Saturday, May 11, 2013


I love reflections. I seek them out. I document them when I find them. So finding an opportunity to photograph my reflection seemed like a piece of cake.

It wasn’t. Reflections were elusive. The few that appeared remained impervious to attempts at photographing them. My daughter didn’t seem to have any trouble finding her shot.

What to do? It seemed like brass instruments would reflect strongly enough to capture in a photo. Our music teacher met my request with a smile. He handed me a trumpet, worn with years of student handling. Trumpets are a bevy of reflective surfaces. Some reflect images right side up and other parts upside down.

It felt at home in my hand, that trumpet. My grandfather was a trumpet player. When I was a kid and told my friends that my grandfather had run away and joined the circus I always hoped they wouldn’t ask what he did there. I had conjured up visions of clowns, trapeze artists or men in cannons in their minds. Playing the trumpet didn’t sound nearly as romantic. It was pointed out to me, however, that it was more romantic than shoveling up after the elephants. Even I had to admit that that red wool jacket with the gold braid did cut a dash.

He played with the Navy band and played with John Phillip Sousa. His trumpet saw some travel and a great deal of use. Having said that, I never heard him play his trumpet, nor did I ever see it. It belonged to his wild, traveling youth I suppose.

My father, he played the trombone. It was an instrument I saw and heard plenty of. My parents both played the piano. They enjoyed playing duets together. Sometimes Dad played his trombone, sometimes the lower notes of the piano. It was always a happy sound.  

Dad played in the marching band in high school. He is proud that his band was one of the first using lights on their hats to create lighted marching formations at football games. He remembers fondly shooting spitballs out of his trombone slide.

Family mythology states that my brother decided to take up the trombone, but was given five bucks to switch to the piano. You can’t trust family mythology, though. If you did, you’d believe that I showed up on the doorstep wrapped in newspaper, which I think would have been much more convenient to my mother than to have to go out into a terrible electrical storm for my delivery. Sisters can’t always be trusted with telling the facts.

I look at this picture of me reflected in the trumpet and I think of my family and how their love surrounds me just like the light that wraps around me. 

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