture this beauty that we have been swimming in for more than a week together.
"Oh my God," she says. "We gotta stop and take a picture of those trees!"
I look at my watch, torn.
"We've gotta be close to Montepulciano by now," I say, anxious about getting there in time to do some serious wine tasting.
"We can get a photo on the way back...." I hesitate for a moment as the urge to stop nearly becomes overwhelming.
"It won't take more than a minute," she says, almost pleading.
But my brain wins over my heart, and the hesitation never completes, and even at the limping pace that our little car can keep, the trees are passing behind us now, and the landscape continues to unroll in front of us, and soon the perfect day fills in the gap and smooths over the little seam that is left in our memory for lack of an image.
And the day was perfect. And the wine was good. And we were in love.
And by the time our little tin can of an automobile rounded that bend in the road again, it was dark. We were sated with yet one more fantastic meal, but not enough to avoid exchanging a glance as that little stand of trees swished by in our mind's eye, and in the darkness outside.
We all carry with us many images, but some seem quite indelible, fused like vertebrae to create the spine of our experience -- the bright line we can trace back through our lives without fail.
Ruth and I will always remember that moment, wistfully, and definitely with a bit of a chuckle. She says "that proves you should always listen to your wife, even if she isn't your wife yet."
And I say that I will never really need that photograph, which is the honest truth. It could never hold what I hold in my mind's eye and in my heart.
But just the same, I know that she is absolutely, positively, right.
And now, thanks to my friend Andy, we've got a photograph of those very same trees.
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops.
If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited edition print of this image please contact photographer Andy Katz through his web site.
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