Wednesday, September 28
A few weeks ago when we were at the cabin, I wasn't worrying about keeping things 'my way.' There was a lot of exposed wiring and some of the chinks had fallen out of the log walls, and I had to climb on the roof to cover the chimney so the mosquitos wouldn't come down it at night. In the mornings sometimes we could tell the mice had been on the counters, there were pine needles in the bed, and the blankets smelled somewhat like mothballs. We washed the dishes in a dishpan, and the shower, though warm, was not luxurious, and had to last under five minutes or something would burst. The tap water came straight out of the lake so we bought all our drinking water in town.
None of this really bothered me.
At home, it would bother me.
This is why I travel.
Tuesday, September 27
canon, kodak gold 200 film
canon, kodak gold 200 film
There was supposed to be a little red-backed vole in this shot...I think he got away.
holga, kodak gold 200 film
holga, kodak gold 200 film
Film from this day's hike watching the raptor migrations over hawk mountain. That last photo is from my favorite part of the trail, right after hopping through all the pennsylvania granite on the path and just before the north lookout, where the trail takes you right up into the sky and the little chipmunks run around by your ankles.
And today, like that day, I keep seeing monarchs. They are flapping past my studio window.
Life is good, people.
Monday, September 26
Saturday, September 24
It has been raining like mad around here, but yesterday I got out and planted some beet seeds between the raindrops. When I look out the front door the street is flooded like a river.
In the mornings I've been trying to spend the first half hour in nature, whether that means a walk around the block or breakfast in the garden. Not doing much, not thinking about my day much, just soaking it in.
Today I spent the afternoon re-upholstering a pair of wooden stools I found at a curb down the street. We've been waiting for a set to turn up to put at our kitchen counter.
It's also time to bring out the fall sweaters, the danskos, the coats, the scarves. Time to add the woollies back into my wardrobe on evening strolls and running errands. I'm looking forward to being cozy.
Happy autumn! Do you do anything special to get ready for fall?
*canon, canon 50mm lens, kodak gold 200 film
Friday, September 23
all taken with my Holga when we were in canada
Another thing I love about non-digital film is that weeks later when you get the roll developed, you get to relive all those experiences that have passed, and re-enter that feeling again. (Although, as I was telling tim last night while we walked to 7-11 for ben & jerry's, digital film is like polaroid because it gives instant gratification, which is pretty enjoyable.) When we picked up the 2 packets of photos yesterday I held them in my lap for a little while as we drove home, before I opened them, because the anticipation was so sweet.
These are all taken with my cheap plastic Holga camera, which I've never used before. I had no idea what I was doing, had the settings wrong each time, doubly exposed shots unintentionally and am delighted with how things turned out. Oh, the power of the amateur!
Holga 135, Kodak Gold 200 film
Thursday, September 22
Some of the 35mm photos from my new york city trip, meeting up with my oldest friend. During the rainy hours, we kept ducking into little spots to grab a bite to eat or a pot of tea. That's what I love about new york. It's like a giant living room.
canon AE-1, canon 50mm lens, Kodak Gold 200 film which expires this month
Monday, September 19
self-portrait, gimmelwald, switzerland, in the bathroom mirror, 2005
Sometimes when I take a photograph I'm so excited I almost feel like I'm going to hyperventilate. I've been thinking about instant film and 35mm film and digital film. And in the way of the interweb, found myself on this page where andrea explains things so well.
There is just something about film that digital will never have. Film exists in real time, with a tangible physicality that digital lacks. The weight of the camera, the smell of the film unrolling, the satisfying click as the shutter opens ~ heavy sounding like the catch on an engraved locket or a pocketful of silver dollars. The waiting and uncertainty and expectation of getting the film developed.
I spent three days in new york city last week, leaving my digital and polaroid cameras at home. I brought my old Canon and 35mm film, just like I used to do when I was a teenager on a road trip, or a twenty-something studying abroad and catching trains. It is like an old friend with its own ways and peculiarities.
The bus dropped me off at 34th and 8th and I took the metro down to the west village. I wandered in the diamond sunshine and crisp air, dropping into shops as they took my fancy. Exploring streets with a map folded up in my back pocket. Watching cupcakes being frosted through the Magnolia bakery window. Meeting up with a friend and walking in the rain-showers and talking. The wildflower meadows near the glacial rocks in central park, the heat of the sidewalks and cool pockets of the subway cars, tree leaves bright against the buildings like polly apfelbaum installations. People-watching and occasionally, not very often, taking a photo, the unexposed photographs carried like furled buds in a slowly collected bouquet.
Sunday, September 18
Last night tim called me from his work ~ he's a nurse in the ER at a local hospital ~ and asked what I was doing this morning. French toast?, he asked. I acquiesced and he got off the phone and returned to the chaos of his surroundings and I returned to recovering from a three day visit to new york city. But we had french toast to look forward to.
Our special breakfasts. The importance of ritual.
He's at work or I'm at work and so we make these breakfasts to meet in the downtime ~ they are usually cobbled together at the last minute but we treasure them, and one of us turns on the stove and fills the electric kettle, while the other one asks which color plate do you want? and sets the table. Each movement a ritual in the whole event, which is cultivated to acknowledge that this is the moment, this is life. It's not just the food that nourishes.
Tuesday, September 13
tim hiking in ontario, august
Each fall I feel like I need to migrate. I can't get outside enough. We tend to find ourselves outdoors a lot, exploring local parks and trails, following the foliage and storing up the colors of sunlight.
We took an impromptu drive yesterday to hike on Hawk Mountain. The raptors are migrating by the hundreds through the valley, so we sat on top at the end of the trail with our binoculars. We perched next to a bunch of other bird-watchers on the white granite rocks, while red-backed voles and chipmunks skittered around the pathways at our feet. (they really do, bold little things.)
And we waited. The mountains rippled away in blue at our feet. The berry bushes were scarlet against the green of the rhododendrons, and the air had that silent deep clarity of the mountain top.
Soon enough, far-away spots turned into bald eagles, hawks and kestrels. Osprey and falcons flapped or glided by, some quite close, others just silhouettes against the cloudbanks. Many majestic vultures lazily caressed the invisible airstreams. Funnels of black pepper specks were a kettle of hawks 40 strong, catching the warm air up to higher paths. Spots of bright orange tottered their way to mexico ~ monarchs against the sky, skimming over treetops.
I could soak it in forever. The brevity, the moment, the light, the being alive, being there, the falcon's eye turning to look at me as it passed.
We came home to a later blue evening and a burnished ivory moon that would knock your eye out. In autumn, nature is getting out all that it has thought about all year.
The (randomly chosen) winner of the polaroid giveaway is MJ. MJ, send your address to me ~ flypeterfly AT hotmail DOT com, and I'll pop Icarus in the mail to you!
Wednesday, September 7
When I was little, I used to read so hard that I wouldn't even hear people talking to me. I don't remember how I began to read, or when, but I remember the smell of the library, the lovely children's books with cellophane wrapped hardback covers and great glossy pages. That feeling of reading so fast it was like gulping. I remember the thrill of falling in love with a story ~ of entering that world. Of meeting those exotic people and walking through the strange forests and cities and doing incredible things. It informed my play: acorns and miniatures and houses build out of vines. Treeforts and a box of jewels and a cave under the headboard. I used to think, if I tried hard enough, I would find an opening to Narnia. (Aslan, after all, said there were more.) It was a terrible ache that I could not make that happen.
My life is still very influenced by memoirs, journals, children's stories, mythology, magic and surreal possibilities ~ the ability to be in norway or in ancient greece in the moment of picking up a book. The experience of a different life, and what I can bring back to my own after having been away.
I brought Anne Frank with me on our trip to canada. My bread-kneadings and walks outdoors, vistas and fresh air and swims were experienced while a part of me was with her in the top floors of an office building in Amsterdam. Five years ago I visited that house, and I have stood in her bedroom. The knowledge of her experience, and her dreams, were very vivid to me as I got to enjoy all sorts of things she never did, and never shall.
Tim took Bilbo and the dwarves with him, so the lake and the rainstorms, his runs through the fields and all the animal sightings were all overlaid with giant eagles, trolls, the shade under Mirkwood and long sunny lonely treks with vistas of mountains at their end.
This week I am partially in Italy with elizabeth gilbert, partially on the Nile with hercule poirot, and yet another part of me is wild-swimming with roger deakin throughout england.
It has come serendipitiously to my attention that this is my 500th post. In honor of this, if you leave a comment telling me which polaroid you would like to own from my shop (look here), I will randomly pick a winner and gift them the polaroid print of their choice. Comments end when I put my next post up.
Friday, September 2
There was one really fantastic moment that I haven't yet told you about, while we were at the lake.
One evening, when the winds were chilly and brisk, and the sunlight was just hitting that marvelous range where everything feels golden, I looked up from my place on the end of the dock, and there was a loon.
It was very close. I usually saw the loons from far away, where they looked like small black slivers of lake shadow, hardly distinguishable from the waves rippling. They look like they are wearing black rubber wetsuits readying themselves for their deep dives. All that was usually visible was a slice of back, almost sunk under the waves, and the iconic bill. I can't even describe their bill ~ it is different than a duck or a heron or a gull, and I hope you have seen one for yourself.
Each night when the loons called during the last shrinkings of sunset, I sprang to the door and went out to hear them, their warblings hitting the eardrum closer and sharper than the mosquito's whine. The sounds rippled from lake to lake as if they were in an opera house with perfect acoustics. They called their mate far away and soon enough, the other would return and they would talk in their weird hovering cries as the air turned black and velvet.
So that day on the dock when I saw one quite close, close enough to discern the white feathers on the belly and the spots on the sides, I was entranced. I watched it duck its sleek head under water, back and forth, as it looked across the lake floor as clearly as a hawk over a field. It would bring its head back up, without a bead of water on it, like poured glass, and gaze at us. The dogs sat perfectly still.
I like to think it felt my longing. I held my breath, and gazed and gazed. I tried to imprint every lapping wave upon my memory like a tattoo. The loon dived, and my heart burst. The loon surfaced and I was all attention. I slid over the side of the dock, slowly, and let go and swam gently out, as it bobbed not very far away, curiously looking at me. The waves that touched me might have just touched its feathers. Its gaze was wise.
We swam together for a short while, before it dived to fish, and I knew that somewhere near, it was underwater and could probably see my pale legs dangling under the green evening surface. It took me in stride, and I will never forget it.