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Natural fit

Nature photographer discovers vibrant retirement living, muse at Linden Ponds

Created date

July 6th, 2016
Linden Ponds resident Laura Petcavage.

Photographer Laura Petcavage recently displayed a collection of her photos at the on-site art gallery at Linden Ponds.

Laura Petcavage has been taking photos since she was a young girl. She received her first camera, a Kodak Brownie, when she was in second grade. Laura gravitated to nature photography with a special interest in taking close-up pictures of flowers.

“By the time I was in high school, I was interested in science, and my family did a lot of camping,” Laura says. “I started crawling around and taking pictures of flowers out of my curiosity about science.”

Laura, who spent her career as a senior research assistant at Mass General, is a completely self-taught photographer. Her second camera came with an instruction book on taking pictures, but she has never taken a photography class. However, her photography collection is as impressive and beautiful as those of people who have extensive training. 

Over the years, Laura has expanded her repertoire to include a variety of nature photography. 

“I’ve branched out as we have traveled, and I will take pictures of birds and scenery,” she says. “I like nature pictures, like rocks and tree trunks—I think the bark on trees is fascinating—and all of my photos tend to be close up.”

Nature paradise

A little more than five years ago, Laura and her husband Ed decided to move from a house in Weston, Mass., to Linden Ponds

Laura is delighted to be living in what she calls a “nature paradise.” Walking around the picturesque campus, residents can enjoy woods, meadows, quarry ponds, and a variety of native plants, as well as colorful flowers and landscaping. Sightings of deer, fox, turtles, rabbits, and turkeys are common. Last year, one resident even spotted a bald eagle flying over the community.

“It is the most wonderful place to live,” Laura says. “And it’s a very good place to take photos because of the variety of terrain and because so much of the property is conservation land.”

Indeed, Laura continues to take photos at Linden Ponds, and she has found a vibrant group of artists who enjoy sharing their work with each other and their neighbors. 

Resident artists display their work in Linden Ponds’ on-site art gallery. One resident is selected to display his or her collection each month. 

Laura was the artist of the month in March, just in time to usher in the spring season with her colorful photos of primarily New England wildflowers. She says she took photos she displayed in the gallery at Linden Ponds in her children’s yards in New York and Vermont, as well as some in Alaska.

Laura has come a long way since her Kodak Brownie camera. These days, she primarily shoots using her iPhone. She has a traditional digital camera, but with rapid technological advancement, she says her iPhone has more pixels at this point. Plus, she says the convenience of being able to carry the slender device in her pocket can’t be beat.

“Everybody else thinks of it as a phone that has a camera; I think of it as a camera that also makes calls,” Laura jokes. 

Vibrant living

Laura and Ed were introduced to Linden Ponds when their long-time friends Charles and Lela Clutz moved to the community. Ed and Charles worked together as architects, and the two couples became close friends over the years. 

Laura was in her early sixties when she and Ed moved to Linden Ponds, which she says is the perfect time to take advantage of everything the community has to offer.

“People should move here when they are young enough to be able to do everything,” she says. “How vibrant the community is was really attractive to us.”

The Petcavages have two children, and Laura says the kids are glad that their parents live at Linden Ponds. 

“The kids don’t have to worry about us, and they know we’re happy,” Laura says.  “Their only complaint is they can never reach us because we are always busy. They say, ‘When are you home?’ We say, ‘We are home, but our home is 100 acres now!’”

In addition to continuing to work on her photography, Laura has found a number of new hobbies since moving to Linden Ponds. She does water aerobics and tai chi, and when she first moved to the community, she volunteered with the tech crew in the theater.

“I have learned how to quilt since I moved here, and I hadn’t played the recorder until I moved here, which is something I have always wanted to do,” Laura says. “You do a little bit of everything here—I also learned a new form of Danish embroidery at one point.”