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Monday 29 March 2010

Make Your Mark

Signpost Forest Yukon

What will your mark be? A smudge? A rock carving? Maybe a pictograph? Will your mark make a positive or negative impression? All will be dust some day. We still strive to make a mark, fleeting as it is.

Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude;
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?

What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you?

All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own,
Else it were time lost listening to me.

I do not snivel that snivel the world over,
That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth.

Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids, conformity goes to the fourth-remov'd,
I wear my hat as I please indoors or out.

Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious?

Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsel'd with doctors and calculated close,
I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.

In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.

I know I am solid and sound,
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.

I know I am deathless,
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass,
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night.

I know I am august,
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,
I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.)

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.

My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite,
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) from Song of Myself 20

I wish I were as confident as Walt when it comes to the amplitude of time. Words, images and actions will all fade with time. Ah, that timeless philosophical question, why are we here?Graffiti Alley Toronto

So what will your mark be? Will it last? How long?

Does any of this matter? I guess it matters today. Maybe that's what we are here to learn, that only now matters. So what are you doing now?

Make it matter...

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Saturday 20 March 2010

Keeping a Journal

I was going through some stuff from our very crowded closet. I guess the only way to put it is - I’m a pack rat. Most of the stuff was junk but there were a few nuggets kicking around. Not that anyone else would find them interesting. But for various reasons I still value many of the things I have kept. Not the TTC transfer from 2003 or the faded gas receipt from 1999. No, those can go. So can the notebooks from college. But I came across some journal entries from previous years. Reading about what I was doing 20 years ago when I was at the beginning stages of my photography career is interesting to me!

Do you keep a journal? It's a wonderful way to bring back memories. I can smell and taste the place. The sounds, how I felt at the time, it all comes back to me when I read my journals. It's funny how many bug entries I make. Canada is a buggy place!

Journals or diaries can be very personal. Most of my entries are simply a record of where I was, what I encountered that day and a record of the weather. For a nature photographer this can be a great resource from year to year. What time of year did I photograph Orchids in Newfoundland? What was the weather like in Labrador in July? All I have to do is look it up in my journal. Sometimes if I'm alone or if I have had a bad day, writing down my thoughts can be very helpful. Just by writing things down, I seem to be able to deal with issues a whole lot better.Road south across Reed Lake from Morse - click

Here is a typical journal entry for me:

"Day 12 May 31st 2006 - Morse, Saskatchewan
Got up at 5a.m. and poked my head out of the tent. It's warm. Great light! Drove south of the Chaplin Lake area and looked for Owls. Found a young Great Horned Owl in a tree near a barn. Walked with the 500 over my shoulder. Tried to not make eye contact. I did the "walk sideways" thing until I could see it get uncomfortable. Got a couple shots before it flew."
Great Horned Owl - click for larger

"Feel kind of self-conscious walking on private property. The house is abandoned but the barn is still in use. Light is still good so we head back to the lake and look for shore birds. Shot birds for a while and then worked a slough. Yellow Headed Back Birds, Eared Grebes, Ruddy Ducks filled my frame."Male Ruddy Duck - Click for larger

"We eat some cereal in the van, no eggs. We are still hungry. On the way back to town I spotted a ground squirrel by the side of the road. Shot for a while. A second one showed up and then a third (see post "The Waiting Game"). Got some great shots this morning. The restaurant is closed, not sure why. We eat cheese and crackers. We make backups and pack up. We drive Highway 1 to Swift Current and pick up supplies. We then head up to Sask. Landing Provincial Park. I decided to take the night off but the light didn’t cooperate. I shoot landscapes until the light is gone."Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park - click

The above is an example of a good day while on the road. Below is an example of a bad one from the same trip.Saskatchewan Old Building

"Day 85, Aug. 12th 2006 – Grasslands National Park
Raining. We sleep in yet again. 5th day in a row we have woken up in a tent to the sound of rain. We get up, pack up and eat. It has finally cleared so we head into the park to look for
(burrowing) owls. We see none. We drive east on Highway 18. I spot a Loggerhead Shrike but I can't get a (good) shot. I try every trick I know. Nothing. After 3 hours I give up."Loggerhead Shrike
Best I could get of a Loggerhead Shrike - It's an endangered species!

"I'm so tired and sleep deprived, I feel very depressed. I just want to find a beach by a lake and have some down time. There are only salt pools around here, no lakes or beaches. I need to make backups – it never ends. We drive north to Morse and get a campsite."
Reed Lake Golf Club in Morse - click

"I'm about to loose it. After a couple of beers I start to come around. Pushed it way too hard this time."

Ah, life on the road! Without the bad days, you can't really appreciate the good ones. After you're home for a few weeks, even the bad stuff is filtered. Funny how you only really want to focus on the good stuff... It’s only through my journal entries that I bring it all back to life.Black-tailed Prairie Dog - Click for larger

Our tent at Muncho Lake

We are in the planning stage for a very big trip this year, maybe the biggest of our lives. Writing has become a very important part of my life. So both Lori and I will be writing on a daily basis during our trip and sharing our experiences with you as we go. More to come on that...

If you do not currently keep a journal, try it for a month. I bet you will be hooked for life!

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