First, a few reflections on the past month.
During the last week of June, my optimism was high. Restaurants were opening; good weather meant I could get out more on my road bike and pedal around the countryside; hiking with family and friends could start again with the ability to ride in the same vehicle; and, we could actually invite friends over for supper and not feel guilty.
July arrived and my activities started to ramp up. I felt good. Then, the smoke arrived. I did not want to expose myself to inhaling air in great gulps as I climbed hills on my bike, so by the second week of July the the bike was parked in the garage. This was just one of many restrictions I imposed on myself when the pollution rose to dangerous levels, which it did almost every day.
We also lost the sun; not its heat, but its light. That left me unmotivated; I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to go walking, had no interest in driving to the heavily polluted mountains which I can normally see from my home, and my interest in writing and photography wained.
I am grateful that we didn’t have to face the risks and loss of property that so many in B.C. had to deal with during July. I couldn’t begin to understand how those folks dealt with the loss of their homes and other assets to the rampant forest fires.
August has brought some optimism to my world. Blue skies, safe air to breathe, and most important to me, interest in ramping up my creative interests again—which brings me to my Bits and Bobs for July.
Walks and Photography
To keep some level of fitness I kept going out for walks whenever I could during July. I always had my camera with me, but initially never saw anything worth photographing through the thick smoke. Then I realised where I should be looking for images—those that were very close to me and not impeded by smoke. I dropped my perspective to scenes that were within 5 to 30 metres and my creative juices started flowing again.
This image I saw while walking along a path I had been on dozens of times before. I stopped for about 20 minutes to explore what I saw and tried many different views before settling on this. I don’t think it is one of those images with a ‘wow factor’, but rather aesthetic and peaceful. It consoles me—makes me feel at home, as it is typical of forest paths near Cochrane.
Up the hill I saw a glimmer of red and wondered what I was looking at. I climbed the steep slope, holding onto small trees to save me from falling backwards. What I found was this unique, leafy fungus growing out of the moss on the edge of the tree trunk. Colour and texture combined to make it an interesting piece of nature’s art.
I was prompted by a well known photographer to go to a bookstore and look for a selection of large coffee table, photographic art books that used to be prevalent in such stores. His premise was that they weren’t there any more.
I visited a large chain bookstore and discovered he was right. Then I went to one of the few remaining used bookstores in Calgary, Fair is Fair, and found several shelves filled with large photographic art books. I was there for an hour, not only looking at the photo books, but also exploring the many rows and shelves in the store. It’s a fantastic place. I forgot how well that bookstore is run.
What I reaffirmed is that I prefer looking at the physical photographic books than skipping through websites or Instagram images on the internet. Many of this style of book present the images with supporting text. This aspect draws me even closer to the artist who made the photograph. I gain not only an understanding of the context of the image, but also something about the photographer who made it.
I don’t keep all the photographic books that I buy, but I have a collection that I value. Not only for my interest in the art, but often because they tweak my emotions. I tend to spend time deciding on a book—is it worth it to me for the price; is there something to learn from the artist/photographer; what value will it be to me five years from now?
The most recent photo-art book I bought is This Land - Fifty Landscape Wonders of Britian. It cost $50 and is a product of photographer Joe Cornish and writer Roly Smith. Their credentials are significant. I pick their book out of my bookcase to look at it, again and again.
…and One More Thing:
Why, for Youth
by Olive Senior, Poet Laureate for Jamaica, 2021
The gaps between young and old is widening.
Old people are living longer,
and some youth complain, sucking up too much air.
Don’t worry, Corona Virus has now taken care of that.
They say that the aged are carriers of a dying culture,
the young, the bearers of a new world order.
The wheels just keep turning;
every revolution has its roots in history.
Youth and age might not always agree,
but there is no fruit without a tree.
This is poetry that I can understand.