February fears

street scene

I’m been feeling down lately — and it’s just silly, because I’m really enjoying my job at the moment, and we went to the theatre and symphony and caught up with friends over the past week — but…

But…

  1. It’s February, and the sidewalks are horribly icy, but spring is coming in the sense that today’s snow will be mixed with rain and freezing rain (yuck).
  2. I have all but disappeared from my online communities (my apologies for not coming by to visit lately) due to total lack of inspiration.
  3. I haven’t even taken any photos for a week (this image taken two years ago shows Saint John looking almost exactly as it does today, icicles included).
  4. When I was reorganizing my desk a few weeks ago, I dropped my favourite lens, a 24mm prime. Fortunately the lens itself seems to be fine, but the autofocus is no longer working.
  5. My ankle sometimes still aches where I hurt it last fall.
  6. And, well, I’m going to be 50 next month. I’m not shy about claiming my age, but I am afraid of aging, I am afraid of not being able to walk, I am afraid of not being able to carry my camera wherever impulse takes me, I am afraid of not being able to see clearly.

Yes, I know these February blues will pass, that my petulant whining will magically disappear in the face of a new adventure or new accomplishment, or new month. I’ll be waiting.

Photo taken on February 25, 2009

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one is the loneliest number

bend

Today is the first of February, the loneliest month on the calendar. There are no holidays to look forward to as we shiver through another 28 days of winter. Of course Valentine’s Day brings its own particular warmth mid-month, but if you don’t have a Valentine, you are left out in the cold.

And there are a lot of lonely people out there. Sometimes you notice them, people who seem impossibly needy, or so brittle and afraid of being hurt that they’ve grown dragon scales. Other people seem quite ordinary, just like the neighbour across the street who you’ve always thought has got it all together, then in a chance conversation you discover she’s lonely, too. I’ve had a chance to talk with a lot of strangers lately, and in conversation — past complaint or concern — I’ve discovered that what many people really need is a friend.

This is in no way an attempt to belittle people’s legitimate complaints or concerns, worries and anxieties. I just feel compelled to point out how a little warmth and an understanding smile can really make someone’s day. I think February should be a month for friendship, not just romantic love, a time that we share some of our warmth and make this cold month a little less lonely.

Photo taken on February 21, 2009

a land of adventure

Harrigan Lake, winter

When I was young, we often went on hikes together as a family. My dad has a collection of topographical maps of this area, scratched with pencil lines marking the trails he has found and followed. Many of these trails are unmarked; following them was always an adventure.

I remember one hike, in winter. We were walking beside a frozen lake, skirting the edge of the woods, and we could not see the path; only the trackless snow lay ahead. I was feeling cold, and I wanted to go home. Then my dad told us a story about Robert Scott’s expeditions to the Antarctic, and the challenges he faced in exploring its permanently frozen landscape.

Somehow, hearing that story made all the difference. As I imagined being in the Antarctic, I began to feel like an explorer, and I started paying more attention to my surroundings. And I decided that, if this was an adventure, I could put up with a little cold and inconvenience.

One of these days I might make it to the Antarctic to see it for myself. In the meantime, I can have one adventure after another, right here.

Photo taken on January 5, 2008

this beautiful country

Gardner Creek

I love the fact that the country is right on our doorstep. In less than 15 minutes, you can drive from Saint John’s city centre to the country. I love driving in the country, following the roads as they wind up and down the hills, looking at mailboxes and barns, wondering about the dirt paths that disappear into unexplored territory.

The road out to Fairfield, just past the eastern boundary of Saint John, is a familiar route. My aunt moved here as a war bride when she married a Canadian soldier during the Second World War. It was quite a culture shock to move from the outskirts of London, England, to a small rural community, but the warm welcome from her new family made her feel at home. My mother and her parents followed, building a house and settling just down the road. Although that was many years ago now, my aunt and her extended family still live in the same area — just over the hill, around the corner and up the road from where this photo was taken.

To the casual eye, it looks like a scattering of houses and farms, far apart and disconnected, but I know it is a tight-knit community, where everyone looks out for their neighbours. Just last week, a new bridge was completed on the main road at Fairfield. My aunt loves to tell the story of how she and her late husband were the first to cross the old bridge. When we were visiting her yesterday, she told us that a neighbour brought her to the new bridge before the official opening last week so she could be the first to cross it again.

This may look like ordinary rural landscape, but love makes it beautiful.

Photo taken on March 15, 2009

wake up to adventure

It’s been rainy this week, and the forecast is for more rain next week. When the weather is grey and drizmal, I have two choices:
1) curl up on the couch and catch up on my sleep/reading while I wait for nice weather
2) put on my brightest clothes, look for some eye-popping colour or play some snappy music, then go out for an adventure

An adventure is going places. It could be a walk in a nearby park or an unfamiliar neighbourhood. It could be a shopping expedition, or a drive out in the country. It could be a visit with a friend, or going out to dinner or a movie.

Whatever it is, an adventure is something to look forward to, something to do right now instead of waiting for Mother Nature or the Ship of Opportunity to ring your doorbell.

This photo is loud. It’s a wake-up alarm, a call to action. Because I really need to be a little more active. And, you know, I can’t resist red.

Taken on May 29, 2009

gathering in

It’s officially autumn. Overnight, it seems, leaves have started falling. Patches of yellow and red are appearing on the green hills. The market smells like fresh apples.

I remember a greeting card I was given a long time ago. “Stay out of the park: the squirrels are gathering nuts for the winter” it said. And so they are, we are all gathering in, picking the last of the produce from the garden, making green tomato pickle because the tomatoes have not ripened, buying squash and pumpkins while they are cheap and plentiful, storing what we can of summer’s bounty for the cold months ahead.

Taken on October 17, 2009

keep the red on your right

A navigation beacon, a single oil lamp, was first erected here at the point of the South End peninsula in 1842. Then in 1847, it was replaced with this triple gas lampstand, known as the Three Sisters. It was refurbished in 1997.

Apparently the red colour facing the sea was visible for three miles from shore — a helpful aid in fog or dark. When coming into harbour from the Bay of Fundy, sailors would chart their course from the Three Sisters. The colour red shows the starboard limit of a channel, so they would know to keep red lamps on their right. If they could see all three red lamps, sailors would know they were heading straight into the harbour, however if only one or two could be seen, sailors knew they needed to change course. The street-side is white, so it guess it doubled as a regular streetlight.

In this photo, you can barely see a cruise ship docked in the foggy harbour. I’m glad these huge boats don’t have to rely on the Three Sisters to guide them into port!

Taken on July 11, 2009