From Out of the Ashes

February 18, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Moving ranks near the top on the list of things I'd rather avoid. It's a lot of work. Disruptive. It can also be very expensive. That said, whenever I'd packed up and settled somewhere new it had always gone pretty smoothly - including some significantly long hauls (like Los Angeles to Northern New England). 

Then came New Hampshire to Idaho: the move from hell.

It was a train wreck from the moment the packers stepped foot into our New England home, but I'll skip ahead. We arrived at the new residence only to be informed that our belongings would be late. Apparently the moving company considered the contractually obligated delivery window to be merely a suggestion. To our astonishment, we discovered they'd never intended to begin the trip promptly. Instead, our goods had been transported to a warehouse in Portland, Maine where they now sat baking in stifling summer heat and high humidity (my piano has never been the same). When pressed, the GM was vague about what had transpired and gave no indication of when we might expect delivery. 

The dodging and evasion went on for weeks. Meantime, I had with me only what I'd been able to load into my vehicle for the cross-country drive. Most of that space having been claimed by computers, monitors, printers and camera gear, that left a few days' worth of clothing, a coffee maker, frying pan, other small kitchen items, and a few odds and ends. I set up my office on the floor. Slept there, too.

It was a happy day when the moving van finally pulled up - until the crew began unloading. The very first piece of furniture off the truck was badly damaged. A pole lamp looked like it had been used for batting practice. A floor vase was completely shattered. And so it continued. One after another, a sad parade of defacement: these things that had always been so carefully cared for in our hands. Incredulous at first, there was so much damage I became almost numb to it.

They say three moves equals a fire. This time it took just one. Four alarms.

As the truck emptied and I perused the inventory list another problem became obvious: a lot of things were missing. I spent the next five weeks wrestling with the clowns back in New England until finally some of our property was "discovered" in their warehouse - where it had been sitting all summer. But only some of it. The balance disappeared forever. 

Final tally: 2 1/2 months from initial load until the final truck showed up, $40,000 in damage, and lost inventory valued at an additional $10,000.  

You're probably thinking we must have gone with some questionable outfit to save a few bucks. Hire Looney Tunes Acme Movers and this is what you should expect, right? Actually it was a global relocation service provider. I'll bet you'd recognize the name! (Hint: it starts with North American and ends with Van Lines.) NAVL themselves described the result as "catastrophic." 

Welcome to Idaho.

What on earth does any of this have to do with the accompanying image?

In the middle of this protracted absurdity I needed a sanity break. I know of no better tonic for what ails me than nature. (There's also gin and tonic, it's true. But nature is better!) One early evening I loaded my gear and drove over to the Teton Valley; this would be my first time out with the camera since packing it up in New Hampshire. Monsoonal storms had been rolling through the area that day and I was hoping for interesting skies. 

By the time I reached Tetonia the rain had stopped and the sun was out; the light was golden. Storm clouds hung over the mountains and there were still occasional rumbles of thunder. There wouldn't be time to make it up into the Big Holes before losing the light; fortunately I found a wonderful compositional substitution. Before me was an idyllic pastoral scene: the Teton River meandering through farmland, cattle grazing, the town in the distance - all of it nestled beneath the towering three Tetons. And those clouds! It was magical. Just looking at it made me happy. Capturing it with the camera was the icing on the cake. 

Chaos was waiting for me back at the house, but for a while it didn't matter. Exactly what the doctor ordered!

The photograph is called Departure. Turns out it's a best seller (and also a personal favorite). 

From out of the ashes, the phoenix rises. 

Storm Existing Teton Valley IdahoDepartureAs a summer storm moves out just before sunset, the sky is full of character while the valley below is bathed in rich, warm light. (Teton Valley near Tetonia, Idaho)


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