There have been a few times when I missed the chance at a great photograph because I did not have a camera. One memorable, regrettable instance passed on a beach in Hawaii. Visiting my daughter and her family for the Christmas holidays, one thing I wanted to do was spend the night beside the ocean. Thanks to my son in law's military service, we had access to a beautiful beach and camping area.
I was up with the sunrise in order to do some water painting, leaving everyone else asleep in the tents. For a while I had the entire beach to myself, but a few people arrived for an early morning swim. Even though I was comfortable with the cool morning, just coming from winter in Kansas, I would have had to toughen up to swim in the ocean that early in the morning!
A young woman arrived with her three small sons in tow. She had a surf board, and each boy had a small board. The woman was beautiful, Asian or Polynesian, with a mane of shining black hair. Her sons were in stair steps, about eight, six and four years old, each dressed in the short wet suits that surfers wear. Their little boards matched their suits in color - red, blue or yellow. No arguing or mistakes over which suit or board belonged to which boy.
The little family entered the water together, the boys as sleek and as playful as otters. Soon, the boys came out of the water, stuck their boards upright in the sand and sheltered behind them. They did this so their mother could swim out alone on her board. The brightly colored suits and boards, with the three beautiful children crouched together was the missed opportunity. I hurriedly sketched the scene with pencil, but I deeply regretted that my camera was lying uselessly back in the tent.
Those little boys were motionless and silent, their eyes fixed on their beautiful young mother enjoying her few minutes of freedom in the ocean. There was no question of the boys sneaking back into the water while their mother was swimming. This was something the four of them did routinely. They knew to wait patiently for their mother to return.
Perhaps it is better that I did not have a camera because the entire experience is firmly in my mind and not confined to a small photograph. I imagine that those boys now, about fifteen, thirteen, and eleven, are old enough that they do not wait on the beach but paddle out with their mother at sunrise in the gold and turquoise waters of Hawaii.
Visit the same beach here, at sunrise.