“The combination of stunning photography by Caryn B. Davis and rich text by Eric D. Lehman draws you into a world where the waters of the Nutmeg State metaphorically consume you”
Connecticut Waters is a remarkable book.
First of all, you think it is going to be yet another ‘coffee-table book’ and start to skim the pages simply to admire the beautiful photographs.
But then you start to read the narrative and it immediately demands your attention to the extent you simply cannot put the book down.
The combination of stunning photography by Caryn B. Davis and rich text by Eric D. Lehman draws you into a world where the waters of the Nutmeg State metaphorically consume you, and all you can do is to let yourself become completely — and pleasantly — immersed in them.
After that, you move to yet another level and realize that you are now not only at one with the seas, lakes, rivers, streams and shores of this oh, so special state, but along your way to that perfect point, you have absorbed a plethora of interesting facts and tidbits of fascinating information that you never knew before.
Ultimately, you feel as though you are sharing the whole experience with Davis, who conceived the book and guided the narrative. You have never met her but you are certain you know her because her deep and intimate relationship with the waters of Connecticut has suddenly become yours.
Touching variously on an vast range of engaging topics, including — but by no means limited to — lobster and other snack shacks, historic ferries, antique boats, racing yachts, nautical arts, the oyster and fishing industries, and maritime museums, the book is packed with Davis’s striking photos, which frequently span more than one page making them even more impactful.
These latter explore in creative detail the subject matter of each chapter while the narrative amplifies the history, traditions, and culture of the state’s waters and how people use them in terms of industry, education, recreation and more.
The first chapter, Races and Rendezvous, opens with the words, “Something about being on the water calls for celebration of the magnificent power of the sea …” Throughout the book, Davis captures that celebration with photos of boats of all shapes, sizes and ages at events across the state, demonstrating clearly, “… our human love for life on the water, a love that never seems to die.”
A later chapter on Islands & Lighthouses states evocatively both are, “… about beginnings and endings, about loneliness and connection. A lighthouse keeper may be the opposite of a pirate, but both know the terrible beauty of the sea.”
The photos in this chapter are particularly striking while the narrative details some of the extraordinarily courageous feats of Connecticut lighthouse keepers. Two such examples are Charles Kenny of the Peck Ledge Light at Norwalk, who in 1921, “rowed through huge swells to save four crewmen [who had] escaped their leaking steamboat” and Bridgeport resident Catherine Moore, who “lived on Fayerweather Island nearly her entire life, tending the light and saving two dozen lives during her tenure.”
The book vacillates between chapters on ‘concrete’ subjects such as Festivals & Celebrations; Boatbuilders & Restorations; Working Watercraft, and Museums & Aquariums, and those with a more intangible air like Wood, Wind & Water; Fun in the Sun; Water, Water, Everywhere, and Coming Into Port. In each case, however, Davis combines her exceptional skill as a photographer with her in-depth knowledge of local sights, sounds, events and personalities, thus bringing the chapter fully to life.
It is no surprise that the photography in this book is so powerful since Davis, who lives on Rogers Lake in Lyme, Conn., is an award-winning photographer, whose career has spanned the globe taking her to over 50 countries and counting, while her images and articles have been featured in over 60 publications worldwide.
Her first commissioned photography book, A Connecticut Christmas: Celebrating the Holiday in Classic New England Style, gained high accolades in 15 newspapers and magazines nationwide.
Lehman, who write the narrative, is the director of Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport.
He is the author or editor of 20 books and his work has been published in dozens of journals and magazines.
If you love the state of Connecticut or even if your love only extends to the waters of Connecticut, then this is a book — as they say at weddings — ‘to have and to hold.’
It will inspire you to start planning visits to many of the places Davis highlights in her photographs. It will enchant you with the fabulous photography and finally, it will engage you with its masterful management of the challenging task of interweaving superior photos with informative text on a topic, which runs freely through the veins of anyone who calls — or has called — Connecticut home.
Editor’s Notes: ‘Connecticut Waters’ was published April 2021 by Globe Pequot Press. For more information about how to order ‘Connecticut Waters’ online or purchase it in person, visit this link.
For more information about Caryn B. Davis, visit her website at this link.
For more information about Eric D. Lehman, visit his website at this link.