Thursday, September 04, 2008

Post-career years

"Charlie Conklin, whom is retired, helps care for the environment by doing tree maintenance at the Old Cloverland Farms Dairy Site, which is at Dulaney Valley road and Windemere Pkwy. After many years working for Bethlehem Steel, Conklin retired, but instead of heading for the golf course, Conklin headed straight for tree planting and other conservation sites. By doing so, Conklin joins a growing number of retirees who are looking for meaning in their post-career years."

Sometimes you're not as prepared as you think when you arrive to an assignment. But you must ignore that and get the job done.

Back in July I was excited to have an early morning shoot close to home. I knew I didn't have to fight traffic and I had the chance to sleep in a couple extra minutes.

The story was about the growing number of retirees who are looking for meaning in their post-career years.

My assignment sounded interesting on the computer, and it was outside, which is always a plus. Yet I had passed the location before and realized that it wasn't much other than trees and grass. It was merely an open field.

Anyways, my job was to hang out with Charlie Conklin, a Bethlehem Steel retiree whom now helps care for the environment by doing tree maintenance at an old farm.

He was one of the nicest subjects I've shot this summer and what can I say, I learned a lot from the guy. But as nice as he was, he didn't have an extra pair of boots for me to borrow.

Why did I need boots? Well, the area Conklin planted trees in was actually where I had recalled driving by - an overgrown pasture in rural Baltimore County. The lush green grass was at the lowest knee-high. And I should mention, the assignment and his work began at 7 a.m., so one can only image how damp the summer grass was.

Instead of complaining that I'd get soaked, that had another assignment to go to afterward or shooting from afar with a long lens, I braved the soaking grass.

Within minutes of trekking through the tall blades, my pants, socks and shoes were drenched. It was no different than walking in a three-foot deep pool.

After about an hour passed, I started to head back toward my car. I had made some nice images of Conklin and his crew doing maintenance on more than a hundred trees in the area.

Then again, I knew I wasn't prepared. I felt Conklin reach and touch me on the shoulder. He wasn't trying to get my attention, he was pulling a crawling tick from my shirt.

"Patrick, I should mention. Check yourself over at least twice when you get home for ticks. They are everywhere out here," Conklin said.

Great. If he only knew ticks didn't mix, nor get along. So you could say I was again not prepared as I didn't put on any bug repellent.

Following the assignment, and before my next, I jetted home to shower, dry off and pull three ticks from my legs.

Lets just say now I keep more than just an extra pair of shoes and socks in my trunk. I now keep a full wardrobe change with boots and bug spray among other things. I learned my lesson.


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