No, the old dude in the old coupe is not me – d’you think I’ve just won the lottery? Canada may be a Fair Country, but they don’t just hand out the lottery money to anyone. I’ve got wads and wads of unpaid tickets to prove there is bias. No, the old dude is just an old dude, in an old car – the car is pretty cool though, huh? – riding along in the Canada Day Parade on Pelee Island, on the first day of July 2012, four years ago. July 2012 was my first Canada Day in Canada, as a newly minted landed immigrant, or permanent resident – of more general interest is the fact that Pelee Island, where Rob and I marked that most memorable of occasions, is the southernmost point in Canada, and a lekker place to chill out for the long weekend, after you’ve made the leisurely trip across Lake Erie on the ferry from Kingsville. The old
Our friends Chris and Paul live on a small farm near Rice Lake, not far from the small village of Bailieboro, in the direction of Peterborough. We go there each year before Halloween for pumpkin carving, with a big gang of friends, and to eat, drink and hang out. Other times we just show up, perhaps for a game of croquet and a braai (barbecue to my fellow Canadians) and a walk in the fields or along the lanes. These photos – like the picture entitled Farm, near Rice Lake, that I posted yesterday – were taken on our most recent visit, with Boyd and Joanne. Both were taken with the Leica Digilux, processed in Lightroom 6 and Silver Efex Pro, and printed on Ilford paper. Here they are: Paul’s Barn, and Rain, near Rice Lake. I am including the picture of the farm again, so you can see the series. See what you think.
Given the madness in Britain (I have subtracted the word ‘Great’ as it is no longer applicable) and the lunacy in Trumpistan, not to mention some irregular goings on in my own Beloved Country, I give you an image of sanity from my new, adopted home, here in Canada: Farm near Rice Lake, Ontario.
A couple of enterprising capybara made headlines a few weeks ago, here in Toronto, by escaping from the High Park zoo and disappearing into the surrounding greenery. My theory is that they simply dressed up as tourists and mingled with the crowd, and ambled out of the zoo enclosure unchallenged and unspotted. One of the capybara – we shall call him Stupid – was recaptured a while later, but capybara number two has remained on the lam – until now, that is. Clever Boy was picked up this morning – according to the authorities, near Grenadier Pond. But that is a cover up, I know: Clever Boy was really caught lurking incognito on a patio on Roncies, smoking a cigar and reading the newspaper. I know, ‘cos I saw him.
One of the things one tries to do with words, I think, when writing fiction, is to convey a sense of a world – of many worlds, perhaps – behind the immediate reality, or surface meaning. A gesture towards the immanent rather than the obvious. This is something that distinguishes the great photographs, too, I suspect, from the merely ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’ Easy to say, as a reader or critic; much harder to pull off oneself, of course. And who is to say when one has succeeded? Perhaps this is what drives the ‘inner critic’ that leads some writers, both new and established, to write and rewrite and rewrite again, till every word is burnished. Which is all to the good – except when the pesky voice of the inner critic stands in the way of getting the work done in the first place. Which is one of the writing traps I tend to fall into, at least with fiction: writing
Toronto’s Luminato Arts Festival has found a new home this year, at The Hearn Power Plant, a mothballed behemoth from the 1950s that lies crumbling and rusting at the edge of town near the lake. We went there on Sunday, with a group of friends, Boyd and Joanne, Lesley and Mary Wiens, lured by the publicity and the promise of – well, lots of cool stuff. The space was pretty cool, no question – a photographer’s dream, in fact. I could have spent the whole day, or several days, photographing it. The installations and performances – well, not so much. And the volunteers, supposedly there to steer us and inform us, seemed clueless and uninterested. We saw a pretty lame demonstration of parkour – you can find out what parkour is, here – by a couple of quite charming and extremely agile guys who led us around on an obviously unplanned and haphazard traipse through The Hearn looking for places where
On a different scale, if you’ll pardon the pun, from the pachyderms of Twyfelfontein, are the dazzling lizards – green is for girls and orange is for boys. We saw lots of them, on the deck and in the dining area at Camp Kipwe and on the large orange-and-ochre boulders that formed the walls of our outdoor bathroom. There was a lovely little water feature, too, where starlings and weavers, pigeons and various other kinds of small fowl gathered and parlayed, along with the occasional visiting lizard. You’ll see, if you look closely, that one of the lizards is busy changing his skin.
Mussels are $6 a pound at Doonies on Wednesdays, so a couple of nights ago I headed off down Shaw Street in the direction of Bloor, in search of a pint of beer and some sustenance. And as I went, striding along in the evening light with fresh air in my lungs, I suddenly realised I was happy. Not just in the mundane, everyday, things-are-ok sense, but actually rejoicing, with an unfamiliar sense of renewal, of purpose, of satisfaction and fulfilment coursing through these ageing old veins of mine. There was a spring in my step, a sense of connection, that all too often is missing. And as I walked I realised where it had come from: it had come from being utterly absorbed in doing something creative. I learned an awful lot, last week, about digital printing: poring over Jeff Schewe’s The Digital Print and The Digital Negative, trying different papers and sizes, learning how to soft-proof (how had I ever printed without it!) and, in the end, producing
From Ugab we drove on to Camp Kipwe in Twyfelfontein – named ‘doubtful spring,’ after the white farmer who settled here in the ‘forties, and who evidently would tell his guests, whenever they visited, that he was doubtful that the water would flow that year. I guess he was right more often than not. Camp Kipwe was where we would round off our visit to Namibia – and in style, folks, in style! Kipwe is every bit as fabulous as it looks: blended into the huge red boulders of which it seems to form part, it is the epitome of ‘glamping’ – the kind of luxurious, ‘Out of Africa’ chilling that Rob and I only wish we could become accustomed to. But for three nights, on a special deal, including two drives into the desert (more on this in another post) it was fabulous, and in dollars at least, relatively affordable. Where Etosha was, for the most part, very much
From Etosha we drove to Otjiwarongo, where – with some misadventure, i.e. the theft of cameras, iPad, cellphones, but fortunately not the Nikon, or our passports (!) – we spent the night. Next morning, somewhat disillusioned with the place, we went on to Ugab, where we stayed at the fabulous Ugab Terrace Lodge. Fabulous for its views, that is, its accommodation, and its extraordinary location, atop a narrow ridge reached by a death-defying climb up a track that in the last stretch seems to point vertically into the skies. Everything good, except for the food, which was merely decent, though miles – aeons – better than the crap we were fed at Namibia Wildlife Resorts. Needless to say, after several days in which food was simply sustenance at best, we tucked in with gusto. Here, to ease the transition to the next stage of our journey, are a last few photos from Etosha, and two landscapes from Ugab. The bird in
Here are three photographs of gemsbok, in Etosha, one in black and white two in colour – I might try the colour photos in black and white, also. What do you think? Also a photo of the Okaukuejo waterhole in the early morning, with zebra caught in the bands of sunlight, and one more (sorry about this) of a zebra misbehaving. All, by the way, from the files I restored on Friday.