I went uptown to go shopping on Saturday, and found the city centre beautifully decorated. But then the sun set, casting a bright wash of purple colour along the streets and making the harbour glow with reflected golden light, and that was the best decoration of all.
Photo taken on December 18, 2010
When I first joined Flickr in 2006, I merely wanted to share my travel photos with family members on the other side of the world. I was surprised and pleased to see comments on one of the first photos I uploaded, and from then on, I was hooked. I would not be as avid a photo enthusiast today if I didn’t have Flickr to encourage and inspire me.
I chose my Flickr name “Seeing Is” partly because it can be read in two ways (I love puns) as “Seeing is… believing” for example, and as “Seeing eyes”. Having “seeing eyes” has become increasingly important to me. To see means to have vision, to pay attention, to notice and observe and wonder at all things great and small. I’ve always liked the image of the eagle, who sees clearly and far. Here on WordPress and other sites, I am eyeGillian (another pun), referring to photography and also my internal ego-emperor, a reference to the Robert Graves novel I, Claudius.
As I write this, my father is struggling with failing eyesight, and I can see how it has affected his previous enjoyment of driving, hiking, reading and even simple everyday tasks. I remember my disappointment when I had to get glasses at age 19. The thought of what my father must be going through, and the possibility of someday losing my own sight makes me cherish it all the more.
Yet there is something deeper than just seeing. I need to remember the wisdom I read as a child in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”.
Photo taken on November 14, 2010
The fog has been constant this past week. This is a stubborn fog, and nothing seems to shake it. The rain came down hard for a short time yesterday, but it was still foggy. I could hear the wind howling last night, but the fog only hugged the city tighter.
And so we are waiting. I am waiting. I am ready for change.
I have been on an extended holiday. When my contract ended at the end of June, I decided that I wouldn’t mind taking a month off. It had been a long time since I’d taken a real vacation. The month became two, then three, and now…. now it’s October. And I am ready, more than ready, for change.
I have a job interview on Monday. Wish me luck.
Taken on September 25, 2010
This rocky bit of shoreline has seen a lot of history. By tradition, this is where United Empire Loyalists landed following the American Civil War. An estimated 15,000 Loyalists arrived in what is now New Brunswick between 1783 and 1785, the majority landing here to found Saint John. They weren’t the first to settle here; this spot is just around the corner from a traditional Wulstukwuik (Maliseet) and Mi’kmaq trading spot and the site of Fort LaTour, and a number of Acadians had settled in this region as well. Those who had lived here before were displaced, having no “title” to the land.
As the young city became a properous port, this became Market Slip, where ships lined both sides of the pier selling fresh fish and other goods. Photos from the 19th century show a sea of masts and carts clustered around the area, and a line of warehouses that were later included in the development of the Market Square shopping centre in the 1980s (just to the left of this photo).
Now there is a boardwalk and hotel along the old pier, a mall with a line of cafes and restaurants, a summer stage, and a popular beach volleyball venue just above the high tide mark. The fishing boats from a local Mi’kmaq community dock just around the corner on Long Wharf, dwarfed by the huge cruise ships that bring hordes of tourists in the summer and fall. It’s a far sight different than what the Loyalists may have envisioned, but it still thrives.
Taken on June 26, 2009
Living here, perched on the edge of the bluff, you can watch the sea coming and going all day. You can watch the container ships, the tankers, the fishing boats and cruise ships following the tide in and out of the harbour. You can watch the harbour seals and porpoises, the gulls and eagles trolling the shallow shores. You can watch everything that moves all the way to Nova Scotia on fine days, but on foggy days you might not even see the beach. And every kind of weather, be it rain or sun, snow or storm, will beat against your windows. And as the tide rises and falls and marks the rhythm of the days and seasons, you will be always be there, watching.
Taken on April 29, 2010
Imagine what this narrow bay at the mouth of Marsh Creek would have looked like 150 years ago. Imagine away the train tracks, the smoke stacks, the silt. Imagine the golden age of sail, a sea of masts, a tide of longshoremen. Imagine long piers, and the rough bones of new ships being built, one rib at a time. Imagine the Marco Polo, launched on the 17th of April, 1851 from the yard of James Smith at Marsh Creek. She was a clipper, with stout planking of tamarack, pitch pine, and oak and three tall masts. She was the biggest ship the yard had built, and when she was launched, she got stuck in the mud for two weeks. Imagine this ship, free to ply her trade across the seas, sailing across the North Atlantic to Liverpool, England in just fifteen days. She was the first ship to circumnavigate the world in less than six months, travelling from Liverpool to Melbourne, Australia, and back in 5 months and 24 days in 1852. She was the fastest ship in the world. And she was built right here.
Taken on July 12, 2010
I love the way the orange train lights up against the blue sky. I love the way the daisies decorate the hill above the train tracks. I love the way Marsh Creek carves channels through the silt that you only see at low tide. I love the view across Courtney Bay in the morning, the sun bright on the water, the fresh day just beginning.
Taken on July 12, 2010
Travelling by water is a luxury. If you’ve booked a berth on one of these towering cruise ships, you will be well fed and entertained as you float from one harbour to the next. The smaller ship (on the horizon), is the Princess of Acadia, our vessel of choice to and from Nova Scotia for our vacation last week. This no-frills car ferry travels in a direct line from Saint John to Digby and back. Still, to choose the direct route across the Bay of Fundy is more expensive than driving around and, depending on your destination, may actually take longer. But we were on vacation, and we wanted to take our time and explore — and it’s a lot more relaxing to take the boat than dodge cars on a long grey ribbon of highway. In some ways, it’s too bad that travelling by boat is considered such a luxury these days when water was at one time the only highway, but I suppose travelling by sea has its own hazards!
Taken on July 1, 2009
This reflection in a window shows two Saint Johns. You can see the port facilities across the harbour where two giant cranes wait to unload container ships. And the cups and saucers, reflected against the wood of the boardwalk, are resting on a table in the Hilton, where you can enjoy a leisurely meal overlooking the water. But the longshoremen and the tourists, the sailors and the business travellers are perhaps not so far apart. For as long at they are here, they — and all us who live here — are touched by the sea, by its abundance and its moods, by its tides and its fogs. What matters is that we are here, on the bridge between history and the future.
Taken on May 24, 2009
My second cousin is a fisherman. He heads out on his boat at the turn of the tide, often in the wee hours of the morning. I can only imagine what it’s like to be out on the water when it is still dark, to work in drenching rain or blustery winds, thick fog or bitter cold. I can only imagine what it’s like to be out all day, the burn of rope and salt water, the constant waves against the hull. I can only imagine the return home, aching eyes from squinting against the sun, anticipating the sudden silence of the motor, the rough rope looped around the pier, the empty hold, and the road home.
Taken on June 15, 2008
I have had the privilege of travel from a young age. When we were children, we travelled with our parents, and I have taken a few “big trips” since then. Somewhere along the way I developed a love of maps and a strong sense of direction; I can often orient myself instantly in a new city. There are two keys to that skill: one is having a good map, and imprinting the main thoroughfares and landmarks on my memory; the second is having a sense of the city centre. Almost every municipality that I’ve been to has a city hall at its heart, usually with a nearby business district and some kind of public square. The effect is even stronger when there is water as well, whether fountain, lake, river, or harbour. And in uptown Saint John, the harbour, city hall, King Street and King’s Square are all together, perfectly aligned.
Taken on May 31, 2009
Mispec is at the edge of Saint John’s coastal boundary. Fishing boats head out on the tide from the mouth of the Mispec River. There are much bigger boats waiting offshore from the neighbouring LNG and Canaport terminals where they will unload natural gas and crude oil. And just around this headland is one of the city’s few seaside beaches, a popular destination in summertime. The sea is a great provider, a destination for work and play, a source of destruction and beauty, a mysterious stranger always on our doorstep, calling.
Taken on May 30, 2010
One of the things I like best about living next to the sea is the fact that there is more sky. You can stand right there, under harbour bridge where I took this photo, and watch the shipping traffic and the harbour seals, then look out toward the harbour mouth and wait for the brief flash from the lighthouse on Partridge Island. Along the horizon a line of tankers wait to dock at the Canaport and LNG terminals. On a clear day, you can see Nova Scotia across the Bay of Fundy, a low line of hills tucked between the sea and sky. And the sky stretches over everything.
Taken on April 16, 2010