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Against the Dark Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

17 November 2021

We were focused on the scowling sky over the Pacific Ocean when we noticed this house on the hill, its incandescent room light on against the darkness. We zoomed in for as tight a crop as we could get from a mile away.

Against the Dark. Nikon D300 with 18-200mm Nikkor at 200mm (300mmm equivalent), f8.0, 1/60 second and ISO 800.

We've been attracted to this particular corner of our view of the ocean before. We like that solitary tree. But we are usually overwhelmed by the fireworks in the sky.

Not last night.

Last night it was the lights on in the house that overwhelmed us. How tiny they were against the coming darkness. And yet we all feel quite in control the universe when we flick the light switch on in a room and dispel the darkness.

We don't realize the darkness that envelopes us still.

A cousin emailed us the other day. His wife had gotten her side of the family's genealogy all plotted out and was bugging him to get his side together. He thought we, as the oldest in our generation, might know something.

It turns out we do. We have been summarizing family history for the school projects of various nieces and nephews over the years. And, frankly, we've lived family history for a while now too.

But we never got into the Ancestry/FamilyTree kind of genealogy popular with family tree plotters. We'd prefer to diagram sentences, frankly.

What always struck us about family history were the stories.

There was, for example, a great aunt whose uncle was a maitre d' who could speak several languages, making him quite valuable. A friend of his asked him to work with him on the Titanic, but he couldn't accept because he had promised to return to Italy to see his mother. So he missed the boat. His friend, however, didn't, and perished.

You don't get that kind of thing from a family tree.

But thinking about it, we realized there's room in the Web for both. So we rustled up some CSS to do the diagramming from simple nested lists for the families and we linked the names to pages full of photos and stories.

It was more fun than work once we figured out that format. And the format accommodated everything we threw at it, including maps of origin.

But more than that, it brought our relatives back to life. It told their stories. And it showed that as brief as their life had been we can expect no longer. Life itself is brief.

Just a light turned on for a while in a room against the darkness.

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