January 19, 2012
Lumens Borealis

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Vale Island – At the Corner of 100th St. and 102nd Ave. NW

Vale Island Boats - Hay River, NWT

On Vale Island, part of the old Hay River town site, at the wooded corner of 100th Street and 102nd Avenue, if you look into the trees of the northwest corner the sight you’ll see is that of four or five derelict wooden boats of various sizes, some small enough to have navigated the east channel alone, others with size enough to have been considered, in their day, seaworthy on the Great Slave Lake. Three of these boats are the subject of my second high dynamic range (HDR) photograph, boats well-past their prime, dragged to higher ground to rot away among the aspen willows. They will no longer be a nuisance there and they’ll need little upkeep.  In actual fact, what I’ve come across is the cemetery plot for these old boats.  While life has gone out from them, these vessels, without doubt, saw service in my life time; but, would they have been built in my life time?

The picture and this present consideration of boat-life reminds of a reader colleague and friend who pointed me toward Alice Munroe’s 2001 novel about the different ‘ships’ we sail within throughout our lives; it’s entitled Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, and has now been republished with the title ‘Away From Her.’ Within each state we act and move with different intents and purposes.  But, a ship graveyard such as this found on Vale Island reminds that our journey within these collective or collected states has beginning, duration and an end, as well.  The book was a tough go reading-wise, more something exposing malaise and truth than … hope?

The boats of Vale Island while having had lives that preceded this photograph, have certainly ferried human lives living within the various ‘ships’ that Alice Munroe has proposed in and around Hay River, NWT. These boats still hold their line and shape.  Now, beyond their service, they are in demise.  And, the winds blow from the Great Slave Lake through Vale Island, among these boats and into Hay River.

Listening to Ride Forever, sung by Paul Gross as part of the Due South soundtrack, a single song referencing the Great Slave Lake, living in Alberta … and matters of growing old.

Quote to Inspire – “Where I come from the challenges are quite different.  There are no drug dealers or pimps, few thieves to bother with.  There was only the environment and surviving in the face of it is the challenge of the Inuit. A mother gives birth somewhere out on a glacier field, hundreds of miles from the nearest outpost and she knows that the odds are stacked against her son even living to see the spring with disease, lack of food or the elements.  And, even if they should survive and if he should grow to be a boy, she knows very well that all he has to do is lose his footing on the smooth surface of a glacier and that’ll be that.  In other words, she should know that if her son cannot live … why should she try?  Well I know this woman. I helped deliver her son. She was weak and undernourished. The next morning she stood up and she picked her child up into her arms and she set out again into the blinding snow.  And, I think that was one of the most courageous acts that I’ve ever seen.” ~ Paul Gross, Fraser/Inuit Soliloquy – Due South

Thank you, kindly.

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