It seems like I've been here before
I can't remember when
But I have this funny feeling
That we'll all be together again
No straight lines make up my life
And all my roads have bends
There's no clear-cut beginnings
And so far no dead-ends
The sun’s rays bounced off the surface of the river, through the early-morning mist, painting the tree-tops in an olive glow. The morning dew soaked through my sandals (not an unpleasant feeling), cleared some of the cobwebs, and made me thirsty at the same time. When I reached the perfect observation spot only a few feet from the bank, I stopped, and shielded my eyes with my hand, as if I was saluting the river. I strained my ears, trying to discern the lyrical burble of the babbling brook—maybe I should call it a babble instead of a burble. I don’t know, I could barely make it out through the ever-present symphony, courtesy of the cicadas trapped inside my head, amplified by the remnants of last night’s drinks and cigars. Maybe they hadn’t particularly appreciated lying on the grass, staring skyward at the millions of twinkling dots made even more brilliant by the almost-absolute darkness of the “campagne,” for what turned out to be almost an hour. Well, I don’t care. I know I enjoyed every minute.
I heard the bullfrog’s song: its rubbery hollow vibrato that reminded me of my youth, and of the shoebox guitars we made with rubber bands. Only three or four beats of the amphibian mouth organ, not the usual “rrribbbittt” but more of a “vvvrrroooottt” if that makes any sense, or “mooootttt.” Then I heard the beaver slam its tail in a loud and deep “kasploooosh” to let me know I had invaded his personal space—sorry. I could imagine the top of its head, more than I could see it, at the leading edge of the arrow of water and trailing ripples, only signs of its presence.
My head cleared just like the fog lifted from the river and disappeared, carried away by an oh-so-soft breeze from the east. I stood still long enough to discern the sound of the downstream rapids. Not the kind of rapids you shoot in a canoe or a kayak, only a bunch of rocks that the low water level revealed around the bend. The water tickled the half-submerged rocks, creating an enchanting pianissimo symphony reminiscent of percussion instruments—mostly high-pitched glockenspiels, sopranos xylophones, tubular bells, claves, and wind chimes—echoing between the tall oaks on either side.
The entire scenery hypnotized me and lulled my senses into total forgetfulness; I forgot I was me, there (here, really), with all my baggage, my experiences, my confusions. For a moment, I became part of the landscape, melted into the scenery… Unable to focus, a retinal overload (if such a term exists. If not, well I just invented it). I closed my eyes. I blinked and saw the trees parade in front of me, their leaves fluttering, their limbs swaying. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee drifting down from the veranda pulled me from my reverie. What a way to begin the day…
Some things you never forget…
At the edge of the Saint-Lawrence,
The shadow of Mont Royal at dusk,
Montreal’s skyline painted on the sky.
Bridges stretching over the river:
Mercier, Champlain, Jacques-Cartier.
Umbilical cords, life lines of every day;
Links to memories of our youth…
Where we learned to skip stones on the water
Under the watchful eye of my father.
Giant laker ships sailing by, steaming on
We’d jump when their horn blared, scared.
Cast a red and white spoon, treble-hooked,
Fishing for the biggest northern pike,
But settled for a colourful perch, or the crappie,
Hook, line and sinker swallowed forever;
Long walk home, fishing pole on our shoulders.
An photo essay on vertical growth, stacking them up as high as we can…
Waikiki and its surroundings (Royal Hawaiian Hotel in pink).
Waikiki and its surroundings (Royal Hawaiian Hotel in pink).
Modern architecture. Shapes, geometry, symmetry, colours, lines of the city: a photographer’s candy store… From far and up close, we never lack for something to look at, to compose, to photograph. But soon enough it all starts to look the same, and losing sight of the forest for the trees becomes inevitable. The wide angle lens is never wide enough. Density and vertical expansion create vertigo. Noise, traffic, crowds moving at a dizzying pace; who has time to slow down? Who even knows to stop, take a breath, look around? We’re too busy.
Thankfully, a little distance provides a welcome relief from the constant din, from the incessant assault on the senses, numbing really. But to stack them up we must, to fit more and more of us in that same sought-after space. Growth is inevitable and must be embraced. Faster, faster, we go… Slower, slower, we get… but where?
Nature, beauty, solitude are my refuge. Where sounds and sights abound, senses are filled, yet where I can find a place just for me. Just to be… To discover… Thankful. Undisturbed. Quiet. Even just for a moment.
The stars are still visible in the lightening sky when I set off for a hike. Passed the floating bridge, I step off the trail into the wild prairie tall grass, shiny with giant drops of dew, and venture closer to the water. The white puffs my breath creates mirror the fog rising from the surface of the lake. The air is still. A bird chirps in the distance. A beaver slaps its tail in the water and swims off, only a few feet from me. A lonely merganser emerges from the fog, drifting. Deepening golden hues announce the imminent sunrise and the clouds shuffle over for a better view. A log—one half on land, the other submerged—provides the only seat I need for this show, just for me…
The sun has climbed high by the time I wake from my hypnotic trance, dazed, awed, enchanted, filled with joy, happy. The camper awakes to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and a smile. Morning. Unstacked. Life is good.
Listen. Can you hear it?
From far away in the forest,
Where the stream runs.
Its melody courses through the trees
At times inviting, piano and adagio;
Sometimes intimidating, fortissimo and allegro.
Quite a pair!
The water’s familiar air.
Water’s trickling sound
Light and dark green blades of grass
On a drab morning