A CANDLE IN THE
18 March 2001
Swell. Now the rain comes. It came after we had biked downtown to join about 600
other people in a candle light vigil Sunday night, joining spiritually with similar vigils all over the
world. Of course we had ridden our bikes--that's a given by now. I packed up the camera
and a couple of candles and we rode off to join a group of about 200 people standing in
the middle of downtown Davis. About five blocks away, another group of some 400 people was
forming a chain along the street which goes around Central Park.
We parked the bikes and locked them to a fence, lit our candles and joined the others.
Suddenly I felt some rain drops on my head. Then more rain drops. And pretty soon
umbrellas were going up around me.
I remembered that I had left my bike helmet hanging from the handlebars of the bike,
which meant it would be acting as a bucket to collect rain water, so I went to get it, and
wore it--a built in umbrella of sorts--but it didn't keep the rain from falling on the
candle, which sputtered and tried valliantly to stay lit (kinda like the protesters I
suspect, given the latest 64% poll approval for the upcoming war).
My friend Ellen was standing next to me with an umbrella, so we huddled together until
the rain finally passed.
When the group seemed to have reached its maximum number, we quietly took our candles
and marched to Central Park to join the others who were already there.
That's when I discovered I am an idiot.
I had brought the camera to take pictures--hoping against hope that I could get at
least ONE that wasn't horrible.
My big problem with my new otherwise very lovely Olympus digital camera is that it
doesn't do as well at low lights as my Mavica had done. The Mavica doesn't give crisp,
clear pictures, but it handles low light better. I was very disappointed that the Olympus
had that little flaw.
I took a few pictures, but they were pretty much this quality:
I decided not to even bother. It wasn't worth it.
When we got to Central Park someone asked if there were digital cameras in the group.
Apparently only one other person had one, so I decided to try my camera again, only use
flash. Those pix came out fine, but of course you miss the "ambience" of the
flickering candle glow on the faces of the people in the vigil.
Someone made some passing comment about too bad you couldn't use different settings on
the camera. Doh! It was a Homer Simpson moment. Settings. Of course I have
settings. The camera does lots of stuff and I was too eager to actually USE it when it
arrived, so I'd never taken the time to look through the manual (which is on CD, not in a
book, so it's more trouble to just flip through).
Let's see now...how do I change settings....?
I pushed a few buttons and suddenly I had a choice of all sorts of speeds to use in
manual mode. I started snapping pictures and...by golly...I was getting what I wanted.
They aren't the greatest photos in the world, but they aren't half bad.
After an hour we gathered around in a circle while a woman with a megaphone talked
about a rush hour demonstration that was being held on the bike bridge on Tuesday (not
possible for me to attend--that's our busiest day at the office). She talked about calling
our congressman. She talked about a 24 hour demonstration that is planned for when the
hostilities (isn't that such a polite word for "killing"?) begins.
Someone led the group in singing "Thls Little Light of Mine" and then the
crowd dispersed. It had stopped raining long ago, but my bike seat was soaked and I
squished as we rode back home again.
When the weekend came to an end, I had attended my first two peace demonstrations and
though it feels like something ineffectual, it felt like the right thing to have done.