2021 was a big year. I got married to the love of my life, got vaccinated then boosted, and baked a lot of new things. In between, there were so many bike rides, runs, walks, ferries, far too many plane rides, surf trips, interviews, photo assignments, and lots and lots of dog training.
I started the year off with very few goals, plans, or visions for what the year would be like. After the upheaval of 2020, I was happy to just follow what came my way and pay my taxes. So here is my look back on the eighth year of my Days in a year project.
Emma started the year off by surprising me with a trip to Greenwood City, the birthplace of the L.L. Bean founder, and home to many amazing paths to ski and hike in peace and quiet. Later, I learned how to ski tour after watching this video by Alex’s fiance and then went on my first flight post-COVID to film some videos for Janji. The country also nearly fell apart as a mob of Trump supporters stormed The Capitol in an attempted insurrection that we learned about after finishing a group run of the Forest City Trail across Portland. It was a very troubling and dark month politically.
In February, I watched a lot of other people receive COVID vaccines before I was eligible while filming a short video for MCPHS on their vaccination efforts. Emma and I stayed warm all over Maine by drinking lots of tea and coffee and cross country skiing. Oh, I also filmed and edited a series of 27, 5-10 minute videos for Mass Audubon. On the final day of the month, I slipped walking on the ice in the cemetery with Emma and ended up back at urgent care for staples and a bad concussion. This severely limited my screen and exercise time for the next couple of months and I now own a lifetime supply of different anti-slip devices.
I can’t remember much about March. I mostly rested and handed off many of my big projects like a series of 14 lab tour videos for UMass to friends like Luke and Dylan at the last minute. Dylan and I started filming a video celebrating 40 years of Morning Glory Natural Foods for a film showcase Alex Morrow organized.
Life got much more exciting in April. We helped Emma’s cousin-in-law Andy organize the first Portland Bike Party which we continued to grow for the rest of the year. My family was able to have more comfortable outdoor gatherings and I saw my Grandparents for the first time in many many months. I saw a few bald eagles in Portland. AND Emma and I celebrated our 10th anniversary with a very windy picnic dinner.
The world felt like it was radically opening back up again as spring arrived. Soon everyone in the world would be vaccinated and we could all get back to normal.
The month kicked off with a training program to be a pilot for the Portland Wheelers, my new favorite weekly volunteering. I then went on a quick trip to New Mexico to film another project for Janji on artist, educator, and runner Christian Gering and ended the month with a weeklong bike trip around Western Maine with Emma. At this point, I’m fully vaccinated and the world feels amazingly big and open. Anything is possible!
Bike party continues to grow into a massive takeover of Portland and South Portland streets. The revolution against cars feels imminent.
I manage to fit in another Janji trip this time to Utah between field trip chaperoning, summer solstice celebrations, and Piers and Anna’s wedding. I’m not sure how days spent not driving while I’m at home net out in terms of climate impacts against cross country flights. Already starting to feel flygskam.
We started all our seeds late, per usual, but now that summer is fully here, things really start to grow in our yard. Swimming after “work” becomes the norm again. Emily and Eric get married in Vermont and we photograph it. More on them below!
I take the Amtrak down to NYC to meet up with Piers and LA, eat at a restaurant featured in The New Yorker (I read every New Yorker food review), climb at an indoor rock gym, ride CitiBikes through Central Park at night, and film an interview for Piers. On the train up to Providence to help Emma’s sister Rachel move in, we start hearing about this new Delta variant. Uh-oh.
This is a classic summer month for me. We swim on average more than once a day. I take off on missions to gather New England landscapes for L.L. Bean. I’m not sure if they ever use the photos but I had a lot of fun climbing the mountains and paddling the ocean to take them. We celebrated Emma’s birthday with a camping trip close to home and a visit to the tallest and oldest pine trees in Maine. The gang gets together for family time on Martha’s Vineyard and the other gang gets together for family time in Georgetown, ME.
Because we just had too much free time while planning our wedding every night, Emma and I start collaborating on a series of videos for UMass Amherst and a story on greenspace in Providence for The Trust for Public Land. This is a busy month, with quick dashes of nature between big chunks of travel and days sitting and editing videos and photos. I think I flew to St. Louis for a day trip to film an interview for an hour.
This is the big month we’ve all been waiting for. Emma and I had originally planned on getting married last October but things were delayed a year by COVID and even with that extra year it felt like every waking moment was spent wedding planning. We made every guest over 12 send us a picture of their vaccination card. A dozen friends and family members helped us get our house and yard ready for a big party. I wrote my vows the morning of the wedding after intending to do it months ago. After a morning run and swim, we rode a tandem bike to the venue laughing and crying with our friends and family on the short trip and our friend Mimi photographed the whole thing. Arlin made a skate film of the day but fell asleep at 8pm while everyone else was on the dancefloor and it may never be edited or released and that’s OK. It’s hard to make movies, even skate films. Enough about the photos and skate video, it was an amazing wedding and we were so happy to get married and feel so lucky we were able to bring our friends and families together for a big party in a very unusual time.
After the wedding, we took off on a honeymoon up to New Brunswick. After arriving in New Brunswick, the border guard turned us away and we drove right back to Maine. Even though we brought our dog’s proof of rabies vaccination, we didn’t have the things us humans needed to enter Canada. The Airbnb didn’t refund any of our money but my WIFE and I set off on a dreamier honeymoon in Downeast Maine with borrowed camping gear from a friend’s brother.
After finally getting our house cleaned up back to a normal level weeks after the wedding, life returned to a more manageable pace. I was able to focus on the simpler things like when what may or may not be the largest ginkgo tree in Portland was going to drop all its leaves and went looking for waves further afield. Everything started to slow down and settle for the end of the year until I received a call from a client around Thanksgiving asking if I’d go photograph 17 different subjects all around America before December 17th. I say yes and then my life and location in it was put on autopilot until December 17th.
I visit 10 different states for the Newman’s Own Foundation and photograph a series of black and white landscapes of trees I like along the way and visit as many vegan restaurants around the country as possible. Somehow, I don’t catch the Omicron variant and take more than one hundred COVID tests a day and we are able to have long holiday visits with my family and my in-laws before falling into a deep hibernation.
Now on to my solstice goal of making croissants from scratch.