I don’t have any new Canadian photos to post, but in honour of my country’s 146th birthday I have posted a photo of what I have come to think of as my home. I hope you like it.
To my Canadian friends and family…Happy Canada Day!
This year has been momentous. I have watched as my family and I have adapted to our move from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, to Jakarta, Indonesia. I moved from teaching in a public school to an international, private school. I moved from one of the most beautiful places in the world (nah…it is the most beautiful) to a place I haven’t figured out yet. I moved from mountains and rivers to busy streets and overpopulation. I moved from ease and comfort (with a bit of financial challenge) to a place of challenge.
2012…the year of the move.
This photo was taken at Simon Fraser University. I’ve had little time to take many photos lately, and I found this and felt a little pang of homesickness. I’m not homesick; I’m really happy here, but this photo is one of my all-time favorites. Those vine maples are so pretty.
More Jakarta tomorrow, okay?
Well, I’m not American, but every day is a good day to be thankful. Having spent my life in Canada, and just having moved to South Asia, Jakarta specifically, I have had much…more than much…for which to be thankful. My walk to and from school makes me remember that I am in a privileged spot in this city, this country really. I have a lovely, relatively un-decorated, large apartment, a beautiful family, a well-appointed job, a couple of motorcycles to buy (this week, hopefully), and a well-stocked kitchen, even though we don’t always eat at home. A ridiculously high number of people in this country don’t have that, any of that. I am colossally, universally, cosmically thankful.
This was shot, by the way, at the Ragunan Zoo back in August. If this is any indication of the massively disparate economies of this country, it cost my family 14000 Rupiah to enter this zoo. That works out to about $1.50 Canadian, or American for that matter. All four of us for $1.50.
I never thought I’d miss the sky. I grew up in rural Saskatchewan, and I was never short of blue sky. Even in the winters, we’d have more hours of clear, cold blue sky than most people get in a really nice summer. When I moved to British Columbia, the Vancouver area, I gave up a lot of that blue sky. But when it wasn’t raining, the sky was blue. Azure. At times, almost sapphire.
Then I moved to Jakarta. There are moments when the sky is blue. Sometimes, when I’m outside swimming I can look up and see a little spot of blue, between the gray-brown-white-ish clouds. The geography of Jakarta lends itself to a sort of mixing bowl effect. When you add together the ingredients of twenty-some million people, millions of cars and motorcycles, a lack of good sanitation, and a low-lying city surrounded by hills, you get a nearly complete lack of blue sky.
When I visited Palu, there were kilometers in every direction of blue sky. Spectacular. Totally amazing. I miss blue sky.
This is, in fact, how all Canadians swim. You should see us at the swimming pool. It’s hilariously cute. It is a Canadian telepathic thing. Weird, I know, but fun.
The emblem of my country is the maple leaf. It’s not very impressive if you compare it to the eagle of the USA or the lion of England. If you know maple trees, though, you’ll know this is a paradoxical symbol that is a poetic way to look at Canada.
The leaf is fragile. It is easily detached from the tree. In Autumn, it dies. In Spring, it grows all over again. It is beautiful.
The maple tree, however, is not fragile. It is a hard wood. It burns slowly and hotly. It grows all over the world and lives a very long time.
If you extend these meanings to Canada, I guess you could say that we Canadians are fragile and beautiful but what holds us together makes us strong and enduring. Not too bad, as far as national symbols go.
I was asked yesterday what the photo of my son would look like in colour. So I processed one of him, intently checking out a Star Wars/Transformers toy in his hands while sitting on a dock at Cultus Lake. I had to monkey with the contrast in curves and definitely played with Burn and Dodge because I really shot this with black and white in mind. I hope you like it.
p.s. It occurred to me that my horizon was totally crap yesterday. I don’t know how I missed that.
p.p.s. Also, we add a “u” to a number of words here in Canada, hence the “u” in color. Colour. Same word. Different spelling.
I don’t know if there’s anyone I remember more from Social Studies than Samuel de Champlain. He founded New France and Quebec City over 400 years ago. He’s kind of a big deal in Canadian history, so of course I’ve had to study him and teach him. When I was going through my photos from my Quebec trip last September I found this photo. So here he is.
This is an old photo…well, it was taken last year in September in Quebec City, so it’s not that old.
It was a beautiful night, after a long day of touring, corralling students and napping on a tour bus. Good times.
At least the harbor cruise was nice and peaceful. I ended up giving lessons on how to frame a shot, the rule of thirds and what aperture and shutter speed meant, but I had a good time anyway.
I know that I’m perpetuating a Canadian stereotype by posting this photo (“…and yesterday’s,” he added, sotto voce), but the beauty of a snowy sunrise is nearly unsurpassed by any other experience. The way the snow looks a kind of blue, but the orange of the fiery sunrise is also reflected, gives this snowy photo a kind of zen, cool calm. The air, for your reference, was cool and brisk and the snow was dry (until I stepped through a thin layer of ice to find a big puddle). I know dry snow might seem oxymoronical (it’s a word – if it wasn’t I couldn’t have said it and written it), but this snow is light and fluffy and can be swept from your car easily. That’s the way I like my snow – that’s not the way I’d ever want to be described. ”Oh, yeah, Marc? He’s light and fluffy and can be swept from your car quite easily.”
Oh, and for all of you thinking of heading north of the 49th parallel and asking for directions to the nearest snowmobiling or skiing venue, stop by my igloo. It’s right across the street from the ice rink and skate park. I’ll make sure you make it to your snow safely.
…and I’m kind of excited that Spring is nearly here. It’s been unseasonably cold, windy and snowy here in the Canadian West. We’ve usually had one or two shorts days already and we’re usually very passive-aggressive about how the rest of Canada should really move our way. We tell our friends from around the rest of Canada that we’re sorry to hear they’re still under a foot or two of snow and, “Boy, we’d sure rather have that than all of our rain.” But really, we’re happy here and we think the rest of the world would be happier if their weather was more like ours.
Tonight, in my little town, there was a spectacular thunderstorm. I was dropping off a couple of Wii games at Blockbuster and, while facing the door, lightning flashed behind me and it was a bright as having a camera flash go off in my face (not one of those little flashes, either). The thunder that followed quickly after was so loud I felt it in my sternum and the windows in the door of the Blockbuster rattled. It was awesome.
I grew up on the Canadian prairies and experienced phenomenal thunderstorms. I miss them now that I live on the West Coast. When I experience storms now, I relish them with child-like glee.
The photo above was taken just an hour ago, and is the aftermath of the storm that rolled through here about two hours ago. It is the beauty that can be enjoyed after chaos and destruction and noise and why I love storms.
As I wandered around Vancouver’s downtown and waterfront area with 100,000 of my closest friends from all around the world, I couldn’t help but marvel at what the 2010 Olympics have accomplished.
Firstly, I was apologized to five times by people bumping into me in Robson Square, where thousands of people were wandering and bumping into each other and no apology was necessary. I wonder if these are the most polite Winter Games in history.
Secondly, I heard thousands of fellow Canadians “ooh”-ing and “aah”-ing and cheering every time anything remotely athletic happened, including when someone would fly by on the giant zip-line set up in downtown Vancouver.
Thirdly, I heard complete strangers joining in victory when Canada scored and cry out in anguish as USA scored as we joined together to hope for a Men’s Hockey win.
I confess, I love these games.
btw, congratulations to Moir and Virtue – you were beautiful.
Pentax K20D; Pentax FA 28-200mm; f8; ISO 800; 1/30 sec.
Oh Canada! Oh Montgomery, Ricker, Bilodeau, Nesbitt, Robertson, St. Gelais, Heil and Groves!
We couldn’t be prouder. Thanks.
Pentax K20D; Sigma 70-210mm (@210mm); f8; ISO 800; 1/160 sec.