Time is such a fickle thing. It seems so limited but I suppose it’s just us, the people consuming it, that are indeed temporary. But time itself — time is infinite, all encompassing. It’s the cure to most of life’s struggles. It’s the answer to most of life’s questions. It’s a blessing and a curse.
My dad has always been fascinated with early American mining history. The subject has become a hobby to him, and many of the books on his shelf are pictorial recollections of a way of life now only remembered and appreciated by those with a hunger for a knowledge of the past. What amazes me about these books, rarely left along long enough to collect much dust, well read and taken care of, is the story behind the story. These black and white photos are so clear that I can see through the lack of color and sense the blueness of someone’s eyes. I can smell the chimney smoke in the air. The oil of machinery. The staleness of closed doors. These black and white photos with people whose lives have long ago been completed, who’s stories now only lives in the imagination of an image. I feel like I know them. I feel like I can see the tale of hard winters in the wrinkled, weatherworn faces. I can savor the sweet joy of picnics in the summertime, and of valued conversations with friends and loved ones. I can smell the air, heavy with the scent of pine after a hard rain, the same air that once filled their lungs the comfort of home. But of course I will never really know anything about any one of these people outside of what I imagine of them.
There is something vaguely tragic in the nostalgic romance of an era passed. Something very bittersweet. A wish for the ‘way-we-were’ and the realization that our time, too, is limited, someday to be thrown together in a book and studied by future generations completely engrossed by our way of life…by the happenings of our generation – and the realization that they are next.