Canadian Grain Bin - Guy, Alberta, Canada 1
Canadian Grain Bin – Guy, Alberta, Canada 1
Canadian Grain Bin - Guy, Alberta, Canada 2
Canadian Grain Bin – Guy, Alberta, Canada 2
Canadian Grain Bin - Guy, Alberta i
Canadian Grain Bin – Guy, Alberta i
Westeel Grain Bins - Warrensville, Alberta, Canada
Westeel Grain Bins – Warrensville, Alberta, Canada

The ground, seeded, transforms from dark, dirt black to green growth reaching its pinnacle of dazzling yellow before being harvested. I have driven through some of Alberta’s farmland in the past two weeks and Canola does seem the farmer grown plant of choice, this year, its yellows colouring and brightening what, in winter, had been a darker and more dreary landscape. I had hoped to catch Canola surrounding these Warrensville Westeel grain bins in the past two or three years, never returning to the site/sight until a week ago.

The Canada Flag painted on the side of a grain bin forms a landmark for travellers nearing the hamlet of Guy, Alberta. On Alberta highway 2, as you climb from the valley holding the Smoky River going north you’ll find the grain bin on your left two or three minutes along; for many the flag and shed serve as time marker for journeys northward. From this point, I can be at my doorstep in High Level, Alberta in three hours and forty minutes.

In addition to the broad reach of Canola’s yellows in these images, immensity surrounding the grain bin is also part of things; looking ahead through the miles a cumulonimbus cloud will later offer its weather, wind and rain, as something to be managed within our drive home. These images remind of photographs in which grain fields, mountains and breathtaking cloud work coalesce and immensity is the dominant feature within the image. I hadn’t considered it; but, the fact that a Canadian Flag has been painted on the side of a grain bin holds associations for the farmer – perhaps pride in being Canadian; it may also aim to have others consider the key role grain farmers play in Canada’s economy; or, perhaps the notion has something to do with being in the heart of Canada. What’s also there is perhaps something political … perhaps something like the assertion, ‘we are all Canadians first and foremost.’ The question intrigues – what was the point of origin for the idea of painting a Canadian flag on a farmer’s grain bin?

Quote to Consider – “A photograph is the story I fail to put into words.” – Destin Sparks

Listening to – Murray McLaughlin’s ‘Hard Rock Town,’ The Who’s ‘I Can See For Miles,’ Bob Dylan’s ‘Buckets of Rain,’ Steve Miller Band’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle,’ Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ ‘If You Wanna Get To Heaven,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Radio Nowhere,’ Link Wray & the Wraymen’s ‘Rumble’ and Bruce Springsteen’s rendering of a Pete Seeger tune ‘We Shall Overcome.’

Grain Bin - Dixonville, Alberta 1
Grain Bin – Dixonville, Alberta 1
Grain Bin - Dixonville, Alberta 2
Grain Bin – Dixonville, Alberta 2
Grain Bin - Dixonville, Alberta 3
Grain Bin – Dixonville, Alberta 3

On the back road between Manning and Fairview old, wooden grain bins are found and are located within large fields as deposit points for grain in harvest. Well-constructed wooden grain bins still stand while those that were constructed hastily erode, leaning and falling over. Those made with plywood walls sometimes have a wall missing leaving only the frame and exposing the bin’s interior. Wood grain bins are more a thing of the past with corrugated metal grain bins made by Butler, Westeel or Roscoe now being used, bins set on cement pads, often clustered at highest dry points on a farmer’s field. This well-constructed grain bin has caught my eye regularly; caught at the time of harvest amid ready and ripe grain wood’s texture and lines appeal as does colour and context.

Listening to – Kacey Musgrave’s ‘Keep It to Yourself’ and David Gray’s ‘Flame Turns Blue.’

Quote to Inspire – “What I did, anybody can do.” – Weegee

Beaverlodge Grain Bin - Spring Light

Last February, my wife’s aunt was struggling with cancer at the Grande Prairie hospital. She went in during the Christmas break and remained there until May when she succumbed to the disease.  In February, when this photograph was taken I was making time to be away from the hospital to see what was happening in the world.  I got out toward Beaverlodge, Alberta. This photograph impressed me as one landmarking a period of time in which the intensity of light grows greater, day-by-day as we move forward from winter into spring – there’s something of ‘hope’ in it. Again, its subject is another grain bin; but, it sits upon a field that soon will grow black as snow melts into earth and then will grow green with as it’s planted and left to respond to the sun.

Again, listening to Liz Longley sing her song, Unraveling about her grandmother from her album Hot Loose Wire.

The chorus:

I’m the only daughter of her oldest son

I knew well before her spirit was gone

And her life is a thread woven into every part of me

She is unraveling, she is unraveling.

Quote to Inspire: “A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.” — Eudora Welty