Last weekend I visited AWARE (Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort) in the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Preserve. This non-profit organization accepts all species of injured animals, rehabilitates them and then releases them back into the wild. The day I visited I was introduced to several of the ambassador animals. The barn owl, Windy Sue Whoo, captivated me with her regal poise. She was injured by a homeowner who thought that the owl was going to eat their cat. Windy Sue has been at AWARE for 2 years. Because she was not successful at being released back into the wild, she has become an ambassador animal and now helps to educate the public about habitat conservation, preservation and promote environmental awareness. Windy Sue is perched on the arm of Marjan Ghadrdan who is a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator. To learn more about AWARE visit www.awareone.org.
What compelled me to stop at Petes’ Import Garage on Dekalb Ave. was the fact that sitting in the parking lot were the most fantastic collection of vintage automobiles and because I am drawn to the name Peter. Both my son and father are Peters. What I did not know when I knocked on the door to the shop was that Peter Peteet would answer the door and during our introductions would mention that his partner was a Peter as well, thus the name Petes’ Import Garage. I soon forgot my excitement about the autos when I caught a glimpse of the paintings that hung on the wall of the office and garage. As it turns out, Peter P. is not only a well-respected mechanic but also a talented painter, photographer, poet, environmentalist; not to mention a lovely person. After finishing his art studies at Georgia State University, Peter returned to the Atlanta neighborhood where he grew up to open his garage in 1985. Like his father, he was passionate about preserving a community that had been through many ups and downs over the decades.
With Peter’s permission, I am posting a beautiful poem he wrote in honor of his father who passed away 2 years ago. The poem depicts a man’s devotion to his city of Atlanta and its people at a time when “white flight” was in full swing during the 1960s and ’70s. If you are interested in reading more of Peter’s poems please visit his blog at http://poetpeteet.wordpress.com/
When I think of my Father
When I think of my Father, it’s not his face I see;
Rather his hand, fingers uncurling one by one as he recites
“I have five little friends
Who’ve taught me all I know.
Their name are Who, and Where, and What ,and When and How.”
He lived this poem well always seeking Who before What.
Like my mother when she smelled a thief’s cigarette smoke and called out
He always sought the person in the unknown.
When friends and family fled the city center
He dug in and bought a house which had been empty seven years.
He cleared the overgrown yard and brought back with pruning and fertilizer
The Azaleas which had been dying beneath the weeds.
Goodness and Mercy did not just follow him, he led them firmly by the hand.
When disease and time robbed him of his memory
And many would have been filled with terror
He had that Peace
Which passeth understanding
Yet springs from it.
Have you ever seen something so beautiful that you literally stopped in your tracks and gasped? It happened to me when I saw Kebra standing with her parents outside their shop in Little Five Points in Atlanta. I approached Kebra’s mother and asked for permission to photograph her daughter. I felt like I had won the lottery when Kebra’s mother, Lucket, obliged and said I could photograph both of them. I created several portraits that came out beautifully but this one was my favorite because of the accompanying story. I had commented to Lucket that Kebra was such a social and verbal two-year old and she proceeded to tell me about an encounter she had had with her daughter a couple of days before. Kebra and Lucket had been out on this same sidewalk and Kebra had kept repeating, “Elmo, Elmo, Elmo”. At first, Lucket did not understand what Kebra was responding to but eventually spotted a portrait of Elmo that had been painted on the side of the building across the street.
When I was editing my images from this outing, I noticed something white on the wall above Kebra’s head in this photograph. As I zoomed in I was astounded to see Elmo’s eyes. I had not spotted the eyes in the viewfinder when I composed this picture. Sometimes, the best images end up being the ones that you do not fully assimilate at the time the shutter releases.
I spotted these teenage boys in downtown Atlanta a couple of weeks ago as they were traipsing down the sidewalk and I was inching my way through rush hour traffic. Their gangly bodies moved with youthful ease and they appeared to be having a great time in each other’s company. As I approached the corner, I saw that they had plunked themselves down on a bench close to the intersection. As the traffic light turned red my car came to a stop alongside these boys. I picked up my camera and took one shot through the passenger window. One of the boys spotted me taking their picture and told his cohorts that they had been photographed. That is all it took for these teenagers to egg me on to take another picture…which of course I did.