Check out my beautiful yard! I have hundreds of trees on my property, some of them old and large, and on the morning of the day this picture was taken—this past Friday—the lawn was so covered with leaves you could hardly see any green. (That's changed again, but more on that at the end of this post.)
Eric Bills owns the lawn service that takes care of my yard. I've watched Eric's business grow just in the year and a third I've been here. First he got an excellent industrial-grade, heavy-duty zero-turn riding mower. Then just a few days ago he invested in a deluxe leaf-collecting and -bagging attachment for it. He used it for the very first time on my yard on Friday. It passed that test. The thing is like a vacuum cleaner for the grass. When Eric ran his new rig over the leaf-covered lawn it picked up everything in its path. Nothing in its wake but clean green grass.
Reminds me of a saying I remember well from my long-ago days as a carpenter. I no longer remember where I heard it or who I heard it from. The saying was:
Carpentry is 25% skill, 25% experience, and
50% having the right tools.
The right tool—Eric's new bagger—sure made a difference in getting the leaves up this year and making the yard look good.
I've used that old aphorism many times over the years, and it's amazing how flexible it is.
Photography...I'd say 40% skill, 40% work (by "work" I only mean "doing it"), and only 20% tools. Because you can do good work with pretty rudimentary tools, and better tools don't improve your work automatically.
Digital printing, by contrast, might be 10% skill, 30% judgement, and 60% equipment and materials.
See what I mean? You can apply that old carpenter's rule to pretty much anything. All you have to do is measure and cut it to fit.
Sunday afternoon after sunset
Got to have a little weather
So anyway, that picture up top was Friday. The yard looked great...but only for one day. Saturday it was wet and the wind blew hard all day, and a fair amount of leaves got all over the yard again. (So it goes.) Not as many as at first, though. Rain turned to snow on Sunday evening.
This morning, there's half a foot of snow on the ground! The dogs are excited. Even old Mike could recover just a glimmer of what it felt like to be a kid waking up to the first new snow.
The propane guy, Dave, was just here to fill up the tanks (156 gallons). He says it's nothing down here where I am. The land is funny around here—the plains are high up, dropping hundreds of feet in elevation down to the lakes. It's windy enough down here—gusting hard at times—but Dave said that up the hill on the open farmland it's really blowing. He said there are places blown bare and also snowdrifts up to his chin. Roads closed. They've closed the schools—and it takes more than snow to do that; you've got to have some weather, too.
Just now, Monday, twenty minutes after writing this post
So I guess Winter has blown in all of a sudden. Friday the spotless carpet of my green lawn was perfect for playing fetch (look at the top picture closely and you'll notice the beloved blue tennis ball being guarded between Butters' front paws). Today we'll either go for a walk or do some discipline work in the yard; if I threw the ball today, the snow would swallow it right up.
P.S. Re the second and third shot in this post, ever notice how a lot of my color pictures are really black-and-white pictures?
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
David Wilcox: "I'm a retired carpenter and cabinetmaker. I must add to the comments on experience/skill/tools. Most important is the skill to do a good job with the tools available. Many years ago my carpenter uncle, Carl MacKenzie, built my grandparents' house between a prairie spring and frost. Two stories, three bedrooms, including concreted basement, and kitchen cabinets, all with hand tools. No electricity was available. After a lifetime in the trade, I am still astounded by his ability. He let me believe that I, a ten year old, was a useful helper. I'm sure that the experience led me into the trade. I still get a lump when I think of my dear uncle.
"P.S. For my whole carpentry career I made use of hand tools: sometimes the available power tools were not the right choice."
Eamon Hickey: "My girlfriend's parti-colored miniature poodle, L'il Joey Ramone, who is (apologies to Butters) the world's finest fellow, loves to play fetch in the snow.
"As he nears his prey, he launches headlong into a slide for the last foot or two, like a baseball player stealing second base, and clamps his mighty jaws on the poor doomed quarry while skidding through a cloud of scattering snow. And should his wily adversary take refuge in a snow drift, he dives head first after it, utterly fearless, and begins to furiously (and hilariously, but don't tell him that) fling great wads of snow backwards under his hind legs, dog-digging fashion, until all you can see is his frantically gyrating tail. No tennis ball, however clever, is a match for his fierce hunting prowess."
Dave Van de Mark: "Oh, your photos in this and past posts just nag at me—they make me want to move to a place with four real seasons before I die! I do enjoy where I live, but north coastal California has just two seasons—winter and 'non winter'—and mostly all within a 15- to 20-degree temperature span (way above freezing most of the time). After 53 years of it, I say it's getting a little boring! I'm a gentle man, but would kill for a really good thunderstorm or snow. Sigh!"
Jim Metzger: "'Digital printing, by contrast'—good pun. I would disagree with your percentages however, I am fortunate enough to live near and be friends with a master printer—film, digital and combinations thereof. By master I mean he prints for world-class photographers and world-class museums and galleries. His goal has been to print digital so it is almost indistinguishable from traditional silver gelatin...but better. His ability to distinguish tonal scales in a seamless transition on a print is nothing short of inspirational. It has taken years to get to where he is and he continues to work the boundaries. New equipment makes the goal a little more obtainable. I have learned more about looking at photographs in the past five years then I did in the previous 45.
"Oh, and you should leave the last leaves of fall on the ground, great winter protection and a start on mulch for next year. Stay safe."
Jeff adds: "I agree with Jim Metzger on digital printing. Film or digital, there's no substitute for a great eye and judgment (for superior work), even though digital tools are far more user-friendly and efficient. The best tools are still between the ears. More like 25% skill, 25% equipment and materials, and 50% judgment. I've seen a lot of mediocre prints using excellent tools (film and digital), maybe because users mistakenly think that equipment and materials are the driving force. Editing and processing techniques are easy to learn, but knowing when and where to apply those techniques is key. Like the old surgeon's joke about why her fees are so high: it's a dollar to make the cut, but twenty thousand dollars to know when and where to cut. Likewise, your 'photography' category requires a similar judgment category unless, unlike with printing, you've included that within the skills component."