Month: November 2015

Photographic Recollection

Homestead in Late Fall - Fairview, Ab ii

Homestead in Late Fall – Fairview, Ab ii

Canadian Geese - Flying South, Fairview, Alberta - Canada

Canadian Geese – Flying South, Fairview, Alberta – Canada

Homestead in Late Fall - Fairview, Ab i

Homestead in Late Fall – Fairview, Ab i

Homestead in Fall - Fairview, Alberta - Canada 1

Homestead in Fall – Fairview, Alberta – Canada 1

Homestead in Fall - Fairview, Alberta - Canada 2

Homestead in Fall – Fairview, Alberta – Canada 2

Homestead in Fall - Fairview, Alberta - Canada 3

Homestead in Fall – Fairview, Alberta – Canada 3

An audio-book calmed us, my wife and I, during a night drive north on Alberta’s highway 63. Moving past our Grassland pit stop, we turned left traveling northward to Fort McMurray. As we drove, a snow storm brewed until we were within a wall of big, heavy snow flakes. I backed off on the gas and turned our high-beams to low. I minded the road, scouting the snow track left by previous vehicles. I gave oncoming vehicles a wide berth. I placed our vehicle with care on this highway with sharp shoulders.

I pushed the first audio-cassette in.

A familiar, Canadian voice met our ears – Donald Sutherland began narrating our story. “Did he know? Had he guessed that I knew for certain what everyone else only suspected?” … “I found myself looking straight into the past. Sunday, October 28, 1956. A cabin, not ten miles from where I stood now.” … “This is the weekend when we’re closing the cabin for the season and my mother has been moving around in the other room, cleaning, but now the screen door snaps shut as she steps outside. It is now that I see my father. He is hurrying away from the cabin ….” (Part 1 – May Brightman, Chapter 1 – ‘The Red Fox’ by Anthony Hyde, 1986). The cabin is starting point for a narrative that moves the reader compellingly around the world, a journalistic detective story that weaves historical fiction into curious and intriguing questions of ‘what-if.’

The homestead in the photographs posted here is one I have photographed many times. The edit arrived at in this image has brought forward mind’s eye recollection of the family summer cabin that Robert Thorn, protagonist (and journalist) recalls, as well, in an October funeral for his mother. Anthony Hyde’s novel led us as listeners through the untangling of truth from lies and the consideration of possibilities and where their trajectories of reasoning would lead you – definitely the right book to listen to on a long, snowy drive into Alberta’s north.

Listening to – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘If I Should Fall Behind.’

Quote to Inspire/Consider – “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” – Robert Frank

At Home – Dad

Pontiac Memories - Manning, Alberta - Canada

The Open Road - Sunshine Ski Resort, Banff - Canada

It was a Pontiac, the car my father taught me to drive – an olive green, two-door Pontiac Parisienne built for 1969 yet available to Dad in the fall of 1968. On St. Brendan’s field, hanging out with friends, I saw Dad drive it home – colour, class, chrome and shape. It had a 350 cubic inch engine, powerful enough to pass others easily on the open road; Dad said it had ‘Pep.’ There were seat belts for us all and an a.m. radio tuned to CBC 740, CKUA 580 or CFRN 1260 on the dial … and you dialed in best sound. With Dad, I learned to drive carefully, eloquently and with ease. There were wake-up calls and near misses and other drivers who spoke with their horns. On the highway, Dad said my foot was a little heavy … he said that with a smile. The transition was from driving with Dad to driving alone the way Dad would have me drive. There were times when the tie-rod end came off, when after ten years the regulator was jammed so full with dust and sand that the alternator couldn’t keep a current running through the electrical system on a slow idle and there was that time when a lifter clanged loudly after a drive with me at the wheel. Dad knew what to do and we kept the Pontiac running. My Dad, who made time for all this, did this for me, his son.

Parker J. Palmer speaks of something similar with his father; his father gave him, “… a sense of being at home in [his] own skin and on the face of the Earth.” William Stafford’s poem ‘Father’s Voice,’ resonates in similar fashion.

Father’s Voice
by William Stafford

“No need to get home early;
the car can see in the dark.”
He wanted me to be rich
the only way we could,
easy with what we had.

And always that was his gift,
given for me ever since,
easy gift, a wind
that keeps on blowing for flowers
or birds wherever I look.

World, I am your slow guest,
one of the common things
that move in the sun and have
close, reliable friends
in the earth, in the air, in the rock.

Listening to – Brubeck’s ‘Time Out’ and for a bit more fun, ‘Bru’s Boogie Woogie’ – tunes Dad would play on a Saturday night on his Heintzman grand piano in vertical form, a very bright sounding piano.

East Side Shed

Granary in Fog - Dixonville, Ab - Canada i

Granary in Fog – Dixonville, Ab – Canada i

Granary in Fog - Dixonville, Ab - Canada ii

Granary in Fog – Dixonville, Ab – Canada ii

I like this grain shed image. The shed resides perhaps halfway between Dixonville and Manning, Alberta. You can see it from the highway. It’s about a kilometre in on the East side of the highway. The image works with perspective, environmental condition (fog), light, colour and texture. The image has also been about editing and finding best rendering of a High Dynamic Range (HDR) shot. The weather is curious, something not seen every day. Fog, as precursor to winter snow, hangs, waiting … holding off.

A darker image, it recalls several scenes from Sinclair Ross’ novel, ‘As For Me and My House.’ The novel was required reading in Dr. Bruce Stovel’s Canadian Literature course in his second term at the University of Alberta, a narrative that holds one rendering of the Canadian experience during the Great Depression.

“The dust clouds behind the town kept darkening and thinning and swaying, a furtive tirelessness about the way they wavered and merged with one another that reminded me of northern lights in winter…. The little town cowered close to earth as if to hide itself. The elevators stood up passive and stoical. All round me ran a hurrying little whisper through the grass. (p. 100)

This narrative has moved around the world and received acclaim for holding features of Canadian experience and culture that become what is considered Canadian identity.

Quote to Consider – “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” – John Muir, his essay, ‘Nature Writings’

Listening to – Leem Lubany’s ‘Wild World,’ Brian Houston’s ‘Next to Me,’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.’

Miasma Cover

Foggy Granary - Dixonville, Ab - Canada i

Foggy Granary – Dixonville, Ab – Canada i

Foggy Granary - Dixonville, Ab - Canada ii

Foggy Granary – Dixonville, Ab – Canada ii

Foggy Granary - Dixonville, Ab - Canada iii

Foggy Granary – Dixonville, Ab – Canada iii

Foggy Granary - Dixonville, Ab - Canada iv

Foggy Granary – Dixonville, Ab – Canada iv

The return, a drive home in late October; fog hangs in the air for two hundred kilometres – from Peace River north to Keg River Cabins. I’ve had my eye on this granary within these past two years as one to investigate with my camera. I’m liking the colour, textures and miasma – all visual opportunity.

Listening to – ‘The Dignity of Difference,’ an On Being podcast with Jonathan Sacks.

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy


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