In May, an extremely rare act of nature occurred in our area called a Derecho, aka inland hurricane. Sustained winds up to 106 mph blew for nearly an hour due east along a stretch of highway and took out nearly everything in its path, including 100 year old trees by the roots, utility poles, stop lights, you name it. If it was vertical before the storm, it probably was not afterwards.
Shortly afterwards I went to a historic cemetery in town over my lunch hour (a time I often try to use to work on my photography) that I knew had suffered some damage after the storm.
I had barely entered the cemetery when I heard a voice behind me start to tell me of some of the history of the grounds. It was the man pictured above, Mack, a homeless veteran who was laying in the cool shade of a large tree at the edge of the cemetery. He startled me at first, but as he got up and came toward me, I could tell he was a gentle soul, a small framed man, who walked with a limp because – as I found out during my talk with him – he had had several toes amputated due to gangrene.
We walked about the cemetery together as he told me of the history of those buried there, and his experience during the derecho, as he had been in that same spot when it hit a few weeks earlier.
I took a few pictures while we talked and walked, but felt my attention was better spent with Mack. I wanted to take his picture, but was afraid to ask. It’s not something I’m comfortable doing in the first place – photographing strangers – and I certainly did not want him to think I was trying to exploit him in anyway.
After 45 minutes, I explained that I had to return to work, but had very much enjoyed the time he’d spent with me and wondered if he would allow me to take his picture. I took only one picture, and snapped it quickly. This is it, and I think it captures him well.