I spy… something red.

I had so much fun during my last I Spy photo excursion that I did it again. This time, instead of fixating on circles, I had eyes only for the colour red.

I spent about an hour and a half downtown today, and almost no one looked at me strangely for snapping photos of fire hydrants and discarded take-out containers.

As before, giving myself a theme (and a time limit) to capture a series of photos allowed me to practice observation and composition but also encouraged me to avoid overthinking. Sometimes I just need to get out of my own way.

Bonus… this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Collage. Perfect! Here it is:

Beware of spiders.

In Paris (…Ontario, Canada), just before the Nith River joins up with the Grand, its width is spanned by a pedestrian bridge connecting the tiny, historic downtown to the park on the opposite side. The bridge is quaint. And covered in spiderwebs.

If you’re not too busy taking in the view of the river below, or gripping the handrail for dear life while trying to avoid disturbing the spiders, you’ll notice these lone, thought-provoking words written along the railing:

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Is this how graffiti’s done in small, pretty towns? In any case, I wondered why a bridge was chosen as the canvas for this particular message, instead of a wall or a door.

I put on my deep thinking cap and this is the best I could come up with: Maybe, as people, we’re most connected and accessible to one another when we’re allowed to experience and share the depth of our emotions – joy and hurt and everything in between – without the fear of judgement or failure or rejection. Maybe the world is a colder and scarier place when we become numb to our feelings in order to preserve ourselves. Maybe the bridge-philosopher is trying to say that we should work to embrace our vulnerability to experience a more wholehearted existence…Maybe, for some inexplicable reason, Brené Brown walked over this very bridge in Paris (…Ontario, Canada) and wrote this message! Look at that handwriting! Doesn’t it look like it could belong to Brené Brown?

Okay, okay. So I probably should’ve left my deep thinking/daydreaming cap at home. But it came in handy at the time. I needed a distraction from the spiders.

July 7 (1 of 2)

Crossing over.

It occurred to me that I make a lot of photos of bridges. Bridges and doors. (And tulips, but the tulips will have to wait; the focus of this week’s WordPress weekly photo challenge is bridges, not flowers).

Aesthetically, I’m attracted to the diversity of lines, shapes and patterns in the designs of bridges and doors, but when I think about it, it’s their metaphoric elements that appeal to me, too: connections, transitions, opportunities. Possibilities.

Bridges, in particular, are a symbol of how we can overcome the barriers that separate us.

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The barrier conquered by this pedestrian bridge near Kitchener, Ontario is an eight-lane provincial highway, though you can’t see it from this angle in my photo. I made a number of shots of the entire bridge, including the roadway, but they didn’t excite me all that much. The structure is part bridge, part tunnel: an enclosed arched canopy stretching over 100 metres across the busy highway, connecting two communities and providing a link in a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail (now branded as The Great Trail).

It was only when I crouched down to bring a rogue weed into the foreground (and serendipity provided the lone pedestrian in the distance) that I was happy with the result.

The icing on the cake would’ve been a tulip in the foreground instead. Sadly, even if tulip bulbs could grow in cement cracks on pedestrian bridges, I’d have to wait till next spring to catch one. So I’ll work with what I’ve got. 🙂

Feelin’ groovy.

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On the side of the highway near Hamilton sits a little shop called Grasshopper Imports. They sell imported pottery and garden ornaments, clothing and trinkets that appeal to the bohemians in the crowd.

Most people in the area know the place, even if they haven’t visited, because the owners made one stand-out choice when they set up shop.

They painted rainbow spirals on the exterior walls.

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Naturally, this photogenic wall has been on my must-visit list, and early in the spring I finally stopped by for a few clicks. I had the kids with me at the time, so we made some fun portraits with the wall as a backdrop.

I also took the opportunity to try a couple of slow-shutter techniques. In the top image I moved the camera in a circle during the exposure time, and below, I zoomed instead. I liked the dreamy, painterly images that came out of it. I thought they could work as an interpretation of this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge of Focus (in this case, just the opposite).

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Though my daughter would’ve loved to bring home a giant clay pot shaped like a frog or several pairs of dangly mineral stone earrings, we didn’t buy anything that day. But now I know where to find authentic Mexican Baja jackets and handblown glass swizzle sticks, should the need arise.

We’ll be back, Grasshopper. And thanks for the memories.

 

Forget me not.

May 28 (1 of 1)

The WordPress Photo Challenge theme this week is evanescent, defined as something “soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence.” I thought about the many directions in which this could go before settling on memory itself: slippery, fleeting, but a holder of great power.

We filter – sometimes inexplicably – the data that stays with us. It’s absurd that I can remember the inane lyrics to jingles from 1980s TV commercials, but the name of a person I’ve just met immediately vanishes into some sort of mnemonic black hole in my brain.

Our memories aren’t always clearly defined or fixed. More often, they’re stretchy and pliable; they’re coloured by perspective and frayed by time. We equate our own memories with truth – the truth? our truth? – but we have to be wary that they’re inevitably tied to our gamut of emotions and biases.

Despite the complexity and sometimes fickle nature of our memories, there can be no doubt that they help shape our most intimate personal connections, that they’re among the ingredients with which our values and behaviours and relationships are formed. Intentionally or not, our memories continually teach us and play a hand in guiding our choices.

And even when the details of a memory have been dulled or altered by time or circumstance, the complex emotions associated with it will linger, ingrained. A quote often attributed to Maya Angelou (but not verified) states: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you’ve been touched by the experience of a loved one with an illness like dementia or a brain injury, you can begin to understand the heartbreak of witnessing progressive memory loss. For those afflicted, short-term memories are fleeting and can evaporate within moments. Long-term memories can become distorted or even completely fabricated. Personality and mood can shift and waver unpredictably. Caregivers and loved ones often experience confusion, helplessness and the pain of what seems like a prolonged and incremental state of grief.

For today’s post, then, I chose a photo I made of this tiny spring bloom. The “forget-me-not” as a symbol for those struggling with memory loss seems like rather cruel irony. But ultimately, it represents something deeper, wider: connection and loyalty and remembrance; a delicate reminder of love never lost, despite separation by time, or by space, or even by a memory-stealing illness.

However complicated or messy it may be… love remains.