I was recently in Des Moines' East Village doing research at the State Historical Library. When I finished for the day, I tromped over to my favorite antique shop Found Things and happened upon a cupboard of photograph albums full of old B&W snapshots. I pulled out several marked 'rural' and carried them over to a quiet corner where I could leisurely flip through them. I love images of old couples and I found a gold mine. Many of these photos are staged in front of the barn which relates to the importance of these old buildings on the family farm back in the day.
My favorite is the one I chose for this post....check out his pants and braces...and her shoes. I always wonder about the story behind the photograph. There is corn growing at his feet; he is leaning on some sort of implement to go after the weeds. Is this their garden, or are they standing on the edge of a larger field? Who was snapping the picture? What was happening on this day that prompted someone with a camera to take a photo of this couple? They look happy, even contented....at least at this moment in time. They are both wearing rings on the third finger of the left hand, so I am assuming they are a couple together. They are leaning in a bit...is it for the photo, or because that is what a couple does after years of living together?
His shirt pocket reveals what appears to be a writing instrument. Does he make "to do" lists as he works around the farm? When he is chasing those weeds, does he compose love poems in his head and then stop to lean on that hoe while he writes them down? Will he place these written words around their home where he knows his wife will discover them?
Maybe these love sonnets are not written for his wife, but for a long-lost love....someone who captured his heart years ago. He dreams of someday when he scribbles his thoughts, but he knows deep in his heart that the choice he made for this life was based on a woman who was right for him. This woman by his side in the photograph was the one who made him a better man. She was the one who made him believe in himself...in honesty and commitment and marriage. This woman by his side was his better choice. For better or for worse.