Growing up; growing older

Thomas and I cycled the Hogs Back loop today.  I wanted to assess his capacity for longer rides — perhaps to Fitzroy Harbour Provincial Park, or down to Dawn and Chris’ home in Oxford Mills.  He rode to school through the autumn, and both his speed and endurance seem good.  I don’t think that he’ll have any problem keeping up on longer rides, provided that he doesn’t burn himself out too early.  I wonder if, by the end of the summer, I’ll be able to keep up with him.

On the way back, we stopped at Pure Gelato on Elgin Street, where I enjoyed a mix of lime and raspberry.  The first taste of the lime gelato took me back to North Kingston, Rhode Island, in about 1973.  The “Dell’s Lemonade” truck would come tinkling and jingling by in the evenings, on the weekends, or at lunchtime at school.  I would buy a lemon-lime ice, in a bright green paper cup.  I would stand on the sidewalk, peel back the paper lid, scrape a curving sliver of ice off the top with the small, wooden spoon, and then catch it on my tongue.  Delicious.  I hope that I can give Thomas (and Ben) the same kinds of memories.

Tom and I sat at the window counter in the gelato shop, watching life along Elgin Street.  It wasn’t quite a holiday; it wasn’t quite workday.  The sidewalk held an odd mix of office workers and street people, pretty girls and gruff old men.  We left the shop and pushed our bikes along to Bridgehead, where I bought some beautifully oily french roast beans, and then we cycled the last five minutes home.  The honeysuckle was in bloom beside the footbridge, and students spread over the grass by the canal.

Goodbye Kodachrome, hello Spring.

I dropped into Mags and Fags on Friday, after a lunchtime meeting at Bridgehead.  With ten days of holidays ahead, I wanted to pick up a magazine or two.  Browsing the shelves, I came across a photography magazine with a story about the last roll of Kodachrome film.

The article was written by the same photojournalist who took the iconic photograph of the startling, blue-eyed Afghan girl for National Geographic.  Upon learning that Kodak planned to discontinue production of Kodachrome film, this photographer made a special request to the company for the last roll of the film.  He then travelled around the world, taking portraits in his favourite places.  Stunning portraits, with all of the richness and color of Kodachrome film.

I felt terribly sad as I skimmed the magazine — as though reading an account of the death of a language and culture.  I’ve shot Kodachrome film.  Nothing compares.  It represented the world as the world should appear:  intense, dramatic, sharp.  It documented some of the most dramatic and important moments in world history, and it brought them into lives and homes.  It took people out of their lives and homes, to places in which they would never otherwise set foot.  It took me to those places and awakened my yearning for travel.  A medium is lost; an art is lost.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reliant on my old 35 mm Olympus camera since last summer, when I decided to go snorkeling at Devil Lake with my digital camera in my pocket.  I took it with me today, as I cycled to Mud Lake at Britannia.  Sue accompanied me most of the way there, but turned back just before the conservation area.  The trails around the lake were crowded with people out to enjoy the good weather, before the forecast rains close around tomorrow.  The air felt cool, the sun felt warm, and I ambled around the lake for several hours, stopping to watch the birds or photograph the flowers.

Only a few birds had arrived.  Lots of geese and gulls, of course.  Mallards.  A pair of hooded mergansers in the middle of the lake.  At one point, while I spoke with a Birder on the west ridge, a pair of falcons flew behind us calling, and then circled high over the lake.  “Peregrines,” said the camouflage-clad Birder, lifting his head from a very expensive and heavy spotting scope to squint at their silouhettes against the bright sky.  “Aren’t they a bit small for Peregrines,” I suggested, knowing full well from their size, wing strokes and call that they were merlins.  “No,” he said with certainty.  “Peregrines.”

To make up for the poor showing of birds, the turtles had finally emerged from their winter torpor to enjoy the sun.  The shallow area near the boardwalk held close to a hundred painted turtles of all age classes, lined up along logs like soldiers on parade.  They reminded me of rows of spinning plates, or a sidewalk of parasols.  However, a smaller pond in the woods held a much less spectacular, but more impressive find:  three Blanding’s turtles, stacked atop each other like piled dishes.  Two large, mature turtles and one juvenile, heads lifted in the sun and bright yellow necks as clear and unmistakable as ripe bananas.  I’m hoping that I got a good photo.

Now my spring has really begun.