on the day before Christmas

Christmas lights

Although Christmas is called a “festive season”, today is when the fun really begins. Everyone I know is now focused on one intense 24-hour period: Christmas Eve to Christmas dinner.

We’re almost ready. We’ve baked cookies (gingerbreads, walnut snowballs and chocolate-dipped florentines), chosen and wrapped gifts for family and friends (everyone will be getting at least one thing that’s homemade), and put up the Christmas lights. Today we’ll be getting the tree and tomorrow will be dedicated to tidying and trimming, accompanied by a feast of Christmas music.

But I will admit that — as much as I enjoy the activities, the parties, the service, the carolling, the family gathering, the food — what I am really looking forward to is the week after Christmas. That’s when I will have time to review everything, replay my memory of the best moments, look at whatever gifts I may have received, and savour a few leftover treats. Our visits with extended family and friends will feel more relaxing because “the big day” will be behind us. And the shining new year, full of the potential to challenge and astound us, is just around the corner.

Photo taken on December 16, 2010

inside/outside

The nights are cooler now. The sun is setting earlier. The curtains are closed and the lights are on when I go for an evening walk. With the turning of the year, the fading of summer, the last light of day is more precious than ever. Don’t go inside just yet. Look up to see the sky turn from blue to indigo. Wait for the night. Watch for the first star to appear, just there, over the horizon.

Taken on September 9, 2010

night walk

Yesterday, after the showers had passed, the clouds started to lift. The sun appeared, and the moist earth breathed dampness into the air. Then the fog rolled in. (Welcome to summer in Saint John!) Yet, I still love the fog. I love the soft filtered light during the day. And the fog halos around the streetlights in the evening. And the way it adds mystery to the darkness, inviting you out at night, to walk with the fog through the quiet city streets.

Taken on June 25, 2009

the sleeping city

Recently I read that photographers — serious photographers, that is — avoid sunny days for fear of making their images look too much like postcards. It’s true that images I take with lovely blue skies tend to look less interesting than one with dramatic clouds. I think what makes the difference, though, is the light. On a blue sky day, the light is cold and clear, and the shadows are harsh. On a stormy day — like the morning I took this photo — the light has a yellow-pink cast to it that warms the whole scene. And on a rainy day, the colours are intense and everything shines and glitters. The challenge, of course, is to get outside and find these dramatic scenes when it’s so much nicer indoors.

Taken on November 11, 2009