Looking for Joy

Looking for Joy, Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops produce and trees reflected in Cayuga Lake at the Ithaca Farmers' Market.Do you ever get stuck looking for something? I mean really stuck like you can’t stop yourself from scouring the house, searching the same spots over again, like you can’t move forward until you find this one thing.
It was stupid. I knew I was being unreasonable spending hours trying to find the snapshot of my son as a toddler holding a yellow umbrella. So much for my plan to Photoshop it with a shot of the stunning yellow tree dropping leaves in my driveway. After three hours of non-stop tearing the house apart it hit me: when you look for something, you always find something else. I found a twenty-dollar bill, my dead daughter’s certificate of live birth, and the watch I was looking for last week. I would have to search for something else in order to find this photo. I fled the scene where now, upstairs and down, small piles of tossed stuff riddled every room.

“I’m looking for joy,” I said, bumping into a friend at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market. “I need to photograph something joyful.” It was gray and rainy. People were cold and cranky. The only things I was drawn to were the reflections of trees in the lake and the stacks of colorful produce. I took a couple of shots, bought lunch at the Macro Mamas booth, and headed home. There were only a few hours until dinner with my daughter’s old friend so I went back to searching for the photo.

It was dark and raining outside Mitsuba Restaurant as Marika’s friend and I stood over the open trunk of his car. He pulled out something red and held it up. Marika’s Ithaca Soccer jacket danced in the wind. There it was, the jacket she’d worn so often before cancer. Was that really seven years ago? The familiar shade of red, the shape of it – it was almost like seeing Marika again. Close to tears, I grabbed it.

Later that night I got lost in Photoshop. There was no thinking, no plan. I just played with the images I’d shot that day, fascinated by the different reds in each photo. It didn’t matter that the picture didn’t match the story I’d written. Warmly wrapped in my daughter’s red jacket, I forgot about the son-with-umbrella photo that still remains to be found.



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9 thoughts on “Looking for Joy

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Hard to keep our heads and hearts above water under low gray Ithaca clouds. In mythology, the Underworld is rich with significance, mystery, and color–like those carrots. PhotoShop seems a good place to create joy. I love the roots of your magnificent fall tree. There’s life down there and up there and everywhere–and the sun will come out again. It always does. It has to. I’m counting on it.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Elaine you’d love Photoshop. With its Healing Brush, magic wand, add-anchor tools, … you can scan in sunlight even in the cloudiest, darkest night. Or you can make everything look like the Underworld. It can definitely hold you through to the times the sun comes out again. Counting on it too, cheers.

  2. Marydiane Hausman

    Robin, what a wonderful photo and story. What you ended up with is rich with beauty and mother-earthiness–Her good bounty rooted, yet ready.
    And the perfect image at the end – mother draped in daughter’s red. Red of birth. Red of life.
    Thank you.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Oh my gosh Marydiane. You’ve made it even more beautiful. I love “Red of birth. Red of life.” You must be an author or an artist. How chilling. In a good way, I mean. Many thanks.

  3. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, I love the way this story evolved–and the image you finally presented us with was so filled with joy and life.

    Yes, I too have searched and searched for something like a maniac unable to stop. In fact, in the middle of a siblings reunion at my house this week, my sister gathered all my Leonard Cohen cds and we couldn’t find one I was sure I had. I looked for days and every now and then i get a new idea about where it might be. Going to check one more place right now!


    1. Robin Botie

      There ought to be a pill or something for this type of behavior, don’tcha think? I believe anything by Leonard Cohen is worth spending time searching for but it is definitely scary how driven we can get. Oh, by the way, I found the photo. I was not looking for it when I found it. I was clearing out a cabinet with a friend and I kept finding old photos and there it was. So start looking for your old chili recipe or the book you borrowed and never returned or … And maybe ….

  4. Annette Corth

    Another winner, Robin. The image was totally unexpected and a perfect evocation of autumn.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Annette. Farmers’ Market Carrots. I fell in love with them before noticing how they reflected the fall colors. Hugs.


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