Memoir: A remembrance of birds and mushrooms past

Friday, March 13, 2009 writing blogs we like photography Memoir

Not much time to write today, but I thought I’d share this photo that I took about 6 years ago.

For a really long time after I started making art and thinking about it as a career path, I chose not to hang my paintings drawings photographs whathaveyou in my living space. I thought of the things I made as sketches or maquettes or practice, and I figured that at some point (i.e. when I was finished school) I would be an artist, and at that point I would hang my work, or sell my work, or look at my work as art and thus worth putting up in my home. But with this picture…somehow I put all that mental talk aside and put it on my wall, by my bed, where I could wake up to it every morning. I just liked it. It spoke to me.

It took me nearly six months of looking at that picture every day to realise there was a bird in it. And then I remembered why I took the picture in the first place.

When I was a student at the U of A, I would sometimes go for long walks in the River Valley in between classes. (Anyone who lives, has lived, or has visited Edmonton knows that we have a spectacular park system smack in the middle of our city—in my opinion, reason enough to live here.) Most times, I would bring my camera and take pictures of random things that interested me

like pine cone piles

or fungus

or plants I don’t know the name of.

And while with most pictures, I could take my time and experiment with composition, aperture, shutter settings, etc…with that bird, I knew I had pretty much just one shot and I’d either get it or I wouldn’t. So I swung my camera up, focused, clicked, and not a second after my shutter closed, the bird flew away.

Did I get the shot? I didn’t know. I was using a film-based SLR, so there was nothing to review—none of the instant gratification I take for granted with my 850 point and shoot. To add a little spice to this story, that picture was the last exposure on the day’s roll, taken on impulse as I walked out of the valley and back to class. And of course, when the distractions of student life reared their not-so-little heads, I stopped taking pictures for a while and forgot about that day.

But now, looking at that bird (a woodpecker, I believe) and remembering, flashes of moments scatter like madeleine crumbs across ripples of time and memory. I recall how free I felt walking out of the valley that day—the joy thrill exhilaration of thousands of unrealised potentials laid out before me—and the solace I found in such remembrances of freedom during the very dark span of years amidst which this moment fell.

The response to this blog has been very positive, and I’m thankful for all of your support. I started this blog to share the small and big ways of living a creative life and I’m glad to hear you are enjoying my writing and pictures. It’s also a nice surprise to find out some people are reading it that I didn’t expect. Part of my original intention for today was to share some of the sources from which I find inspiration, but I suppose that can wait until tomorrow.

Well, maybe I can post just one: these ladies have a serious Desire to Inspire.

Thoughts and essays on the art and design of experiences, spaces, things and living from Christina and I-D BOHEMIA

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