construction is a season

construction is a season

I know it’s not spring yet, but look — patches of bare ground have appeared where ice-encrusted snowbanks once ruled, I can see a ring of grass around the maple tree, and, on the sunny side of the street, a sidewalk! This past weekend, the temperature soared to 9 degrees celcius and it rained (other places were not so lucky). We lost two-thirds of our snow. It feels like such a relief.

Along with the warming temperatures, other signs of spring:

  • a sleepy housefly was buzzing and bumbling around the kitchen at work
  • the goldfinches are beginning to yellow up
  • the cat actually wants to go outdoors
  • lost dog toys have suddenly turned up in the backyard, having been there all along

The construction project uptown has moved into a new phase of work, and the excavation for the new parking garage has begun. When I walked by the construction site yesterday, I smelled mud. Mud! Any day now, road crews will be out with fresh asphalt to start filling the huge potholes that plague the city streets.

The construction season has begun. Can spring be far behind?

Photo taken on February 24, 2011

tropical dreams

transparent

If plants had feelings — and who says they don’t? — they would feel very sad at being neglected in a dark corner of the house. You know they are feeling sad, because they literally droop with sadness, moping in the shadows, turning pale and dropping leaves, trying desperately to catch your attention.

And when you relent and place them in a sunny window, giving up your own sunny table to make your plants happy, oh my, what an improvement to their spirits and yours! You can almost see them purring with pleasure as they bask in the light, leaning in to the window as close as they dare and even sacrificing the tips of their leaves in quest of the sun’s life-giving rays.

And if plants had dreams — you know they do — they would dream of mountain slopes and steamy jungles, hot breezes and drenching rains, the call of parrots and the rainbow shimmer of butterfly wings, a tropical paradise where winter is banished forever.

Photo taken on January 20, 2011

brave McAvity

Brave McAvity

Ever notice how fire hydrants look like little firefighters? Look at their red uniforms, their shiny helmets, their arms stretched out to help. Look at the way they stand protectively, patiently, ready for any emergency. They are short but sturdy, always the first to get dug out of the snowbank, but the last to get noticed in a crowd. They provide many community services, including acting as a message board for dogs and a vantage point for parade-watchers.

It’s good luck to have a fire hydrant near your home (we have one across the street), and it’s also good for your insurance rates. It’s a comfort to see their little faces keeping an eye on your neighbourhood. When there is a fire (fires do happen), that little fire hydrant could be your best friend in the whole world.

In the town of Tweed, Ontario, all the fire hydrants are painted — there is a cat, a pirate, a chef, a police officer — but here in Saint John, they wear their classic uniforms. They don’t need painted faces because they already look friendly. And they have names: this one is named McAvity. McAvity here is part of a small army of firefighters protecting our city. Brave McAvity.

Photo taken on February 24, 2011

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

something old, something new

jellybean row

This streetscape is one of Saint John’s treasures. The group of “jellybean” buildings are c.1860 Second Empire row houses with sophisticated carved window and door surrounds. They are colourful and quaint, old and attractive. They remind us the time when most buildings in the city centre were wood, and the fact that most burnt in the Great Fire of 1877.

A few steps down the street in either direction are modern office buildings, brick and concrete, glass and steel. They house scores of office workers, shops and businesses. They are tall enough to command a view across the city. They are not particularly notable as architecture and do not attract tourists, but they are also a vital part of the city.

The beautifully painted row houses are now locally famous because a citizen’s group lobbied — successfully — to save them from the wrecking ball. The city was concerned that they were decrepit and needed the land to build a new office building. Over time, the old wooden buildings became more expensive to maintain, and the new concrete buildings became easier to construct.

The question is always one of balance, between a city’s historic heart and its economic vitality, between something old — to keep us rooted, and something new — to give us wings.

Photo taken on January 20, 2011

long and short

long and short

Saint John is one of the sunniest cities in Canada… but only in the winter. In fact, an Arctic front arrived over the weekend, bringing clear crispy nights and bright sunny days. The crusty snow is so reflective you have to wear sunglasses outdoors to avoid being blinded by sunlight.

In short: it’s frigid. Currently, the windchill is minus 36 Celcius.

* * *

I’ve written before about my efforts to find a job, and my decision to start my own business focusing on freelance photography and writing. It’s been a long wait and struggle trying to find the right niche. Well, I think I’ve found it. I’ve started working again, but I can’t as yet say too much about the job because many details are still to be worked out. And in the past week, I’ve had two people ask for my business card. So, I’ve ordered some business cards and started to put together a website here. Obviously, it’s still under construction, but I welcome your feedback.

In short: things are looking up. I’m thrilled.

Photo taken on January 22, 2010

wash, rinse, repeat

laundromat

Fact #1: U.S. Democrat Gabrielle Giffords was shot yesterday. Some commentators are linking the shooting in Tucson to violent language on multiple websites, at least one of which showed Giffords’ congressional district in the crosshairs of a gun.

Fact #2: Yesterday I read an article in The Atlantic about the cost of believing everything you find on the internet. The gullibility of the public has allowed radicals and reactionaries to succeed in smear campaigns against their targets, even when their accusations have been proven to be false, because the public loves sensational scandal and ignores the truth that is later uncovered.

Fact #3: I spent more than six hours yesterday reading news feeds and bookmarked blog posts, and catching up on the expected results of South Sudan’s referendum, participating in an online conversation about Saint John’s uptown, and reading about the advantage of planned spending over budgeting.

* * *

If I wanted to remain virtually connected at this rate, I would have to devote at least two hours per day to reading online, and that would be mostly scanning the headlines. No wonder it’s hard to separate facts from fiction and to get a balanced view of the world.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, much of the noise out there (in the virtual world) is recycled information, broken up into byte-sized pieces. Sometimes the information is whitewashed, sometimes it’s muddied. And it’s all thrown together into the great washing machine of the internet, socks and underwear, tourniquets and tennis shoes, the bleeding red bandana and the white silk shirt. The internet does not sort and weigh the information, it does not separate the world’s laundry into the sheep and the wolves.

So take care what you say online, even in jest. Check your temper at the door but do not check your brain. Take care in what you read, and especially what you believe and pass on for fact. It’s not just viruses that we need to guard against. Sadly, very little can be trusted. Everything must be washed, rinsed and hung to dry in the cool light of rational thought.

Photo taken on December 18, 2010