madshutterbug (madshutterbug) wrote,

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Today is 9/12

Three years ago I woke just a wee bit before dawn on this date, in the wonderful (though now closed) Bed & Breakfast known as Castlewood in Dunedin, New Zealand. Looking out our east-facing window over Otago Bay, I realized it would be a marvelous sunrise, and snagged my wife's Canon AE-1 as my Mamiya C330 was not currently loaded. I spent the next half-hour photographing that same sunrise. Not having quite worked out the means to post links to images here, for now you'll simply need to accept that (IMOHO) the dyptych of that sunrise is one of my best pieces.

Ruthann woke up during that process; while somewhat quiet a focal plane shutter is by no means silent. She, too, commented on the quality of the light coming through the window, and we did a few portraits of her in the early morning.

Then, the clock radio clicked on in the middle of a news broadcast to inform us about the air liner crashes into the World Trade Center. Like most, it at first struck us as unreal; but unlike some I did not perceive of the announcement as some kind of hoax, joke, or other radio show. Something about the fact that there we were in a friendly but foriegn country meant it could be nothing but the terrible truth.

Peter & Donna, now enjoying a well earned retirement from hosting semi-public hospitality, maintained their B&B without any television in either the public rooms, or the private guest rooms. One came to their place on holiday, to leave the cares of the world behind, and that is what they chose to do to help provide such a sanctuary. Yet Peter carried their personal TV set downstairs to the public room so we, their guests, might see what was happening in our homeland.

Their daughters had planned to meet each other in New York City later that day, one travelling from Hong Kong, one from London, UK. Their flights, obviously in retrospect, had been cancelled. Their phone calls to their parents to tell them that were safe is what alerted Peter & Donna to the events.

We watched that terrible imagery for only a few hours, something that seemed an eternity. All via CNN, there in one of the southernmost cities in NZ, indeed in the world. Half a planet away from the smoke, flame, death, destruction, in a place that should have been a sanctuary.

That afternoon, when we returned to Castlewood from some sightseeing, the TV once again became conspicuous by its absence. The next morning, we departed Dunedin to continue our tour of South Island. I left this in their guestbook:

Departing Dunedin

Unknowing stranger
in a strange land
greeted with smiles and
open arms; the feel of
our childhood...

Warm slippers, tea and
coffee service, cozy
beds, warm muffins,
open doors; the feel of
our childhood...

Found again with joyous hearts
Stolen by madmen
Crying Havoc! Loosing the
dogs of war upon
Our homeland
Your hospitality, heals

Peter placed this onto their web site "Comments" page, a most generous gesture to a passable poet. Since they've retired, their site now forwards you to the place they've sold the business license to (I suspect they still live in the house known as Castlewood, but I don't know for sure). I really must learn how to preserve my formatting for poetry when posting to LJ, because it looses just a tad in the translation.

Yes, I mark 9/11 with memorials along with my countrymen. But I hold my own personal memorial, for two people who went out of their way to help two travelers, strangers in a far land, to feel at some ease; as well as to remember all those who died on that horrible day. For me, because of where I was, because of who shared that day with my wife & I, it will always be today 9/12 that those terrible things happened.
Tags: 9/11, history, memory, new zealand, nz

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