“Hook your arm there….yeah, like a cowboy.” If there was one thing Porter and Hudson understand it’s the cowboy metaphor as I pose them against a worn wooden fence. The fall air has a slight nip to it, exacerbated by the fact that both the Smiths and Lauren and I have just recently relocated from Hawaii, a place where people wear sweaters in the movie theaters to ward off the air conditioning.
Julie and Lauren met working at the same school in Lanikai, Hawaii, a small gem of a community nestled where the Pacific’s clear azure water dips into the greens of the island’s jungles. After years of working together our paths diverged as their family moved off island…until we found the Navy would station us just minutes apart in Maryland.
Brian and Julie stroll easily across the wide meadow, Porter and Hudson, the older kids charge ahead with little Truitt tottering behind. They walk with the familiarity of years of marriage, and though the orange haze of sunset settles around them, Julie has an extra glow… after three boys the Smiths are expecting a girl next year. It’s easy to get caught up in the infectious fun of the boys, tumbling in the grass, hanging from trees, taking turns posing in their best cowboy mannerisms before bursting into fits of riotous laughter; despite his young age Truitt participates equally in the rambunctiousness. As a writer and photographer I was always taught to notice the little things, to look the other way when everyone is staring another. In these moments of boyish play I glance over at their parents. Brian and Julie fit easily into each other’s arms and watch with satisfied smiles. Here, in the middle of a golden field, with the scent of freshly cut grass rising warmly, surrounded by turning leaves and a crisp fall breeze, it hits. Fall is the season of the harvest, when the toil of the spring planting and maintaining crops in the summer heat pays off, when families enjoy the fruits of their labor. As the boys tussle, Julie quietly takes Brian’s hand and rests her head on his shoulder.