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  • Patricia messaged me a couple of days ago. Would I come out to Labadie and take some photographs?

    It had to be by the weekend. The remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac were moving in and the weekend would be washed out.

    I agreed.

    So here I was, on Front Street, waiting for Patricia to join me. I'd come directly from work, swifter than I anticipated down Interstate 44. Another very hot day, 95° F. I walked around, looking into the restaurants and shops, taking an idle shot of the gas pumps outside The Market.

    After a little while and no sign of Patricia, I stepped into the "3 Brothers" bar and restaurant. One of the brothers served me a cold Samuel Adams brown ale. The last bottle.

    I was the only customer. The beer was good.

    I slipped into an easy conversation. I was waiting for Patricia.

    "Oh yes - doing something for LEO?* I see the camera."

    "Yes. She says she wants some photographs of the plant. Says she's found a good viewpoint."

    The father overheard me. Did I know anything about some important guy coming in from Indiana? No, I didn't.

    "I guess I'm getting cynical", went on the old man, "you can't beat these big companies."

    I didn't reply.

    I finished the beer. How much?

    "Normally three dollars. Two for LEO supporters."

    I thanked him, and left him three dollars.

    Outside it was just as hot but the shadows were lengthening. Not a lot of time for a photograph, I was thinking, as Patricia pulled up in her little car.

    "Ready to go?"

    "Let me get my gear."

    I stuffed the camera bag and tripod into the back. Then we were off, up the bluffs and to a farmhouse overlooking the valley.

    "What am I looking for?"

    "There's something going on around the ash pond. We're not sure what it is but we'd like a photograph if we can get one.

    Patricia went on. "Trouble is, it's hard to a get a good view with all the trees. We'll try this spot and maybe another."

    I stepped out of the car and walked to the edge of a field. In view stood the plant with its three tall chimneys. That I could see easily enough but any activity on the ground was going to be difficult to view.

    I added an extender to my longest telephoto lens. It gave me the reach I needed, but with the heat haze and evening shadows it was going to be tricky getting much detail.

    So it proved to be. Furthermore, I didn't have the elevation I needed to get an overview into the ash pond. What next?

    "Kay's meeting us at the next house up the road", said Patricia, "she's bringing a ladder."

    Kay was there as we drove up. "How do you feel about climbing on the roof?"

    Not thrilled. But I guess the brown ale had worked well enough for me to give it a go. In a little while, I was pacing a nearly flat roof on an overhang to the side of a ranch style home. There was quite a drop over the bluff at its end. I stayed well away from the edge.

    Sadly, even this elevation failed to give me what I wanted. I had the height, but three tall conifers had grown right into the best field of view.

    "It's no good", I sighed. We packed up the ladder, said goodbye to Kay, and spent the remaining few minutes before the sun sank exploring a couple more overlooks, each with similarly disappointing results.

    "You can't beat these companies." The thought ran through my head.

    Not through Patricia's, though.

    "Perhaps we can get some shots from a plane. We've been talking about it."


    *(LEO - Labadie Environmental Organization)
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