At this unhelpful, unfriendly, and frankly uninterested response, I wince, inwardly; outwardly, I keep smiling in a non-threatening way. Standing far enough away from the window (opened in response to me waving my phone in what at best only vaguely communicated intent but surely communicated nothing threatening), anyway, standing far enough away that I would need a pikestaff (aka javelin, lance, spear) to threaten the guy (who had been lounging in the car’s passenger seat minding his own business on his own phone and who is now wearing an “Is there no peace?” expression), I maintain what I hope is a “We’re all friends here, right?” expression and try my question/request again almost word for word, betting that the problem wasn’t how I said it or how fast I said it but, rather, his surprise that I had said anything at all: His surprise at being accosted. Fair enough.

There’s a great reflection of this tree
(here, I gesture non-threateningly at the tree behind me)
in your car.
Do you mind if I take a photo of it?

I can see him considering whether “Wut?” will serve again. He decides not.


The window rolls up. Taking his detailed response for “No, I don’t mind/care” rather than “No, don’t take a photo you crazy old lady”, I step sideways, briskly but non-threateningly, and tap my phone’s screen. Given his slightly sullen presence, I don’t take the same care in framingย  that I sometimes do and I don’t take the multiple shots I usually do, but it turns out pretty well anyway.

I mean, being in the Palmetto State how *could* I walk past a reflection of a sabal palmetto in this SUV’s chrome trim (Is it still chrome? It used to be chrome didn’t it? In my yute? The car mysteries never end.), anyway, in the trim, window, side panel, door, and door handle.

For anyone interested in the sabal palmetto (aka palmetto, cabbage palm), here is more reading, and more watching. In the latter, note the scowling face in the palmetto trunk at the 1:00-minute mark.

For anyone interested in chrome trim, here’s an aesthetic opinion and some news.

And how could I take a photo of a car if someone is inside without checking with them first, even though they’re not the subject of the photo? Indeed, unarmed (even by pikestaff) as I usually am, when I identify a parked-and-unoccupied-vehicle-of-photographic-interest I always scan the parking lot for someone who might be heading back to said vehicle, just, you know, in case that person is not amused.

I usually bypass a vehicle with obvious occupants, which can be tricky to determine casually/unobtrusively with so much tinted glass. Well, I bypass it unless there’s a really fine reflection. If I inadvertently obtruse on someone (like, why isn’t obstruse a word?) and have been seen/caught sort of casually peering into a side window, I find myself being quite careful from then on. Smiling. Standing well back. Flicking my gray hair. Communicating wordlessly but clearly that there is nothing threatening here. Well, that *I* am not threatening. Younger, stronger people–and aren’t they all, these days?–need no pikestaffs to be threatening to me.

Anyway, whether at home or elsewhere it’s plain that it’s always a good as well as a prudent thing to be polite and obviously non-threatening to strangers, in or out of accosting mode. As plain as a pikestaff, some would say.


This entry was posted in Appreciating Deeply, Day-to-Day Encounters, Laughing Frequently, Photos of Flora and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Anyway

  1. Judith Umbach says:

    Adventures in photography! Always startling to see a person where one thought there was only a good shot. And your photos are good!

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Wow! I’d never have thought of stopping some drivee on the 401 because I wanted to take a picture of something through his car window!
    What’s the line from Impossible Dream: to go where the brave dare not go!

  3. barbara carlson says:

    The man behind the glass was as prickly as the Palmetto.
    The image has a nice swoop to it, like caught in movement as the car went by you.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Many thanks. I haven’t quite figured out what to expect from various reflective surfaces, curved and otherwise, which is part of the fun.

  4. If this were a drawing or painting, one might say “What an amazing study of a palmetto!” I think it is a study of a palmetto, even if you captured it in a considered “click” because you saw it in similar terms. Long ago, when I painted pictures, I sometimes tried to capture the essence of an object, such as a tree, simplified to a textured trunk with a branch and twigs against a neutral sky but catching the light in such a way that the outline of the tree-branch join glows red. Your multiple, fractured reflections of this palmetto capture the essence of not only this particular tree but of palm trees. It also would lend itself to a tantalizing jigsaw puzzle.

    Thanks for the Brad Paisley song of the week. Perfectly apropos.

  5. Isabel Gibson says:

    Laurna – ๐Ÿ™‚ About 10 (15?) years ago, there was a trend of “deconstructed” dessert recipes that involved creating and presenting all the pieces of an iconic dessert, but singly. I never tried any of them – likely too much work for my cooking-interest level – but that has the same feel to a visual-arts “study”. Getting down to the elements, the basics. (Glad you enjoyed the song.)

  6. John L Whitman says:

    Isabel – Just like sleeping dogs, I try to leave Americans busy on their cellphones undisturbed, no matter where they may be sitting. For that matter, I try and leave people of all nationalities undisturbed as they concentrate on their cellphones. Perhaps that’s because I enjoy watching cellphone users walk into poles and mailboxes, etc.

    As for grey-haired grandmothers. As you should know, a grey-haired grandmother in the States could be packing heat – so grey hair is not always a defense. Being polite is always best regardless of hair color.

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