Friday, January 24, 2014

Finding magic...telling stories...

At my house this morning
Today I decided to go for a walk this morning at Kits Point.  It has become a favourite place to go lately as there always seems to be lots to see with a different perspective than my usual beach walk at Spanish Banks.

When I left my house it was promising to be a beautiful day.  All was clear and the sky was turning blue (the sun hadn't been up very long).  I had heard fog horns and could see the cloud over the water as I drove down Cambie Street but I was still surprised when I saw how totally foggy it was at Kits Point.  You couldn't see the mountains or the oil tankers or the buildings of the West End, and you certainly couldn't see Stanley Park. I could barely see in front of me.  It looked like the perfect setting for a horror movie.  I was thinking no wonder they film TV shows like Supernatural in this city.

My first thought was I should have just gone on one of my usual walks up to Queen Elizabeth Park where it was already bright and sunny, but then I began to to enjoy the atmosphere.  I imagined myself in some strange surreal land feeling trapped and pursued by strange beings.  I took evocative pictures and posted them on Facebook with short lines about each.  I knew the fog would eventually lift but I was in this moment.  I also noticed that I was paying attention what I wouldn't have normally noticed.  I was looking at the trees-the beautiful shapes of their bare branches. Usually I am busy looking at the ocean, the ships, the buildings, etc.-none of which I could see today.  And of course the fog gave an eerily magical perspective to the scene.

My pictures led my facebook friend, Laura, to do some incredible writing, reminding me of how one of my favourite picture books, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, led my students to write some great stories.  For anyone not familiar with this book, it is a collection of powerful drawings with short beginning lines, apparently delivered to Chris Van Alsburg by a writer and illustrator, Harris Burdick, who never returns for his manuscript but Van Alsburg eventually publishes as he noticed children visiting him liked to write stories from the pictures.

From the age of two until almost eight, I lived in a farmhouse my grandfather had built.  There was a room called the Shed Chamber, a kind of attic on the second floor over the shed next to the house.  I loved to draw on the brown papered walls.  I did this long before I could read or write.  I loved telling stories with my pictures.  I think it is kind of fascinating how much I have grown to really love taking pictures this first year of retirement.  For one thing it is so easy and convenient to do so and they generally turn out so well.  I also have the time.  And then if I feel like sharing them I can do so instantaneously.  Almost the minute I post I am having a response from someone in Ottawa or San Juan, Puerto Rico, or Jerusalem.  This is when technology totally astounds me.

I heard on the radio today that thirty years ago the first MacIntosh computer was launched.  I think that it was the spring of that year, 1984, that we bought our first computer and it was a Mac Classic.  It cost about 2500 dollars and could do none of the things that my iphone can do, but at the time I thought my Mac was quite amazing-it certainly to me was the "coolest" computer available and I have been a Mac user loyally ever since. 

I see myself as a reader, and at times a writer, and I have always loved taking pictures probably because it is much easier for me than drawing!  I did take up sketching about 15 years ago after not really doing any art since adolescence.  I did enjoy it.  I found it made me look differently at the world, more closely.

When I first moved here I took several photography classes that I really enjoyed, especially the magic of the darkroom (a huge surprise as I didn't particularly like chemistry or biology labs).  Later I fell in love with digital photographer because I could immediately see exactly what I had created and even make changes.  And I have thousands of pictures to prove that!  But for me the iphone has been the most magical experience.  I kind of feel the excitement of that toddler drawing on the attic walls.

I truly believe everyone can be a reader, as a teacher I think I was quite successful in helping my students find joy in reading.  I believe we all have stories to tell and can figure out the world better from writing so I also loved teaching or encouraging writing.  I did have one student who I really didn't think I was going to get to enjoy writing but when he finally wrote it was kind of unbelievable what came out.  And I believe we all can be artists.  I think we all have a need to feel creative and capture beauty.  And a camera can be nice way to do that.

Social media makes it possible to share our experiences. As a teacher I heard the talk that technology was basically spoiling reading and writing but I really wonder how that can be.  People are communicating now with each other mainly through writing and reading throughout the world in crazy and wonderful ways.  I have never met Laura but today we were engaged in quite a creative process and I am looking forward to meeting her in person when I briefly sail into San Juan next month. 

back home into the sunshine...
So in the fog I actually found some clarification! 


Laura N. said...

The magic captured by your photographs inspired me to create little vignettes. A paragraph here and there that began as playful banter but turned into an impromptu collaboration across the miles. We are fortunate to live at a time when technology could make such an exchange possible, n'est pas? :)
I also look forward to meeting you in person and chatting, albeit briefly, on your stopover in San Juan.
See you soon!

meredyth kezar said...

Well it was really fun meeting you, Laura!