“With all the wind we have had this spring and summer… we can safely say that summer just flew by!” This poignant quote delivered by a friend during our last Miksang ZOOM meeting pretty much sums up the last six months for those of us living on the prairies. And I am keenly aware that with Covid19 social and physical isolation measures it made the last two seasons somewhat surreal. I hear from friends and former students nearly daily and their messages and emails convey one common sentiment: It has been an emotional time… and we all know that it isn’t over yet.
September is here and advancing steadily. I feel the last two weeks were a blur of activity. At the same time I realized, when I turned the calendar to September, that the days of summer heat and wearing short sleeves are nearing their end. I am swaying between suddenly feeling a little down because I am observing daily seasonal changes during my extended hikes in the Western Qu’Appelle Valley hills. Then again, my mood is uplifted with the sudden and keen awareness of these changes that stem from the excitement I am experiencing because I am participating in a long anticipated online Contemplative Landscape photography course with John McQuade. Or perhaps it is due to the most amazing cloud formations that present themselves to us lately throughout the day and evening. I will just focus on the positive outcomes for now as thinking about grey days and winter is too much of a mood dampener…
So much of last month was spent focusing on motivation and inspiring myself and others to push forward through tough times, finding excitement in the every-day mundane activities we engage in. But, just because I write about it it isn’t always easy for me to embrace it either. However, I am experiencing an upsurge of creativity lately and here is why:
I had not used my full-frame Nikon camera in quite some time. There was no particular reason why I didn’t pull it out, hang it over my shoulder and make images with it for a good couple of years. Perhaps the weight had something to do with it… and besides, my iPhone has always been in my pocket and it makes decent images. But I can honestly say, the last two weeks have been addictive. It took an afternoon of carrying what some would call a boat anchor with me. But it was so worth it! I reignited my passion for using a “real” camera while exploring my natural surroundings with it for hours. Once again I get excited when I lift the viewfinder to my eye and manually dial in the ISO, aperture and exposure time, not to mention zooming in on the actual subject matter to fill the frame. I am fully in the moment and I can ignore the wind gusts, dry bits of grass that have broken off and embedded themselves in my socks pricking me like needles. I see the world and experience my every-day surroundings more vividly and I fully embrace how it contributes to uplifting my mood. Life is good when I bring along my camera.
This is also the time where the light is at its best. Golden hour before sunset is truly golden as harvested fields present mesmerizing surfaces with strong textures and patterns. The clouds provide a constant source of excitement. Lately it feels like that if I wait 30 seconds I am presented with brand new formations and layers while the relentless wind does all the hard work.
While I am out there, weathering 45 – 70 km wind gusts that make it hard to keep the camera steady, despite all that I feel invigorated! And more than once I am completely taken by surprise when I get home and notice three hours have passed.
What’s happening in my studio, you ask? With the constant showings I have had to tidy up too often and my concentration was really fragmented. I have safely tucked away my new textile based explorations until the rainy and colder days return. With them the property showings will subside as well. It was just too difficult to get all set up and spread out sketchbook, fabrics, needles and threads only to receive a phone call from the realtor that I had to get the property ready for another showing in record time. So, the camera is my go-to tool at this time… and within a couple of hours of publishing this post there will be more excitement in our house. We are adding another ShihTzu puppy to the family.
Ash has matured so well and continues to brighten our days but play mates and socialization opportunities are not easy to access thanks to Covid19 measures. When the chance arose and we were able to add our name to a list for another puppy we took advantage of it. We were #16 on the wait list and our hopes were not high. ShihTzus seem to be rare in Saskatchewan. Well, the stars aligned themselves and in mid-July and we got word that we would be able to pick a little boy soon. We joined the breeder’s FaceBook page and watched the puppies mature, chuckling at the antics of growing ShihTzu puppies and eagerly anticipating and guessing who our new family member might be. I was not sure which one we would choose and since there were quite a few black and white marked pups we settled on having two with similar markings. Imagine our surprise when we met three little black puppies after a 2 1/2 hour one-way drive last Sunday. We chose an all black boy and named him Teak. He was the calmest of the three and also the smallest, similar to what Ash weighed at 8 weeks last October. And today is pick up day! He received his second set of shots and de-worming yesterday. He was micro-chipped in August. Our house is once again puppy-proof and Ash hasn’t the faintest idea that her single dog status is about to be abolished! Fun times ahead and many sleep-interrupted nights till he is fully house-broken. We are up for the challenge. What else could be more fun during times of social and physical distancing and continuing to limit our social bubble?
Have a great Labour Day long weekend, everybody! I’ll be back next week with more musings.