Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Marking Time


Farewell to Summer

Like many of you in this hemisphere, I’ve been wondering lately and complaining loudly about how fast this summer has come and gone. It may be that the weather was so erratic, and at times catastrophic, the best days for which this season is famous and cherished were few and far between. Or maybe I have just been too distracted by other things to enjoy summer activities. The fact that it took me five weeks to shoot my most recent roll of film seems evidence of the latter.

 Marking Time

But reviewing images spanning the last five weeks of summer has proven to be an interesting and informative exercise in perspective. For instance, I took the photograph above at an antique store in Ipswich last month, around the time I decided to do a post on the admirable art of bringing new life to salvaged materials. That post sat in a file unpublished and eventually appeared without this image because the film was still in my camera only half-shot at the time. As often happens, I was ahead of myself. As also often happens, having my initial intentions thwarted turned out to be a beneficial intervention by the Universe, whose plans are always far superior and more timely than my own. The Universe, after all, has been around a lot longer than I have, and hopefully accumulated some wisdom in the process, to which I defer and owe the happy circumstance that now I can present this image in its rightful spot, in the middle of a post about marking time.

 Half Off

This is another image from the same antique shop, at which every item was being sold at half price, a clever marketing strategy compelling you to purchase all sorts of things you have no use or desire for, but feel you cannot leave behind, even if the reduced price was probably still more than the item was worth. Our willpower was rewarded at the next shop we visited, where everything was fairly priced according to its true value, and we found two wonderful pieces whose possession was a done deal before the price tag was even revealed. There’s a lesson in here somewhere that goes beyond the etiquette of successful antiquing to greater applications in life. Quality is sometimes worth waiting, and working, and paying for.

 The White Feather of Surrender

One of the few times I managed to spend an afternoon at the beach, I brought my camera, which I almost never do, and took both the image that begins this post, and the one above, of a seagull feather in a tidal pool. The backstory of this image is that while my attention was turned away from my beach towel, the creature with which this feather is associated took his opportunity to assess my belongings and attempt to pillage whatever seemed most likely to contain snack food. A moment of serene focus, hovering closely over an impossibly white feather marooned on its island of sparkling sand, quickly became a scene of broad comedy as I chased the seabird away with loud noises and flailing arms. He was unimpressed. The lesson: don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.

 Skylight

All too soon it seems that recreational activities have moved indoors, and as is typical here in the Northeast, last week came the day that I went to sleep in one season and woke up in another. The sun is still warm and can heat up a room, especially in late afternoon, but outdoors, sweaters must be hastily pulled on if you simply cross the street to the shady side. We have already had our first overnight frost warnings, prompting urban gardeners to pull in their potted plants from balconies, decks and patios, as we will all begin to pull ourselves in and hunker down for winter, which will surely arrive just as we have let go of summer and begun enjoying the beautiful brevity of autumn. 

 Last Call  

The last images on my roll of film were taken on an evening out at a local Irish bar, another place I tend not to bring expensive and delicate photographic equipment. My intention was simply to shoot off the roll in my impatience to see finally those antiques and beach shots, and I didn’t much care at this point that the lighting was dim and the sharpness likely to be compromised both by slow shutter speed and the difficulties of focusing a lens manually with a few drained glasses of Shiraz already dulling my senses. I shot randomly, whimsically, and at times with uncensored melodrama, and I am very pleased, not only that my camera and I returned home safely, but that the percentage of good shots in this batch was just about equal to when I am shooting sober in the light of day and with all my faculties unimpaired! Not sure what the lesson is here. But it does prove that the benefits of red wine are endless.

The September equinox occurs at 09:04 (or 9:04am) Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on September 23, 2011. Wherever you may be, celebrate!

25 comments:

  1. Every picture tells a story, don't it? I am telling myself stories after a fashion when I am shooting. My motivation is in believing I will come up with stories to show to others. But this rarely happens, and the pictures languish in their thousands in various storage media.

    Which brings a lesson: Digital cameras enable so many pictures they may overwhelm the original inspiration. I suspect if I used film, the care taken with each shutter release and the percolation forced by development time would improve my output.

    Or not. I'll never know.

    What do they say when you ask, "How much for that '1/2 OFF' sign?" It is no doubt a permanent fixture.

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  2. Gabriella, great post and gorgeous and "timeless" images.

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  3. Love it. And I am tickled by your carefully taking the (beautiful) feather photograph while its owner was pillaging. Seagulls get very bold. Not quite as bold as our national bird though - I once watched as an emu snatched at a man's wrist, removing and swallowing his watch on its expandable band.
    And yes, quality like this post is always worth waiting for. Thanks.

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  4. Hey Don, thanks for the rock n roll quote! Also the comedic possibilities of the Monty Python-like premise of someone trying to buy a half-off sign! I shoot digital too and the good thing about it is the disposability of the images. This is also the bad thing about it. And so it goes...

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  5. Thanks so much Luis - hope your week is going well!

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  6. EC - And I thought seagulls were bad! I met an emu once at a petting farm here and I did not like the look in his eye - we were assured he was tame but I don't think he knew that! Thanks so much for your kind words about my post, it really means a lot coming from you, my friend.

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  7. Over here we didn't had the best of summers but autumn is fairly mild and i'm glad for the slow transformation. Overnight frosts did not yet reach us and i still can keep doors and windows open although a fire has been lit in the evenings and i will celebrate the September equinox with a good glass of sunfilled wine:)
    Love the pictures and the stories behind them, watch out for seagulls my dear!! love x

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  8. Renilde - I like the image of you with a nice fire going and a good glass of wine in hand, enjoying the very best autumn has to offer! Thanks so much for your comment.

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  9. Ha ha on the red wine! :) Passing of time is definitely something I'm feeling too. Although I don't bemoan the loss of summer - too darn hot here in Tucson! Love your use of film and I appreciate your comment on balance in life on my blog.

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  10. Here in Greece we "kissed the summer good bye"!
    Since yesterday after a brief storm the sun is not coming out, the cicadas are mute and my cat has a long face!!!!
    Hugs and kisses from Greece, dear Gabriella.

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  11. TB - I was thinking that the country experienced such extremes this summer some of us must be happy to see it over! Thanks for stopping by. Still working on that balance thing...

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  12. Monika - Greece must have such special beauty in each and every season, I can't imagine feeling sad to see any one give way to the next! But I suppose cats know best. Hugs and kisses from rainy Somerville, my dear.

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  13. Hi G/TT - I loved the many moments of serendipity in this post - a summer of serendipity perhaps - and the images that accompany them so well. I think however I love the endless benefits of red wine the most! We are warming up and getting out and about with fewer layers which feels great - with fingers crossed for a drier summer...

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  14. Hi Fiona - what post would be complete without a mention of red wine? I hardly need to champion its benefits among my followers - that would be preaching to the converted! As for serendipity, it does seem to be a major part of my journey, in all seasons. I would have it no other way. Go well, you and B both.

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  15. Hi TT - F and I have been saying just how fast life seems to be these days. Can't understand where the year has gone - but better to be above ground than under it as they say. Just love the photo of the feather and last drinks. Sometimes serendipity just offers those moments. I write this comment aided by a glass of red. May you and B have a grand week end. B

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  16. Hi Barry - the year really has flown by, hasn't it? Is it a function of age I wonder? Perhaps one summer (or one year) slips by so fast because it is a smaller and smaller part of our accumulated lifetime? Or perhaps when we get close to the point of having fewer left to experience than we've already had, we WANT them to last forever? Perspective, again. Enjoy your weekend - make it good and make it last!

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  17. Beautifully done and have a great weekend ! miss your thoughts and images !

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  18. Dear Wong - I am so happy to see you here because it means you are in recovery mode from your surgery! Thank you so much for your comment. I miss your postings very much! Have a happy weekend.

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  19. JOTA - greetings and welcome to my blog! Many thanks for your kind comment.

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  20. These are wonderful markers of time! Given much of the summer I had, I am really quite glad to see autumn roll around this year. Hope you have a lovely and not-to-chilly few weeks ahead...before we know we'll be dealing with snow! Cheers and enjoy the season!

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  21. Hi P - agreed - my farewell to summer is part regret and part relief. But of course now that I wrote this post we are having a week of humidity and above average temps! It hit 80 the other day! So much for autumn...but that said, it will probably be 50 this time next weekend! All the best to you.

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  22. A first test.... keeping my fingers crossed!

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  23. Yeay! I am so happy that i can leave comments again. Not with blogger, but that's okay.
    Hi there Gabriella,
    finally a new comment.
    I love all the photographs, the special Gabriella touch which i love so very much. And ofcourse your stories that comes with it.
    As Renilde also wrote, the summer wasn't a summer, but now we have a wonderful autumn with lots of sun. Gosh how i love autumn, my favourite.
    I have a rather empty wallet, so i have to be patient to order your book, but i will order the calender. :-)
    Sweet greetz, hugs and kisses my dear friend, and thanks for all your lovely comments and support.
    Monica

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  24. Dear Monica! I am so happy you can leave comments again. I know you are out there sending good feelings, but it is always nice to read your words! I completely understand about the empty wallet. There are so many shops I would love to visit and buy things made by all the amazing artists that are my friends here on Blogger. We all need to find wealthy patrons to support our work! All the best to you, my dear friend.

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