She saw him as soon as he entered the room and had an immediate reaction, a physical reaction. It was the first faculty meeting of the upcoming academic school year. Samantha was an associate professor in the visual arts department and he was introduced as the newest member of the computer science department, his name was Andrew. It was a small New England liberal arts college and most everyone knew each other so anyone new stood out, and he certainly stood out to her. Andrew was new to the area as well as the faculty; he was from the south she soon learned from hearing his accent. Samantha had been teaching for several years here, having lived in New England all her life, she grew up near Boston and attended art school in the city. While she loved Boston, she longed for the quietness of true New England and relocated near some friends in New Hampshire. She loved New England and never thought of living elsewhere. Samantha loved her life here; she had many wonderful friends and enjoyed the life style very much, it was laid back and easy.
She had a small studio in the village of town, where she was able to process her photographs in her darkroom as well as a bright sunny studio room so she could paint too. Sam was a fine artist and had developed a nice following over the years. She was best known for her black and white photography of local life and scenes; she captured real life with ease. Her work had appeared in local magazines as well as national publications and certainly many, many homes, as she was a sought after photographer of many famous names. None of this truly impressed her, it was her work she lived for and she spent most of her time developing new techniques for her photography and painting. Teaching at the local college was fun for her and kept her in touch with young people, they always had great ideas but need the know how to make them come to life, she felt it was a win-win situation.
These faculty meetings bored her, discussions about nothing she thought. Her attendance was required of course but her mind was not present. Sam had just arrived home from a trip to Alaska and was still living in the dream of that beautiful land; she had an amazing time and had just started to develop the many rolls of film she shot. This meeting was getting in the way as far as she was concerned, for it only took time away from her work. Her friends were always trying to get her to live more, they thought she worked too much, basically they told her she need a love life. ‘Ha’, she thought, ‘who needs love?’ She was happy, so what if she hadn’t had a real date in a long time. So what if the last man she dated was now married with two children. Sure, it had been a long time, but she had a good life she thought and anyway some of her friends weren’t so happily married, so why would they want that for her? Sam would listen and then change the subject to something more interesting, like her work. It was a recurring topic and frankly she had heard more than enough, her heart had been broken one too many times for her liking, but it was easier to just let her friends talk at her.
Andrew’s presence caused a stir in her, a feeling she’d not had in a long while and actually tried to avoid. Samantha was caught totally off guard and when the president asked her to give the report from her department she was silent. It wasn’t until her friend kicked her under the table that she came to and asked politely and apologetically for the president to repeat himself. She felt herself blush with embarrassment but gave the information requested and then took her seat once more. The meeting was too long and there were still more departments to hear from and none of this mattered to Sam; she drifted back into her thoughts. She should be thinking about her student who would be arriving in a few weeks, or her trip or her work but no, she wasn’t thinking of any of those things. She was thinking about Andrew, thinking that she’d like to be kissing him and other pleasant physical activities. ‘Damn, what’s gotten into me she thought.’ She caught herself staring at him and when he looked right at her she quickly averted her gaze, but it was too late, their eyes had met and she thought she’d seen him give her a small smile. She wasn’t going to take the chance to find out so she keep her eyes on the papers in front of her.
Within minutes of the meetings end, Sam was out the door. The fresh air helped to clear her head and she headed for her car. What she wanted, needed actually, was to head to her favorite spot, with her cameras of course. As she headed out the parking area she saw Andrew, this time she felt her heart skip a beat as she saw him give her a friendly wave. She quickly returned the greeting and pulled right out; it was not her nature to be unfriendly but being cautious in matters of the heart was her nature. Driving on, he was all she could think about, as if someone said “don’t think about…..” and that was all you could think about, when she reached the familiar covered bridge she finally felt herself let him go, this place always brought her back within herself, and today was no different. Sam grabbed a few cameras from the trunk and headed down the walking trail, peace settled upon her and she took full advantage of her surroundings.
The next weeks were busy for Samantha, she had been scheduled with a local gallery to do a show for the October Fall Festival weekend and with the semester being in full swing by then she needed to prepare well ahead of time for the showing. She had some ideas of what to include and would certainly include many photos from her trip to Alaska. The prints she had developed looked very good indeed. Some were just right, as gifts for family and friends and then others would be sold. Sam never sold any photos that were to be gifts; it was her special way to show the recipients just how much they meant to her.
Samantha enjoyed the beginning of the semesters very much; to meet the students, listen and see their work was a pleasure and she learned so much from them as well. She began using computers to create new images of her photographs. It was new to her but learning was a passion of hers so she plowed on through all the new technology. Still her favorite things were just the simple images she found through the lens of her camera and her eye. Keeping up with all the new things computers could do was daunting to her and more than a few times she was ready to throw the damn machines into the trash. Today was one of those days.
One student had shown her some work he’d been doing and she was impressed, it involved a program she’d not used and was anxious to give it a try. That did it. Her computer equipment was on the verge of being thrown into the trash. One of Sam’s friends was in the computer science department at the college and she gave him a call.
“David, help!” was all she said into the phone when he answered.
“Sam, Sam, Sam, now what have you done?” he said laughingly. Sam wasn’t laughing, yet.
“Just get over here and fix this damn thing would you? Enough laughing at me!” Now she too was laughing, she knew it was better to laugh than cry! She was happy David would be coming after his next class because she needed to get some work printed off and with the mess she had created it was impossible. She would wait for David he would save her yet again.
Her studio at the college was a mess with her work and that of her students. She was working with a few kids to clean it up when Andrew walked in. She hadn’t seen him come in and was lost in a pile of photos she had done recently and some a friend had sent her from a trip made to South Africa. They were exceptional, so breathtaking she thought. The colors were amazing and she envied her friends talent and trip too. When Andrew greeted her she didn’t hear him being so occupied in the photographs.
“Excuse me?” Andrew tried again.
“Hi!” Sam was startled and did a double take. What was he doing here? She’d thought of him many times in these last weeks, too many for her liking. She reacted to those thoughts far too deeply, it made her uneasy, and she wondered why and how he had made such an impact on her.
“Hello Samantha. David mentioned you were having some problems with your computer programs. He was called away and asked if I could help you out.” His voice was like a song to her, she couldn’t help but smile hearing that sweet southern accent.
“Wow, thanks, are you sure its not a problem for you? I don’t want to take your time.” She was thrilled actually but was nervous about revealing that just yet.
“I’m happy to be of service Miss! By the way we’ve not be formally introduced yet, I’m Andrew Smith.” He reached his hand out while making his introduction.
“Samantha Connick” she said while reaching to shake his hand. “Its nice to meet you Andrew and thanks very much for coming to help me. I’ve created a big mess I think and I have to say [i]“again”[/i] too. I’m not a good friend to my computers.” Sam was smiling and she was feeling his handshake, how nicely he held her hand and warm this felt.
“Nice to meet you as well Samantha. I’ve always loved that name, its one of my favorites and I’ve never met a Samantha. You’re my first!” Oh that voice she thought! Mmmmmm.
Sam tried to explain what it was she thought happened and laughingly mentioned she didn’t really know what she was talking about. Andrew knew what she was trying to say and set about to fix this so called mess. It wasn’t bad at all but he took his time. He was enjoying being here, the studio was nice and he was enjoying being near Samantha too.
Andrew noticed her at that meeting too. He was hoping he could have introduced himself that day in the parking lot but she had left so quickly. He was attracted to her immediately and that surprised him, he was never one to fall quickly. As he settled into his new life here he noticed her work almost everywhere. He would go into a shop in the village and there would be at least one of her photos hanging, not for sale he found out because he inquired about purchasing a few. No, he was told over and over, it was a gift from Samantha. He was learning more about her just from these photos and getting to know some of the towns’ people. Samantha was highly thought of that was clear.
Andrew would have stayed with Samantha longer if he could have but he had classes in the afternoon. With Samantha’s computer up and running he no longer had an excuse to stay but he lingered just a bit more to look at her work. He was drawn to her photos very much but it was a particular painting to which he was immediately drawn. Andrew didn’t know she painted and this piece was breathtaking in its simplicity, much like her photographs, but this was colorful. His eyes wouldn’t leave the watercolor on the table, almost as if it had been forgotten with the way it was slightly buried under other materials. The colors so soft almost translucent but alive with color just the same; it was a floral of mountain lupine.
When Andrew arrived in New Hampshire this summer he spent time exploring and enjoying his new home. He had found a spot along a ridgeline that was full of these beautiful flowers. It was the best place he’d found thus far he recalled, full of life, his mind wandered back to the scene. He had found it by accident having decided to take a walk along a hiking trail and then veer off the worn path. When he came into the opening he was taken aback with the sights. Bursting with color and light, this place had it all, the mountain views, the wide sky and a small lake too. He returned there a few times just to be in nature, sometimes bringing a book or even his music. Andrew was a music lover and wrote songs too, mostly country, as he thought it poetry and here in this place he found the magic return to his songwriting.
Andrew had a knack for songwriting and had been successful too. Although his name may not be well know to many, he was known in the country music world for his graceful words that conveyed the depth and warmth found in life. Part of the reason for his move to New England was in fact about that depth and warmth of life or more likely that his life had become lacking it for some time. The old place had become too hard to stay and his sadness grew there. He needed a change, to leave there, to leave her behind. She had hurt him like he’d never been hurt and leaving seemed to be the only solution for him to begin to feel again. It was working he thought, he was able to feel more alive and it was good. Actually better than he would have thought but he also wondered why and then his thoughts returned to the woman who had created this painting and just what caused him to become lost in thoughts of her and being with her.
Shaking his head free of his memories he said his goodbyes to Samantha and said he’d hope they’d see each other again soon. Sam thanked him and agreed that that would be nice, secretly hoping very soon. She didn’t usually have such a quick and deep attraction to anyone unless they were very special. She had been given a gift she thought, that she could know instantly when someone was extra special by the way she felt when being around them. This gift had served her well most of the time and she had no reason to doubt its power now, she had that feeling with Andrew that was clear to her now. Just having him in the room for this time she felt it grow stronger.
The day was a perfect early fall day and Sam decided to take her camera and go to her favorite spot, shoot a few rolls of the coming colors of fall, the contrast was so great with the trees that changed and the still deep green of others. She loved all the seasons for each had something special in her life. Fall in New Hampshire was her time for color photography there was nothing like it in the world to her. She headed out after her last class to catch the lower light; she wanted to get the last of the lupine blooming. Grabbing her gear from the car she headed up the trail rushing just a bit so as not to lose more light. When she arrived she was glad to find the light perfect for what she wanted to capture.
As usual Sam became lost with each click of the camera, becoming totally engrossed with each sound of the shutter opening and closing. She didn’t even notice there was someone in the background of the pictures she was taking until she widened her lens. She froze lowering the camera from her eye. It couldn’t be she thought and shook her head to try to readjust her sights. He was still there but moving towards her. Still shocked she did what was natural, she clicked her camera, taking pictures of him. All the while wondering how and why he was there. No one knew this place. She’d even tested that a few times by leaving rocks or branches in a pattern and finding them unmoved upon her return days later. This was her place. In fact many of the locals didn’t recognize it from her photos so how would he, a newcomer find this of all places?
Andrew moved up the hillside towards Samantha, smiling as he did and giving a wave. She was still stunned but waved a return greeting. Not until he was close enough did he say hello.
“Hi! I didn’t expect to find anyone here. What a nice surprise to see you again this soon Samantha.” He was genuinely glad. Sam was just so taken aback she found it hard to get any words out. She wondered if he’d followed her but realized he had come from the opposite direction and she knew there were only two ways to find this place, well three if you counted dropping in from the sky!
“Andrew? Hello to you too” Was about all she could muster. She was feeling that off balance thing, when someone totally catches you off guard, and she was fighting to regain her footing.
“What, I am, how, umm, how did you find this place?” She asked in wonder.
Andrew explained his travels since he’d arrived here and how he’d found this particular place and what it had meant to him. Actually he was surprised at just how much he poured out to her, wondering to himself just what was it about this woman? Samantha nodded in agreement to what he was saying, explaining something of the same to him. They had so many similar thoughts and feelings it was exciting to share with each other.
They spent an hour just standing there talking, learning about each other to each others amazement. It was apparent there was a bond developing and that neither fought it was surprising too.
As the sun began to set and darkness started to settle Andrew mentioned they’d better leave before it got too dark and reached for her hand. Samantha placed her hand gently within his and the two started walking. It was then each realized they were parked at opposite sites. Andrew didn’t stop moving towards his parked car though then turned to her, looking directly into her eyes, her soul and saying what his heart knew to be certain.
“Samantha, please allow me to rescue you from this dark mountainside. I’ve waited all my life to help you.”
“Andrew thank you for coming.” So softly said as if only their hearts heard it all.
He knew he had just written a new song and she knew she had just created a new painting; Lupine Mountainside