A Quiet Week, Adventures on Ice, What's Next?
01/11/2013 25 °F
I think I’m in a post adventure vacuum. I’m content to while away the hours with a book, a ukulele, a big pile of bread dough or my computer. This seems natural after five months of travel. This is my time to decompress and reflect on where I’m at and what happens next.
I haven’t come up with anything.
I’m not about to force another trip. I’ve made that mistake before. I’m happy to wait this one out. In the past ten days, I haven’t written one word in my journal. This is rare. I don’t have anything to say right now. I’m enjoying the stillness - the quiet days of torpor.
I came “home” to get my knee looked at by a doctor. I have something called osteochondritis dessicans, which means I have some bad bone in my knee. While this explains my long-term issues I’ve had with that knee, it doesn’t explain my recent pain. After bending it all around, the doctor wasn’t able to reproduce the pain I had. Go figure. Two days later, it was aching again. I’m not sure if I should bring it in or not.
I went to my family’s vacation home yesterday to get some fresh air and get out of the house. The sun doesn’t rise very high in the sky in January; the low light cast long blue shadows across the white snow. It’s been a weird year here in Michigan. It hasn’t snowed much at all. There have been times when I’ve had to strap on snowshoes to get to where I was standing in shallow boots.
The property runs along a small section of the Eagle River. I walked across the snowy lot, eventually making my way to the river. I always find myself by the river. The river is cold, smothered in ice and shadow. The ice was clear in places and I was able to see that it was about four inches thick. In other areas, the ice was frosty or covered with snow. I gingerly tested its strength, and found it held my weight just fine.
I love the chuckling sounds of a healthy river. In winter, the melody of the river changes as the ice muffles the pitch. It’s a beautiful sound. I hunkered down next to set of rapids to watch air bubbles slip along the underside of the ice before surfacing at the next air pocket. This was a treat for the senses, and soon I was lost in the moment.
There were little air vents in the ice. The ice that formed around the vent was like a ring of polished white diamonds.
Investigating further, I found old coyote prints frozen into the surface of the river and filled with snow. I tried several angles, but I couldn’t find a composition that worked for them. I once attended a lecture by National Geographic Photographer Jay Dickman. He said to us, "Sometimes our goal as a photographer is to make the best photograph we can given the conditions." I like that. There are times when there isn't much to shoot. Do the best you can with what you have available.
When I arose from the prints, I took a step backward. I heard the unmistakable “CRACK” of ice. A small shot of adrenaline coursed through me. I’ll never forget that sound. The first time I heard that sound, I fell through a crack in the ice shelf on Lake Superior. I was able to catch myself with my arms, but my feet were dangling just above the water. I moved fast, hauling myself out of the crack before I fell in the water.
This episode wasn’t nearly so interesting, but I moved slowly back towards shallow water all the same.
I ended my afternoon by sitting in the warm sun and having lunch. I ate a Cornish pasty, sipped a good beer, and read my book for an hour. This was time well spent.
The camp (as we call it) has always carried this good vibe. While I still don’t have any ambitions with my life right now, I know I’m in a good place. As Watts would say, “Murky water becomes clear, only when left alone.”
For now, I’ll continue working on my baking skills, jamming on my new ukulele, and hanging with my people. It might be a good time to finally look into my own photographic website. Let me know if you have any ideas...
One morning I walked down the stairs and saw this beautiful light coming through the stained glass window. I liked the scene, and decided to see what I could do with it. It turned out to be perfect light for ghost images.
Have no fear. I only haunt good hamburger joints, friendly pubs, libraries, hostels, and of course, my brothers staircase.
Have a good week!