Haze's strangers: No.152: Mary with Gem

We had a little walk along part of the Itchen Way on Sunday afternoon and, on the return,spotted a lady throwing a stick into the river for her black labrador to retrieve. I noticed his interesting way of working: he always entered the river at the exact same place, swam in a semi-circle, retrieving the stick as he went, and exited a little further up the bank, not the obvious exit I would have expected.

I stopped to take a few shots, not too successful as the opportunity for this type of photography is not something I find very often.

It was only natural to begin speaking with this lady, Mary, and after a bit I asked if I could also take her photo, to which she agreed, and then I mentioned my strangers' project. She is obviously devoted to her black labrador, Gem, and was very keen that he should also feature in the photos.

Mary was very willing to participate in my work and asked if I was doing a degree. I explained the project in more detail and told her that photography is my hobby and my passion. Although, reflecting on her words, I feel that these encounters with strangers could be called photojournalism and do indeed require more work, both in the portraiture and certainly in the text, than other genres of photography.

In her lifetime, Mary has known 10 dogs, including 3 golden retrievers. When the last one, Meg, died, aged 19, Mary 'went to pieces' and fled to America to stay with friends for a while. On her return to England, a friend told her about a black labrador who had just had 10 puppies.

Mary agreed to visit the puppies but said that she would not take one as she wanted to have one more golden retriever before she 'popped her clogs'. However, she did come away from the visit with the smallest puppy and called him Gem - Meg's name spelt backwards.

(At this point it occurred to me to mention the puzzle in my dad's PoW diaries, which I recently published: he mentioned 'klim' among the items in the Red Cross parcels the prisoners received in the camps; eventually a friend of mine had a light-bulb moment and realised this was milk spelt backwards.)

Gem quickly realised that Ray was fair game to throw his stick for him (it had to be a certain one) and we also each got a bit of a shower when he had a post-dip shake, the way that dogs do. Mary mentioned the skirt she was wearing was very useful as it dries quickly.

Mary lived in London to complete her degree in music and then taught music in a Quaker girls' school in York. This area in Hampshire is her home territory.

We none of us had anything to write with or on and Mary has no computer so I promised that next time we are along the river I will be more prepared and take her details to send her a photo. She explained that she has been ill and we wished her better health before parting on our way home.


this and more photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/150442566@N07/43242140935/in/dateposted-public/
A beautiful story to go with a photo of your stranger. Lovely words. Fav, for every stranger who becomes a friend.
posted August 20th, 2018  
wonderful story and lovely image
posted August 20th, 2018  
@365projectorgjenfurj

Thank you for a beautiful comment. This was a most unexpected of unexpected encounters.
posted August 20th, 2018  
@annied

Annie, thank you!
posted August 20th, 2018  
What a lovely story and nice image of Mary with her dog.
posted August 20th, 2018  
Lovely shot and brilliant narrative, hugely interesting to a fellow dog walker:)
posted August 20th, 2018  
What a lovely natural shot
posted August 20th, 2018  
I loved your story and it is a wonderful photo.
posted August 20th, 2018  
Two lovely portraits both subjects look so relaxed in front of your camera Hazel must be down to your irresistible charm:)
posted August 20th, 2018  
@pcoulson

Peter, what's that about a silver tongue!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted August 20th, 2018  
I am sure Mary and Gem will be pleased to encounter both you and Ray again when next walking along the river. You so you and Mary can have a chat and Ray so he can throw sticks for Gem. I am sure they will become great friends in the future.
posted August 20th, 2018  
I really love what you are doing and how you get these people to talk about themselves. Each person has a story and you tell them beautifully!
posted August 20th, 2018  
A very nice portrait of Mary and her dog and a wonderful accompanying story.
posted August 20th, 2018  
love her smile, great portrait
posted August 20th, 2018  
Such a wonderful story again Hazel, just love reading them. A lovely capture of the two.
posted August 20th, 2018  
A lovely story and image
posted August 20th, 2018  
bep
I love reading your strangers' portraits.
posted August 20th, 2018  
Good narrative and portrait
posted August 20th, 2018  
Awesome picture.
posted August 20th, 2018  
Lovely portrait & a great story
posted August 20th, 2018  
Great photo and story, Hazel :)
posted August 20th, 2018  
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