When all the world is free for the creating with the swipe of a finger.
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.
‘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.
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.
An acquaintance’s photograph of some veg from their garden a few weeks back got the foodie in me salivating for a collaboration. He was kind enough to agree – just wish I had been able to get a taste of the resulting stew.
Share something tasty with someone you love – even better, share with a stranger.
There was a time when certain foods had their own undeniable flavour and were only eaten during season. Wild local strawberries at dusk bring back filtered memories of childhood, cicada song among the sweetgrass and that sleepy satisfaction at the end of a day that the world couldn’t get much better.
I would put forward that small unexpected pleasures, like the taste of a perfectly ripe summer berry bursting in your mouth, are the ones that make it all worthwhile. They are awesome because they are more than just the thing itself: they call out to the past, inform the present and remind us how things should be – one perfect moment at a time…