Sunday 4 November 2018

A Weekend in the Country...

We're off on our way
What a beautiful day
For a weekend in the country
How amusing
How delightfully droll
A weekend in the country
While we're losing
Our control
A weekend in the country
How enchanting
On the manicured lawns
A weekend in the country
With the panting
And the yawns
With the crickets and the pheasants
And the orchards and the hay
With the servants and the peasants
We'll be laying our plans while we're playing croquet
For a weekend in the country...

- “A Weekend in the Country”, from A Little Night Music,
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

The concept of ‘country life’ can vary wildly depending on your perspective. If you live on a farm, ‘country life’ is the background noise of your life. It’s home, but it’s no big deal. If you live on the 50th floor of a downtown Toronto condo tower, however, ‘country life’ can seem exotic and filled with romantic notions about getting away from it all.

Which brings me to the photo challenge theme for the October meeting of the Prince Edward County Photography Club: ‘Country Life’. I love these monthly photo challenges. Over the last three years, they have helped improve both my technique and my eye for composition. Now, the County is packed with beautiful photo opportunities – literally from sheep to goats with lots of wineries thrown in for good measure – and it would have been easy to have spent a pleasant day wandering the County’s back roads with my camera. But I like to push the envelope a bit to see how far I can stretch a theme’s possibilities, which means the photos below have nothing to do with the County.

Which leads me to A) the delightful road trip to Long Island that Bill and I took at the end of August; and B) the Sondheim "A Weekend in the Country" lyrics I’ve quoted above.

We drove to Long Island on our way to a dog-sitting gig for friends in the Hamptons, near the northeast tip of Long Island. Our friends, who live in a glorious Manhattan loft, also own a beautiful place ‘in the country,’ where we dog-sat. I suspect that knowing that they own this slice of paradise in the Hamptons helps them cope with the frantic pace of New York City.

For some wealthy Manhattanites, the Hamptons are their version of ‘the country’, albeit a crowded, over-landscaped, over-boutiqued version of the country. I loved exploring the area both with Bill and with our generous friends, but I don’t think I could ever live there. After all, with the Martha Stewart crowd owning beachfront mansions nearby, the real estate values alone are nose-bleedingly high.

There also seemed to me, as an engaged observer, that despite the natural beauty of the area, many of the ‘summer people’ were caught up in their Bentleys, their spas, and their shopping. I detected a palpable ennui in the air. A realization that you could leave the big city behind, but the chattering voices in your head had made the trip with you. And that’s the feeling I get whenever I listen to Stephen Sondheim’s brilliantly biting “A Weekend in the Country” from A Little Night Music. (Link)

So...I offer these ten photos – mostly from Long Island, plus one each from Connecticut and Massachusetts – as one version of ‘Country Life’. I used five of them as my contribution to the Prince Edward County Photography Club’s October theme challenge. Enjoy!

Pool Side Vista, East Hampton

LongHouse Reserve Sculpture Garden, East Hampton

Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, Shelter Island

LongHouse Reserve Sculpture Garden, East Hampton

LongHouse Reserve Sculpture Garden, East Hampton

Amtrak Acela Train, Bridgeport, Connecticut

"Idol" by Judith Shea
LongHouse Reserve Sculpture Garden, East Hampton

Tattoo Guy, P. T. Barnum Ferry

Port Jefferson Ferry Terminal, Long Island

Otis Poultry Farm Otis, Massachusetts

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