To the average person, a sewer cap might represents all that is nasty and dirty and, simply doing its job to keep the sewer system below our streets. Personally, I look at it as an opportunity to capture a photograph.
I am thrilled when I stumble upon ones with the name of the city on top of the cap. Being in a foreign city or country, I also like to use the opportunity to place my CE Valkyrie on the cap, next to the city name, snap a photo and move on.
I once found myself on an eight-hour layover in Paris, France. Once landing, I rushed out of the airport, hopped into a taxi and asked them to take me to the Louvre Museum.
In an all-too quick visit, I ran past the Monets and the Mona Lisa, which is much smaller in person, by the way. With a map in hand, I exited the museum and looked for the Eiffel Tower.
Trekking to the famous tower, I stumbled upon some graffiti on a temporary construction wall. The words said “Frisbee Style” and gave me a perfect photo opportunity.
I grabbed a disc out of my bag — a must for my carry-on — and propped my camera on my backpack, set the timer and sat down in front of the wall for a photo, disc in hand, of course.
Though I was worried about somebody walking by and swiping my backpack as I said cheese for the camera, I was thankfully surrounded by other tourists who only gave me strange looks. They didn’t seem to want anything to do with my belongings.
When I finally made it to the Eiffel Tower, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this could be the only time I’d ever be under this amazing structure. Again, I took a disc out of my bag and snapped yet another photo. The disc made for a better subject in the photo with the Eiffel Tower than my face ever would have.
Lying on the ground in the middle of the tower, I looked up in amazement. I glanced over my shoulder, looked at the ground, and noticed another opportunity. A sewer cap showing right where I was.
Fast forward another year. My local disc golf community lost a member and a friend. I was approached by one of his best friends, who asked me an interesting request.
“Hey, Jen,” he said. “I know you’re traveling to Germany in a few weeks and I want you to do me a favor. I want you to take one of my discs and one of (the friend’s) and keep them with you on your travels. Take some pictures for me of these discs together along your way, wherever you may roam.”
I never hesitated.
I took the discs from him and packed them away in my suitcase. The result of my next trip across the Atlantic Ocean made more memories captured on film. This time, it wasn’t for me. Shortly after returning, I edited and gathered all the photos to give my friend.
There are no words to describe the look on his face — he was completely elated. For him, it was like one last journey with his beloved friend. Even though he wasn’t physically there, there’s something spiritual about those photos.
Though I take these kinds of photos for many reasons, usually it isn’t planned. I was in Stockholm, Sweden with a friend. One afternoon, we were on a grassy knoll in the middle of the city and enjoying the sun. I noticed a statue not far from us. So I grabbed a disc and placed it on the statue for a “portrait.”
Because of this photo, I will never forget that afternoon with my friend Jen. The sound of the water, the foreign language surrounding us and the sounds of cars driving by.
Later that day, we were on the Stockholm-Mariehamn Ferry and I had another opportunity to capture another magnificent building in Stockholm, in a somewhat subtle way. The disc in the photo — an Orion — has not been thrown since.
My transition in moving back to the United States was made a bit easier with a few weeks spent in London. I will always remember the free museums, the London Eye, cobblestone streets and the amazing architecture.
The photo of the London sewer top helps me remember my long daily walks and the rain, which I actually enjoyed. The stamp on the disc helps me remember my first win in the Advanced division.
These photos make me smile because even though it was a hard decision to move back to the U.S., there are plenty of things I miss about living in Hamburg. When I look at the photos, I remember how much it warmed my heart to think of my amazing friends and family waiting for my return.
My continuing series of “disc portraits” reminds me a lot of a quote in Forrest Gump, when he gave his thoughts about shoes.
“Mama always said there’s an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going, where they’ve been. I’ve worn lots of shoes. I bet if I think about it real hard I could remember my first pair of shoes.
When I look back on these photos, I not only see the places I’ve been, but the discs I used to throw. The memories are permanent. If a single photo is worth 1,000 words, then a photo with a disc is worth ten-times more.
Jenny Cook is a women’s Open-division player based in Illinois. She can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see some of her disc golf photography at her website.