Black and White

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Black and White

There is a moment in winter photography when the world of color turns to black and white. Color is still there, but today it travels incognito, anonymous. The world is formed by shapes, trees draping their branches, snow weighing them down, dressing them in wedding gowns for their marriage with the new year spirits that haunt sunlit, moonlit snowbanks and dance across the snow. Even the clouds exist to give a soft, quiet dramatic touch to the winter beauty that visits the garden. And yes, it will always be there, even if we are not here to see it because it will carry on without us. As for us, we are secondary, mere witnesses to winter’s beauty and the nature that surrounds us.

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Amateur photographers can sometimes capture this effect in a moment of luck (or occasional inspiration). Great painters have always known this art of the minimal. El Greco drew light from darkness, his portraits often finding their own fire and lighting up from within.  Caravaggio, too, knew the values of chiaro-oscuro, light and dark, black and white. Velasquez was the master of the spotlight that highlighted the eggs frying in the pan, the hand of the water-carrier. Goya, in his etchings [The Disasters of War, The Caprichos] and dark paintings, drew mood and anguish from this contrast between light and dark, black and white.

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My friend Geoff Slater has caught such a moment in his sketches for Scarecrow. Above he catches the precise moment when the scarecrows, male and female, reach out to each other, and beneath a Van Gogh planetary sky, dare to dream of mobility and love. The dream world: so important to us all and especially to the creative artist who dwells in each of us. Deus est in nobis, the Latin poets used to say, it is god within us. The god of black and white who transforms the world into color and light.

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Black and white, light and dark, winter trees, Clare, two scarecrows, deer and crows: labors of love that reach out and catch us unawares, blowing our hearts wide open, letting in the sun and the wind and the ever present joy of seeing things, seizing them, sizing them up, in black and white.

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Decade-End

 

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Decade-End

My neighbor with the bird-killer cats has left the neighborhood and we have started to see the birds returning. Now we can refill the feeders, knowing that the birds will all be relatively safe. And the squirrels, red and grey, and the chipmunks. We had a beautiful snowshoe hare visit the garden, but he saw those cats and moved on to other pastures. I saw one last week, though, moving across the road ahead of me, caught in the car’s headlights amidst the whirl of snow. A ghost drifting lightly over the roadside drifts. Beautiful.

The deer have returned with the snow. There are six of them now, where last year there were seven. They gathered under the mountain ash and walked round and round, hoovering up the fallen berries. Usually the robins clean the berries out, but their visits this year were so brief. Snow came early and the robins moved on, even though a multitude of berries garlanded the tree.  Here’s a robin looking wistfully at the falling snow and wondering what to do next.

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So winter is back again. The snow is falling as I type. I have had second thoughts about blogging. In fact, I haven’t blogged since 19 October 2019. Work on my journal and my latest books and chap-books has kept me busy elsewhere. To blog or not to blog, that is the question. And I face that same question with Facebook too: shall I or shan’t I? As of now, I have no answer to that question. If you have an answer, please let me know.

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Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

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Do hummingbirds hum? Only when they’re humming birds. Otherwise they are quite silent, when alone, and the whirring of their wings is what whisks them up and away. In Oaxaca, the colibris are the souls of dead warriors killed in action. Their bravery is rewarded by their transference to a colibri in the afterlife, for colibris are given the gift of serving the sun in Mexican Mythology.

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Here in Island View, New Brunswick, we only see the ruby-throated hummingbirds. No ruby throat, and they are usually females. Obviously, when they have their backs to us, then it is more difficult to determine male or female.

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I desperately wanted to catch one feeding in the hollyhocks. Alas, they vanished inside the larger flowers. Also, they were much too quick for these old eyes and ageing fingers. So I just clicked away and hoped and this was the best I could do. I am still hopeful though… there’s still quite a bit of summer left.

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Carousel

Carousel

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Around and around a roundabout! I love it when the painted wooden horses open their mouths and rock up and down, and the little children hold out their hands to watching parents and grandparents, and big sisters and brothers hold them tight and keep them from falling off and the world passes by in a blur and open mouths are black holes in faces sucking the carousel in as it spins past in triumph.

And never forget the dodgem cars, weaving in and out, never dodging anything, but jousting like armor-clad knights of old, bumper to bumper, and ready, steady, charge! Or the old swing boats, twin-roped, non-mechanical, lifting us up to the skies and dropping us back to earth with that stomach-churning fall from stardom to the loss of innocence as the wooden break grinds, our thruppence is spent, and the ride is over.

Those days are as forgotten as one a penny, two a penny, or the tuppenny loaves that the elephants dropped, or the sing a song of sixpence where the twenty-four blackbirds descended like clothes pegs to devour the bread and honey and peck off the nose of the open-eyed innocent who never tired of the joke until the ultimate childhood squeal as his or her freckled or un-freckled nose was pinched and stolen away. So much lost, so much forgotten.

For two weeks now I have tried to photograph the hummingbirds, colibris, who visit the hollyhocks. Tonight, after a hundred or more photos, I managed to catch one in the fish-net of the camera. What joy: success after days and days searching for that delicate flash of red and green, only to find nothing there. Oh hummingbirds, I weep to see you, to capture you in the camera’s eye, to preserve you … for such a short, brief, moment of time.

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Bottle House 2

 

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The Bottle House 2

Here, as promised, is the bottle house 2. This time we visit the chapel, and what a lovely spot it is, as you will see, if you are brave, play the game, and click on the next link to the bottle house 2 The last time I visited, rain was falling, not heavy rain, but a light sprinkle that set the skies free and watered gardens and flowers. I should have some photos of the gardens too. If I have, I will post them. I promise!

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Bottle House, PEI

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Bottle House, PEI

A house made entirely of bottles? Well, not quite: the bottles are set in concrete, but the light … the light is unbelievable. Fragmented, many-colored, a tribute to he man who thought of the idea and then turned it into reality. House and gardens are both well worth visiting and I will do two posts on the bottle houses. Houses, for in fact there is more than one house. There is also a tiny chapel and I visit it every time I go to Prince Edward Island.

Be brave. Play the game. Take a look for yourself by clicking on one of the links to the bottle house.

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