Orchestrated Movement

Untitled, 2019.

Untitled, 2019.

Lately, getting up in the morning is an orchestrated affair: a series of vibrating wake-up calls from a fitness tracker, on the minute, four times over, then music coming in at the five and 10 minute marks, the bed sidelight flipped on in-between. It's a full campaign to get up to a still dark sky.

When ready to go downstairs, I'll then sweep open the drapes hoping what's there won't taunt me to go back to bed. Lately the dawn is thankfully waking along side me, purple, pink, then orange: dramatic stage lighting for the ice crystals that must have been figure skating on the window.

 

Telling Stories

Untitled, 2019.

Untitled, 2019.

Yesterday, three of my fingers went numb. I wasn't outside in the cold for long, just a three minute walk from a building to the car. It's the January winter wind that rips the heat off skin, then down to the bones. 

Tonight, at home, I found a sparrow just outside my front door, tucked on a small perch at the top of a post where the roof line and trim block the wind. He is still there as I write this note, in the dark, sleeping.

By my kitchen window is a small cutting I took this fall from a marigold plant in the garden, hours before the first frost. Not expecting it to last beyond the week, I placed it in a vase near the sink where I could enjoy the sweet scented flowers and their vibrant colours a little bit longer than the weather was willing to permit. Two months later, the plant keeps living: buds opening, orange flowers content to take in the limited light.

It's fortunate to have a window to block out the cold but not the essential light from the other side. Here, on the inside, every few days I lift the vase, judging water levels by weight, steadying it with more water when it lifts too quickly. Even with the window temporarily shut tight, I can consider the conditions on both sides, decide what makes sense for the day, the snow floating about outside, another season's blossoms and their echo-like reflections on the ice-like glass.

 

Murmurations

Untitled, 2017.

Untitled, 2017.

This photo of jellyfish at the Vancouver Aquarium reminds me of possibilities, individual ones and as a whole, kind of like the way starlings take shapes as a murmuration. Possibility may be top of mind at the beginning of the calendar year, though every day really holds as much promise. I like having an image to represent all the potential. Glimmer and hope.

 

Memories as Material

Untitled, 2015.

Untitled, 2015.

The 31st is no more than the end of any other day, right? Yet there's the weight of the last few days of the year. The close of the year somehow insists for reflection and memories to resurface.

I came across several films and photographs this week where the makers used memories as surrogates or vehicles to communicate their story. Memories are a tricky material: they can fall easily too deep into nostalgia, become disingenuous with too much emotion. They can also, when used adeptly, poignantly convey the most important details and release a viewer from linear time. Memories can be a means to fully immerse one in the depth of specific moments.

However you choose to acknowledge and remember the year, I wish you a happy and healthy 2019. I intend to end the night with a small closing ceremony - a simple toast made and sealed with a few sips of decent whiskey. Celebrate and rest well.

 

Kids Without Faces

Untitled, 2018.

Untitled, 2018.

Do you remember where it is? You know - the good camera. The one you'll want in the next couple weeks, to have close at hand, when those key moments happen: the parties, the decorations, the meals, a special gift, the stories that will become known as "The time when...".

The thinkers call this the making of "vernacular photography": the photography of everyday life and common subjects. Whether you care to or not intellectualize our activities, it's hard to deny that the photographs people take at this time of year tend to have common traits. Take away the details of people's faces and the setting, the images start to look similar as they fall into categories. Not that this makes them any less significant to each person. It's just amazing though how our photographs reflect how much we share as humans regardless the specific holiday being celebrated.

Maybe these thoughts prompted what caught my attention this week, including the photo above - kids without faces, putting on a holiday show.

 

Little Promises

Untitled, 2018.

The longest night is approaching. One culture to the next, we're lighting candles, turning on strings of tiny lights - little promises the longer days will return. Even birthday candles look different to me in December: the more the better, for the greater the glow, the stronger the fire in the belly of the winter soul.

 

Somebody Pressed Pause

Untitled, 2018.

With almost a week of grey skies, the days feel like a holding pattern. Yesterday, I walked along the lake, under the bridge, the highway above. The muffled sound of steady traffic matching the volume of the low, slow waves; the air cold enough to need a tissue. Along the water’s edge, I found a wide border, a myriad of little shells pressed into the sand, like they had rolled off the water and settled in to pass the winter. I started walking back towards the downtown, shells crunching under my boots, cutting into the dampened atmosphere to the point I couldn’t help but count my steps.

When the path turned to concrete, I found the boardwalk, empty. Somebody had pressed pause. Even the holiday lights seemed to be waiting.

 

November 23, 2018.

Untitled, 2017.

Untitled, 2017.

Beware the hunters and travellers this morning, up before dawn, hungry to take on the black day. I'll be staying far away from malls, big boxes, boutiques... unless there's a photo calling out to be made.

 

November 16, 2018.

Untitled, 2018.

Untitled, 2018.

The warning came two mornings ago: a dusting of snow in the overnight. Then yesterday, with the evening's disappearing light, snow started to come down, a true first snowfall, the kind that creates havoc on the roads and with people's plans. As I waited for the school bus to arrive, snow accumulated and a softness took hold: the sky became a giant soft box, street lights powered up a glow. Slush muffled out unhappy traffic. And as the blanket grew thicker, the noise turned white enough to hear the flakes touch down.