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I was looking through some older photoalbums this morning – so much easier to do from a computer hard drive than flipping through paper albums or boxes of photographs – when I came across this from a series of shots of my father-in-law and my son boating on a lake near Spring Green, Wisconsin.

It was summer, 2007. We had spent a couple of days with my parents-in-law in a country cottage near and had taken time out to see George Bernard Shaw's Misalliance at the Theatre In The Woods. This was our final day with them before they headed back to Chicago and we onto Ontario for the rest of our summer vacation.

The dingy had not been used for some years and showed a leak once we got it into the water, but it was lakeworthy enough to row out onto murky water. My father-in-law and wife paddled out, and later my son in her place. I stood on the shore line with my camera and tripod and snapped away.

Idyllic, it looks. In many ways it was, but I also recall some tension and testiness that often rises at times of parting. My mother-in-law was not feeling good, there were the usual worries about the upcoming journeys – did we have enough time to get where we needed to go? (Minneapolis in our case.) A vacation, with its capacity to remove a lot of the self-imposed blocks that we use to control our feelings during our routine working lives, often seems to take the lid off a pressure-cooker. In this case, it was pretty mild jet of steam.

That's why I can look at this picture, aware of all I have described, yet feel it was a special moment that I am very glad to have captured.