Enjoying spring’s weather and colour in these morning images along 20 kilometres from High Level to our airport and back.
Quote to Consider/Inspire – “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso
Listening to – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the U.S.A. (Live Acoustic Version)’ from The Bridge School Concerts – 25th Anniversary Edition,’ Peter Gabriel’s ‘Shaking the Tree’ and Jason Isbell’s ‘Speed Trap Town.’
I returned to my computer late last evening. I confirmed that one of two family iPod Touch operating system updates was complete. My daughter returned home from an evening with friends – I had been waiting up for her. My day had held some writing – a proofread of my son’s resumé. An afternoon’s work would set him up for the world of work in a summer break between university terms.
Completing the proofread, I started on the iPod updates in late afternoon. I needed to allow time for download and installation. The wait recalled the conceptualization and practice of a technology sabbath. In the practice you would turn off all devices for a full day. You would power down all iPods, smartphones, computers, televisions from sundown on Saturday. On Sunday you would power them up after sundown on Sunday.
Sabbath is about this – gathering stillness, taking rest, gratitude for blessings, encountering others without interruption. Connection with family and friends occurs – seeing them, hearing them, enjoying them.
Without sabbath from technology we multi-task on several fronts. We occupy our waiting with other tasks or pursuits made possible by technology. The person on the computer looks from computer screen to smartphone and back again. Breaks at work, while taken with others, can become periods of silence among co-workers, all who stare into their smart phone. Life fills with tech busy-ness. So, for me, I ought to engage in and lead my family in a technology Sabbath … then I return to the computer and the iPods. The update is complete. On the computer I find image edits I have yet to post – rusting relics, images from a month ago in my return drive from Edmonton to High Level.
Listening to – Pico Ayer’s ‘The Art of Stillness’ and Krista Tippett’s ‘Becoming Wise – An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.’
Quote to Consider – “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry Thoreau
Today, my daughter dances refining skills at a dance workshop. My wife has my truck and gathers bottles in a Church-youth bottle-drive. Our week’s sermon explored the intricacy and direct assertion of faith being tied to works – within my week there has been my action and my shortfall. Much of Northern Alberta burns, consumed in wildfire; we’ve donated money to the Red Cross and gently-used clothing to the 80,000 Fort McMurray evacuees. Today, I am chauffeur, more behind the scenes and needed, as needed. Time in-waiting provides opportunity to edit images and is welcome respite … the activity fits the day. Images – a farmer’s field alongside a highway north from Valleyview serves as resting site for older vehicles, those from a few generations ago … used parts, ready for use – for structure or as donor car. For me, each vehicle associates to former lives in memory. What memories stir and surface for you?
Listening to – Dream Academy’s ‘The Love Parade,’ The Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout,’ Brian Houston’s ‘Next to Me,’ Nilsson’s ‘Jump into the Fire,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Radio Nowhere,’ Link Wray and the Wraymen’s ‘Rumble’ and Tim Armstrong’s ‘Into Action.’
Quote to Consider/Inspire – “I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as Life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting.” – Harry Callahan
I got out for an afternoon drive on a Saturday late in February. I gathered my cameras and set off for a look around within Alberta’s MacKenzie Municipal District.
From High Level I traveled south. I would cross the Peace River ice bridge through slushy water at Tompkin’s Landing, traveling no more than 10km/h. Before I got there, on the hill descending toward the ice bridge a blue, aquamarine colour caught my eye. The colour belonged to a seventies Ford F-150. Someone had dragged it a ways into the trees. It, like the 1970 Buick GS next to it, had served a purpose and was left there – a rusting relic. Tromping into knee deep snow I gathered photos.
Driving past Blue Hills, farms held livestock, the occasional horse and derelict farming implements. I detoured along back roads behind Buffalo Head Prairie. There, second and third generation families are operating farms that have grown in size through the years. Many families are moving from original homestead homes built in the forties into new homes. The older homesteads stand holding memory’s residue. Next, I drove behind La Crete to the Heritage museum. The museum site holds old buildings from the La Crete area, old farming implements and machinery. The old Tompkin’s Landing ferry that transferred people and vehicles across the Peace River is there. The museum is one I want to return to for photos. And, people are invited to arrange a tour of the site. It might be something to see in early June.
Later, in moving past Fort Vermilion and into Buttertown, I managed to get my truck stuck in snow. I had seen some Buttertown buildings built with Swedish log cut corners. They were likely more than a hundred years old and I had been meaning to photograph them for a while. In parking my truck on a snowy road shoulder, I got too close to the shoulder’s edge and my truck and I slid sideways into the ditch. I did not have to wait too long for help though. A young Mennonite farmer out for a drive with his date stopped. He took some time (an hour or so) and was able to pull my truck back onto the road. And, he didn’t want anything for his trouble. He was just being neighborly. Good on him!
I stayed in Buttertown for another hour or so before sundown and my return home with pictures, better for being out of the house, better for being away from town, grateful for all that my afternoon had held.
Quote to Consider – “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” – Ansel Adams
Listening to – Martyn Joseph’s ‘Strange Way,’ Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Wondering Where the Lions Are,’ David Gray’s ‘My Oh My’ and James Taylor’s ‘Country Road.’
The crest of the Hudson’s Bay Company is affixed to the southeast corner of the Bay store on Edmonton’s Jasper Avenue. The crest recalls Peter C. Newman’s book, ‘Company of Adventurers,’ a history of the Hudson’s Bay Company in North America.
A decade ago, as a home education coordinator, I travelled within our school division boundaries helping parents provide their children with an education within their homes. The area of our school division encompasses an area equivalent to that of three small European countries. In one day, I might work with four to eight students and have driven as much as four to six-hundred kilometres. Windshield time was a part of the job. In one month, during my travels, I worked my way through an unabridged audiobook of ‘Company of Adventurers’. What was extraordinary was the fact that some of our northwestern Alberta territory featured within the book. What also was intriguing was that many of the stories about Life working for the Hudson’s Bay Company remained true.
In Meander River, for instance, an old Hudson’s Bay trading post was still in use. It had had its title transferred to a Church and a thrift store serving the Dene Tha’ people was being operated within the building. Part of Newman’s book highlighted the fact that the temperature in a Hudson’s Bay post was often kept close to zero as a means to encourage departure of customers after they’d made their purchases. This was the case in this building; heated by a wood stove the family tended to congregate close to the fire through the winter and were always dressed in layers of clothing. The family operating the thrift store chose home education as the means to educate their child.
Quote to Consider – “Unless you photograph what you love, you are not going to make good art.” – Sally Mann
Listening to – The Primitives’ ‘Crash,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Radio Nowhere,’ The Who’s ‘I Can See for Miles,’ Link Wray and the Wraymen’s ‘Rumble’ and Green Day’s ‘East Jesus Nowhere.’
My first look with my camera is technical – ‘Will this vantage point work to create an image?’ I try it out. I gather an Edmonton image, one of several in climbing Connor’s hill. The hour is late on a Monday evening in February. Editing provides second look at the image, back home days later. There, I work through High Dynamic Range (HDR) image creation. Rendering holds choices – sharpening, colour, black and white, cropping. I try them out. Almost a month later, my look at this image is more settled and recalls memory – events and people through time. A fight and a chase occurred in this landscape. Among friends, before I was a teen an altercation occurred. We had ridden bikes perhaps five miles further than we should have, without parents knowing. We stumbled onto turf, that of someone older than us. We came out okay. But, that was way back in time. Connor’s hill, the part seen here is just below Edmonton’s Strathearn Drive. It is close to my grandparent’s home. My grandfather, my brothers and I hiked trails in the treed ravine in front of this part of Connor’s hill. Through the sixties, seventies and eighties Connor’s hill was Edmonton’s ski hill. The Edmonton Folk Festival occurs on this site, now. I have seen and listened to Fred Eaglesmith, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Martyn Joseph and Great Big Sea play on this hill. Five or six musical offerings are easily undertaken all at any one time. For me, the festival has been a place to reconnect with friends, a place to enjoy a glass of wine or beer through a warm August weekend. The festival has become a place to catch-up, settle-in and enjoy.
Listening to – Fred Eaglesmith’s ‘Wilder than Her,’ the Blind Boys of Alabama’s ‘Way Down the Hole,’ Martyn Joseph’s version of Springsteen’s ‘The River’ and Great Big Sea’s ‘General Taylor.’ Then, it’s Cat Stevens’ ‘Pop Star,’ Peter Gabriel’s ‘The Family and Fishing Net,’ then Joan Baez & Dirk Powell’s take on ‘House of the Rising Sun’and finally Billy Bragg with Wilco’s ‘Hot Rod Hotel.’ David Gray’s ‘First Chance’ is up, then it’s Cat Steven’s ‘Bitterblue,’ Gillian Welch with ‘Revelator’ and ‘The Way It Goes’ from Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings Machine.
Quote to Consider – “You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.” – Unknown