An image of the summer that stays with me is that of my daughter splashing in Keeler Bay on Lake Champlain, the water rippling out around her. In my memory, the sun is glancing off the water, but in the picture I have, the water's surface is simply shattered with light and dark.
This summer, I felt I gave the kids some happiness after years of marginal and frenetic living. We went to Vermont twice, bookending the summer. In between, their mutual camp experience while I worked was grand. I don't remember that it rained.
And, this time, the summer was recorded, in part, because I bought a new camera while in Vermont--something higher resolution. We'd not taken many pictures over the last several years. It seemed an act of duty rather than enjoyment. But how much more permanent, retrievable, a memory is if attached to a photo. I had forgotten that this makes life seem so much more real.
Had I taken this photo with our old digital camera, the water's surface would have blurred to a barely interrupted smoothness. But with the new camera, la vita nuova, each facet of the surface shows itself: the awkward elegance of water moving toward and away from what disturbs it, or shifting with mild wave energy from underneath. Light and dark in a shattering sort of contrast, but clustered the way safety glass clings together when it breaks.
This, I think, is happiness, were I so bold as to make such a pronouncement. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil. The lighter facets brightest when in contrast with their darker peers. Ways that images from this almost perfect summer rise up suddenly the way the leaves have just turned vivid, ironies of the ebbing of photosynthesis.
Happiness like synthesis. Making of the reflected elements of our lives a moving, brightened surface, all of a piece, all of it, good, bad, frightening and ecstatic. The piecemeal, or leafmeal, scattering of impressions through the faulty basal ganglia. Four of us, a family, in all our awkward elegance moving toward and away from one another. Synthetic: what we make of it within the scope of what we see.