Eight Best Photographs of 2018

In this photograph (above) illustrating an article of mine published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette in October, Alia Starkweather, then 82, was leaving her clapboard cottage in Belchertown to embark on a new and exciting life on the road. She purchased a 1987 Toyota Minicruiser and set out on her own after Thanksgiving.

I met Starkweather while writing an obituary about her former husband, Llan Starkweather, who passed away in June. I was struck by her tenacity for life and wrote myself a note to follow up later.

Her intentions reminded of the oft-quoted poem about aging by Dylan Thomas “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Thomas writes, “Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”  Starkweather’s story exemplifies that sentiment.

I selected this photograph because it fully captures Starkweather’s ambitions: Barefooted and unburdened of any possessions, she walks alone away from the camera toward the camper. She reaches for the door, open to a dark interior — the unknown. On the gravel rests a broom and a vacuum, symbolizing the challenges she overcame — selling her home, cleaning the RV, planning her trip. A bicycle leans against the truck, and to the right, sunlight brightly illuminates the open road — her freedom.

At one point or another, everyone (including myself) has dreamed of packing up their earthly possessions, buying an RV (or converting a school bus) and living on the road.

Her story also highlights the isolation that often comes up in interviews with elders: As our world becomes more global, family members move away in search of jobs. And while technology can connect us instantaneously to those we love, it’s not a substitute for human touch or face-to-face interaction.

One day, when I’m Starkweather’s age, I hope that I’m also brave enough to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Below are a few more photographs (taken at some point within the last year) that I find to be particularly meaningful.

Josh and Matt
My brother Josh’s wedding. His friend Matt is on the left. Brianna and I had the honor of capturing his day! And we gained a new sister, Cassie. What a sweet memory.
Amherst Reservoir
Amherst Reservoir. I had to sneak past a ‘no trespassing’ sign to get this shot.
ALS Lee Shumway
Lee Shumway, who has ALS, holds Turbo, a Chihuahua, in the living room of his Hadley home, Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
El Rancho Del Rey
My year started at a place close to my heart: El Rancho Del Rey, a home for boys in Mexico. It’s a place that I don’t go to enough. Hopefully, when life slows down a little bit, I’ll be able to get more involved.
I took this photograph through a window in one of the dorms. I’m always struck by those eyes — they look into my soul.
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. The photograph was taken with a full-spectrum camera, which gives the image a dreamy look.
It Takes a Village
There’s so much joy in this photograph. It was taken to accompany an article about It Takes a Village, a nonprofit that helps new parents in the hill towns of Western Massachusetts.
Honeymoon Florida.jpg
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a photograph from Brianna and I’s honeymoon to Florida. It was, after all, the best two weeks of my life. This is looking down on Siesta Key from a lighthouse.


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