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Maine The Way Life Should Be.
For years, Ann Marie and I have vacationed in Maine, but only recently - six years ago, in fact, we purchased a vacation home in Appleton, Maine. We used to wonder exactly what that phrase on the sign as you enter the state, "Maine, the way life should be" meant. Was it referring to the natural beauty of Maine? The slower pace of everything up here? The people? Well, of course the phrase refers to all of those points and more. However, for us, the power of Maine is in its people and their willingness to build and value relationships.
Maine was founded in 1820 by some very rugged and hardy individuals that survived the challenges of both land and weather through arduous work and by relying on the help and kindness of their neighbors. Even if those neighbors resided miles away. We believe that genetic character has been successfully passed down through the generations.
There is a bifurcated display of Maine ingenuity and kindness that I think you’ll be able to see in Ann Marie’s photographs of the Letourneau’s. The couple featured in this blog. It’s also exciting for us to meet such interesting and kind people that hold such a remarkable zest for life. Again, the talent of Ann Marie is evident as she captures not only their likeness, but their very being. You can see it in their eyes. We first met Jessie as one of the builders of our timber frame barn. During the build he was talkative, knowledgeable, skillful, and very friendly. His flowing “Maine” beard a natural attraction for Ann Marie’s photographic eye.
Jessie was just as excited to have his picture taken. Like two kids during Christmas they created some neat pictures. All throughout the build as we came to know all the workers, Jessie continuously praised his “wonderful” wife, Lily, and told us that we would have to meet her sometime.
I’ve always liked the name, Lily, since reading The Dead, by James Joyce. It begins, “Lily the caretaker’s daughter….”. It turns out that Lily Letourneau is a “caretaker” also, as she is a school counselor. Ann Marie went to their home to photograph Jessie and Lily amongst their menagerie of animals. Unfortunately, I had a conflict and could not accompany my wife.
No problem, through Ann Marie’s photographic captures I feel as though I spent hours getting to know Lily. Her kindness and inner sparkle are very evident through her eyes and smile. From these photos I just feel like I want to know these people better.
Ann-Marie was excited to tell me about how Lily described Jesse. Lily took out a book titled, Moving Heavy Things, by Jan Adkins. She said something along the lines of "This book describes him, he can move anything heavy like when the Egyptians built the pyramids , they didn't have heavy machinery. That's Jesse, he can figure out how to move anything using brain power."
I think if Ann Marie could have made the Letourneau’s pet pig get his floppy ears out of the way, the family pig would have displayed a bit of a sparkle in his eye as well. Jessie originally purchased him to raise for slaughter, but grace and kindness prevailed and he is now part of the family.
Their 3 dogs are very much a part of their family. The dogs love them as much as they love the dogs, even though one was not willing to be photographed. The cat was pretty shy, too.
There are so many great images that capture their personalities and relationship. That's what important, relationships and treating each other right.
Ann Marie is going to fight me about this blog as I am complimenting her talent on her own blog site. But, I’m kinder in Maine - and after all, I want her to make me a nice supper on Father’s Day!
Ahhh, Maine The Way Life Should Be.
Another guest blog By my husband, John Ford.
I need to chime in here. When I took the first picture of Jesse during the barn build, I knew I wanted to take more. The beard, the twinkling blue eyes and the sweetness mixed in with the rugged appearance, was a story waiting for my camera to tell. I asked him if I could do a photo session with him and he said sure. As time when on and we got to know Jesse better, I knew I wanted to include his wife in the story. The way he lit up when he spoke of her, was so sweet.
On the day we scheduled to meet at his house, I brought my neighbor, the other Anne Ford, along with me to help with the lighting. We so enjoyed our visit.
Lily was warm and inviting and offered us fresh baked muffins. I learned that she had also studied photography and fully understood why I wanted to capture them and their relationship. How exciting is that? She went to the same college as my daughter and has a very similar job,
I would be remiss not to mention the amazing house they had. There were so many interesting features; a beautiful staircase ,columns brought all the way from a prison in New York , a window seat, etched glass windows on the doors, victorian style wallpaper, and a beautiful sunny porch. Out the window, you could sneak a view of the ocean because the house was on a hill.
Photography has led me to be able to be around so many interesting people. I enjoy each moment spent learning about them. It is not just about capturing their image, it is that, but it's also about relationships. Everyone I photograph becomes a new friend that enhances my life.
After 31 years of teaching, I have decided to retire and start a new chapter of my life as a photographer. It has been my passion for about 7 years now.