This is the 250th journal in my daily succession. It’s a milestone so strange to me that I wondered what to write about. Two hundred and fifty is, more or less, the length of our family pandemic lockdown. It’s the time since I was discharged from prostate cancer care, a milestone trivialised on learning at the same place and time that there was another cancer attacking the family.
I looked back through my photo archives wondering what might have been going on within the family this date over the last few decades. I learned that in 2006, I was in Boumerdes in Algeria speaking at a geophysical workshop while that evening, here in Dublin, the extended family on the distaff side were honouring their mother’s birthday in The Guinea Pig restaurant in Dalkey. This birthday tradition carried on for many years in many venues and guises. Today, she would have been 105 but there couldn’t be a toast ‘to absent friends’ even if we could have got together.
I found some touching photos of a nine month old grand-daughter with us two grandparents in 2014. All the more touching because I was still in the early recovery stages from sepsis, and frankly, I can see how pleased I was to be alive and holding her. Perhaps that reads like melodrama but that’s OK by me. I well remember how good holding her made us both feel. Let me add a political correction that is also true. ‘How good holding XX or XY made us both feel’ applies to any and all of the grandkids.
The catalogue reveals that two years ago, I took my newly acquired Fuji X-T3 to visit the works of Egon Schiele in the RA in London. There were some wonderful drawings by both Schiele and Gustav Klimt but it was the awesome talent of Egon Schiele that drew me (sic). I was a bit disappointed by the exhibition but that may have been because I didn’t give it enough time. Later than morning, we drove out of London, and went to the Peak District, where we stayed beside Chatsworth which was a good platform to visit the Brontes at Haworth. Can you tell those were the first days of retirement? It seems I was fitting in things we’d always wanted to do while still living as if I was on a corporate schedule.
However, this little catalogue search for memories has revealed another truth. You see, I typed 1105 and the search returned just a few folders for the 5th of November buried in a sea of folders from May in 2011. I tried 1104 out of curiosity and sure enough, a few 4ths of November in a sea of Aprils from 2011. Days versus months but nonetheless, it got me thinking and searching more widely and what I noticed, as I drilled down through the years, is that there are almost twice as many folders from Spring as there are from Autumn.
It seems I am very seasonal in my enthusiasm for photography. Perhaps I have unwittingly found the promises of Spring more inspiring than the regrets of Autumn when looked at over forty years.
This is of course an opportunity too. I shouldn’t have to cross the equator to find lots of interesting things to photograph over the coming decades.
I have abandoned the idea of adding an acer leaf per day to an image. The leaves are decaying on the scanner and staining the glass. I think I need to have press-dried them for longer but to do so, is to loose the deeply saturated colours that made them so attractive in the first place. I’ll think about it a bit more and who knows, maybe I’ll do it again in a different way.
‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’
– Samuel Beckett