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.
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 That post sat in a file unpublished and eventually appeared without this image because the film was still in my camera only half-shot at the time.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.
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.
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.
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!