By Jeanethe Falvey
Documerica has me reflecting on time and change all over the place. Revitalizing and conversing about the project to others, we’re mostly hoping things have improved. With forty years of increased government attention to environmental issues it certainly has, but new challenges have also risen.
Yet, there are a few strands within what Documerica captured in its web of moments that leaves plenty of room for nostalgia. Glancing at some of the photographs you might find yourself wistful about what might have been or simply what was.
For me, as someone who didn’t live through it, I’m simply not over nor will I ever be, the incredulity that the project happened at all and was protected so that we can reflect on it forever.
Life was slower back then for one thing. What would happen now if we pulled into the station only to find another sign that said “Sorry, No Gas Today.” There are world crises, and there are individual events in our lives that force us into the slow lane, and it’s not so bad there for a little while.
Recently, I let up on my breakneck pace to go “fishing” with my father.
That morning we set out with two different ideas of where we were going. I thought we would explore my favorite lake in western, Maine. He thought, to my second favorite. It’s my second favorite for a few secrets, but one fact in particular: something always goes wrong.
Laughing, I brought this up as we took a right instead of a left, reminiscing about the last time my mom camped with us. She’s tough, but I’m not sure if it was the severe lightning or the monsoon washing away our tent that nailed that coffin.
Another time, the engine gave up in the middle of the lake. Somehow, my father pulled off the herculean effort of SWIMMING the boat back.
But it was a new day, and we had a full tank of gas.
The day was pleasant, I with a book and dad with two poles to catch that unlucky trout. Moving to a calmer cove, the familiar sound of a four-stroke struggling came back to present day.
We eventually made it back, but it wasn’t without a few photographs of the engine cover off so I can prove to our family that some things never change.
About the author: Jeanethe Falvey writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, as the project-lead for Pick 5 and the State of the Environment, two projects geared towards learning, sharing and gaining a greater collective connection to our environment.