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Say "Cheese!"

Dear Friend of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy,

As I write this, winter is about to turn into spring. March is exhibiting the traits of both the lion and the lamb: Daffodils popping up this morning, followed by snow flurries this afternoon. For me, this spring won't come a moment too soon. My impatience with this particular winter goes back 20 years.

In the mid-1980s, my wife and I bought a 35 mm camera and enrolled in a photography class. The result? She was a natural and I couldn't remember where the shutter was. She quietly assumed the role of family photographer. Because of her natural talent, I never felt the need to overcome my own awkwardness with a camera.

Since joining Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, I have visited rail-trails that provide access to some of the most spectacular scenery in America. I have also witnessed countless examples of how rail-trails provide safe and pleasant places for parents to push strollers, for children to ride their bikes and for seniors to take a leisurely stroll. My only regret has been that I haven't captured any of these scenes of nature or community for posterity.

In February I decided to do something about it. I ignored the adage about old dogs and new tricks and bought myself a digital camera. In recent weeks, I've been eagerly studying the manual and taking countless pictures of gray winter landscapes while counting the days 'til the blossoming of spring.

As you read this, spring will be turning into summer. A warm breeze will blow and the world will be green again. Please smile for the camera if you pass me on the side of the trail practicing my new hobby. With any luck, I'll master the basics of "digital imaging" before the air becomes crisp again and the trail is lined with brilliant fall foliage.

Happy Trails!
Keith Laughlin

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037