Just trying to blend in.
Being a heavy sleeper has its advantages when the Professor and our pup get up pre-dawn for their daily constitutional but lately it has been the sound of thunder and sudden torrential downpours rather than any absence of warm bodies in bed that have signalled to my unconsciousness that another day has begun. This unusually cool spell has meant we have been lucky enough to be able to open the windows at night and this morning’s reveille of raindrops was a sweetly clean yet heady fragrance reminiscent of simpler times.
I am ready
to say goodbye
to fall finery
and let the frost
kiss the dead and decaying
‘Tis the season to wax nostalgic – this one is dedicated to my maternal grandparents and their annual journey across the Painted Desert during a time when not many thought doing such things prudent.
I’m always fascinated by the elements that make up some of the larger murals splashed around Montreal. In this three-story high piece, there’s a very literate and informed conversation going on between artist and viewer but I’m not actually sure how many people are picking up the thread, how many passers-by are aware of the references (age, interest and culture probably being a deciding factor) and how such iconic images are woven together in a greater commentary.
Walk on by or stop and think about it for awhile.
On a recent arrival home from some time away, one of the first things I noticed was an arrangement of decorative seasonal gourds on the dining room table. Miss Z was following in my footsteps, discovering the joys of the local market and had brought home a colourful harvest for the family to share. Each one is unique and riotous in its markings, much like our tribe, and worthy of joining the painterly edits that I have been amassing over the last few years.
This particular edit brought to mind a post about the etiquette of food photography where the ongoing conversations in the comments had led to much reflection on how I wound up with so many shots of ordinary fruit and veg in my own archives.
Twenty odd years ago as my son and I were zooming up a street, I saw a kid outside of his garage selling large canvases of close-ups of the most magnificent mangoes and plums, odd veg and seafood in the most brilliant colours and rendered in an energetic impressionist style. It was just that flash of something extraordinary that made me pull up the car and go and have a look – I should have bought them right then and there, but could ill afford it and so I went to visit his other works in a few cafes and a gallery, later looked for his stuff online, googled them years after and always regretted not having deprived myself of something else to have been able to look upon that luscious fruit every day.
It marked me in much the same way that Wayne Thiebaud had an influence on how I see the ordinary. It is that driving need to tell the story of the very basic stuff of life, the things that go unnoticed, the colours and shapes we ignore in the busyness of it all – that is what keeps me taking food photos. Photography is all about the way we transform what we see so that we can give others a glimpse and get them thinking, remembering, wondering, engaging and even taking part in keeping the creative process dynamic.
So yes, I do take pictures of my food: I can revel in them at will, remember exactly what I was thinking or doing, ascribe circumstance or tradition, have them stand out as markers in that timeline of life. They are mine… and now they are yours.
An acquaintance has a keen eye for produce (among other things) and has been kind enough to encourage my painterly treatment of his photographs. What thrills me the most is that we seem to see the natural in much the same way. This bounty of turnips could not be any more glorious for their story of early mornings, simpler times, hands pulling the harvest from the dark fragrant soil to send to market. When the divine took a brush to this humble vegetable, it was for us to look upon such things with renewed wonder and breathe in with gratitude the overlooked beauty that surrounds us.
James Burke and his late 1970s series Connections must be to blame for why the Professor and I always feel compelled to link up random comments about small seemingly innocuous “things” with their place in the far larger scheme of things. All those little bits of our world that we have become accustomed to, that we attribute or ascribe, that we deny or decry, sometimes have far different origins and infinitely more complex backstories than we take the time to consider.
Bringing such thoughts to others’ attention inevitably gets us into trouble. There seems to be a really fine line between revelation and lecture where offering up an alternate explanation for why things are often comes off as just plain pedantic. In real life, physical or verbal indications give one a relatively good idea of which direction the conversation will be going but in the virtual world context is variable and tone is highly subjective. Sometimes we are left unsure of just how much more to say or even whether to pursue the thread.
Our interactions on social media can be problematic for no good reason and bring to mind that uncontrollable kid with no censorship filters at the luau running around arms flailing, screaming “Why? Look at that! NO!” and then crawling under the table howling “Impossible!” when you offer an answer. Entering into such “discussions” becomes a fire-walk of promethean proportions. Meanwhile, his parents are otherwise occupied or (un)concerned and the guests are casting sideways glances at each other. We are left with the impression that maybe it is better just to drop it and help ourselves to some of the better libations. But doesn’t someone have to say something?
What to do, what to do…