I used to wonder: if an animal looks like it is smiling, is it smiling? Is it happy?

Eventually I was convinced: yes.

We can never get Dar to smile for photos. Maybe there’s a sort of unvarnished honesty to that. If he’s smiling, is he happy? Usually, yeah. But he usually doesn’t like having his photo taken.

You ever hear of someone offended at being told “smile”? Yeah, Dar is way ahead of the curve on that one.

I’m not saying he needs to smile all the time, but maybe for the occasional family photo?

The day of this photo, he was screaming around the house. So we took a walk in Tilden, starting near the Little Train and walking south. Eventually, his mood improved. His brother wanted a picture of him, but we couldn’t get him to smile.

I wasn’t supposed to be in this picture. I only leaned in to tickle him and try to draw out a grin. Occasionally this works. Sometimes he is offended at my tickles. In this case, I think I just surprised him, and his brother just happened to capture the moment. I like that you can see our photographer in my sunglasses.

I like how red Dar’s cheeks are. Takes me back to when I was reading Dr. Spock’s book on child-rearing, and Spock said something about how when he was growing up in New England, kids would come home after winter afternoons with red cheeks, and he assumed that was healthy. I thought as I was reading: what about sunburn?

Anyway, for another family, this looks like just another father-son moment of happy trail walking. For us, it was a manipulation and a slight relief after a very screamy morning.

In ten years, if I chance upon this photo, will I recall this story, or will I just think, oh, that’s sweet?

Maybe it’s the same thing.