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Archive for October, 2012

Sixty

I was chatting with an old friend in Toronto last week. ‘Old friend’ doesn’t tell the half of it – we met in kindergarten and have been friends ever since – 55 years at last count. We both became geographers and are involved in education in different forms. Doug was a high school teacher until he retired. He now teaches education at a university in Toronto as well as mentors current teachers. For me, I have a certificate in adult education, spent 12 years in environmental education and now teach earth science labs part-time at MacEwan University in Edmonton. And Doug and I still talk every month or so.

Anyway, in our last call Doug mentioned that his wife, who went to our high school, had her 60th birthday the week before. I turned 60 in August while Doug hit the mark in April. He said their family had gone out to a restaurant to celebrate Jill’s birthday. There were a few families celebrating birthdays and at one table was a banner that read, “Happy 60th”. Doug said Jill immediately wanted to know if the banner was for her. When he replied that the banner was not for her, she replied, “thank you”.

This got us on to a discussion about the significance of one’s 60th. As we have grown older, people have always remarked on milestone birthdays. Hey man, you’ve hit the big four-O (or whatever); do you feel different? Up until now, I can honestly say I didn’t feel different for any of the decade celebrations. It always seemed to be a bigger deal for the people around than for me.

But Doug and I agreed that reaching 60 has some significance. I wonder if it is the ‘senior’ connotation. Senior citizenship always seemed to be such an abstract concept when we growing up. But now that we are here, it seems to carry some weight that I really didn’t expect. Senior discounts, senior’s rates – the first hint that I had turned a corner was on my bank statement when there was an entry of “senior’s rebate” and I got $4.00 off my monthly bank fee.

For me, part of the issue is I don’t feel like a senior – or what I had imagined a senior should feel like. Our perception of seniors when we were growing doesn’t seem to fit the actual experience. I still like to watch cartoons, play rock and roll and be silly when the occasion fits. When we were young, we were told to “act your age”. I am not sure I want to.

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In the last six or seven years I have found the joy of wandering off on my own through the countryside and taking pictures of whatever. The whole process would probably drive a companion crazy. There is no script, no destination, no plan – just find an interesting road on the map and go. My friend Sharon, who is also a photographer, is the only one I know who could tolerate the process – mainly because she does the same thing.

So after a couple of days and a thousand or so images, it is time to look and see what was captured. A number of years ago, I came across some brilliantly simple advice on the process. Instead of looking for the out of focus, badly exposed and just plain boring shots – go through the images and pick out the ones that excite you. Don’t worry about the duds – just affirm the ones that move you. It completely changed my approach. Now, it is like a treasure hunt. I know there are good images in there – just have to sift through to find them. That first impression is very powerful.

The other treasure hunt is to set my wallpaper on the raw data files so that every 15 minutes a new image shows up on the desktop. And most of the time I don’t pay much attention. But every so often an image appears and I have the same feeling of discovery when I did the initial run through. This is fun. It’s time to head out again and capture some of the fall. Film at 11.

A shot from 2009 from a trip around central Alberta. Discovered in late 2012!

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