Macro Monday: Mountain Man

Monday, February 20th, 2017

This week’s theme for the Flickr Macro Monday group is “Black and White.” From this week’s instructions:

You must convert your photo to B&W using post-processing software or simply use the monochrome (B&W) setting on your camera. This does not mean photographing a subject that is black and/or white in color. Nor does it mean sepia-toned photos. Neither will be accepted. Here is what Roger has to say about this exciting Member’s Choice theme: “When I go back over the many thousands of photos I’ve taken over the past 70+ years of squeezing shutters, almost invariably my favorites turn out to be black & white. Most of the favorites are of family and pets, but none are macros, even though macro photography is now my favorite kinda photography. So, in selecting b&w as a topic, this is as much of a challenge for me as it may be for you. I think, in order to create an eye catching b&w macro image, it would be important to keep it simple with an uncluttered background. Shapes, patterns, contrast, lighting and texture are particularly important in b&w because you can’t use color to distinguish one element from another . I’ll be very interested in seeing what y’all come up with, and I’ll be equally interested in seeing what I come up with, since, at this point, I haven’t a clue as to what I’ll be doing.”

Mountain Man

This weekend my 12-year old son, Dominic, was inducted into the Order of the Arrow (OA) for Boy Scouts at the Mountain Man Campout in Bear Creek.

Dominic has been part of Boy Scouts Troop 382 since we moved to New Braunfels in 2014. This troop welcomed him with open arms and actually bridged him from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. Our troop is very active. They meet at the local Elks Lodge weekly and they camp once a month. They often volunteer for community service, civic projects, and local events such as running the kid’s games at the annual county fair. Curtis has been a huge support for Dominic and for the troop; he has accompanied Dominic on most of the camping trips and is always one of the adults helping with events. Dominic will be make Eagle Scout by the time he’s a freshman or sophomore in high school.

One of the highest honors a scout can achieve is being nominated, voted, and accepted into the Order of the Arrow (OA). The OA exemplifies the very best of scout oath and law. It is the Boy Scouts National Honor Society. Just being nominated is a big deal… and Dominic was nominated this past fall. Then the nominees are voted in by their peers. The troop votes on a set of criteria that each scout must meet before they can be accepted into the OA. Curtis and I found out a couple of months ago that Dominic was voted and accepted into OA and we were told when the induction ceremony would be held… at the Mountain Man Campout held in Bear Creek on February 18th, 2017. Bear Creek is where our troop went to summer camp last summer and it’s about 2 hours away. Curtis invited his dad, Curt, to come down and go with him and Dominic for the trip. Curt participated in Scouts as a young man and had gone with Curtis and Dominic on a few camping trips before. Dominic had no idea that he would be inducted into the OA this weekend. I decided to drive out there for the ceremony and surprise him.

There were 1500 scouts and adults in attendance at this weekend’s campout, all from the Alamo Area Council. They had a group gathering Saturday evening for storytelling and skits. They shared stories of famous Mountain Men from the past. Then they had the group break into five smaller groups for the OA ceremonies. Our smaller group gathered and we were instructed that we were to remain totally silent on the walk to the site, during the ceremony, and on the walk back. No photography was allowed. It was very solemn.

Walking with several hundred people for about 3/4 of a mile in the dark is pretty amazing. The air was charged with anticipation. We could hear a drum beating far off in the distance, then we saw fire. As we got closer, we saw 6-8 people gathered in full Native American garb inside of a fire circle. At least 20 small fires were set in a circle around the Chief and his tribe with a larger fire in the center. There was a ring of tiki torches on the outer edge of the circle where everyone gathered. Once everyone had arrived and it was completely still, the scribe began calling names. “John Smith, Troop 117.” The boy would come to the edge of the inner fire circle and wait. Another tribal council member left the center of the ring to guide the boy to the Chief. The Chief would then firmly pat the boy’s shoulder once on the right and twice on the left in a rhythmic pattern. Then the boy would be led to the Chief’s wife for another welcome, then he would be led to the back of the circle behind the fire to stand in line and wait. The tribal drum continued to beat throughout the entire ceremony, it was so powerful. Name after name was called. Then they got to our troop. Three boys were accepted into the OA this year from our troop, and when Dominic’s name was called, I felt such a surge of pride that I cannot adequately put it into words. I can’t imagine how surreal it felt for him… the fire, the drum, the Chief… this was a life-changing moment for him. After all of the boys were called, the Chief spoke. He talked of honor, integrity, and duty. He instructed us to remain completely silent and to go back to the main area. The boys stayed behind.

It was so weird walking away and leaving our son behind. I could see a few other moms struggling to leave also. We didn’t know what to expect or when or where our children would be returned. It was late, after 10:00 p.m., and we walked a bit slower heading back. The stars were brilliant, shining down on us. The air was crisp. It was completely still and quiet. The drumming had stopped.

Once we got back to the main area, we waited with our troop for the boys the return. We talked in hushed tones. Finally we saw Dominic. He looked different. I hugged him and whispered, “Congratulations!” He shook his head at me and signaled to be quiet. Ohh… he was not allowed to speak. Curtis asked him how long he had to be silent, and Dominic indicated the sun rising with his hands… until morning. We walked to the car and I drove the boys off back at their campsite then headed home. Wow what a night! Curt, Curtis, and Dominic came back late Sunday morning and I noticed the dirt under Dominic’s fingernails. I thought of the stories we had heard the night before about the famous Mountain Men of years gone by. I asked Dominic if I could take a macro picture of his hardworking hands for this week’s theme, thinking it would be a perfect symbol of this weekend’s festivities.

Sometime in the next couple of months, Dominic will go through the Ordeal. The Ordeal is a process in which Dominic will leave the other campers for 24-hours, work on camp improvement projects, and sleep alone. He has to remain completely silent during this process and will only receive a small amount of food and water. It’s a rite of passage into manhood, similar to a vision quest. Once he’s completed this process, he will achieve the first level of OA. After Ordeal, the next two levels are Brotherhood and Vigil.

I am incredibly proud of Dominic. He hasn’t always had the easiest time with his peers because of his ADHD and quirks. Being nominated and accepted into the OA not only exemplifies the scout oath and law, it validates that his troop accepts him, honors him, and values him. I’m also incredibly proud of my husband. Curtis has been there every step of the way, cheering Dominic on and encouraging him to step out of his comfort zone. Curtis really is showing, by example, how to be a good man. I can already see glimpses of the man Dominic will be. <3

New Braunfels child macro photographer Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/7.1 | 1/250 | ISO 500

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